Feature Article of Thursday, 22 November 2012
Columnist: Appiah, Kofi
Nineteen fifty-eight born youthful John Dramani Mahama luckily happens to be the No. 1 man and chief executive officer of the Republic of Ghana in the West African sub-region, a developing nation in the Third World Africa. Accidentally, he assumed the reins of government on the death of the late president, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills the same day he passed on i.e. July 24, 2012 and time was about 20.35 hours GMT. And surprisingly, because HE Mahama was so desperate for power, instead of allowing himself patience to be shown the rightful and correct presidential seat to occupy after the swearing in ceremony, quickly like a flashlight, nearly landed himself in the vice president’s seat. The saddest moment that gripped most Ghanaians was the preceding Saturday, July 21, that he pain -stakingly celebrated his 67 birthday anniversary with media men/women and some other rented press at the Castle Garden Gardens. The rest is now history but there are more questions than answers that need to be asked about the sudden demise and the conspirators would definitely account for their sordid deeds on judgment day when the Lord appears for the second coming.
THE I.E.A. DEBATE
The I.E.A. Debate the NDC had frowned upon over the years not to involve their presidential candidates to be participants was, at long last, participated by the incumbent president, Mr. Mahama, as the NDC flagbearer. Luckily, it took place at his own backyard. in Tamale, where, he could have, with permission from the organizers and/or sponsors of the function, opted to rattle his Gonja dialect to the hearing of his multitude of admirers nationwide but since, the object of the programme would have been defeated, because the whole world was watching, he was compelled to speak the Queen’s English top the dislike of many people. The debate has come and gone. The supporters and sympathizers of each party claim their candidate performed better than the other. All said and done, it is the spectators who would be the better judges for the televised debate. However, if truth would be allowed to prevail, certainly, it was Nana Akufo Addo, who, in my own humble estimation, performed creditably. Readers can disagree to agree but opinions are like onions.
JITTERY MAHAMA IN HIBERNATION OR IN THE LIMBO ?
A fortnight has come and gone but the president is still in the northern region. One wonders whether he is there consulting the oracles, the juju men or the voodoo to strengthen him to outpace his other competitors in the race for the Castle come December 7. Now that he has decided to cover every inch of blade in all the three northern regions to pollute their minds to indoctrinate them and win more votes at the expense of the others that he was more ‘Pepeni’ than Dr. Abu Sakara and Ayariga, the other two northern contestants in the same race, perhaps, he must have delegated his powers as president to the newly endorsed vice just as the late president relegated all the powers of a president to him before his demise. If there was something like that, he should let us know other -wise, Pastor Dr. Mensa Otabil’s press conference to break the myth of his silence after three defiant actions to destroy this man of God wouldn’t have had a quick rebuttal from Hanna Tetteh Kpoda to confuse the populace. Listen to the unthinkable and unacceptable rebuttal – ‘Just as the man of God cannot ostracize any member of his congregation for any misdeed, so also does the president not have powers, authority or control to condemn the utterance or misdeed of any member of his government’ (forgetting that he was the Commander-in- Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces). If you have special constitutional powers conferred on you by the Constitution even to dismiss any member of the armed forces be, it the Chief of Defence Staff or the last recruit, why can’t you discipline any member of your government? The unethical, criminal and unsolicited advert pertaining to Pastor Dr. Mensa Otabil’s appendage relative to the impossibility of the free senior high school concept that the NPP’s flag-bearer, Nana Akufo Addo, intends to introduce, has been, according to the man of God, pieced together to mean that if such a prominent public figure and notary public has come out with that, as if it was at one lecture that he said all those on the jingle, then it was obvious that if the NDC, desperate and jittery as they are, used that dangerously pieced together statements as their jingle, they would score some political marks just to win the public sympathy. So, as if by design, the NDC together with hoodlums and media experts, under cover of darkness, hurriedly hoodwinked that idea with a view to airing that jingle on the premise that if such a renowned public figure like him has come out to justify his position on the impossibility of the SHS concept, then, the elections would no doubt go in their favour. What a mischief! Listen to one Doe Lawson, we’ll continue airing that jingle (purported to have come from the celebrated clergy) and nobody could do us anything.
Mr. Abba Ebban – former Foreign Affairs minister of Israel during the reign of Madam Golda Meir’s premiership.
Mr. Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State during the 70s whose tenure helped resolved the Israeli-Palestine conflict that had become stalled for decades.
Ghanaians were awakened on Monday, November 12, to hear from the usual foul-mouthed Dr. Tony Aidoo to the effect that all repeat all Christians and the clergy who speak in tongues were supposedly mad people. Dr. Aidoo, in his usual characteristic form, never spared the rod to give any exceptions in his accusation to generalize his assertion and to compound matters that was swiftly replied by some equally uncomplimentary remark from Pastor . If even those who speak in tongues did not appeal to someone like Tony Aidoo, there was no need whatsoever to blaspheme that they were mad people because he wasn’t a holy person either. Readers should take note that this unchristian stance of Dr. Tony Aidoo was not the first time to spill the beans as time and time again, he has repeatedly lashed at the clergy and I pray that the Good Lord would spare him for his salvation because if he should have the guts to spew virus at the clergy, one wonders whether he would ever have time to go to church and listen to a pastor for a change of heart and remission of sins et cetera. If he persists to behave the way he does, by constantly saying that those who delight in speaking in tongues were mad people, he should know that power was always transferable and that no condition was ever permanent. He would never ever continue to be the perpetual guru of the evaluation and monitoring department of government business at the Castle. There is time for everything as explicitly stated in the Book of Ecclesiastes chapter 3 so if he thinks he was on tops he could be in the doldrums one day, expecting to be rescued from the bottom pit by an insignificant person.
Last Saturday, November 10, the Ghana Medical Association met at their usual Annual General Meeting and at the end of which the floor was opened to members/participants to express their views and share common ideas. The members present, comprised members of almost all the political parties as well as all shades of opinions expected to be at such an unprecedented gathering. And when it was the turn of the international cardio-vascular surgeon, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, himself a leading participating member of the GMA to talk, he did not mince words at all but clearly and emphatically mentioned that truly, the NHIS which the NPP government introduced, was in fact disintegrating and collapsing by the stroke of every hour. Unquestionably, his thoughts and mind were in no uncertain terms, must have represented a greater percentage of the discerning minds then gathered at that august meeting. Strangely, when it was the turn of one Mr. Sylvester Mensah, the chief executive officer of that same institution to talk, he also rebuffed and stated that “except the mentally imbalanced person” who would not agree with his outfit because since he assumed the mantle of that institution, the number of beneficiaries of the medical facility that stood at 12.5 million persons had shot up to some 25.5 million much more outnumbering the total population of Ghana that was estimated to be some 24 million. How come, one would ask this pertinent question? By his inference to the mentally derangement, he meant that Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the internationally acclaimed cardio-vascular surgeon was out of his senses and was the centre of his criticism. What an insult! When at all will this Sylvester Mensah man ever become a cross-border public figure let alone an international figure to equate himself with this legendary medical professor of international repute? If it were not in Ghana that “any idiot” could easily become somebody overnight, courtesy the NDC government, how and when on this planet earth that this Sylvester man could ever dream of becoming a public figure? He should give us a break and stop with his crass arrogance. Is it not one who was also equally mentally imbalanced who would give such an inaccurate figure of NHIS beneficiaries that has gone up tremen -dously to confuse the world including Ghana? Was it not someone like him who was inarguably a mentally imbalanced person who would stand his guns to challenge and come out to defend the indefensible issue at stake there and then. Dear countrymen and women, nobody should ever take that “mentally imbalanced” self-imposed statistician at that particular function very serious. However, someone like Sylvester Mensah would never ever become an inter -national celebrity like this celebrated surgeon. And again, he should know that if, not but for the NDC, he would never have been a public figure so he should never arrogate power unto himself to spew venom at public functions. How come that the population of Ghana stands at 24 million and went on to confuse the discerning people with his propagandist schemes that since assuming the leadership of the NHIS, the institution has worked tirelessly and miraculously to increase or double the beneficiary card holders from 12.5 million to that unthinkable figure of 25.5 million forgetting that the country’s population was nowhere near his inflated and exaggerated figure. Does he think all Ghanaians were fools just as they keep trumpeting that not until 20 years from now the SHS concept could not take off? Can we have any contrary or conflicting figure or views from Ametor Kwami as well to set the records straight or he was in support of his boss in toto? Greedy bastards indeed! Why did they choose Ashanti Region in the first place for the Capitation Grant for the NHIS pilot programme? Did he intentionally choose Ashanti just to cripple them and reduce their numbers for future elections that, hitherto, had always been in the favour of the opposition NPP? Time will really tell.
TEACHERS’ BACK PAY AND ANOMALIES
Since the beginning of this year, most teachers have not gotten their salaries as well as their back pay. The month of October too came with more disturbances for them; Ghanaian teachers are grouped under the umbrellas of GNAT, NAGRAT and the Concerned Teachers. Whether it is deliberate or inadvertence, only God knows but this behavior on the part of the Controller and Accountant-General was gradually carving a niche for themselves. Whether good or bad, they know themselves. If they are able to secure big time money or funding for purchase of unthinkable items for distribution to people of all walks of life just for Mr. Mahama becoming a president by hook or crook, then, Ghanaians should rethink again. And this is a big shame unto them to deny scanty the salaries meant for teachers and be able to get huge sums of monies for the government to purchase gorgeous vehicles for the government to dish out for more votes.
FATHER XMAS AND 12 LAND CRUISER BRIBE VEHICLES FOR CHIEFS
One would have thought that the president was far away in the north trekking from town to town campaigning, not knowing, he was there as their Father Xmas. Any traditional ruler he has not consulted might be someone who does not toe his party lines as well as is subjects. He has however forgotten himself that even though chiefs are strictly and constitutionally debarred from doing and engaging in active politics yet, since he and his predecessor do not have any relevance or import for that national symbol and give a dime, would ensure he relegated the very constitutional clause to the background, trample on it and call the bluff of that document and the cautions therein. He will still use them to achieve his heart’s desire contrary to the presidential ethics. He knows chiefs could use their influence to solicit for more votes for the NDC hence that strategy but easily forgets that gone were the days that chiefs and opinion leaders could exert their energies and influence over their subjects and other dependants. The president has again forgotten that whether you were a chief or a minister, or whatever category, it is only one vote that you had. Information reaching this writer via the ‘Daily Guide’ source indicates that as many as 12 brand new land cruisers have been donated to the national house of chiefs with the express instructions that each president of the regional house, be allocated with one unpacked vehicle while one of the remaining two goes to the president of the National House. The last remaining vehicle, it is being speculated, might be left for emissary jobs at the national office if and when the need arose or failing which, the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Nuru Shaributu gets the automatic choice for becoming the beneficiary. The president knew very well he might be queried by the media and almost interested discerning Ghanaians, so at the time of presentation of the vehicles, he made an emphatic statement that he was rather fulfilling the earlier campaign promise made by his fore runner, Prof. Mills, prior to the 2008 elections. But he thought Ghanaians would leave him without asking questions. Since when did Mr. Mahama realize he should furnish our distinguished chiefs with cars? Not only that but more than 200 TEIN students and countless number of foot soldiers across the country have become beneficiaries overnight of the NDC branded ‘Hyundai i10 cars’. Does he think our chiefs were so foolish enough that they could not even decipher what was good from bad in our society? It is absolutely only a foolish, deranged and an unconscionable chief who would collect the car and still vote for the NDC by reducing himself because of the car gift. All said and done, I don’t think any chief would begrudge the author for this assumption to be at the begging end. Does he have powers to dissipate our resources like that without questions? Ghanaians would want to know whether there was any budgetary allocation for these vehicles in the 2012 budget statement or not? And, if not, why not Mr. Dufuor? He should know that he cannot hurriedly share cars to these revered chiefs and get away with it just like that. The tax payer would like to know. Recent panelists on the economy of Ghana confirm that since the days of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah till the NPP era, there hasn’t been any government of this nation that has ever gotten much more loans like the NDC. In their just about to end 4-year reign the government has contracted colossal loans to the tune of $19 bn. thus bringing our debt burden to some $29 bn. Whatever they have done with the loans nobody really knows. But he cannot be dishing out monies like the Father Xmas of say, Equatorial Guinea and get away like that. There is a constitutional mandate that he has to perform and conform to; so, if he should stray to tread unconstitutionally, then he should be brought back again to the threshold and be dealt with constitutionally and if possible, be subject to, or liable for prosecution leading to impeachment despite the 3-week time frame prior to the gigantic elections.
For the past two weeks, the president was reportedly junketing from hamlet to hamlet in all the three northern regions. But the last straw that perhaps broke the camel’s back was when Ghanaians were misinformed that the ultra-modern Upper West regional hospital was nearing completion, whereas, in actual fact, not even a pick axe had been found to strike on the ground at the hospital site. What a mischief! Not until the running mate for the NPP, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia and his team were in that area on tour to disclose this hidden treasure, Ghanaians would have been fooled again into believing that in fact, the government was really on course for the Better Ghana Agenda in the provision of a medical facility to better the lives of the ordinary man. Furthermore, at Wa, the regional capital, the president went on to meet with some traditional leaders and it was there he again was tempted by the devil to state that he had come to his own; meaning that, since he was a northerner competing for the presidency, they should be mindful not throw their votes away for any contestant but for him; forgetting that both Dr. Abu Sakara and Hassan Ayariga too were also northerners. Hey, wait a minute. He professes to be a more northerner than the two others. He was reported to have quizzed them as thus, “We (the northerners are fed up with second place fiddle. We have been beneficiaries of the second spot for far too long. Apart from the late president Dr. Hilla Limann, who enjoyed full presidential status but was even overthrown, there has not been any opportunity again. So now is the time for you to vote for me to become president because I am your own kinsman.” Do you want the NPP to win with Bawumia as the vice or want the NDC to win for me to perform wonders for all of you including the expansion of the SADA which my boss could not finish to your satisfaction? Did he think of the other contenders for the CPP and PNC? Why was he so selfish to trumpet for his selfish interest? If he persists to go that way, then, assuming that Nana Akufo Addo as an Akan in competition with three northerners, Prez. Mahama’s avowed intention, then I would be compelled to entreat all fellow Akans, who outnumber the voters in all the three regions of the north to vote for him and see whether the president would have any chance at all. Mr. Mahama is so desperate that his posture illustrates someone trying to lay hold to the straw in a flooded river.
In view of all the foregoing and the prevailing tension in the country, I would like to invoke the spirits of the late Abba Ebban, Henry Kissinger and the living legend, HE Kofi Annan, former Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel during the Golda Meir’s premiership, former Secretary of State of the US and two-term Secretary-General of the United Nations respect -tively to intervene in the impasse that has created so much tension just three weeks before Ghana’s general elections on December 7. It is very pathetic that since now no member from the Ghana Peace Council has come out to condemn the inappropriate, incorrigible and unacceptable action of the uncouth action of Tony Aidoo to show his sharp teeth and to rain insults on the international man of God. Mr. Mahama would do himself very well if he scraped such personalities around him at the Castle happen to be apologies to his government. The persons know themselves so there was no point calling names. To quote a very well thought of idea propounded by a former US president, Franklin Roosevelt, it goes like this, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events, while the weak or small minds such as most Ghanaians discuss people”. He went on to say again that in his opinion, 5% of the people think, 10% of the people know that they think, while 85% of the people would rather die than to think at all and it would not be a surprise this man of this subject matter under reference could find himself in this category.
As Mr. Mahama is a Christian of the Assembly of God faith, I would like him to draw inspiration from the Good News Bible, I Samuel Chapter 12 verses 2-5 and it reads “2. As for me, I am old and grey, and my sons are with you. I have been your leader from my youth until now. 3. Here I am. If I have done anything wrong, accuse me now in the presence of the Lord and the king he has chosen. Have I taken anybody’s cow or anybody’s donkey? Have I cheated or oppressed anyone? Have I accepted a bribe from anyone? If I have done any of these things, I will pay back what I have taken.” 4. The people answered, “No, you have not cheated us or oppressed us; you have not taken anything from anyone.” 5. Samuel replied, “The Lord and the king he has chosen are witnesses today that you have found me to be completely innocent.” “Yes, the Lord is our witness,” they answered.
To conclude, I would like all Ghanaians and readers to see if Mr. Mahama would ‘be bold’ enough to stand before Ghanaians and the Lord to say what I have just stated above as a caretaker president before the elections? Can he stand before the Lord and (the A-G congregation) that he has not oppressed Ghanaians with police brutalities, unlawful detentions – NPP activists in the 2008 elections and the several BNI atrocities especially, Baba Maikankan’s untimely death at the hands of the BNI, the Nii Lante Vanderpuye’s arrogance and truancy, the Anita de Sosou’s irresponsible behavior at Atiwa and the police inaction, the Akwatia and Cherepone bye elections that the Paul Tawia Quaye’s police showed partisanship stance should be the yardstick the president should measure himself with. The last but not the least should be the Agbloboshie daylight butchery incident where four NPP activists lost their lives and the culprits still walking about as freemen. Again, Mr. President, you have been allegedly accused of being a partner-in-trade of the many corruption incidents such as the STX Korea Housing Deal and Ghana’s Sovereign Guarantee, the Armajaro, your brother Ibrahim’s jet aircraft ownership which was still doubtful, the myth surrounding the 250 Ghanaian students now studying in Cuba, the Embraer aircraft purchase and the irresponsible and unacceptable misplaced judgment debts that could have been used for the sponsorship of fee-free education for 250,000 SHS students as well as inflated costs for 6-room block of schools vis-à-vis Mahama Ayariga’s experience not forgetting his Atlas Map purchase. Mr. Mahama, your Excellency, here you are now; please, tell your side of the story to Ghanaians and the Lord that you serve that you have never acted wrongfully against Ghanaians by extortion and could tread in the shoes of Samuel and be a modern-day Zacchaeus of old to save your image and reputation for your salvation.
What has gone amiss? Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s fee-free education for the northerners has yielded so much dividends that it has produced so many professors, medical doctors, doctors of letters, holders of masters’ degrees, civil engineers, architects, teachers, engineers, accountants, pharmacists, et cetera. Currently, the president cannot dissociate himself from the beneficiaries of that programme. The breaking news that catapulted the nation in less than 120 days from the demise of Prof. Mills was also the sudden death of Alhaji Aliu Mahama, the recent past vice president. Most personalities including the former presidents, Messrs. John Rawlings and John Kufuor and their respective wives found time off their onerous duties to visit the family of the deceased to express condolences and to deliberate on the burial/funeral arrangements. Whilst these were taking place, Mr. Mahama, the president, a name-sake, and incidentally a northerner, was in the Brong Ahafo region busily campaigning. Does the president have respect for custom practices and tradition? Does he like the northerners at all? Does he know that sending his chief of staff in the first place to represent him at the deceased’s family was a deliberate irresponsibility which has cost him so dearly especially with regards to the impending elections in a fortnight’s time? If he were outside the country, that could be a pardonable offence, but if he was anywhere in Ghana, nobody should forgive him for this blatant misdemeanour. He could have arrived back in Accra in five (5) hours by road with the help of the presidential motorcade from Brong Ahafo. On the other hand, he could have asked the Chief of Staff to pass message to the Defence Minister and then to the Chief of Defence Staff to arrange for an aircraft to fly him back to Accra in less than two hours. The best irrelevant and irresponsible thing the president could do was to ask his chief of staff to represent him at the deceased’s residence which was a big minus and a big blow as it was uncustomary and unacceptable. Would the president have decided to stay back if his own biological Muslim brother, Ibrahim, had died? Did he have more importance attached to his political campaign than mourning with a former colleague, a name-sake, who, incidentally, was also from the north? Mr. Mahama, do you love and admire or even have special respect for the northern tradition? By your behavior you have shown your true character and there was no need canvassing for their votes if you profess to be a kinsman? Was it because of the dislike and disdain for them that precipitated your choice for a Brong wife? Is it because you are a Christian, that was why you despised your Muslim brother and colleague? My brothers from the three regions should take a cue from this simple analogy and know whether he was the person you should follow in the campaign trail? A word to the wise, they say is enough but in my context, ‘in far away north’. Former Vice-President, Excellency Aliu Mahama, fare thee well, dammirifa due, due ne amanehunu!
Postscript: You may divide the long essay into two to allow for space for others; again, you have my permission to do a thorough editing to suit your standards.