Message from the Morning Man: The real enemy


I have been thinking about a few things.

Like my twin cousins, Panyin and Kakra. Those two loved to fight when we were kids. They were always yelling at, scratching, biting, punching, kicking, and slapping each other. They could go at it all day – until someone else hits one of them. Immediately, they stop fighting each other and start raining down a world of pain on whoever was dumb enough to attack one of them. It was always so amusing how a common enemy could unite the brawling brothers so quickly.

These memories of Panyin and Kakra got me thinking about a few other things.

Like how in Ghana, we politicize every single issue. We seem to believe there is an NPP-NDC angle to every situation of human life. A couple of weeks ago, the Bank of Ghana hospital became a topic for national conversation when the health minister suggested the facility would be used to treat VIPs infected with COVID-19.

For some strange reason, instead of the conversation focusing on how to ensure the hospital is put to the most efficient use, it suddenly became a conversation about who built it: the NDC or the NPP. Can you imagine that? We are in a crisis and we need to save lives, but all some people cared about was scoring political points… it was ridiculous.

That was not the first time I’d encountered this unnecessary politicisation of issues either. From Dumsor to armed robberies to the disappearance of Castro, some Ghanaians will find a way of turning it into a political point-scoring exercise. Now, this is a true source of concern to me, because as a nation, our problems do not care who we vote for. They affect us all, not just the followers of one party. Dumsor does not only plunge NDC followers into darkness. All Ghanaians bear the brunt.

When the cedi depreciates, it affects livelihoods across the nation; livelihoods of CPP, PPP, NPP, NDC – all of us. When utility prices go up, they don’t just single out members of one party to pay.

As a nation, our issues are no respecters of a person’s political affiliation. So if our problems are not partisan in nature, then how can we solve them with partisan politics? How can we be hearing stories of people using our tax money to feed the poor, but only feeding those who can prove they belong to the ruling party? And how can the people sharing those stories be doing so without any concrete evidence to back the claims? And, considering the seriousness of these accusations, how come there has been no announcement of an investigation?

At this crucial time of life and death in Ghana, instead of us thinking of how to deploy medical staff across all our hospitalso to fight this virus, how could we seriously be wasting our time debating which political party built a hospital? Who built it? Why in God’s name do we even care?

Condoleezza Rice seemed to know exactly how my twin cousins felt, when she said, “We need a common enemy to unite us”. My friends, there is no commoner enemy to Ghana than the Novel Coronavirus. There is only one way we can fight this common enemy, and it will require you to do something totally out of your comfort zone. Something you may never have had occasion to do in your entire lives. You are going to have to put Ghana before your party.

Yes, I know it is going to be difficult, but that is quite literally the only way to win this war. When Tony Blair took Britain to war in Iraq over weapons of mass destruction, it was after a bitter parliamentary battle. His own backbenchers voted against him in large numbers, and he ended up securing war approval by the skin of his teeth. But guess what: once the vote was cast and the decision to go to war was made, the whole of parliament got behind the action to send troops over to Iraq.

Suddenly, there was a common enemy called Saddam Hussein, with his supposed weapons of mass destruction, and when it came to dealing with the enemy, there was no difference between Labour and Conservative party members. That ability to put aside our differences and unite behind an idea, rather than a personality or party, is Ghana’s only way out of the terrifying predicament this Coronavirus has put us in. Please, my friends, I am not exaggerating when I say it is THE ONLY WAY.

I wonder if you know what this means. It means, if you have a Party position on COVID19 instead of a National/Global position on it, then you’re basically saying you do not wish for Ghana to beat this virus. Sorry, but there is no other logical explanation for why you would prefer to score political points with this disease, instead of working together to beat it. And let’s not be deceived – this is serious. According to authorities, the modelling projects 3 million of us will be infected. Do you think they will all be from one party? Do you know whether that number will include you? The problems affect all of us, so the solutions must come from all of us.

My name is Kojo Yankson, and  putting your country first means putting your politics second.