Salutations to you Eric Bawah. Your article in the Daily Guide, captioned “Haruna Iddrisu And His Pirated Textile-Burning Brigade” was brilliant, albeit dishonest and politically tainted to suit your political agenda, but I must say, I enjoyed reading every line of it.
“Today civilization and prosperity have come knocking on our doors and so Mr. Haruna Iddrisu has got the luxury to burn down cloths as if life is fine everywhere. No wonder the Akans say:Ate yie ma Awerefie (A person easily forgets when he begins to live well”, this is a quote from Mr. Bawa’s article”.
Do not get this wrong, we are all happy to discuss matters of livelihood, economics, and survival in public fora, but these should be done based on true facts, in the right manner, and not tagging on errors, and misguided steps, with irresponsible harassment and noise.
We both know the Minister of Trade and Industry, Haruna Iddrisu, did not introduce the law that stipulates that seized imported textiles must be burnt, he inherited it.
In acknowledgment of this, the summary of my comments on your article is these two questions that I humbly want to ask,
1. I ask, did Haruna Iddrisu violate any Ghanaian law by requesting that the seized textiles be burnt?
2. Is his action or that of the Ministry in line with the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) Convention under the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), of which Ghana is a signatory?
If he did not violate any law in Ghana, then why have we put his case in front of the court of public sentiment, degradation and ridicule? Is this because he is a cheap target, because as you rightly said he comes from the North?
I am one person who believes strongly in obeying the law, and if a person does obey the law, then I am vehemently against the oppression and intimidation of such person, be it by protest or by writing, usually by people who are more immoral and criminal than the one they accuse.
If Eric Bawah had done his research well, he would have realized that the Minister was only carrying out his duties, as agreed when Ghana signed up to be a member of the WTO.
Intellectual property: protection and enforcement
Having intellectual property laws is not enough. They have to be enforced. This is covered in Part 3 of TRIPS. The agreement says governments have to ensure that intellectual property rights can be enforced under their laws, and that the penalties for infringement are tough enough to deter further violations. The procedures must be fair and equitable, and not unnecessarily complicated or costly. They should not entail unreasonable time-limits or unwarranted delays. People involved should be able to ask a court to review an administrative decision or to appeal a lower court’s ruling.
The agreement describes in some detail how enforcement should be handled, including rules for obtaining evidence, provisional measures, injunctions, damages and other penalties. It says courts should have the right, under certain conditions, to order the disposal or destruction of pirated or counterfeit goods. Wilful trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy on a commercial scale should be criminal offences.
Governments should make sure that intellectual property rights owners can receive the assistance of customs authorities to prevent imports of counterfeit and pirated goods.
Eric Bawah could have helped himself and all of us if he had suggested a debate on the issue to ensure that we review the law that gives the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the right to burn seized textiles, or that we make a case at the WTO, why our situation is so peculiar, bearing in mind the extent of poverty that Eric Bawah succinctly enumerated.
Nobody can dispute the fact that the Northern part of the country is among the most deprived Regions in the country. Is it coincidence or by act of faith that the Minister, Haruna happens to be from that part of the country and must he circumvent the law because his people are suffering?
“I do not blame the guy because Haruna Iddrisu was born too late to see what we saw in the fifties and early sixties. There were some women in the then Upper Region who could not afford to buy cloths and had to make do with leaves which they used to cover their front and backsides only, leaving their breasts bare as if they were living in the Stone Age. It was the introduction of ‘obroni waawu’ (Second hand cloths) which saved the situation”
Come on Eric Bawa, this graphical display of poverty, as you say pertains in the North must not be entertained. It is so insulting and dehumanizing to the people who come from that part of the country. And to think Mr Bawa is supposed to be an old man, he should rise above this pettiness and childish behavior.
“Go to the Tema Station at Tudu in Accra and see teenage ‘kayeyees’ carrying babies on their backs with tattered cloths and living in kiosks where they ‘dance’ with mosquitoes during the nights and their naked children play with rodents during the daytime.”
What has our brothers and sisters living in Agbogbloshie, Tema Station etc, done to deserve these insults? They already know what they are going through. They don’t need a bigot like Mr Bawah to remind them. What is their crime, that one of them is elevated to the position of a Minister of State?
Reading through the article, it was clear to me that Eric Bawah, is old enough to be my grandfather. And to think that somebody who have seen it all to descend so low as mocking Northerners, leaves much to be desired.
If you have nothing to teach the youth of today, perhaps I suggest that you save your ink, for your grandchildren.
Eric Bawah is supposed to be a role model, but I wonder what we the young ones can learn from him.
Great thinkers like Aristotle believed that we learn to be ethical (virtuous) by modeling the behavior of moral people, and depending on the role models we have, people can learn both good and bad habits.
Steadily, it has been more of those that uphold ethical precepts that are routinely losing out, and those with dubious characters like Eric Bawah and his ilk are heavily on the ascendancy. Merit and hard work are hardly any qualification for elevation in any field of endeavour, instead nepotism and crass political patronage are the rule.
Journalism that ought to be the ground of cultivated values is up to the dogs, sadly.
In conclusion, we are all free to our opinions and we can all make this a gainful discussion, but it is important that we do not end up destroying people who have worked hard to earn their positions and are only doing their jobs.
If Eric Bawah has nothing positive to do with his time and write, I suggest he saves the ink in his fountain pen, who could find better use for it.