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Opinions of Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Columnist: Newton-Offei, Justice Abeeku

I am dreaming of a ‘bitter Ghana’ Christmas

As a nation, I sometimes wonder exactly what our national priorities are, when it comes to tackling the myriad of socioeconomic problems confronting us. I have always had this serious dilemma since I grew up and became politically conscious. As a people, it is our avowed aim to strife for excellence in every field of human endeavor so as to propel us to growth and good standard of living being enjoyed by these developed nations whose shinning examples we have always cited just for parochial political expediency.

This week actually ushers in christmas.This season has largely been associated with the kind spirit of giving, sharing and showing brotherly love towards one-another. And I remember my youthful days at Kwasimintsim, a suburb of Takoradi (W/R). When it was time for Christmas, we could not even sleep at night just because of pure excitement the season brings. We would be given new dresses, shoes and other Christmas paraphernalia as hats, cups, spectacles, watches, horns etc.In addition to this were the usual Christmas biscuits,toffes and other season’s ‘chopables’.

The good old days at kwesimintsim

My parents were working class people who I wouldn’t classify as financially wealthy but I never used to hear them complain of hard times and that the Christmas was going to be a bored one. The usual ‘akoko na nkatse-nkwan’ was never in short supply. A bundle made up of the legs, neck and wings of the chicken was always our sure portion as children and we never got dissappointed.Fanta and coca-cola drinks flowed like the biblical living waters and at the end of the day, there wasn’t marked difference between what we used to enjoy at Christmas and that which was enjoyed by children of the so-called rich people. There was a modicum of equity of sharing of national cake, if only you happen not to be lazy but ready to put your shoulders to the wheel and work. I remember we lived in a 2-bed room apartment in a privately rented multi-storey building with so many other families but our environment was always spotlessly clean because we had a very organized waste disposal regime where collectors came to pick up our domestic garbage, periodically.There was a roaster by which cleaning services were carried out by the tenants without hustle. All this picture I’m painting was in the early 80’s which makes it almost 30yeras ago. Sadly, this standard of living and level of cleanliness we practiced about 30years ago, have all been thrown over-board and everybody is doing what he/she likes these days.

Christmas ‘price wars’

Now, I have had the opportunity to live and work in most of these western nations and what normally prevails in these societies is that when it is time for the Christmas season, prices of almost all items are reduced by the multi-purpose shopping outlets in what is commonly known as “price wars’. So in Britain for example; TESCO will come up with price reduction on some selected items in their shops with the sole purpose of making it possible for consumers to make maximum purchases on their income. Then, within a matter of hours, ASDA which is another multi-purpose food outlet will also come up with further cuts on prices on selected items in their outlets. Clothing shops are also never left out of this “price wars” and this is when some of us always take the advantage to stock-pile our wardrobe.

But rather conversely, here in Africa, particularly Ghana, price of items rather go up at Christmas. We have retrogressed over the years in the areas of environmental cleanliness, access to water, electricity, food, shelter and even food to fill our stomachs. We have had leaders who, over the past 25years, have promised at various times, to send Ghana to the promise land.Pronouncemets like “health for all by the year 2000,shelter for all by the year 2000,water for all by the year 2000,toilets for all by the year 2000,electricity for all by the year 2000”,and so on, were the regular songs on the lips of every member of the NDC government in the mid-90’s.Some of us eventually forgot about all those lofty promises and left the shores of Ghana, only to return after the exit of the NDC in the year 2000,to be slapped in the face with a hefty blow of a phenomenon called “HIPC”.

A legacy called HIPC

This HIPC status meant after nearly 50years of our existence as a sovereign nation, we had so shamefully retrogressed to the point where we could not honor our national obligation to our creditors by way of debt servicing. Our nation had in our foreign reserves, enough cash to sustain us for a period of just one week, in an unlikely even of a national catastrophe. And this is where the managerial acumen of the Kufuor administration must always be commended by all right thinking people of this nation.

Within a period of 8years, the Kufuor administration was able to turn round the HIPC economy inherited in 2001 and managed to grow it four-fold, weaned us off the shackles of Breton-woods institutions and put us at the door-step of a middle income economy. He made a lot of efforts to market Ghana, and through skillful diplomacy and classic negotiation acumen, massive inflows, by way of grants from even nations that did not deal with HIPC nations by way of loan arrangements, were even anxious to convert previously NDC negotiated loans into free monies by way of grants as w as in the case of Japan.

Illusionist campaign promises

However, during the 2008 electioneering campaign, then candidate Atta-Mills looked into the eyes of Ghanaians and told them that all what Kufuor was doing were inimical to their welfare and that a vote for him(Atta-Mills),will be a vote for drastic reduction in petrol prices, free money in people’s pockets, free housing by way of STX,Kualalumpur-like cleanliness of all our cities, towns and villages with a period of just hundred days, a multi-billion dollar SADA initiative, one-time premium payment for NHIS,school feeding programme to be extended nationwide and other highly eye-popping and excessively mouth-watering promises which have all turned out to be nothing but complete illusion. All what the people of this nation have had in return for making Atta-Mills the president of this nation have been empty presidential rhetorics,bad mouthing by juvenile delinquent appointees and gross acts of abject insolence by a horde of amorphous presidential staffers whose area of specialty is reckless acts of sexual criminality. Atta-Mills said in Canada, just a couple of weeks ago, that African leaders must do away with foreign assistance and rather concentrate their energies on domestic resources in order to extricate themselves from so-called "post colonial strangulation”. Yet, this very same person, on 15/12/11, was said to have gone to kneel before these very same "imperialists”, at the New York Stock Exchange, to beg them to come and build our nation's railway networks.

There was a news item on the morning of 16/12/11 that Atta-Mills has written to parliament to ask for extension of his then absolutely unproductive frolics abroad. Now, while other leaders use such foreign travels to look for resources and promote their nation, Atta-Mills only went and wasted our money on medical bills and visiting and sight-seeing.

Demolition as Christmas gift

The Atta-Mills-led administration is currently undertaking an absolutely senseless act of demolishing thousands of houses in the Weija constituency(G/R) and rendering hundreds of thousands of poor Ghanaians, including physically challenged,aged,women,children and the sick, homeless and exposing them to the rigors of current severe hamattan weather.Meanwhile,a news item on ‘news night’ on Joy-FM(15/12/11) said NADMO had been tasked to spend state resources to provide relief items to these very same people who have been rendered homeless by the state.Ghanaians,do you all now see the evil we have inflicted on ourselves by voting for such a useless bunch of incompetent thieves?

Astronomic judgment debts

The NDC claims Ghana does not have $20m to procure biometric verification equipments to ensure the sanctity of 2012 elections.However, an astronomic sum of $35m has been tossed onto the lap of Alfred Agbesi Wayome (an NDC party financier), like how chunks of fresh meat are thrown to carnivorous animals in a zoo. Eyes are eagerly watching and these people will be shown how corruption cases are efficiently dealt with and the culprits thrown into jail.

Sometimes, when I sit quietly and think of these colossal volumes of cash being dished out to NDC top-guns, by way of ‘kuluulu’ "judgment debts" in the light of crashing levels of poverty currently afflicting the Ghanaian masses, subconsciously; I begin to wonder why Ghanaians decided to forsake purity and embraced evil at the polls in 2008.

Until I come your way some other time, please keep dreaming not of a “White Christmas”, but rather, an extremely ‘bitter Ghana’ Christmas. ‘MEMA HOM AFEHYIA PA OOOOOOOOOOO’!!!!

Justice Abeeku Newton-Offei