Were he a Ghana citizen, there is no question that Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade would have been sharing the same political truck as Ghana’s National Democratic Congress (NDC), as both struggle desperately to illegally hang onto the reins of elective governance by hook or crook. In Dakar, recently, the 85-year-old premier who has been ruling his country since 2000, attempted to use his party’s national assembly majority to amend the constitution to enable him to retain his stranglehold on the presidency with 25-percent of polling share, rather than the current stipulation of 50-percent of the total valid votes.
Thus, of course, is directly in view of the fact that the former Paris professor has increasingly become unpopular, largely as a result of his widely perceived extravagant misapplication of the public dole (See “Senegal: Abdoulaye Wade Drops Poll Plans After Riots” BBC News – Africa 6/23/11).
In Ghana, the latest gimmick being used by the Mills-Mahama government to maintain its stranglehold on elective power is something called the NDC Heroes’ Fund, a monetary war-chest inducement aimed at recruiting desperate and violence-prone largely unemployed youths into the party’s campaign agenda for Election 2012, with the ultimate responsibility of guaranteeing that the ruling National Democratic Congress retains power at all costs.
Needless to say, the foregoing strategy is shaping up to be a very tough sell, as the NDC is forced to battle on two fronts, namely, against the Akufo-Addo-led and formidable main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), on the one hand, and the inordinately ambitious wife of the founding patriarch of the National Democratic Congress, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, on the other. On the latter score, Ghana’s longest-ruling strongman characterized his shameless and inexorable attempt to impose his wife on the NDC as a two-fold epic battle with the enemy, on one side, and the traitor, on the other.
The enemy, of course, is Nana Akufo-Addo and the New Patriotic Party, whereas the traitor unmistakably is President John Evans Atta-Mills, the handpicked three-time NDC presidential candidate that Mr. Rawlings had desperately hoped to use to maintain his long-lost stranglehold on Ghanaian political culture.
It is no sheer coincidence, at all, that both the Wade-led Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) and the Rawlings-chaperoned National Democratic Congress share the deceptive descriptor of “Democratic,” as both political parties are relatively and respectively the less democratic of the two major parties in Senegal and Ghana. Ironically, a hitherto staunch Rawlings supporter and political commentator who claims to have joined the teeming ranks of the thoroughly disaffected, largely the result of Mr. Rawlings’ attempt to lewdly parcel out his old job to his wife, had occasion to cite the Wade faux-pas as being unpardonably redolent of the indelible stench that is the very essence of post-colonial African politics.
The irony further thickens when the reader learns to his/her great amusement that the same commentator who now claims to have regretted the error of becoming a staunch Rawlings partisan has, in fact, been publishing reams of articles hermetically backing the jaded and effete Gaddhafi dynasty.
What makes the Senegalese situation even more depressing is that as he increasingly ages and becomes clinically senile, Mr. Wade, who holds a double-doctorate in Economics and Law, seems to have found a profligate means of immortalizing himself and his family. One measure in this instance was Mr. Wade’s attempt to set up a parallel and elective post of Vice-President. And on the latter score must be promptly recalled the fact that like France, its former colonial master, in Senegal the second most powerful post after the president is the prime minister. Mr. Wade’s obvious attempt to circumvent the latter post was, therefore, logically seen by keen political observers as a tawdry attempt to deviously relinquish the reins of governance to his son by a white-French woman, Mr. Karim Wade, who has been described as a powerful cabinet member with a portfolio covering international cooperation and assistance in his father’s government.
Another flagrant attempt to permanently etch his icon in the Senegalese national memory came in the form of the erection of a multi-million dollar giant statue called the African Renaissance Monument, which has been widely condemned by a cross-section of Senegalese society as amounting to extravagant vulgarity amidst grinding poverty. Curiously, Mr. Wade claims that intellectual property rights entitles him to 35-percent of revenue generated by the giant masculine statue with a scantily dressed woman and nude baby from tourist attraction!
In Ghana, Mr. Rawlings sees his intellectual property rights and a generous access to the country’s new-found oil wealth deeply etched in his wife’s unlikely presidential fortunes.
Ultimately, one may choose to envisage the foregoing as bizarre phenomena that ineluctably typify the “fetid stench” of postcolonial African political culture. The glaring fact of the matter, however, is that they globally reflect the innate depravity of humans woefully bereft of the amazing grace of civilization and intellectual and spiritual enlightenment.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and author of twenty-two books, including “The Obama Serenades” (Lulu.com, 2011), his most recent volume of poetry.