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Opinions of Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Columnist: The Chronicle

JM Twaso! The die is cast

By: Ebo Quansah

In this column on Thursday, October 20, 2016, I made the following observation: “In all honesty, President John Dramani Mahama does not deserve to be on the ballot paper after his romance with a Burkinabe contractor led to the loss of US$650,000 to the state, in that gamut of a contract to construct, what I call, a Jericho Wall in Ouagadougou, which in turn begat the Ford Expedition bribery scandal.”

The administration of this country, under Mr. John Dramani Mahama, has been disastrous, to put it mildly. The economy is in a mess, trickling down to a life of despondency for many nationals depending on state largesse.

The situation at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, where vital services to in-patients have been suspended, tells the story of a nation unable to cater for its own, in spite of overlays of state funds being spirited away in various acts of cronyism. It is not only psychiatric patients who are being denied basic health and food care. All specialised institutions for underprivileged Ghanaians are facing paralysis under President Mahama.

Nana Oye Lithur, President Mahama’s Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, is too busy identifying households belonging to sympathisers of the ruling National Democratic Congress, to enable the Ministry dish out state pittances meant for destitute homes to oil the NDC campaign. Oh yes!

Nana Oye was one of this nation’s acclaimed human rights activists. Since joining the Mahama administration, she has been conspicuous by her silence on human rights issues. I was just composing this piece when a colleague reminded me of an experience with a similar activist who was given a top job in Nigeria. Asked why he had been quiet on naked human rights abuses by the Nigerian administration, his response was simple. “In Africa, it is rude to talk while eating,” which tells a lot about the happenings in the country under Mahama.

The Mahama administration is so desperate that it would stop at nothing to pull off the impossible. As you read this piece, the entire governance system of this country has ground to a halt. Virtually all political appointees have abandoned their briefs and taken to the road to campaign, in a desperate bid to retain President John Mahama and his moribund administration.

The President himself is now in the Volta Region. In all honesty, the Head of State has spent the better part of the year on the campaign trail. President Mahama is barely seen at his office these days.

Whoever advised Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur to enter the realm of politics at the very top, might not have done his image any good. Seeing him on television, walking through the market in the Assin area of the Central Region at the week-end, he cut a forlorn figure. The Vice-President was off colour, and appeared completely disinterested in his assignment.

One might have thought that with his background in academia, the Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana would find his interactions with students more relaxed. At the weekend, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, who has also abandoned his brief at Government House and taken the torrid route in electioneering campaign, was at the Assin Foso College of Education.

He appeared contradictory on the main issue he was supposed to educate the trainee teachers on. Certainly, this is not the time to justify a policy that has been already been reversed for political expediency. Everybody knows how this administration has goofed big time by ordering the cancellation of allowances meant for trainee-teachers.

It is certainly the pressure of the vote that has forced the Mahama administration to back-pedal on the allowances. Instead of raising the spirit of these students, by narrating how positive the restoration of their allowances would impact their lives, Paa Kwesi tried, rather too hard, to justify why it was cancelled in the first place. If cancellation was the best option, why would this administration want to restore the allowance system?

This administration knows no shame. If it does, this would certainly not be the time to ruffle the feathers of trainee-teachers. With most of their seniors, who completed the course for the past two years at the 32 Colleges of Education, yet to receive their wages, in spite of teaching our kids all this while, none of the 32 Colleges of Education in this country would be the ideal ground to preach the hopelessly out of tune ‘Changing Lives and Transforming Ghana’ message.

One of the comedies of the electioneering campaign is the sight of the Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, with his frame, virtually trudging on the campaign floor, instead of covering for the Head of State at Government House.

The Jubilee House is naked. It is without any of the officials of state that makes it function as the Presidential Office. It is all in the name of getting John Dramani Mahama re-elected.

National democratic Congress (NDC) officials virtually scream in Twi, the largest spoken local dialect in this country: ‘JM TUASO,’ (JM continue).

For me, the whole gamut of electioneering is becoming a comedy. Political dinosaurs like Kofi Totobi Quakyi, Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi, Cecelia Johnson, Ama Benyiwa Doe – men and women who created the fear factor in national politics in the so-called revolutionary era, and aided Jerry John Rawlings to turn this beautiful republic into the culture of silence, have all been dusted and are in the campaign trenches out there.

When I saw the women triumvirate of Benyiwa-Doe, Cecilia Johnson with Faustina Nelson of the Verandah Boys and Girls fame in tow, on television, they looked tired and hopelessly out of touch.

It tells a lot about the exigencies of the moment. The task is daunting. When President John Dramani Mahama, the man touted as a communication expert, and with an arsenal of all state information machinery at his disposal, complains of some media practitioners blocking his message, ‘Enibre’ has come. Which reminds me of pronouncements by the late General Kutu Acheampong, Chairman of the Supreme Military Council, when the die was cast.

When the man who rose from Colonel to a four star-General in six years of mis-administering this country, announced his coup d’état, he told Ghanaians that even small amenities the military were enjoying in the Nkrumah regime, had been taken away by the Busia regime he had overthrown.

It tells much about the pressure of the time that when the going got harder for the military in government, General Acheampong and his military answered critics by throwing them in jail without trial. They prisoners of conscience were saboteurs, the regime and its hangers on explained.

Last week, President John Dramani Mahama granted an interview to the Ovation Magazine, a Nigerian-owned publication which circulates in Ghana, and blamed saboteurs in the media for the failure of his so-called message of ‘Changing Lives’ and ‘Transforming Ghana’ from reaching the people.

Read the lips of the Head of State: “It is populism; a certain group has taken control of the media in Ghana; and it makes it difficult for the people to discern the truth. So, as much as you are putting out the information, it is either being blocked or distorted.”

This is the juicy bit. Day in and day out, the four state publishing houses – the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation with its television network GTV, the Graphic Communication Group Limited, publishers of the Daily Graphic and six other weekly newspapers, the New Times Corporation, publishers of the Ghanaian Times and Weekly Spectator, and the Ghana News Agency – behave like Mahama bulletins. If all these publications cannot compete with those so-called saboteurs, obviously in the private sector with comparatively little resources, then life in this country is getting interesting.

What this means is that the President is beginning to understand what has been obvious for some time now. The people are tired of the lies and half truths answering for state policies. With the state economy unable to support the needy as a result of cronyism, the people are yearning for change.

All this reminds me of a very popular saying: “The day the monkey is destined to die, all branches of trees become slippery.

JM Twaso. (JM cut it short).The die is cast.

I shall return!