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Feature Article of Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Columnist: Casely-Hayford, Sydney

Cocaine and Sandcrete Pillars

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

My mother is 87 years old today and I am particularly thankful that she takes pride in, as she calls it, my “page 20” column. I wanted to be a writer and poet and were it not for the rigidity of the school system in Ghana and market opportunities, I might have done just that. In another place and time I probably could have penned a few clever sentences and made a living out of it. My Great Grand Father left a legacy of writings and books and at one time he was himself a publisher with a press house. As it turned out, I am a Certified Accountant with no regrets. My mother also happens to be my political think tank and memory bank, taking me back in history many times to clarify why some persons are who they are, shaped by theirs and their father’s history. Happy Birthday Mama.
So, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings has a problem. Her hearing has been adjourned to 16th November, and her picture is not on the ballot. Seeing as we are voting in the first week of December, I don’t think she has a chance of getting her name on the list. Her husband of many years also says he is tired of the campaign trail and would relish a chance to slow down or retire. Were it not for President Mahama’s faux pas in bringing JJ back into the foray, I am certain he would have held back more. You can see JJ is running out of steam. I think this will be his last “jericho”. But not Nana. She has a case in court against the EC and will most likely follow through. The next four years will tell if she still has enough fire in her belly for more political fights.
Togbe Afede IV endorsed the NPP free SHS policy, at least so said the front pages, but other traditional leaders have also endorsed Mahama on some front pages. A group of musicians also endorsed Nana Addo or at least they said they love him. We are definitely doing political music but are we still voting on ethnic lines?
The Vice Presidential debate came and went with a blip. The lively spot was from the CPP’s Nana Akosua Frimpongmaa Sarpong Kumankumah. She brought the debate to life after the expected duel between NPP’s Bawumia and NDC’s Ammissah Arthur had run out of inflation and interest rate numbers.
Then on Wednesday 7th, DSP Tehoda made front-page news, spilling her “yoo ke gari” in one of the most explosive disclosures in recent times. In her attempt to claim wrongful dismissal from the Ghana Police force, she clearly evidenced the trail of the recent Cocaine turned baking soda saga and implicated the Deputy Director General of the CID, ACP Dedzo as one of the king pins behind the disappearing drug. Other persons who were arrested as part of the investigation supported her view and they also fingered the Deputy Director as their contact person.
Then before she could claim her fifteen minutes of fame, Melcom’s Achimota super mall imploded, trapping over a hundred persons and as at yesterday, we report 10 dead and many wounded. Many more are still trapped under the rubble. There have been some heroes and the Israeli National Guard has been on the ground to support. Neither the Chinese and Americans nor the British arrived.
And in a show of extreme concern, both Nana Addo and President Mahama suspended their campaigns to visit the site and express disgust at the system that allowed the contractor to build without a permit and use sandcrete as a substitute for concrete. It is an election year and fitting that we should rally and show political concern. So lets face the buckshot. We have problems with building construction, roads and potholes, housing and estate development, vehicle licensing and registration, environment and sanitation, electricity and water, town planning and the justice system. The A-G’s department is the biggest problem today and together with these other institutions, they are crumbling under the weight of poor supervision, resource under-capacity, un-enforced regulations and bylaws, inattention to codes and standards and a systemic failure in our public service delivery. Why don’t we use the Melcom disaster to trigger a thorough fixing of all these institutions? These problems have been around for too long and it is about time we kill the political gimmickry and respect the citizens of this country, because we deserve to be given a decent life.
We scuttle institutional development for political expediency from one government to the next and it is time to end this political misdirection of our future. Give me a leader who will understand the rights and concerns of the Ghanaian to a proper life. Is JDM saying this is the only disaster caused by negligence and resource scarcity?
Mahama promised the load shedding would be over by 15th November. This week the VRA and other institutions have postponed that date to the first week in December with a caveat that this will depend on adequate crude and gas supply and other factors. This is what irks me. This erratic electricity and water delivery makes for a miserable life in Ghana. To make a promise to resolve a problem and nonchalantly carry on when you do not deliver must have a consequence. To wait another four years before we get restitution is not enough. We must find a mechanism to shoo out the political braggarts and institutional vampires who bleed this country shamelessly.
Should Mayor Vanderpuye stay employed? Many voices are asking the President to let him go. Fat chance, I say. Even Benjamin Kunbour is still in his job, including many others. JDM is not here to clean shop. Atta Mills could have cleaned shop, but we know how that went. Less than 25 days to go, we just preserve the status quo.
Ah, Woyome has been given a new trial date, 28th November. Count down to a cliffhanger. We are pushing close to the point when the one-person commissioner could make this a foolish case for the State and Agbesi Woyome will walk. The NDC gamble might just pay off for its premier financier.
Elvis Afriyie Ankrah is the campaign coordinator of the National Democratic Congress. On a public program soon after the Melcom building collapse, he went on air to compare the NPP free SHS program with the unfortunate deaths of victims in the rubble. Here is what he actually said, verbatim. “Our opponents do not have credibility. Their campaign is based on what I will call a one-legged 'kwashiorkor' Free SHS which is crumbling like the Melcom building because it has no substance, it has no basis and that is the challenge that they have,” Mr. Ankrah is still an employee of the State and is still the Campaign Coordinator of the NDC. JDM continues to retain this unrefined, foul-mouthed hooligan as part of his team, and still claims he (JDM) believes in decency and good governance.
I don’t want to end with this tone, because people like Elvis Afriyie, Kobby Acheampong, Okudzeto Ablakwah, Fiifi Kwetey, Asiedu Neketia and the like, as well as Kennedy Agyapong and a few choice NPP ones, poison the politics and decency of this country making us look like a bunch of uncivilised natives still waiting for Lord Lugard and Charles McCarthy to gather us under a palaver tree to explain the merits of respect.
But we deserve what we are. In the midst of a Nordic Development $2million Fund project, the Tindana, custodian of the Vea Dam in the Upper East region says the river-god is not happy with the project. The Vea/Gowre Dam in the Upper East region is on the threshold of drying up. Midway into the project, the Tindana ordered the contractors, Eunitack Services Limited, to stop work immediately or face the wrath of his deities and the youth of the area. Chief of Vea, Naba Thomas Azubir II has taken compensation to perform customary rites for the project to go ahead. Tindana says no, and the youth in the area are ready to support him. Progress in Development? A Better Ghana?
I predicted the NPP would soon release some Azonto ads. They are definitely “out-musiking” the NDC on air and that is all we look out for these days; when there is “light”. Some Azonto laced with a lot of Gospel. Order of the day.
Ghana, Aha a ye de papa. Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

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