Feature Article of Tuesday, 4 January 2005
Columnist: Iddi, Alhaji Yahaya
May I use this rare opportunity to congratulate you for your re-election and also congratulate the vanquished for fighting a good fight. Of course the people of Ghana deserve the highest commendation for making it possible for these elections to be conducted in an atmosphere of peace and utter tranquillity albeit a few incidents. By your re-election Mr President, the people of Ghana have once again reaffirmed their unflinching confidence in your unwavering leadership qualities. Many are those who believe that you have all it takes to get Ghana out under the shackles of poverty and under-development. Many are those who believe you have all it takes to rebuild the confidence which Ghanaians hitherto had in the judiciary and other law enforcement agencies. And yet many are those who believe you have the wherewithal to make Ghana the home we desire so that those in the Diaspora can return home and contribute their widow?s mite towards making Ghana the best in Africa and the world at large. Of course on law and order, some significant successes have been chalked. Going down the memory lane, once upon a time when a thief was caught, instant justice was meted out to him. At least I witnessed an incident on the rail tracks of Kumasi market where a thief was beaten to death. These successes notwithstanding, we still have the police taking bribes in broad daylight; we still have landguards who will do anything to meet their ends; and yet we still have over 60,000 land cases sitting in our courts gathering dust.
By the dictates of the PINK BOOK Mr President, you have almost come to end of the road. The constitution states in unequivocal terms that no one shall occupy the high office for more than two terms. Among other things, the implications of this provision are that if you have anything up your sleeves (which I believe you do), then this is the time to deliver it. A four year term, I believe, is enough a period for you to put your acts together. Obviously another term of four years is a time for you to take those difficult decisions which will set the wheels of development in motion. That is why your re-election should be viewed as a trying moment in your life in that at the end of the four year term, you will have to give an account of your stewardship and that is crucial.
It is in keeping with this that I wish to remind you of a commitment you made in 1996. Mr President, you will remember that on two consecutive occasions you had had to pass the night in Bole. You did this not only because you enjoyed the ?kapal? (fufu) of the people of Bole but because of the deplorable state of the BOLE-BAMBOI road which sucked the sap out of your body. Mr President, you will remember that the state of the road was so bad that travelling on it was a nightmare. But you did manage against all odds to come, not once but twice, to convey the message of the dawn of a new era to the people.
I remember with nostalgia that evening when you addressed a rally of party supporters under the mango tree in front of the NPP office in Bole, you talked about the road with passion and most went home feeling that this is a man who has something up his sleeves. But some sceptics thought, like Abraham Lincoln puts it, that ?nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man?s character give him power?.
Is this not the best opportunity to put wrong these doubting Thomasses? Fortunately for you Mr President, your predecessor government of the NDC has done a yeoman?s job by initiating this project. This project which has been on the drawing board since the days of Nkrumah (of blessed memory), was to have been tarred from the Brong Ahafo Region to Hamile in the Upper West. Perhaps because of political instability, the project was abandoned to its fate until the then NDC government re-iniated it. Prior to your assumption of office the project had progressed from Wa to Serepe (just at the peripheries of Bole). I am reliably informed that the project has progressed steadily and all the nightmarish hills in and around Maluwe have all been levelled (may all the souls that lost their lives on this hill rest in peace). Mr President you deserve a pat on your shoulders for a job well done. But I believe that you could do something about the momentum; the speed at which the work is being done. From my estimation, if it is taking us about four years to progress from Serepe to Wakawaka, then the project can only be described as progressing at a snail?s pace.
You will remember that one of the biggest hurdles you confronted in 1996 and 2000 was the difficulty with which you had to dissuade the people of the north that NPP is an all-inclusive party devoid of any tribal barriers. It took you a lot of time and energy to dissuade them of the perception that your party is not anti-north, a feeling which had permeated through this part of the country. Well, for the people of Bole and the north in general, you will realise that they have every right to hold on to this perception. Here is the reason why. During Dr Busiah?s regime, he tarred the road from the Brong Ahafo Region to the very periphery of the Northern Region (the Black Volta- New Longoro to be precise). For some bizarre reason the project was abandoned. Now, until Limann came into power, nothing was done about this project. This went a long way to accentuate the belief and feeling that Busiah did not see Northerners as part of Ghana. Of course you and I know that Busiah never spent his full term because of a reckless coup. That being the case, even if he had the intention of proceeding with this project up to Hamile, he couldn?t because of the coup. But be it as it may, some of my people have been indoctrinated to believe this rather erroneous perception that your tradition (Busiah-Danquah) is anti-north.
Mr President I hope you don?t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that you work on this road because I have some affinity to this area. I am a Ghanaian first and all other affiliations are secondary. I appreciate the fact that you have priorities and it is absolutely important (at least in the interest of mother Ghana) to adhere to the chosen priorities. That is a mark of a conscientious leader. However, I want to believe that given the volume of economic activities that take place on this road, it is only prudent and in the national interest that this road is given all the attention it deserves. I know your buses used to ply this road from Kumasi to Wa and so you know better than I do about the indispensable role this road plays. It is on this road that most of the cattle brought to our abattoirs in the South are transported. It is on this road that most of the bicycles sold in front of your family house in Ash-town are transported to our farmers in the north. Farmers in this area have lost a lot in terms of post-harvest losses as a result of the deplorable state of this road.
Over and above all these considerations, I want to believe that when you promised the people in 1996 that ?something will be done about it?, you were not merely inundating the people with one of those political gimmicks characteristic of third world politicians. For some of us, we want to see that the project is done and dusted with, and then we can say you meant your words that evening.
Once again accept my congratulations and I pray that God will bestow His compassions upon you so that wherever you go His divine zephyr will be upon you.
Happy New Year and May God Bless Ghana!!