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Opinions of Sunday, 27 July 2014

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.

Dr. Amoako Baah makes a lot of sense

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Friday, July 25, 2014
In commenting on pertinent national affairs, Dr. Richard Amoako Baah (a political science lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology) has of late said a lot but hasn’t turned my crank, apparently because I don’t agree with his viewpoints, especially those undermining the Mahama-led administration. I have quickly dismissed much of his effusions as the outpourings of a frustrated academic seeking to draw attention to himself in view of what he teaches. In other words, I have seen him as steeping out of the political science box into the national arena to do politics—for whatever purpose only he can best know and tell.
But he has come out again to say what resonates with me at many levels, taking out his impetuous claim that because President Mahama hasn’t been able to fulfill the electioneering campaign promises made to Ghanaians, he has lost credibility. I don’t think that President Mahama’s inability to fulfill those promises is because he is unprincipled or politically naïve or mischievous. After all, the resources for funding projects that he promised won’t come from his private coffers. They would come from the national coffers that the hardworking Ghanaian workers feed with their tax money and other contributions.
It is clear that President Mahama’s government is facing serious obstacles and can’t fulfill those promises until those obstacles are tackled. The economic situation doesn’t allow for any wholesale fulfillment of promises, not because President Mahama is callous or unconscionable. He knows the implications and should be left to his own Fate on that score. To focus on that element and create the kind of impression that Dr. Amoako Baah has wrought is baseless, at least, and unbecoming of such an academic, to put it bluntly.
This aspect of Dr. Amoako Baah’s utterances notwithstanding, there are other issues stemming from him that I totally agree with:
• It will be prudent for the president to address the whole nation and assure the citizenry of the steps government is taking to address issues to do with the high cost of living (within the context of yesterday’s nationwide demonstration by organized labour and identifiable sections of the citizenry). "Normally I would say it (a nationwide address) will reassure people. But the problem is that the president has given so many promises he has not kept that I am afraid he has lost that credibility. Maybe that is why he doesn't come out to do those things. But nonetheless as long as he remains president he should be forward looking and tackle the bull by the horn."
Some of us have asked the President to be proactive in such instances and to use the nationwide broadcast as a way of reaching out to the people; but hasn’t done so, taking comfort in operating from his office at the Flagstaff House, doing the age-old stale routine job of commissioning envoys and receiving letters of accreditation from others posted to Ghana, among other engagements. Does he not see the need for anything beyond such routine engagements to know how to claw back lost grounds?
• The Employment Minister, Haruna Iddrisu received a petition from the aggrieved workers and promised them government would address their grievances. But Dr Amoako Baah says the assurances by the Minister are not enough. He told Joy News' Francisca Kakra Forson, Friday, the minister only spoke to suffering workers in the formal sector but there are millions others in the informal sector, such as 'kayayei' (head porters) who are worst hit by the economic crisis and whose concerns must also be addressed by the president himself.
True. Who is Haruna Iddrissu when it comes to the enormous problems that provoked the demonstrations and are dangerously undercutting the government’s support base? He is no high-ranking government official nor does he command any trust, confidence, or optimism that the problems raised in the petition will be addressed to end suffering. To put it more pointedly, even though it is known that the petition would reach the President, it cannot be accepted that Haruna Iddrissu should be the one to front for the President on the occasion. Why is the President himself not visibly handling issues to prove to the angry demonstrators and Ghanaians critical of his government’s inability to solve problems that he is on top of the situation?
Dr. Amoako Baah said that he was surprised that the president did not intervene in the issue relating to the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and waited till the angry lecturers declared a strike. “It is not always about money. It is important for the president to diffuse the anger by talking to people”.
True again. Being proactive means establishing a good and reliable working relationship with all segments of the society that matter to national development efforts. Delegating authority so others can engage such constituents is good, but in this case when the President comes across as detached from the people, it is wrong for him not to interact with UTAG/POTAG or the Ghana Medical Association. What is preventing him from dealing directly with these constituencies at this time that tension is rising because of the worsening economic situation? Will he turn round to snuggle to these same constituencies and many others when it is time to look for votes and a renewal of his mandate?
It must be clear to President Mahama at this point in his handling of affairs that he is gradually detaching himself from the “ground” and needs to return there if only it will help him know exactly why the people are complaining and becoming disaffected by the day; or why doing things to bring them on board will eliminate the loopholes that his political opponents and bitter critics are exploiting in their campaign of calumny against him. Only when he re-connects with the “ground” will he see things beyond where his field of vision has limited him for now. Is he really listening and gearing up to act decisively?
I shall return…
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