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Opinions of Friday, 8 January 2016

Columnist: Daily Guide

A tragic 2015, a suffocating 2016

It is amazing how fast days run these days. When days run fast, they come with both the good and the bad. To the prisoner, his days of incarceration reduce by the day as he looks forward towards regaining his freedom. To the debtor, the faster the days run, the closer he gets to his creditors. To the poor and the distressed, the prayer is that the new days come with hope and a change for the better. That is why the traditional greetings by Ghanaians during the Christmas and New Year festivities have been that ‘next year by this time, we should be better than this; that our sorrows and problems would have been consigned to the dustbin and prosperity would have been our lot’.

I remember as a child growing up in Takoradi, we would contribute pesewas to have a few drums for the purpose of the Christmas. We moved from house to house where we played and sang for the tenants or better still the occupants to donate something to us for the Christmas. The donations could be in the form of sweets, ‘crackers’, food or money. More often than not, we preferred the one pesewa or three-pence coins. Once we received any of these, our final message was ‘Maame woyemu Ye, Dabi ebo wo ntta’, which literally translates ‘Madam you are so kind, may God bless you with twins’, and they responded amen. Dare tell any woman today that you wish her twins and you will hear what she will tell you.

Most Ghanaians had great expectations towards the year 2015 when the year 2014 was unwillingly moving towards the end. Ghanaians, as usual, built their future on hope and not on concrete plans and actions which had the potential to improve their lot. Our hopes for the future were hinged on those in whose hands we had entrusted our collective resources and the promises and assurances they gave to us. While I believe more on planning one’s life and working very hard towards the attainment of those plans, it is also a fact that a man’s attitude towards any plan is the hope and belief that the plan will work. I am sure most Ghanaians could not achieve their set targets in 2015 not because they did not believe in their own plans; the painful truth is that this nation went through a very negative influencing environment.

Surely, there were some negative external factors which had very bad effect on the nation, gold prices had plummeted in the last 24 months, cocoa prices have not seen appreciable stability and oil prices have had their lowest point in the last 12 years. These are factors among many others that can influence the economic performance of any country. However, the level of effects of the above factors on any economy will also depend on the internal policies of the handlers of that country’s resources and policies that direct the economy.

Any Accounting student or practitioner will tell you that for one to have clean Books and a stable financial position in the scheme of things, two major ingredients are very much essential. The revenue side, which is how much monies come to the entity from various legitimate sources and the expenditure side which is the appropriation of funds in the most efficient and effective manner. Nations which are able to withstand external economic shocks look more to the expenditure side of their finances than the revenue side. Common sense will tell you that one has full control over expenditure, but little control over revenues.

The year 2015 will go down the history of this country as the most difficult period of our history since the fourth Republic. The reason is not about shortage of revenues, the problem is about thievery of public funds with impunity. It is about Mahama’s insensitivity towards the cries of the people of this country. Yes, this is the only President in the history of the civilized world who looks straight in the eyes of his pitiable citizens, complaining of hardships, pleading for mitigation, and the response is, ‘ I am a dead goat, I fear no knife’. Meaning, ‘I don’t care what you say or what happens to you.’

This is the only President in the civilized world, who makes a promise, asks his citizens to read his lip, and have the confidence that he was going to solve a problem which has lingered on for four years and fails to honour that promise and still beats his chest and prides himself of unprecedented achievements. This is the only President elected through adult suffrage, who has made thievery an official policy and honours and elevates his appointees who have excelled in the art of stealing in the name of governance. Yes, I initially talked about the fall in crude oil prices on the international market because, courtesy President Kufuor, Ghana is producing crude oil in commercial quantities. In that case, a fall in the world market price affect our revenues from the oil, but a country like Ghana which is a net importer of crude oil must benefit from the sharp drop in crude oil prices.

Poor Ghanaians, we have not benefited from this global relief and as if the hardships of 2015 were not enough an excruciating economic quagmire, the insensitive block-headed Mahama administration finds it relieving to compound the existing problems by putting salt into the wounds of an already bleeding citizenry just at the beginning of the year. Various taxes have been smuggled into an unobserving Parliament to approve to further aggravate our situation. The last Christmas happened to be the worst in recent times, most parents decided to celebrate it modestly so they can meet their wards educational and other obligations in the new year.

The people of this country are gnashing their teeth, wringing their arms in despair and utter regret, as if they are cursing their creator for imposing an inhumane, insensitive, careless, irresponsive, bunch of sadists, who relish in the pain of the mass of the people whose interest they are supposed to work towards, but where cometh their salvation before November 7.

The year 2015 saw among others, fire gutting the Medical Stores of Ghana Health Services in Tema, no report has come to the public as yet, one way of covering up corruption and thievery under Mahama. Filth which took the lives of over 200 Ghanaians in Accra alone through cholera climaxed its activity on June 3 when fire was engaged to fuel, again in Accra and also took away almost 200 lives all under the Mahama administration.

Doctors had to strike for over a month to get the Mahama administration to sit down to address their needs, meanwhile nurses were not paid after having worked for more than two years, young doctors also had not received their salaries for years until they came to Accra to live with the Controller and Accountant General. Don’t forget the Nursing Trainees, teachers and a host of public servants treated with contempt in the year just gone by. One of the most amazing acts of governmental indiscipline was the Police recruitment scam. It was a big shame and a tragic way of doing things under Mahama.

The worst of 2015 was the institutionalized corruption at the Ministry of Transport headed by the President himself. A supposedly USD29million project done on the Kumasi Airport was too high a cost for the maintenance of the run-way when in Ethiopia, a similar amount is being used to build a complete airport from the scratch. Do you remember the scandalous to- err- is- human thievery at the DVLA also under the same Ministry? A GH¢3.6 million project ended up being GH¢9.3million? The Ministry crowned its stealing expedition in the year with bus branding at the cost of GH¢3.6 million. The lady might have resigned because she has had more than enough or the crooks were feeding fat and rubbing her lips with the oil from the feast.

One would have expected a change in the attitudes of brainless brigands parading as leaders for the year 2016, but nay, if last year was tragic, 2016 has begun with suffocation. Just wondering how many will survive the year. I pledged to halt mahogany bitters, but circumstances……………….