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Opinions of Saturday, 29 November 2008

Columnist: abass ahmed

A Government That Cares?

Most of us home and abroad have resorted to sit back, on the sidelines, while watch proceedings of governance unfold in our beloved country, while await to see what comes of the huge and chunk promises, of the men who think are clever and can outfox Ghanaians all the time.

You are easily branded anti-NPP all the time should you lay bare the cries and woeful plights of the suffering Ghana-man for all to see. Many a people have branded Kwasi Pratt and his team of the vociferous listen-to-our-pleas activists as enemies of the ruling NPP acting as agents of the main nemesis to the NPP. Poor thing! Does it mean there’s no such thing as objectivity but that every Ghanaian is not unattached and prejudiced? No Sir! Do not kill the spirits of the few concerned neutral ones, please!

All my life, I have lived by that one mentality: the government cannot easily and entirely transform the status-quo of the country without the people having to change and adjust their general attitudes and thinking, without having to make some sacrifices ourselves to lay down the platform of transition. This has helped me stay neutral, thus politically unattached, and would only get moved by the principles and policies of some want-power group or party which I believe will help get us out of the somewhat, seemingly perpetuating slump. Mr. Kufuor and the NPP came to preach one message: “positive change” and many of us thought that was the man right there and so we leaned to the positive-change crew. Alas, I do not believe the past eight years have come with any change positive. I remember how good my sleep was, on that fateful morning on election day in 2000, when my roommate kept bugging- telling me to get my butt up, to walk out, down from the 7th floor of Unity Hall at the KNUST, and to the taxi rank to catch a cab to Aboabo where my election franchise was registered, and to vote, for this one party called NPP, all for the reason of booting out the incumbent NDC, one party I never actually had mandated into power before. But my thumb takes sole responsibility, for mandating a party that cares not the least for the very thing it wanted power for. Poor thing!!

Do we have a government that cares?

In July, crude oil price soared worldwide, to an unprecedented high, at about $150 a barrel. Ghana, the UK and New York paid respective figures of around $5.00, $4.65 and $4. 35 for a gallon of a regular unleaded gas. Currently, crude oil price has plunged to a record low of about $49 per barrel, drop of about 67.3% and economists and financial analysts have come out to attribute this to the global credit crunch and economic meltdown. To assuage the burden of such global financial crisis on the people, governments have acted accordingly, the US leading the host. Now most cities in New York pay an average value of $2.15 for a gallon of regular unleaded gas. Somebody tell me how much Ghanaians pay for the same commodity. The uncountable single entities that constitute the unit of our economy in Ghana are entangled and altogether heavily dependent on gasoline prices. Raise gas prices and you have just succeeded in a hike of everything commodity or services, including even school fees and house rents. New Yorkers could confirm that there was no change in taxi fares even in July when crude price took center stage. Could same be said of our beloved Ghana? Instead of soaking and absorbing the burden meted on us by such cruel thing as economic meltdown, the wanna-be-rich ones upfront will not heed to the call. How sad! Do they really care?

Months before the start of the 2008 African Nations Cup in Ghana, stores, kiosks and petty-traders along the streets of major cities like Kumasi were looted and booted out, by people who allegedly were acting on a directive from the government, in a bid to ‘beautify’ the vicinity and to prepare for the then pending soccer festival. Masses lost jobs and others went out of business. While we still are bruising from damages of an unfulfilled promise of creating thousands of jobs, a pledge that was vehemently propagated and fostered during campaign era in 2000, I thought the smartest thing government would do was to try maintain and improve the already little private jobs and businesses; the only solaces of hope, at least until the promised ones are in place, not destroy them. Could somebody tell me how positively the soccer fiesta has impacted the lives of the unfortunate ones booted out and the petty businesses that got their stores and kiosks ransacked?

New York probably has the largest number of petty-traders worldwide, and this is the city believed to be the world’s capital; the crossroads of the globe. How farther beautification could you go than this city? Mayor Michael Bloomberg would not tell anybody to move his or her business until he has a strategically projected new location, making sure movement will not mar business. Do we see difference in governance here?

Does our government really care?

When Americans vote people in based on policies and principles that will propel the country forward, Ghanaians would push their leaders in on party and tribal lines. But I say to the good people of our nation: GHANA FIRST!

Now all I wish and care for is, Ghanaians would begin to think GHANA FIRST. And to have the confidence of going in for a candidate who truly wants to serve and would listen when we call, that candidate with an enormous audacity of hope for the people.


God bless my motherland.

abass ahmed