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Opinions of Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Columnist: Appiah, Kofi

Ghana fetching water with basket or mosquito net

All over the world, speaker after speaker at either local or international conferences, political rallies, campaign platforms, symposia, forums or theatres have addressed the gathering, their audience or group of listeners as thus: “Ladies and Gentlemen” before any further or the actual speech followed till that speaker finished whatever he/she wanted to say before retiring to his/her seat for the final hand of applause. No matter how, where and when the speech was read and in whatever language it was spoken; whether it was English, French, Spanish, German, Swahili, Hausa, Latin, Greek or Chinese at all, it was always started with ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’; very seldom were the addresses prefixed with adjectival phrases like ‘distinguished ladies and gentlemen . . . ’ in certain cases except where some personalities in our African context, included special personalities and dignitaries like traditional chiefs, queen-mothers that the audience were addressed as ‘Nananom,’ Nii Mmee, Naa Mmee, before the ladies and gentlemen when they were part of the audience, otherwise, the speaker would go straight to the usual international practice as ‘ladies and gentlemen’. As this has been the sort of international acceptable norm and practice, I was at a loss when I heard our revered head of State and president of the Republic in a flagger basted posture on Tuesday, January 7, soon after the swearing-in address. Ghanaians and the world at large were surprised to hear him say – ‘Country women and men’ that was unheard of (tautology) in speeches instead of countrymen and women; and he kept on repeating himself without noticing that his speech writers had done him a great harm and unpardonable disservice for not schooling him at the presidency before coming out in the open with that kind of presentation. If it were a slip of tongue, the repetition would not come thus far. Many people wonder whether someone of his caliber who was not a novice in communication skills but a proficient expert like him should fumble like he did. Mr. President, your speech writers should have told you after the swearing-in day that you goofed miser -ably because it is never said anywhere like ‘Country women and men’ but rather countrymen and women before the speech continued.
“Fellow countrywomen and men”, wasn’t February 7 exactly a month after the swearing in of HE Mahama as president of the Republic of Ghana? And did I hear that he was set for another travelling expedition; this time round, to the United Kingdom. Was it at the invitation of the British Government or a private? If it was a private visit, did it have something to do with the electoral dispute being contested in our law courts? What influence, then, will that visit have on the determination of the case pending at the court and its outcome? Mind you, if indeed it is true that he has made four journeys within a spate of four weeks, then your guess could be as good as mine for the number of overseas trips that he would do within a year outside our borders. The first of such trips, however, took him to Lome, Togo, i.e. our immediate eastern neighbour to re-establish acquaintance with HE Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema. Then, he went on to meet with HE Alassan Ouattara, who, snipers believe, was to do with a damage repair because, his party’s conduct was nothing to write home about as his prede -cessor, the late Mills at the helm of affairs, was very suspicious of aiding and abetting his (Ouattara’s) compatriots to carry out some subversive activities against them from within for which he (Prez. Mahama) was then the vice. It was therefore a necessity and very imperative that while the NDC government was constantly and greatly accused of harbouring some Ivorian dissidents here with the sole intent to topple La Cote d’Ivoire by force of arms, he had to quickly rush without feet dragging to pay homage and also to consolidate his position and reaffirm that peace between the two countries would prevail.
ENTOURAGE Meanwhile, can anybody give me an idea of the number of the entourage and who actually constituted the members of the delegation and more intriguingly, the enormous per diem that would be splashed in their faces for pocketing in view of their electioneering slogan “YE BE DII KEKE”, thus, we only came not for genuine governance but to misappropriate the public purse and empty the national coffers. The tax payer ought to know the expenditure of all these by now any way. The third, however, was the normal routine visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the AU summit. So in effect, it means, since the swearing-in on Tuesday, January 7, 2013, he has, including the UK trip, exited four times and one wonders about the number of visits that he would do in his tenure of office for the first term that is allegedly under ‘siege’ or being contested at the Supreme Court for questionable electoral fraud and countless number of malfeasance displayed by Electoral Commission chaired by the embattled Dr. Kwadwo Afari Djan. Meanwhile, however, he had already made a private visit to South Africa for some 10 days soon after the declaration of the disputed results – all at the expense of the State. This particular visit, it was speculated, was to stay away from Ghana and also to have cool time to do his ministerial and other political appointments whereas others, those on the opposite side, suspected that he sneaked there for medical purposes that even included surgery. The writer may be wrong or right because, since then, nobody seems to know exactly what he went there to do and no better explanation has come from any quarters. Did he, this time, travelling to the UK leave with so large a number of foot-soldiers like the trip to Turkey that we were made to believe were all Ghanaian businessmen etc?
The late Prof. Paul Archibald Victor Ansah of blessed memory made the Chronicle newspaper newsworthy on the local and foreign shelves in the early 90s. His popular column in that paper created artificial human traffic at the newsstands on Monday mornings because Ghanaians and the whole world wanted to know the serious politics going on in our country. Many a time, he started his powerful articles with: I am straying to go to town and damn the consequences for whatever that I write. And to take a cue from his writings, this paragraph and some others would not entirely be different from his. I would begin with the enormous wastage in government (i.e. NDC under JM) expen -ditures. By the way, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, a.k.a. Foto, who, cunningly, with alleged expert advice from the Electoral Commission, mooted for the expansion of the parliamentary seats from 230 to 275 with the idea of winning more parliamentary seats to better their chances in times of debates; did whatever he could to make it happen despite he himself, losing his seat to the incumbent as well as being sidelined and sent off ‘the field of play’ by the Tunisian referee (like Petroipa, the No.11-shirted player from Burkina in the Ghana-Burkina semi-final duel in the just ended AFCON in South Africa - (losing the ministerial appointment) by the presidency for no apparent reason and ground. Well, we are yet to know later. Brother ‘Foto’, please accept my unflinching sympathy, all would be well one day.
LAPSES All said and done, and quite apart from the huge financial burden on the Ghanaian taxpayer, and more so, making sure it survived the test of time, our increased number of members in parliament find it extremely difficult to get seating capacity. Nobody has also thought about the washrooms et cetera and how they would queue up when they are to attend to Nature’s call. As someone puts it, the proponents of the expansion of the parliamentary membership, was mooted before they thought about seating arrangement thus putting the cart before the horse. The hurriedly haphazard botched plan has backfired and become a stillborn and all those involved must bow their heads in shame. The way it was hurriedly done and the inconsistencies connected with it; the unpardonable mistakes made by the electoral commission by rushing the legislative document to parliament for consideration and its attendant humiliation etc. i.e.CI.74, 76, 78 etc., reminds many people and the discerning ones that those at the helm of affairs never thought about all these political mishaps before coming to the final conclusion that it would bring much confusion into the system when it was finally pushed for implementation.
The ‘poor’ and landlocked Sahelian countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad whose natural and human resources do not, repeat, do not match the resources of Ghana have no headache or complaints about power outages in their daily activities or their vocabulary. Despite their unmatched resources, their utilities do not suffer headaches like it is being experienced in a country called the gateway to Africa. And it is a great pity and baffling moment for Ghana that at the age of 56 years after independence from the colonial rule, does not feel ashamed but keeps trumpeting that it is still the gateway to Africa, but seems to be crawling all the time as if she were a ‘kwashiorkor’ baby. There has never been any moment that these countries have persistently preached about problems concerning the important utilities of life – electricity, water, shelter, transportation and food. To quote Nana Akufo Addo, Ghana is not a poor country, nor has been placed in this central part of the world to be as it is; rather, it is bad leadership and lack of ideas of many of our leaders hence the political dilemma or reverse political gear that some leaders have switched the positive gear of governance. And this political deficiency has plagued so many unprecedented and unthinkable diseases, troubles and problems on Ghana – great fires, daily carnage on our roads by both good and defective vehicular machinery and this albatross would take years to be removed and not unless some prudent and pragmatic policies were taken by efficient leadership to remedy the situation, we would, as a nation, get stuck in the mud. It is a pity to be in this abnormal natural stage or condition; but what can we do: We have to grapple with the situation as they come our way to pull all our energies together collectively as a nation to see how best we could do to solve same. Since the attainment of independence way back in March 1957, the leaders of our successive governments have travelled around the globe with a bowl in hand begging for alms like the physically challenged and impaired persons seated and glued to the ground by the road sides and at the entrances of our mosques/ churches on Friday afternoons and Sundays. This does not mean I have no great respect for the impaired but most of the Ghanaian leaders have behaved exactly the same way without shame. Now that God has endowed us with the oil find; that has rather worsened our plight. It is a great pity again and this is the time a stop must be put to the globe-trotting for alms and, collectively, as a nation, wake up from our slumber to have a great change in our attitudinal behaviours, make prudent and judicious use of all our resources to enable us take back our rightful and deserving place in contemporary African politics.
CAUTION- The writer takes cognizance of the assumption of office of the new acting IGP, Mr. Mohammed Alhassan who takes over from the incorrigible Paul Tawiah Quaye. Whatever his lapses, innovations, actions/inactions, he’s left the scene and pray that he succeeds in his new endeavours. Many were those who thought otherwise that, either COP John Kudalor, in charge of Operations or the Ghana Police Queen-mother, COP Rose Bio Atenga in charge of Administration, was automatically going to be promoted into that high office ahead of the others, but not. Both of them have been swerved and this ill-fate will take very long to heal. Do Ghanaians know that blood is thicker than water now? For all that the above lady and gentleman did to impress the powers that be during the just ended controversial elections, never pricked their paymasters. For your information, this write up was just to caution the new appointee; welcome him to the hot seat, and also to inform him that if he ventured to behave stubbornly like his immediate predecessor for the whims and caprices of his mentor, many Ghanaians would nicely show him the ‘yellow’ card. However, if he does not seem to understand, should cast his mind back and learn from the simultaneous uprisings by the peoples of the North African countries a couple of years ago to see how the people’s power works and erupts. If Ghanaians were able to sustain and absorb the excessive heat to contain the boiling point positions to survive the AFRC/PNDC atrocities that were inflicted on the lifestyles of fellow Ghanaians, then, he must better have it at the back of his mind that no matter how he restructures the police service to serve his interests to cow the populace, then, he should advise himself accordingly. But if he tries to play the ‘fool’ or took a faulty step whilst the controversial elections continued to be contested in the SC, then a word to the wise is enough. Force of all kind and form is incompatible with our traditions and norms, because Ghanaians won’t tolerate his administration lightly for a minute despite having the likes of COP Rose, the Queen, DCOP Patrick Timbilla, DSP Yakubu and other kinsmen in their fold to do the dirty bid for their ‘country -man’, it would definitely not hold water.
DR. AFARI DJAN If I were Dr. Afari Djan, I would sincerely beg the Supreme Court and say to them on that D-Day when the Court reconvenes to hear my side of the story with a sullen heart. And in a very apologetic posture, I would honestly say that, “My Lords, after a thorough investigation that I have conducted, I have reflected soberly and come to the conclusion to realize that the results that the NPP have in their custody or in possession of, were the genuine and very authenticated ones, so please, for God’s Grace, forgive me; pardon me and tamper mercy with justice and leniency and restrain the jail term term that might be inflicted on my person. Period”! And that hopefully would end the matter. I am of the utmost conviction that if he did muster courage to own up, believe you me, the highly respected Supreme Court, would, as a public human institution, grant him pardon to let him become “a villain of the peace” and become a household name in Ghana instead of a jail-bird. He must have been tempted and enticed with money or monetary gains hence that infantile behavior exhibited by him. He should also admit that, by his sordid action and inaction, his inordinate ambition and misdemeanor, could have definitely set the whole country ablaze and engulfed it in a civil war. But thanks be to God, the wisdom, foresightedness and level-headedness of the NPP hierarchy, most Ghanaians would have been refugees in neighbouring countries by now; inarguably, language barriers, poverty and other social vices would have forced many to stay inside and prefer to be maimed by their own compatriots rather than travelling outside to become refugees elsewhere, while the rest would been dead and gone to their ancestry – all because of one man, Dr. Afari Djan. This beloved country of ours, called Ghana, would obviously have been reduced to shambles and ruins and a place with multitude of carcasses for the vultures and dogs and other carni -vorous animals having a field day. It is my fervent prayer and belief that if Afari Djan were found guilty, which obviously, would not elude him, should be jailed to serve as a deterrent for future occupants of the EC chair; or if anything at all, he were to be spared, just as an American friend puts it,. He should be ‘flashed with a pat on his wrist’ i.e. cautioned, acquitted and discharged from the dock.
WASTAGE IN PUBLIC EXPENDITURE Ladies and gentlemen, the elections have come to an end and readers would undoubtedly agree with the author that before, during and after the elections, news had gone round that the pay structure for the honourable members was to be adjusted from whatever figure it was to Gh¢7,500 p.m. and that raised many eyebrows. Current news indicates that they are being paid with that figure. The general public should help me to do the calculations i.e. 275 x 7,500 = Gh¢2,062,500, then 46 ministers’ take home pay of Gh¢10,500 each = Gh¢483,000; additional 50 or so deputies at Gh¢9,000 = Gh¢450,000; ten (10) regional ministers also taking same as the deputies equal Gh¢90,000. Further -more, it is believed that each of the 275 parliamentarians would receive a cool U.S.$50,000 repayable car loan for themselves; so, in effect, it means that the car loans also would total $13,750,000.00 x Gh¢1.95 = Gh¢26,812,500.00 not forgetting the other appointees who would not take anything short of new ceremonial/official vehicles befitting their status in society hence their avowed slogan of “ye be dii keke” thus, just to empty the national kitty and not the good governance expected of them. Nothing is however, known about the salaries of the 200 or so metro/municipal/district chief executives; but if it was anything to go by at all, should not be much significantly less than their parliamentary counterparts i.e. Gh¢6,500 = Gh¢1,300,000. Then come to think of the already arranged but reluctantly declined publicly and being paid quietly to the president and his vice - Gh¢12,000. 00 and Gh¢11,000.00 respectively. Fellow countrymen and women, let us do the simple additions above just for the executive and the legislature minus the judiciary and the presidential staffers and the hundreds or hordes of foot-soldiers - and all the figures above, with the help of my little calculator, comes to Gh¢29,158,502,625.00 equivalent of $14,953,078,269.20 using the Gh¢1.95/$1.00 or the Kufuor’s era when millions of cedis were the order of the day, equals Gh¢291,585,026,250.00 per month or dollar equivalent of $14,953,078,269.29 i.e. fourteen billion, nine hundred and fifty-three million, seventy-eight thousand, two hundred and sixty-nine U.S. dollars and twenty-nine cents. So the general public can whet their appetite with the above figure for debates at their workplaces, in their offices and elsewhere. Has anybody thought about this huge and unnecessary debt burden that would continue to hang around our necks for some time? What you see is just for a month and if you multiply it by the twelve months of the year, then, your guess could be as good as mine. Why should the civilized nations and countries with good economies waste time thinking about Ghana’s development whilst, we ourselves, continue to waste our internally generated resources that could help prop us up for a considerable length of time to provide for infrastructure, motivate the doctors/nurses/para-medical staff to offer good quality health care delivery system, to motivate the teachers to deliver their best for our future leaders’ education; and to offer credible incentives to our ageing farmers who engage in agriculture? Neither Kuwait nor Saudi Arabia; not even Oman, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Yemen, Iran, Brunei, the U.S., the U.K. or Libya under the late Muamar Gaddafi would recommend that their politicians and appointees be paid these huge sums of money just as our parliament (NDC majority) has willfully done. Why do we continue to play the ostrich and behave abnormally as if the world was coming to an end tomorrow? Could it be the oil find that has spoilt us completely or complacency? Don’t we as a nation feel ashamed to go begging for alms always for development while we hopelessly continue to draw and fetch water with baskets and dissipate the hard earned money dished out to us by donor countries? Is it not shameful for those who have just less than three months of sunshine a year as compared to our 10 months’ sunshine rely on them for food aid – rice, maize, wheat etc? Why the continuous recklessness? Did Kwabena Dufuor and Fiifi Kwetey pay government appointees the End of Service Benefits at the end of 2012? I am done.
It is my prayer that the Good Lord should grant his abundant grace and wisdom to the Supreme Court judges to reflect soberly and ponder over the following quotations before the final verdict bearing in mind that any twisted judgment they give, they themselves would be given the final and supreme judgment by the Omnipotent God after death.
1. The first of the seven biblical quotations (symbolic figure 7) have, this time been taken from the King James Version of the Book of Deuteronomy Chapter 16:18-20 – and it reads: “Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment. 19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. 20 That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee”.
2. 2 Chronicles 19:5-7 also reads “And he set judges in the land throughout all the fenced cities of Judah, city by city, 6 And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do; for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. 7 Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it; for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts”.
3. Exodus 23:6-8 “Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause. 7 Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I will not justify the wicked. 8 And thou shalt take no gift; for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous”.
4. Numbers 5:8 – “But if the man have no kinsman to recompense the trespass unto, let the trespass be recompensed unto the LORD, even to the priest; beside the ram of the atonement, wheeby an atonement shall be made for him”.
5. Psalm 2:10-12 –“Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him”.
6. Jeremiah 22:3-5 – “Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteous –ness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people. 5 But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation”.
7. Acts24:24-27 says, “And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. 26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. 27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound”. It is hoped that the SC judges will take a cue from above that the continued adjournment by Felix was to receive some monetary gift from him but not; so forewarned is forearmed.
The last and obviously the very one that the learned men and women from the Bench should ponder seriously before giving their verdict/judgment comes from the Book of 1 Samuel Chapter 8:1-3 and perhaps, this would give the special jury, the insight about the onerous duty entrusted to them by God but not ordinary human beings who could sometimes pervert justice. It reads “
ADMONITION - FOOD FOR THOUGHT To bring the curtain down, the SC judges should please turn with me to the Book of Zechariah, chapter 8:16 that says, “These are the things you should do: Speak the truth to one another. In the courts, give real justice – the kind that brings peace”. In conclusion therefore, I must be thankful to Rev. Bugyei of the Universal Church of Jesus, Odorkor, Accra, who delivered a powerful dawn broadcast sermon on all the above quotations on the airwaves of Oman FM on Friday February 8, 2013. The author deems it fit to share with the general public and of course, the SC who would be administering justice soon to take note and cognizance of the wisdom from it because of the enormous task that faces them in the adjudication of the mother of all cases so that they could take a cue to be circumspect and be guided while administering justice for the benefit of humankind. Freedom and Justice! May God guide and bless us all.