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Opinions of Sunday, 2 March 2008

Columnist: Agbodza, Kwami

Kufour's Diarrhoea of deception

Today,the term good governance is increasingly being used in development literature. Governance describes the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). whereby, public servants and institutions conduct public affairs, manage public resources, and guarantee the realization of human rights,equitable distribution of wealth and prosperity. Good governance accomplishes these in a manner essentially free of abuse,corruption, honesty and with due regard for the rule of law. I guess there is no government in this old world who forgets to remind his people of the noble principles of good governance.

Just like many others,I love my country and I will keep my eyes on issues regarding my country. For this reason, I recently made another trip to the motherland to see how she is doing. During this visit, I had the opportunity to attend the recent state of the nation address to parliament by Mr Kufour the president of the Rebublic of Ghana,don’t get me wrong ,for once I have been save from the versions of the vultures,some of them called journalist. The function was well attended, almost all the important diplomatic missions represented in Ghana were there,nananom,champions of religious groupings,business executives etc were well represented. Apart from the presence of a loud mouth lady who made sure her presence was felt at all times, everything went on as normal until the Diarrhoea started. The president was ushered into the chamber in a manner befitting a president he was wearing a well cut-to fit designer suit. Then started barrage of self gratification, he went on telling Parliament how he has almost solved all the problems in Ghana. As usual he went on with a catalogue of half truths and sometimes a complete deception. On education, he said the education system was in a terrible shape when he took over. "From 2001, using resources from the HIPC Fund, Budget Allocation and the GETfund, government launched a programme to rehabilitate broken down educational institutions from basic through secondary to tertiary level." For the start, the education system handed over to Kufour was significantly overhauled. Thousands of basic schools were running, many second cycle schools were created and many more rehabilitated with some specifically made science resource centres, all regional technical schools were upgraded into polytechnics and significantly equipped, two more state sponsored tertiary institutions were created. Laws were passed to allow private sector involvement in the provision of tertiary education. Above all the GETFund was lunched to provide vital funding for education in Ghana. What Mr. Kufour rather did was to divert some of the fund to other areas of his failed PSIs etc. Honestly speaking he inherited an education system well established. Stop the diarrhoea Mr. Kufour.

During the speech, Mr. Kufour created the impression that all children attending basic school in Ghana benefit from the school feeding programme he has initiated. In actual fact majority of Ghanaian children who qualify do not get fed under the so called programme. I personally visited three schools in two regions during my recent trip to ascertain the facts on the ground, what I discovered was completely different from what the president was talking about. I found the president’s claim to be very misleading. At a particulars school, which I cannot disclose because the poor oldman will lose his job if I did, the headteacher told me he was aware of the programme but he is not aware all the children were being fed under the program; he also said the capitation grant the president was talking about only benefit very few. He explained to me for example in a class of 62 pupil only two get supplied with school uniforms but not.”I was asked to select two brilliant but needy kids from the class to benefit from the scheme, this is not as if all of them get uniforms, if it were to be a scholarship I will understand, but with this one, my friend I don’t know how to describe it” . Another blatant deception is that, all children in Ghana are being taken to school in free school buses. How many of these kids actually benefit? In my village where there are no buses how could the kids be said to be benefiting from a kind of free bus to school scheme? The fact is that the NPP has done little for education over the past seven and a half years; they rather diverted lots of attention and vital resources to useless projects like the so called Presidents special initiatives. Stop the diarrhoea Mr. Kufour. Mr. Kufour is noted for his love of opulence, but another thing that shocked me during his speech at parliament is in connection to the building of a new presidential palace and the rehabilitation of three other presidential retreat centres. We all know on assumption of office, Kufour quickly commissioned the renovation of his private residence. His reason for that action was that, the Castle, our official seat of government is not good enough for himself. Some say as much as $4 million was spent on that project. Soon after that, he commissioned the renovation of the Castle; huge amount of money was spent on that project as well. Now about a year before he ends his two term reign, Kufour commissioned the construction of a presidential palace costing Ghana about $50million, commissioned the renovation of the Peduase, Akuse and the Akosombo presidential retreat facilities, how much opulence does a leader of a poor country like Ghana need to show? His explanation to parliament for these projects was simple, Ghana has been independent for 50 years and we need to show to the world we are civilized by having very luxurious palaces to host foreign guests, yes we are 50 years into our proclamation of independence but we still have children going to school under trees, we still have food shortages, lack of portable water etc. Were these projects commissioned so that some people could get kickbacks in preparation for retirement or to stuff the campaign war chest a political party? Stop the diarrhoea Mr Kufour.

He also said one of his achievements was the fact that Ghana assessed $750million through Eurobond. Well, it has never been too difficult for anybody to sink himself further into debt. Ghana’s indebtedness was about $6.4 billion when Kufour took over as president, Ghana’s creditors cancelled about $4.5 billion of the debt but our debt stock has increased to over $7billion in just over 7 years and there is little to show for it. Some analyst believe Ghana actually contracted over $9billion over the 7 year period, where is the money? Stop the diarrhoea Mr Kufour.

On the issue of the West African Gas Pipeline the president made the most dishonest statement. Mr. Kufour is also claiming that WAGP project was stated during his term as president. We all know the project begun in 1982, under the PNDC government, when the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) proposed the development of a natural gas pipeline throughout West Africa to help alliviate the periodic energy shortages in the sub region. In the early 1990's, a feasibility report deemed that a project was commercially viable. In September 1995, the governments of four African countries signed a Heads of Agreement (HOA), this was spear headed by VRA under Tsdatsu Tsikata as the chief executive officer. The feasibility study was carried out in 1999. On 11 August 1999, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by participating countries in Cotonou. In February 2000, an Inter-Governmental Agreement was signed. The WAGP implementation agreement was signed in 2003. The construction started in 2005, and the first gas delivery is scheduled for 23 December 2007. The main user will be Takoradi power plant in Ghana. Both the gas pipeline and the Takoradi power plant were all parts Ghana’s vision under JJ Rawlings, arguably the architect of Ghana’s new socio-economic and political blue print. In a show of deception at the its peak, the president claimend ownership of the project, he even made statement suggestion the pipeline was built to carry Nitrogen,no,Mr Kufour,its not nitrogen we are expecting to generate electricity. Even science does not support this kind of deception. To me, it only shows Kufour new very little about the project.

On election 2008 he attempted to calm down the tension mounting in the country partly as a result of utterances from leading members of his own party. His party officials are allegedly boasting of declearing result of the 2008 elections as they did in 2004. Kufour needs to tame these men and women in his party. Yes, Burundi, Kenya and others have thought us lessons and we need to stay clearly away, but its mostly in the hand of the government of Kufour. Already the flag bearer of his party is allegedly receiving unconstitution supports, he has a kind of state security protection only reserved for the head of state, he travels to overseas countries and get deplomatic treatment from the Ghanaian missions even though he is not a head of state. All these do not make the political playing field levelled for a fair contest. Stop the diarrhoea Mr. Kufour.

For now Ghana is peaceful and understanding. The president completely stayed away from the ugly issues of corruption and drug menace for obvious reasons. I will come back to you specially to tell you what Ghanaians expected the president to say about corruption and other issues.

If you are God fearing, you will be honest, if you are honest, you will tell the truth, if you tell the truth, you will be free, if not; you will have diarrhoea of deception. Mr Kufour stops the diarrhoea.



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