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Opinions of Thursday, 17 November 2016

Columnist: Ebo Quansah

Mahama has to lose the vote to free the people of Ghana

By Ebo Quansah

When the brakes of the old banger screeched to a halt at the Dzorwulu traffic lights on the George Walker Bush Highway, in Accra, scores of street vendors swarmed the vehicle.

I was getting a bit uncomfortable, as the sheer numbers made breathing a bit difficult. I asked for space and called for a bottle of water. But the numbers of vendors rather increased; each trying his or her luck, and coming out with every imaginable item.

One came close to the passenger window and drew a sword in a round container with the American flag embodied on it. Naturally, I was frightened and nearly screamed. Calmly, he walked away as if nothing had happened, mimicking words to the effect that it was meant for protection.

I looked out with the intention of calling the police. But there was nobody in uniform near. Before I could say jack, the man who drew the sword had disappeared with his offensive weapon. It was when the man with the sword had left that the frail-looking young lady, hawking what she called “bread cake,” made her entrance.

“Please buy some for me. I have been here for a long time, but business is bad,” she pleaded. I replied that I had just had my breakfast, and that I was on my way to a funeral in the Krobo area.

“In that case, give me money to go to the hospital. I am not well at all. But I have no money for the hospital,” she complained. When I told her that she could get treatment on the National Health Insurance Scheme,” she became even more morose.

“I have not had any proper treatment on the NHIS. Anytime, I go to the hospital, they want money. A nurse told me that my disease is not covered by the health insurance. I am dying slowly.”

Unfortunately, I could not offer any help when the green light came on, and our vehicle had to move before overzealous drivers turned their anger on us. The rest of the journey to Agomeda, was not that eventful.

It was on the way back that what turned out to be an opinion poll was conducted right before my nose on the same street. On the other side of the same Dzorwulu Junction, a hawker approached with a large table cloth in New Patriotic Party colours. Feigning interest in the ruling National Democratic Congress, I asked the vendor why he was not displaying my party’s colours.

‘Sorry sir,” he intoned. “I would have to run and bring it to you. I have one in NDC colours: But people would even want to assault you if you display it openly. It is a problem. But we have to live with it.”

Asked whether he would vote in the December elections, he replied enthusiastically. “I would vote. Most of us here, would vote for Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP. Mahama has been a disappointment and a joke. He has taken all of us for granted,” he said.

At Abeka Lapaz, another vendor virtually thrust a packet of tissue in NPP colours at me and said: “Boss, this is your winning formula.” I was a bit taken aback. It was not the tissue offered that brought me to my feet. The way the vendor, wearing an old T-shirt and fading canvas shoes, talked of a winning formula was what brought me on to my feet.

This man could be learned, I told myself. I engaged him in a short conversation. He is a teacher by profession, he told me. But he has to take to street hawking at the weekend to earn something. For nearly two years that he has been teaching, he has never ever been paid.

I had a bit of time on my hand with the traffic moving at a snail pace. The young man teaches at a location in the Central Region. But without his salary, he comes to Accra to hawk every weekend. He told me point blank that getting President Mahama and his NDC out of the Jubilee House, was not only an option. It was the project work of this part-time vendor and a number of his teaching colleagues.

“We are all rooting for Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his NPP. He will bring dignity to the teaching profession. You see, I have to earn a few bobs here to take me through the week. And I am a teacher. This cannot continue,” he complained. He took my telephone number and promised to get in touch with me regularly.

I have narrated these incidents to buttress my assertion that President John Dramani Mahama is on the last leg of his romance with the people of Ghana. The British would tell you that a few swans do not translate into a summer. In other words, the few examples I have narrated, could not constitute an opinion poll, but the ground swell of popular resentment for the President, and the way he has conducted affairs of state, speaks volumes.

Yesterday, the electronic media in Accra were awash with the news that a number of ill-tempered NDC activists, on a supposed health walk, threw stones and other missiles into the Nima residence of the New Patriotic Party presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

The interesting scenario is that the attackers were led by Mr. Ako Gunn, alias Montie Mugabe. This is a person who should have been behind bars by now, following his conviction by the Supreme Court in Accra. The fact that President Mahama misused his powers to order his release, tells everything about how the Head of State has divided this society.

For me, the attack on the residence of the NPP flagbearer is a clear manifestation of frustration in the rank and file of the NDC. The ruling party has run out of ideas and is staring defeat at the polls.

As Nana Akomea, NPP Communications Director, stated in the party’s statement on the issue, the attack was deliberately staged “to bait the NPP into responding.” Some of us hope and pray that NPP activists would not buy into that kind of ugly politics.

It is of importance though, that the National Peace Council and civil society organisations take note of the wanton attack on the residence of the next President of the Republic of Ghana.

Lest I forget, what has happened to the police investigations into the attack on the headquarters of the NPP at Asylum Down in Accra, when deadly weapons were allegedly retrieved? Have Mr. John Kudalor and his charges at the Police Headquarters in Accra lost interest in the case, because the incriminating evidence they were looking for from the party in opposition did not materialise?

While we are at it, it is pertinent to demand of the police, under the command of the current Inspector General of Police, the right, as a people, to know the outcome of the investigation they conducted into the firing of arms from the car of Dr. Benjamin Kunbuor, the current Minister of Defence.

Once upon a time, when the chain-smoking Cabinet Minister was holding the portfolio for the Interior, he reported an attack on his person by some unknown assailants, who allegedly fired live pellets into a vehicle he was driving.

It was one report that caused a lot of stir? Who are those who attacked the Minister? What were their motives? The police got to work and issued a preliminary report suggesting that the pellet that damaged the windscreen of the then Minister of Defence, was, indeed, fired from the inside of his own vehicle.

A number of months down the line, the police have not told the good people of Ghana the outcome of the lead they have followed. Meanwhile, the man who might have fired the gun from his own car has moved from the Interior to Defence, where guns are even easier to come by. That is how the Mahama administration looks after its own.

On the national front, the President and all his men have abandoned their briefs at the Jubilee House, for which the State of Ghana funds their rather comfortable lifestyles, and are on the campaign trail, using state resources in a gargantuan display of gerrymandering, in the hope that the people of Ghana would tolerate four more years of disaster.

As you read this peace, the Mahamean Economic Theory, with its Terkpernomics of borrowing to fix every available problem, has plunged this nation into a quagmire of huge loans. In January 2009, when President John Agyekum Kufuor and his NPP were exiting power, this nation owed GH¢9.5 billion to internal and external creditors. Now our debts have ballooned to nearly GH¢150 billion.

Almost all social interventionists policies bequeathed to the NDC have collapsed. And they say, they want four more years. Walahi! Eremba so! It is in President Mahama’s own interest to exit, rather than to overstay his welcome and continue to pile on the debts and misery for the average Ghanaian.

JM TWA SO!