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Opinions of Friday, 13 March 2009

Columnist: Panford, Kwamina Mbra

Can Mills Move Us Forward?

BY Kwamina Mbra Panford.

We have all been elated by the unrestrained compliments from all over the world Ghana received as a result of the relatively peaceful elections. The political maturity displayed has made Ghana and Africa proud. Now, can we move forward and top this with a solid socio- economic progress?

Unfortunately some Ghanaians perceive elections like a football game; Kotoko vs. Hearts. We are not going to move forward if we do not abandon this attitude. We have to know that if President Atta Mills succeeds, we are all going to benefit (the benefits may not be equal). God have mercy on us all if he fails. If you are going to stand on the sidelines, remember what Alexander Pope (the British poet) wrote; “those who do not want to take part in politics must be prepared to be ruled by fools! “

There are serious problems that have been undermining our socio- economic development. No matter how much we like or dispize Presidents Rawlings and Kuffour, their leadership is what has put us where we are and it is not pretty. Don’t you salivate when you read that the price of gold has hit $ 1000 an ounce? Our share is 5%!!! You may ask how come? Ask Presidents Rawlings and Kuffour.

Today, I am pleading to all my fellow Ghanaians to examine closely these facts:

1) The Ghana Telecom and Vodaphone contract leaves a lot to be desired. Do you realize Vodaphone virtually owns all the land and buildings Ghana Telecom owned? I am not advocating that the agreement be abrogated. It definitely needs to be reviewed. Ghana can never move forward if our Govt. is going to sign such contracts that are inimical to our national interests. And may I ask? Why do our Govt. always sign contracts that make us orphans in our own country???

2) One of the worst sections of our constitution is on ESB. Please remember ESB- End of Service Benefits. I wrote in 2001 that this odious section must be reviewed. It is not right for our politicians- Presidents and all- to leave office empty handed. But do they have to plunder the country? Some of our officials deliberately buy very expensive vehicles towards the end of their terms and because of ESB carry them home like spoils of war- booty. This happened at the end of Rawlings and Kuffour terms. We have to stop this please President Atta Mills put an end to this daylight robbery of the poor Ghanaian.The argument that the terms are etched in the constitution is bogus. Was the constitution written for or against Ghana?

3) Do you remember the $ 20,000 and $ 25,000 our parliamentarians received as loans 2001 and 2005? For buying vehicles? What justifies these? Can we prevent it in 2009? Can we pre-empt this daylight robbery???.

4) The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) implemented by the Kuffour Govt. was one of the best things that happened to Ghana. Making the acceptance of usage national was a great step in the right direction. NHIS is however so fraught with corruption that the whole scheme is already shaking from its foundation. Several health institutions are waiting for re-imbursement for their services. We have to understand that “chopping” NHIS money is tantamount to murdering our poor citizens.

5) Political scientists are seriously analyzing why the NPP lost heavily in the Central and Western Regions. The answer is very simple- FISHING. Disgracefully our local fishermen have to fend- off foreigners and their ultra modern fishing travelers, with their puny boats. Have you bought fish in Ghana lately? When a government fails to protect the livelihood of our poor local people at least they have to face the wrath of their AK 48 (thumbs) over to you Atta.

6) Just like fishing the NPP suffered a similar fate in Accra. I talked with a few people in Accra before the Dec 7th elections. The Gas were furious about the sale of their lands. .The politicians sold Govt. lands to themselves and then to foreigners. The L I of 1962 stated categorically that; any land acquired by the government for national usage has to be given back to the original owners if it is not used accordingly. The sale of government bungalows to foreigners must cease. This is treasonous. The Kuffour and Rawlings governments sold government bungalows to foreigners using our own banks’ money. As co- lateral, they used the same land and buildings. (It is called using your own hands to slap you).

7) In Nov, 2008 a tipper truck running away from the forest police ran head- on into a 207 Mercedes bus killing 24 people in Techiman, Brong Ahafo. Why? Ghanaian timber contractors have to steal timber!!! ” 15 Ghanaian timber companies were pre-qualified to bid for Ghanaian wood plantations. As the Ghanaian contractors “prepare for actual bidding, 3 big lots totaling 35,000 acres were removed from the list “when we asked why these 3 lots were removed from the list, Forestry Commission reply was that they were not going to sell them for environmental and security concerns? “Two weeks later,”the lots… were allocated to a foreign company based in Singapore at the price of GHC 140 per cubic meter, which is less than 50% of prices of what the Ghanaians paid for”. The corruption was so blatant. Full Story- Daily Graphic Oct 31st 2008.

8) Can the government ban the importation of toothpicks? Is it not a disgrace? In the early 1960’s, we were making our own radios (AKASANOMA) and assembling Neoplan buses. When Presidents Kuffour came to power (2001) we were importing 32% of our rice needs. Now we import 80%. Darko Farms ( Mr. Kwabena Darko) was a leader in developing poultry farms, enormously helping employment and the Ghanaian economy. Now he’s a big importer of poultry. President Atta Mills, can we have our Jute factory back? Who needs “Kooko boto” (cocoa bags) more than Ghana?

My fellows Ghanaians, too many times we have watched our country being misruled and unabashedly corrupt. Ghana is not poor- have you observed the inflow of foreigners into Ghana lately? An African American asked? “Have you ever seen a rich man go to a poor man’s house to steal?” Our politicians are killing us. Are you not moved when you see our youth selling “pure water” at 7’ o’clock in the morning at the intersection? Don’t you feel embarrassed when a decently dressed adult begs you for money to buy food?

What can we do? We have to start putting pressure on our politicians now. Controversy over ESB (End of Service Benefits) must stop with President Atta Mills. The major contracts like Vodaphone’s and Ashanti Gold field’s must be scrutinized.We have to know the truth about Nsawam Cannery. Are we going to watch our government sign bogus contracts for our Oil and then cry?

We need to know the truth about the $25 million and Chicanery(?) Hesse Commission we need to know what contracts the government has signed with the Oil companies Now. Years ago, our politicians loved to perform for glory. Now they steal with impunity. The Govt. blatantly steal and the Opposition turns its head in the other direction. The Opposition knows its turn will come. LET PRESIDENT JOHN EVANS ATTA MILLS PUT AND END TO THIS VICIOUS CIRCLE. IF YOU PEEL THE VENEER OFF THE FACES OF THE ORDINARY GHANAIAN, YOU WILL SEE TEARS.