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Opinions of Friday, 22 May 2015

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Mr. Asaga, You Are The Dishonest One

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
May 18, 2015

The Chief Executive Officer of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) knows fully well that comparing the price of a gallon of auto-fuel in Ghana to the prices of the same product in Germany and Britain is like comparing oranges and apples, as Americans are wont to say (See "A Gallon Of Petrol In Germany Is Two Times The Price In Ghana - Asaga" / 5/18/15). Apples and oranges are both fruits all right but, nutritionally speaking, they are not exactly the same. The minimum wage for the average worker in Germany and Britain is much higher than what prevails in Ghana under the rag-tag Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

But what is even more significant to point out is that there is no "Dumsor" or perennially erratic power supply in Germany and Britain in the crippling manner that has drastically hobbled industrial productivity in Ghana. The problem here, by the way, is not simply about fuel hike; rather, it is about the senseless and unconscionable incongruity of increasing fuel prices at a time that industrial productivity has significantly shrunk the size of the country's economy to abysmally low levels, largely because of abjectly poor management of our energy resources by the government. Indeed, it seems as if President Mahama and his cabinet appointees are hell-bent on strangling the already woefully underemployed and underpaid Ghanaian worker.

And this is also where Mr. Moses Asaga, the CEO of NPA needs some basic schooling on how the economy works. According to Mr. Asaga, the increment of "a mere 28 pesewas" per gallon of fuel would not hurt "Ghana's middle-class" workers, among whom Mr. Asaga counts himself! And this is precisely where the former Nabdam NDC-MP may be clearly and shamefully seen to be far more dishonest than leading opposition politicians like Nana Akufo-Addo and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, both of whom Mr. Asaga accuses of being grossly dishonest. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Asaga squarely belongs to Ghana's upper-class. His paycheck is mandated by Article 71 of the Constitution, same as the President of Ghana and other highly placed political appointees and parliamentarians, as well as the judiciary.

There is something very funny here as well. Recently, for instance, when the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) think-tank ranked the quality of Ghana's public education at the very bottom of some 76 nations around the world, government shills quickly went to work by insisting that nearly every one of the 75 countries ranked ahead of Ghana was also economically much better off than the hitherto very proud oil-rich nation that brought up the rear. And so why can't Mr. Asaga and his associates look Ghanaians straight in the eye and tell them that, yes, Ghana's economy is on exactly the same level as that of his fuel-hike benchmark countries, that is, Germany and Britain?

You see, this is also where the roguish NDC politics of equalization simply does not wash. It is also rather annoying for Mr. Asaga to think or even believe that it makes a whit of any difference, whatsoever, to the ordinary economically harried Ghanaian worker for grossly incompetent administrators like himself to make an excuse out of the fact of the National Petroleum Authority's seemingly interminable incapacity to promptly settle its accounts with the Bulk-Rate Distributors of government fuel imports. Why doesn't the government simply privatize the NPA, even as it considers the inescapably IMF-instigated deregulation of petroleum importation and distribution in the country, since it has clearly shown itself to be grossly and criminally incapable of managing this critical sector of our energy industry?

Then also, Mr. Asaga does not seem to be aware of the fact that the brunt of the fuel hike is invariably most severely borne by the non-automobile-owning lower-middle Ghanaian worker, the very class of Ghanaian-citizen workers that the CEO of the NPA clearly appears to be confusing with obscenely overpaid executive operatives like himself.