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Opinions of Saturday, 25 August 2012

Columnist: Appiah, Kofi

Mahama, The New Sheriff In Town - Part 1

On Tuesday, August 14, 2012, there was widespread news by all the media houses – both the electronic and print - that H.E. John Dramani Mahama would broadcast to the nation at 20.00 hours. At exactly 8.00 p.m. Wednesday, August 15, almost all Ghanaians and foreigners alike who wanted to hear such news got glued to their television and radio sets to listen to Ghana’s newfound youthful president (because he boasts he was born after Ghana’s Independence – March 6, 1957). And the expectation - the broadcast from him in his new role and capacity as probably the most youthful president Ghana has ever had, would have been something relatively new, but rather, it turned out that, the value was in fact, the same old rhetoric. My household and I observed that H.E. John ‘Goodluck’ Dramani Mahama tried to portray himself like a sheep ready for the slaughter. That was my candid opinion and opinions, they say, are like onions. He too wanted to sort of ‘fun-fool’ Ghanaians and behaved on our screens as if he were the holier than thou pontificate Christian. Personally, I would continue to call him ‘Goodluck’ because his assumption of office and ascension to the highest throne of the land (in a matter of 6 hours i.e. from the purported officially sanctioned 14.15 hours that the late president was said to have passed on till 20.30 hours that both two senior ladies in Ghana (the Rt.-Hon. Speaker, Mrs. Joyce Bamford Addo and Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, Mrs. Justice Georgina Theodora Wood) in a whirlwind fashion convened the Parliament to meet for the emergency inaugural structures to be put in place for the constitutional deliberations to get underway for the new and inarguably the youthful vice president to be sworn in as president. In fact, this was such an unprecedented one; because he never dreamt about it, let alone, knew that it would be too fast as the speed of lightning. Do readers recall the ‘unprecedented’ drama in the chamber of the House and how he forgot to swear the Oath of Office without the State Sword? Does he know however, that the national spirit behind it nearly forced him to sit in his former seat as vice president instead of the presidential throne? By our 4th Republican Constitution of 1992, between the time or period of the reported death and the swearing in, if he had not been sworn in as stipulated, anybody, including ‘any idiot’ at all hungry or thirsty for power, or a neighbouring country realizing our predicament/handicap, could have capitalized on the sudden vacuum created to cause some political havoc.
Even though, the late president could be presumed dead at any time, any day, any week, the timing was not ripe so if a cross section of the public demands for the international autopsy for the sudden demise, so, be, it. I subscribe to that school of thought. And as expected, he started his sentimental speech by expressing his sincerest thanks to all Ghanaians for the able manner with which they put up during the period of grief and pain and the shocking waves that swept through the four corners of the country to unite us despite our diversity of opinions. Furthermore, he did dwell on ‘unity’ and urged all of us to forge ahead in unity; but one may dare ask this pertinent question: Was Ghana in a chaotic condition or an unstable, unbelievable, unthinkable, lawless and ungovernable state before the demise of the late president? Better still, was the country at the verge of being invaded by foreign mercenaries or a section of the people preparing for secession and to secede from the rest of the country to warrant the unity choruses that were being sung in his 15 minute maiden broadcast? By the way, who forced him to come so quickly to address the nation and tell us he would be back in two weeks (August 29) with the most urgent policy framework of his short, but brief period of presidency? Why did he not wait for say, a day, or two or even three at his own convenience to come out with a bang and in a whirlwind fashion and to mesmerize the nation with his fluent Queen’s English rather than to come and muddy the waters and belch like the dog that has eaten some sour poisoned meal? Mind you, no leader of any civilized economy has ever done what your advisors and handlers asked you to do to denigrate the intelli -gence of Ghanaians. Haaba, yeabre mo! We are so tired of these childish and infamous gimmicks. We have had enough of that, Mr. President and your never-ending sermon captioned “BETTER GHANA AGENDA” that has unwisely brought the inflation to a single digit and its untold hardships on Ghanaians. It has failed to bring square meals on our tables as well as put money in our pockets but for which your better Ghana government Agenda so much taunts as having achieved much unprecedented development for Ghana in your Green Book. This is a hoax and a fallacy. Your government’s obstinacy and refusal to pay genuine local contractors for executed contracts have been the success story behind the stability of the single-digit; but not the free fall of the cedi. Not only that, but also, the non-compliance of the statutory remission of the District Assemblies Common Fund that is a statutory obligation for rural development for them to have a fair share of the national cake has also contributed to that.
Do you have control of your own life? Do you know what tomorrow has in store for you, Mr. President? Did ex-president Mills know what might happen to him or befall him on that fateful Tuesday, when he feasted the few crops of media hangers on at the Castle during his birthday celebration and probably disclosing that he might travel to Abuja? You must understand that time and tide wait for no man. You goofed; you did not impress all the cross section of the community especially, the discerning public. You have missed the golden opportunity to have made your point. Nobody would ever take you too serious. You had better wait till assembling all the facts and figures as to how the free fall of the cedi would be arrested to bring back smiles on the faces of Ghanaian industrialists, teachers, doctors, nurses, manufacturers, importers and exporters and the general public. This you failed to do with your co-pilot, H.E. Amissah Arthur, who still probably smells the rat from the Bank of Ghana after supervising the hourly deterioration and unstable nature and devaluation of the Ghanaian Cedis as well as the unchecked and unprecedented judgment debts that have become synonymous with his government that he, personally as the overall boss, superintended such wrongful, cruel and questionable payments. This will continue to become a financial albatross on the nation for the next 20 years to come.
Again, did H.E. the President get some thorough de-briefing from special advisors before setting himself before the lenses of the media gadgets for the maiden broadcast? One wonders whether the president knew that it was mandatory for him to be sworn in to finish the un-expired term of the late Prof. John Mills till January 6, 2013 before, if he were lucky to have been acclaimed as flag-bearer of his party, just as his immediate past predecessor, would then, be eligible to contest the General Elections with other contestants. Personally, apart from the expression of thanks to all and sundry, the broadcast was short of ideas; the same old story; the value was, in fact, the same; it fell short of giving special mention of uniting us for. After all, Mr. Mahama and his ‘continuity’ team should have allowed the late president to have sufficient rest, nothing but rest and compelled him to do what the body could not do. Whether by voodoo or the African electronics, they forced him like a horse to the river side and put some tons of weight behind the head to drink the water that he didn’t want to drink. But who says he didn’t want to drink? If he didn’t want to, why did he dance the “azonto’ dance to their tune and admiration on the red-carpeted tarmac on arrival from the U.S. when they (the handlers) deceitfully asked him to showcase his new tricks and firepower to prove to Ghanaians, the doubting Thomasses and more especially, the opposition N.P.P. and the world at large that he was 100% fit for official duties?
Even though a day nursery pupil could read between the lines to determine the deterioration in his voice as was exhibited in his last two official functions. This was clearly depicted by his nasal malfunction, but was forced to tell lies till he went to his grave. This should have taught the handlers and the then vice president who later became the luckiest youthful president in Africa to have forced him to resign or retire to save his health and life before his disgusted demise on that fateful Tuesday, July 24, 2012. How come that the president was driven to the 37 Military Hospital under the guise of a senior government official involved in a motor accident, instead of speaking the truth to alert the health authorities to act with precision or circumspection? If the Castle ambulance on stand-by duties could not function (because of loss of ignition keys or no available driver) to convey the ailing president Mills, why did the same authorities fail to lay hands on, or to handpick any of the new 150 or more ambulances that had been parked at the State House for exhibition purposes to rush him there? Why did Mr. Mahama then see the need after the great harm had been done to quickly share them to all the regions soon after he had been sworn in instead of asking that he be rushed to the hospital to see whether he could probably be saved? Do you know Mr. Mills would be shaking in his grave for this ineptitude and dereliction of duty as the then Veep and the heir apparent? Why show this gross cruelty, total misdemeanor and criminality to the one whose authority caused the importation of these vehicles?
Well, what most Ghanaians expected the president to say was an apology from him to the citizenry for the frequent and rampant use of profane words such as, ‘excuse me with my language, baloney’, ‘foolish’ to his opponents’, ‘what a hell’, ‘I would use a bulldozer to kill a fly’ (an indirect response to former president John Kufuor when he had advised all and sundry to tone down), ‘those persons who continuously engaged in serial calls on air et cetera were useless and by this, he meant those from the opposite side whenever they appeared on radio’, while he was the vice president. Please forgive me for the repetition here for I need some special emphasis to drum home my point. But the most sensible thing (an apology to show remorsefulness) he cleverly dodged and failed to do because power, they say, corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Who was he deceiving anyway? Since his short speech fell short of an apology, ‘my brothers and sisters’, please, forget about it. Apart from the thank you message that probably was the most salient to him, virtually, the main gist or pith of the uninspiring message was nothing but a repeat of comedies of the more ‘baloney’ choruses we would be witnessing these days from him; not more, not less because he was on top.
He should have by now devised some mechanism(s) in place that he and his team would arrest the fee fall of the cedi instead of printing new notes; to help the AGI to compete with China and the Asian Tigers, the reckless astronomical port duties and how to control it, or how to judiciously utilize same taxes rather than use on payment of judgment debts, how to tackle the soaring and/or escalating prices of local staple foods and foodstuffs such as the apem specie with a bunch of the plantain now selling for Gh¢200 everywhere in Ghana. Transportation problems facing the general public are no exception; deteriorated health facilities and attendant problems from unmotivated medical staff (doctors, nurses and the other para-medical staff) don’t matter to him. The double stream of expected senior high school (current form two and three) students to finish next year and how to absorb them into the next stream doesn’t prick his garbs. The existing polytechnics, colleges of education/teacher training and the tertiary students to finish next June, and who might be pouring out onto the streets are nothing to write home about. Certainly, as a result of non-existent jobs the devil will find jobs for them by way of wee smoking, cocaine sniffing, armed robbery, teenage pregnancy, prostitution and/or homo-sexuality etc. These grave concerns should have been critically analyzed but were silent and hopefully to be absent next week when he so outdoors his plans because the visionless government of which he was a vital part had virtually no laid down policy for their future. No dream about drafting them to find solace in the agricultural sector for their livelihood. Your ‘aplanke or care-taker’ government should have unveiled elaborate plans that have been put in place to make good use of those who would not find places too. These mouth-watering and pertinent highlights should have been visibly noticed either from his body language and/or, possibly, heard from the so-called youthful leader of Ghana but not. Anyway, God has a way of doing things for us mortal beings but which he has completely hidden from us. The late president was taken off for a moment for all to see so that Ghanaians would see the good and bad sides of him. I don’t want to mean harm to, and a thorn in his flesh.

Please do all you can to get the concluding part 2 as the unfolding story seems to be mouth watering even though, it has some catalogue of sad memories