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Opinions of Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Columnist: Newton-Offei, Justice Abeeku

Dubai amidst poverty, filth and lost-pride

New Circle Interchange New Circle Interchange

I was listening to joynews@midday on Friday,18th November,2016, when I heard a news item about president John Mahama on a campaign in northern region, where he said “I have been forced to campaign as if I am rather the one in opposition and looking for power”. In any of these developed nations where the media is vibrant and every pronouncement of the president is subjected to ruthless scrutiny, that statement would have captured the headlines for weeks.

In the real sense, what the president meant was that, he claims to have achieved so much, yet, his works are not speaking for him and therefore he has come under pressure to work his a matter of fact, he has had the occasion to bitterly complain about his campaign messages not reaching the masses, and erroneously went further to blame an imaginary “cabal in the media for blocking’ his wonderful messages from the media space. But the truth is, anybody who can transform Ghana into the status of Dubai, will never have to campaign more than the opposition, to be re-elected.

Propaganda machine

Meanwhile, ndc as an institution, has over 200 print and electronic media outlets with uncountable affiliates across the length and breadth of the country. NDC can also boast of a legion of highly vociferous prepaid journalistic charlatans and some half-baked broadcasters on tv/radio, who are always briefed by the ndc propaganda machine and equip them with well-prepared hymnal from which they troop to radio/tv stations, daily, to throw rocks into the eyes of ordinary unsuspecting Ghanaians. So, if in the light of all these conscious efforts by the ndc to deceive the people do not seem to be yielding results and therefore forcing John Mahama to literally cover every blade on the campaign trail just to get his message across, then, it stands to reason that, indeed, the message is about something which does not exist. The point is, Ghanaians are not blind, and neither are we unappreciative of good things around us; the reason why John Mahama has come under so much pressure in the ongoing electioneering campaign, is very simple: he has failed to perform and his tenure has been characterized by unbridled corruption we have never experienced in our nation’s history.

Integrated development

As a matter of fact, development itself form is a good thing when it is properly tailored to address key needs of ordinary members of society. This must also not come at a cut-throat cost and process to dream and execute it must neither be shrouded in secrecy nor soaked in corruption. Development of a nation by way of physical infrastructure must be dictated by careful planning and executed with precision. It must also be well-integrated to ensure convenience and accessibility. Indeed, examples of these abounds, not in these developed countries but right here on the African continent. A classic case in focus is Rwanda, a country that only a little over 2decades ago, was plunged into a devastating civil strife during which an estimated 1m Rwandans, specifically Tutsi and moderate Hutus, were massacred within a period of just 100days.

The capital of Rwanda has been rated amongst the cleanest, globally, in several UNESCO reports. The city of Kigali has become a center-piece for international tourists and hosting of very important global meetings. This feat has been achieved because the planning and physical outlay of Kigali is comprehensive and well-integrated. The country’s road network is tarmacked [as in airport runways]; the environment has been meticulously encapsulated in well-manicured greenery with pedestrian walkways along the entire road network.

But taking into consideration the level of huge razzmatazz that characterized last Monday night’s commissioning of the Circle Interchange, it is evidently clear that, after nearly 60years as an independent nation, Ghana is still crawling. The project whose contract figure is heavily over-bloated, has been executed without proper drainage system; and since this location is prone to flooding, we are all waiting with baited breath for the next seasonal rains.

Again, the project is situated amid a mega-slam where street hawkers have taken over the entire pavements and forcing pedestrians onto the is for the fact that, aesthetically, the environment in which the structure is situated is not up to scratch, that, Monday 14th November,2016 ceremony was deliberately held under the cover of darkness.

I decided to use the area the following morning, on my way to the office, and I saw works still being done in the area, specifically the location of the fountain where it is being touted as Dubai. Now, the noise, jubilation and propaganda have died down, and we are all waiting with baited breath, arrival of the next raining season. And I’m saying so because the enclave where this interchange is situated is a known flood-prone area. The place serves as a receptacle for flood waters from s for as the Akwapim Ridge, and with the lack of incorporation of proper drainage system in the project, I personally see it as a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode at the next heavy rains.

Circle and Mallam interchanges

Again, the project is being touted as the biggest, longest and highest interchange in West Africa but I personally don’t see where such level of obscene insipid propaganda drive is coming from. Admittedly, I’m not an expert but from my lame-man’s view, it is obvious the Mallam interchange carries much more vehicular traffic, and, has longer stretch than the one at Kwame Nkrumah circle. Furthermore, the Mallam structure, like all major interchanges in Ghana, is fully concretized and therefore capable of withstanding all vehicles, irrespective of tonnage, unlike the circle one which is made of steel and therefore incapable of withstanding heavy trucks. The volume of traffic jam/time wasted which the Mallam interchange eliminated, is much more than what is being touted as having been eliminated by the one at circle.

Why are your children?

I was in Britain when Anthony Linton Blair became the Prime Minister in 1996.he enrolled his young son in Eaton, an elite private school, and as expected, the British media took him on for that move because as leader if the country, he was expected to fix the government schools to the standard where he, as first gentleman for the land, would be comfortable educating his child and confident of quality that will be imbibed in him.

But rather ironically, we have a president who claims to have transmogrified Ghana into Dubai, by way of developmental projects in all aspects of the economy, yet, has his children domiciled in this very Dubai having the best of education at prohibitive cost and enjoying the luxury that will make even Saudi Arabian Sheikhs go green with envy. And as expected, this issue is not making the headlines. The media is rather deeply engrossed in this praise-singing enterprise for the reward of juicy ‘Pentecostal’ handshakes from corrupt ndc government officials.

For our media practitioners who were seen and heard on air, literally jumping up-and-down in repugnant propaganda frenzy claiming the Dubai has finally arrived in Ghana, I would like to challenge them to take a trip, not to any of these developed countries, but to Rwanda, right here on the African continent, and they will appreciate what building a country by way of well-integrated infrastructural developments and sheer aesthetics is all about. I land at Kigali airport in April this year, and momentarily, I thought I was in Geneva. Our lost-pride John Mahama claims to have transformed Ghana into Dubai so it is prudent to delve into some comparison here: while Ghana police service lacks ordinary fuel to keep its Mahindra jalopies on the road, Dubai police owned some of the most luxurious and high end performance cars. This exotic and jaw dropping squad of cars includes Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, Ferrari FF, Bentley Continental GT, Chevrolet Camaro SS, Ford Mustang GT, limited edition Aston Martin One-77 and many more.

The people of Ghana, who used to be the proudest on the African continent and the world over, have now been reduced to submissive paupers with rock-bottom self-esteem, by visionless and corrupt leadership who have also succeeded in compromising the media to further keep the people in the dark. Ghanaians who once walked with their chest high, nationalistically, have now been reduced to dancing brass-band music at the commissioning of an ordinary steel bridge situated amid mountainous filth, the dead Odaw river and general chaotic environment.

After 60years of independence, and with our enormous human and natural resources, Ghana should not have been reduced to such a pitiful state where an ordinary piece of infrastructure should attract such attention, with the NDC government spending enormous resources to bus supporters to the commissioning to engage in mindless praise-singing. We have not suffered a war, neither do we lack the needed resources; it is bad, corrupt and visionless leadership that has reduced us to the level of where we lack so much self-confidence, to be shouting for joy over a mere interchange.

Justice Abeeku Newton-Offei E-mail: