If I were Alban Bagbin the majority leader of Ghana’s parliament I would have used the crocs in the Great Paga Lake instead of the driver and a driver’s mate analogy or metaphor he pulled out condescendingly from his bag.
The quintessential strange mammals have attracted peoples and tourists from far and near to the ancient town— a symbolism I believe the good people of the north identify or cherish so much.
Indeed, when it comes to news/messages ‘nearness’ or ‘proximity’ matters in the field of journalism and for that matter in communication profession, I was taught.
Mr. Bagbin made the analogy at his hometown Nandom in the Upper West region over the weekend at the NDC campaign launch, where he charged the electorate to vote massively for President John Mahama.
Spotting what looked like a red Fedora or Panama hat and right hand grasping a microphone with red head Mr. Bagbin said the scramble for the northern votes is ‘between a driver and a driver’s mate’—the former being president John Mahama of the ruling NDC and the latter Dr. Muhammadu Bawumia the vice presidential nominee of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).
He argued it was always better to vote for the driver who would be the main ‘architect’ in bringing ‘sustainable’ development to the region.
Sounding professorial he said: “We have a driver. Somebody is driving the whole vehicle of Ghana that is H.E. John Mahama. We have another brother of us who is a driver’s mate in another vehicle. Now do you want the driver to be in charge or the driver’s mate? Which one do you want?’ he quizzed.
His reference to Dr. Bawumia as a ‘brother’ is commendable. It shows maturity and respect. However, that can’t be said about his likening him (Dr. Bawumia) as a driver’s mate. Not only that but also it goes to show the condescending and stereotypical view of the majority leader towards the less fortunate ones in our society.
According to him the driver’s mate lacks the developmental acumen and capacity to bring development to the north.
Has Bagbin forgotten the head porters in our cities who toil day and night to make ends meet?
Is he also implying that all unskilled labourers in our society make no significant contribution to the economy? Or is he suggesting their contributions don’t count?
And that’s why I think he crossed the red line.
Crossing the red line often has some social or political ramifications. But lucky him this isn’t the United States, where ‘political correctness or incorrectness reign supreme!
‘To cross the red line’ is a phrase used worldwide to mean a figurative point of no return or line the sand, or ‘a limit past which safety can no longer be guaranteed, according to online dictionary.
Of course, seeking reelection in a parliament which is gradually phasing out the ‘old guards’ (i.e. parliamentarians that have held onto their seats for decades) with young bloods and new faces could be a tedious one.
Former Member of Parliament (MP) for Prampram in the Greater Accra region, Enoch Tei Mensah perhaps understands this better than everyone—after staying in parliament for nearly two decades a freshman annexed his seat.
And as many fight to maintain their seats or get into the august house for the first time different tactics, crude tactics, wrong tactics and tactics of all tactics are being employed. They are using weapons such as figures of speech some of them inappropriate and uncalled for.
What does it mean to be a mate?
In British English, you could say “See you then, mate’ without implying anything sexual, it is just an informal form of address between men, or boys. It is also informally used to mean friend, as in ‘I was with a mate.’ In plumber’s mate, mate means assistant.
The latter could be used for a driver’s mate. Fact is, some driver’s mate (s) is/are mechanics and also knows how to drive professionally. And same goes for some drivers too. There are drivers who know how to retrofit a car and there are some who are technically inept.
So why should Mr. Bagbin use driver’s mate as a derogatory term? If I may ask:
How many people have the crocs killed over the past three decades?
Perhaps none, which reminds me of the expression ‘the devil you know is better than the angel…’ Northerners know their crocs. They sit on them, bathe with them and play with them. But can they gamble their lives with a drunk driver?
I think they would rather choose to journey with a driver’s mate with less or no experience than a reckless and drunken driver.
Imagine when it’s late in the night and the driver is sleepy or tired. Who will save the situation?
Imagine a drunk-driver with a busload of passengers. What would happen to those precious lives?
Imagine a driver who’s no knowledge of the car he’s driving. He doesn’t know the calibrator isn’t working. Doesn’t know there’s a failing brake. Doesn’t know the car needs oil change and doesn’t even know his fuel is tanking. Imagine that driver in that bleak situation. The headlights are off yet he’s driving. All the four tyres of the car are flat yet he’s driving.
Imagine passengers dictating to the driver. Why because he’s lost touch with reality. Yet, he’s asking for another mandate. Who does that?
I think we are finally at the lay-by.
By: Gordon Amaniampong