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Opinions of Friday, 10 July 2020

Columnist: Dr. Peter Jackson Wadja

Government inaction is hampering coronavirus fight

The fight against COVID-19 pandemic both at the national and global level is going to be a long haul and, it will take entrenched government commitment to overcome the spread of the virus.

Currently, the number of people infected with the virus in the United States alone is over 3 million with 134 thousand deaths. In Ghana, there are over 23,000 confirmed cases with 129 deaths. For the lack of rapid and massive testing coupled with scanty data, the number of infections and deaths in Ghana could be double of what has been reported.

The current severe ramifications in the US stem from the lack of the Federal Government commitment to enforce strict rules of social distancing and wearing masks. In the case of Ghana, the lack of government desire to enforce the Executive Instrument (EI) and allowing the Electoral Commission to carry out the ongoing voters’ registration could exacerbate the spread of the Coronavirus.

At the initial stages of the pandemic, the government of Ghana demonstrated tenacious efforts to getting the spread of the virus under control by shutting down its borders and enforcing lockdowns.

However, recent events highlight the waned commitment to continue the fight. For some reason, it has become a normalized situation with some claiming the virus has come to stay. Apparently, public education on the disease has reduced, unlike we saw it at the beginning of the pandemic.

That notwithstanding, we saw a spike in the spread of the virus after the recently held New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) parliamentary primaries and the acclamation of President Nana Akufo Addo to run for the second term of office. During these events, it was apparent many participants did not follow the social distancing protocol, but no one was arrested or punished for it.

It begs the question that many clergies and ordinary citizens who committed similar infractions are currently languishing in jail. This attitude exhibited by the government explains a kind of selective justice in the fight against the virus.

A couple of weeks ago, the former deputy Minister of Trade, Mr Carlos Ahenkorah resigned from his position after admitting he visited some polling centres knowing well, he was diagnosed with the virus. Many Ghanaians did not think his resignation was enough and called for his arrest so he could be held accountable.

Interestingly, Mr Ahenkorah had the like of Ursula Owusu and Nana Akomea coming to his rescue arguing that his resignation was punishment enough. This argument is baseless because his behaviour put many Ghanaians at risk of contracting the virus regardless of how careful he claimed he was during his tour.

Since Mr Ahenkorah willfully disregarded the government’s EI pertaining to the virus demonstrates a gross violation of the order undergirding the law and it is firm ground for prosecution. His resignation marked only the first step to doing what was right and being held liable by the law should be the next step.
Mr Ahenkorah is a lawmaker and a government appointee. His role in society must be that of a role model and a leader. He is also a part of the legislature that approved the EI mandating the law courts to prosecute and fine any individual found breaching the law. Leaving him off the hook sets a bad precedence for the adherence of the EI.

Furthermore, the recent ongoing voters’ registration organized by the EC is not necessary especially when we are dealing with a situation like this. The exercise has so far witnessed multiple situations that the social distancing protocols have been violated.

There is a high probability for a spike in the spread of the disease by the end of the voters’ registration exercise if stringent precautionary measures are not taken. Already, our hospitals are constrained and may not be able to contain any unlikely surge of events. That is why it is extremely imperative for the government to augment the fight against the deadly virus and apply the rule irrespective of anyone’s socio-political or economic standing. the safety of Ghanaians is necessary and everything else can wait!

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