Abdul Karim Ibrahim: #FixTheCountry – Governance is not a bride, we refuse to be in-laws to the political class

Spontaneous movements have proven to be effective and revolutionary across time. Those whose interests they threaten have learned this the hard way.

They are weary of it. It threatens their authority, dominance, control. It reduces to naught their power. Evidence abounds in history, and more recently you may cast your minds to Mohammed Bouazizi, or George Floyd, and even closer home to EndSars.

I am under no illusions that the current social media campaign in Ghana, championed largely by young people, dishevelled and agitated by the governance of the country is no ripe movement.

In fact, by our own standards, this should die out by the birth of the next big scandal. Yet, the debates that have ensued coupled with the reaction of the ruling elites resulting in a high-level ministerial meeting point to how serious it could get.

It all started with a random guy, made entirely into an influencial sensation by a series of constituencies; from Cool Kid, to Abenkwan, to Nungua, and Football twitterspheres. It is understandable that leading journalists like Bernard Avle and Samson Lardi Ayenine would struggle to get his name right on their shows.

After all, who is Kalyjay? Why is his Twitter handle @Gyaigyimi? And why does he command nearly 500 000 following?

This is the new norm and the older political elites have some catch up to do.

Kalyjay with a constituency big enough to command a seat in parliament reverberated the sentiments of many, it would seem, when he tweeted “FixTheCountry”.

It caught on, and others like Researcher and Social Commentator Oliver Barker-Vorrmawor declared an intention to hit the streets for a #FixTheCountry demo.

The ensuing debates have led many to ask, often genuinely perplexed by the passion of the irate youth on social media, and sometimes mischievously too, that; what at all is this #FixTheCountry about?

Some have even ridiculed the young men and women who have championed this campaign on social media as lacking the intellectual acumen to defend what looks to them a puerile cry of spoilt little brats for some undeserved national perks.

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They have been forced to sometimes make a list of demands that made them look like the brainless imbeciles gatekeepers of government think they are.

On Friday, 7th January, 2021, I was invited on Ghana Connect on Joy FM to discuss #FixTheCountry. It is arguably the biggest platform for such discourse.

Five minutes into the conversation, I noticed the absurdity in the debate that we had been having all along.

#FixTheCountry campaigners say things like: “there are no jobs, roads are bad, the economy is hard” to which government supporters retort: “We have reduced unemployment, we have fixed roads, blame Covid-19 for the economic mess”.

Herein lies the problem; a disingenuous political discourse boxed up in truisms. On Saturday, 8th May 2021, host of Newsfile Samson Anyenini also sought to get Convenor of the #FixTheCountry Demo to as it were “breakdown” for everyone, what #FixTheCountry is about.

For instance, what exactly the demands of the campaigners are. This question, on the face of it, seems fair and harmless. But resist it. Here’s why.

Resist the attempt to make the #FixTheCountry call be about a list of items to be delivered by the Government of Ghana.

Good governance is not a bride we seek and we must refuse to be in-laws to the political class.

Defining the campaign by a list of deliverables is neither what the spirit of #FixTheCountry is nor not what its strategy ought to be. By all means, demand specific things as part of the process. But let it be just that; a part of it.

I understand the campaign to be, and believe so to be the only sensible explanation that, its strength and sustenance lies in; its unpredictability, its chaos and perhaps irrationality.

The relentlessness and youth-spiritedness. These are what make Leader Kyei-Mensah furious and confused. #FixGhanaNow is about roads. It is about unemployment.

And many things. But it is about political leadership even more. A true test of the quality and sustainability of the call is not in Akufo-Addo being exposed or Majority Whip Annoh-Dompreh losing his mind. It is in seeing Sam George for who he is; “it’s not the MPs job to deliver development” kind of politician.

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At the end of the day, the political class are related in their collective evasion of accountability that they let on.

It’s in the fact that my friend’s mom who has dedicated nearly 4 decades to teaching children in villages goes home with nothing close to what Ras Mubarak’s 4 years stint with parliament will give him.

There is no reasonably objective metric to justify this except that politics in Ghana is literally theft.

That the political elites are so removed from the daily realities of the Ghanaian mess through self-aggrandizement and unequal access to the fortunes of the nation is why #FixTheCountry must not be reduced to a petty, simplistic list of items like a shopping guide.

So when someone asks you what you want with #FixTheCountry, be confident to say “I don’t know”. It is okay to leave it in such absurd state. Because that is a reasonable reaction to the equally unexplainable and absurd inequality and hopelessness that the Ghanaian political system perpetuates.

Those who feel threatened, therefore, by the sudden anger of young people, do not deserve any clarity of purpose in the message.

They need to view and see #FixTheCountry as a mystery, raw, spirited anger of “unguided” youth ready to explode at any time if ignored.

That way, for as long as possible, they’d thread a bit more cautiously and not live with such wanton disregard and impunity as we have seen for so long.

Because how dare MP Annoh-Dompreh post what he did, calling those who demand better “Gyimie” only to turn around and blame his aide.

If you appointed an aide who could not read the room or appreciate your own temperament, you’re either incompetent or simply not worth that aide’s respect. You should be announcing that you fired them before any retraction. But we know he lied.

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How dare John Mahama attempt to become President again in this country. What more does he really have for us after all the opportunities he has been given?

And then Nana Akufo-Addo? It doesn’t get any more rhetorical. From simply lying about making Accra the cleanest city in Africa in four years — because he’s clearly demonstrated no commitment beyond the ordinary towards that promise especially with full knowledge of the problem— to hounding the anti-corruption fighter Daniel Domelovo was; something President Akufo- Addo could only dream of.

My appeal is that, be not under any pressure to define what #FixTheCountry is to those who feign ignorance.

They know quite well that you know that government has created jobs, and that although not all roads have been done, some have. It is senseless to lead yourself into that stalemate trap because the truth is even the most incompetent government would get something to point to.

It is ridiculous that we would reduce such an important opportunity for reforms to answering questions on what we mean by fix Ghana now. We must refuse this distraction vehemently.

Instead, let this campaign be about a continuous rejection of the colonial order inherited by the political elites.

The order that simply makes the political elites so powerful and politics so lucrative for a few. Such challenge to the systemic and structural inequalities in our politics may take time but it is worthwhile.

Because whichever way you look at it, the ruling class — NPP and NDC and their friends— are all like the Jinapor brothers, they would never be in opposition. You and I will.

The author, Abdul Karim Ibrahim is a journalist, researcher and communications specialist.

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