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Opinions of Friday, 17 June 2011

Columnist: Akoto, Akwasi A. Afrifa

Admit it Mr. President, STX is Dead.

Political motivation aside, what would be some of the reasons that would stop a Ghanaian government from funding a domestic company that has contracted a project in another country? Put another way, would you support government to fund a local company to undertake a project in another country, in which the founder of the ruling party – and his wife who is contesting the sitting president in his first term- has sworn to abrogate the contract when she comes to power; not to talk about the opposition and for good reasons too? I thought not. The Korean Government did not think so either.
According to government’s chief liar, Deputy Information Minister, Samuel A. Okudjeto, the Korean government, supposed – expected- to have funded the STX housing deal in Ghana, have now confirmed that it would not be able to honor “its word” - a polite way of saying that the deal is bad. Not even a last minute politically motivated friendly football match – cynics’ claim- between the two nations had been able to impress the Koreans. Evidently the Korean government has realized that ambitious programs like the Real Deal and the various five year plans could not have dared to undertake to put up 200,000 houses in five years; unless , of course the STX company have in their possession Aladdin’s lamb- one rub and thy wish is done.
So here we are, five months since the sod cutting of STX,-with a fanfare befitting a coronation- not a single nail has been hammered to a plank.
President Kufuor, in his wisdom, started thousands of affordable houses to help arrest the housing shortage in the country. His government also added to the national wealth, oil, the most significant booty since Tetteh Quashie brought cocoa to Ghana. If anything else, many had expected the Mills government to continue what President Kufuor had started. After all, Mills has been doing just that. About 50% of projects that the President has commissioned in the past five months, and since 2009, were started by the NPP. By this time, President Mills would have been basking in greater glory, if he had also been commissioning, at least, 50% of the affordable housing projects that Kufuor started.
Instead millions of Cedis have been wasted on wineing and dining STX officials; on flying government officials to and from Seoul more than a dozen times; and in educating – sedating- citizens about STX through documentaries, pamphlets, ad blitz etc, all to what end….to distract Ghanaians?
Now government is using fairy tale language and words like “delayed”, “alternatives”, “Plan B” “optimistic” to try and dress up and prop up a dead deal; words fit for Kindergarteners. Government seems to think that as long Kufuor left behind thousands of NEARLY COMPLETED - uncompleted- affordable houses, Ghanaians would tolerate their lies and “delays” and “alternatives” and “Plan Bs”. Government seems to think that it is justifiable not to have put up a single STX house so far, as long as Kufuor failed to finish the thousands of houses - 70% complete- before his time expired (You just have to listen to government spokespeople for a minute to get an idea. They express fake frustration over “the delay” for only a minute then digress into their usual ritual: Kufuor bashing.) But it will not wash.
Mr. President, you have once again proven that your government lacks the ability to initiate anything grand from the scratch. You have tried and you couldn’t, Mr. President.
They say you are humble. Do the right “thang”, Mr. President. Kindly eat humble pie and admit that the STX deal is dead. If a credible country like Korea, with its enviable international standing, has turned you down, your chances of succeeding elsewhere are slim.
We simply can’t afford experimentations with “delays”, “Plan Bs”, “optimism”, “alternatives” whiles rain and flood continue to destroy and wash away entire villages/towns and buildings; and whiles our security personnel continues to live in deplorable conditions.
Cut our losses. With the little money that the country has, go back and continue the affordable houses that the NPP started, as many suggested in the beginning - and you have abandoned.
The NPP will finish what they started and some more when Ghanaians wake up in time to vote you out in 2012. For Nana knows how Kufuor got the funding to start the housing project. He also knows how to secure funding from different sources. You don’t. You 've proved it.

Akwasi A. Afrifa Akoto.