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Opinions of Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Columnist: Mohammed Rabiu Adam

COVID-19 pandemic and partisan politics in Ghana

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The outbreak of borderless coronavirus or COVID-19 from the epicenter of Wuhan in China to other countries Ghana not excepted.

As of 11th April 2020, the British Broadcast Corporation (BBC) reports that globally 1.6 million with 95,000 death cases have been recorded. Similarly, the United States of America is leading the world chart with 462,000 and 16,500 death cases. However, New York as an independent state has the highest case being 159,937 followed by Spain with 153,000 and Italy with 143,333 cases of the pandemic.

According to Ghana Health Service on 11th April 2020, Ghana currently has 378 cases with 6 death and 4 recoveries. The government of Ghana and Ghanaians is relentlessly working to curb the spread of the virus but as days unfold; the cases keep increasing reaching out to other regions. The two main political parties in the countries being the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP) have successfully turned the COVID-19 crisis into game of chess in their bid to remain as best for the pending general elections.

The emerges of the political gimmick by the main political parties in the fight against the spread of the virus may turn out to be negative to the country is nationalism and patriotism are not placed at the forefront of the battle.

The president of the Republic His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo in his continuous 6-time engagements with the nation has put in place measures spanning from legislations, logistics procurement, constituting varying teams, meeting of key stakeholders, numerous social interventions and above all injecting of hopes in the citizens.

The interventions that the government has so far rolled out have dire consequences on both the citizenry and state in the medium and long term. Specific among the social interventions is the pronouncement of the partial lockdown of some selected cities in the countries with called on the Ghanaians to adhere to social distancing, institutions have temporarily shut with the exception of those providing essential services.

Further, the government has offered a tax waiver for frontlines workers in the health sector for the sacrifice work that they are doing.

A key essential ingredient in the fight against of the deadly COVID-19 being regular washing of the hands has reached the president thereby declared the free water consumption of water for the month of April, May and June. In his last address to the nation on the 9th of April, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo announced another intervention as “Government will fully absorb electricity bills for the poorest of the poor, i.e. for all lifeline consumers, that is free electricity for persons who consume zero (0) to fifty (50) kilowatt-hours a month for this period.

In addition, for all other consumers, residential and commercial, Government will absorb, again, fifty percent (50%) of your electricity bill for this period, using your March 2020 bill as your benchmark”. These interventions are geared toward cushioning the social and economic well-being of the people as they continue to observe the partial lockdown.

The choice of democracy as the best option form of governance in this modern era come with its disadvantages. The politicians once in the power only thinks about how to retain it and similarly the opposition all efforts is to ensure the government is made unpopular in the eyes of the populace. This make democracy in our part of the world laughable because the coded agenda is about individual and not national interest.

The partisan tentacles is at its apogee when the unused state funded edifice have been become the last resource to the crisis at hand for isolating, quarantining suspected persons, as house tested positive persons. While the government on one hand is indirectly refusing to publicly acknowledge the work output of President Mahama administration, some are even of the view that the facilities were not funded by the central government therefore credit could not be given to the past government.

The NDC communicators are at every media landscape calling for the recognition of the investment done in infrastructural particularly at the health sector. The back and front of this circular-debate could be put in the form of a question, as “Is it Ghanaians who own Ghana or NPP and NDC?.” Governance is a process and therefore the state interest must be the ultimate all cost first before all other things.

While the opposition NDC thinks they are graciously contributing towards minimizing the spread of the disease, they are equally deemed to be pulling the strings. On other hands, the party in government in an attempt to tackle the problem head-on is seen rather by others to be campaigning for the coming general elections 2020. Upon the President's announcement of the social intervention, its supporters took to the social media in jubilant mood and in the process alerting each other about coming election as done deal because the government is being caring to the people.

There and then the opposition supporters appeared saying they made the said recommendations to the government. When will the focus be Ghana first and not my party?

Again, both the incumbent members of parliament seeking re-election, candidates and aspirants to enter the august house have joined the wagon. They are seen directly donating and distributing personal protective equipment, hand sanitisers and veronica bucket branded in with their posters and party colours to the various hospitals. The cars used for the supposed kind gesture are branded in party colour and even where the state in the one in-charge of the said gesture.

Time has come for fostering social connectivity with one another in our communities for living to witness tomorrow only when we place national interest first as against party interest. Wherever ideas come to be brought to mitigate this deadly virus should be employed as COVID-19 does not know party colors. One would have expected to see partisan politics being relegated to background so we could defeat the disease first.

Countries with better healthcare system have recorded higher cases and death than we do, therefore should ring a bell of unity in our discourses.

We should as citizens be ready to adjust and bit the bullet after the coronavirus has been defeated for the global economy will experience a drastic downward trend and Ghana will face it. Finally, we have to respect and value ourselves in this hard time by staying in our homes, wash our hand under running water with soap and use hand sanitizer to keep us safe.