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Opinions of Monday, 29 February 2016

Columnist: Daily Guide

Mr Opana has no shame!

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“One thing I have learned in my time in politics is that if one of the parties is shameless, the other party cannot afford to be spineless” – Frank Lautenberg.

The title of today’s piece might seem harsh. It might even be seen by my compatriots who always want to be politically correct as disrespectful to the Presidency. But the truth of the matter is that I do not have a better expression to euphemistically express Mr Opana’s shameless attitude. Much as I hate to show disrespect to the Presidency, I can’t help but call a spade by its real name.

Indeed, it is only a man who has no shame that would spit and gleefully lick his spittle from the floor. On the other hand, a man who has shame and values his dignity will eat humble pie rather than lick spittle.

Last Friday, Mr Opana presented his version of the State of the Nation (SOTN) Address to Parliament, as required by the Constitution. I say his version because the picture he painted was very different from what we are seeing on the ground. But I will resist the temptation to state my version, since my aim today is to expose Opana’s hypocrisy and lack of condour.

It is an open secret that I’m not a fan of Zu-za. But one policy of the Opana government that has touched my heart, and that of many others, is the decision to build 200 community day schools. Mr Opana promised to build 50 schools each year, making a total of 200 by the fourth year of his government.

As I write, the government claims to have given out the contract for 123 schools to be built. Interestingly, only four have so far been completed and commissioned; with the rest “at various stages of construction.” As for the remaining seventy-seven, not even Opana could tell when they would be given out on contract.

If I were Opana, I would eat humble pie and be honest with my compatriots. I would tell them it would be difficult to achieve my target of 200 schools within four years. I wouldn’t blow my own trumpet, when I’m on record to have labelled self trumpeting as a mediocre exercise. I would eat humble pie and avoid blowing my own trumpet because that is what a person with dignity would do.

Mr Opana was one of the harshest critics of the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme introduced by the erstwhile Kufuor administration. He virtually disregarded the viability of the programme and said it demonstrated a lack of ideas by the Kufuor government in alleviating poverty.

. Listen to him: “The best way to bring people out of poverty is to empower and improve their ability to earn an income. It is when you fail that you dole out direct cash to people. The introduction of LEAP therefore signals a failure on the part of the NPP.”

I want to put it on record that I never supported the LEAP programme from its inception. I belonged to the school of thought that believed that the LEAP programme was not a viable tool in fighting poverty. I believed it was only used to line the pockets of party supporters in the name of poverty alleviation, and I still do. It was the reason I supported Opana’s stance when the above quote was reported in the June 7, 2008 edition of the Daily Graphic.

If after becoming Vice-President in 2009, and subsequently President in 2012, he realised his earlier stance was no longer tenable, the most dignified action to take was to eat humble pie. But Opana rejected humble pie and went licking his spittle from the floor. He expanded the programme he had condemned when in opposition, and even brought one Zenabu to Parliament as evidence of the success of the LEAP programme. Shameless, isn’t it?

It is irrefutable that the whole country was plagued by dumsor for close to four years under the leadership of Opana. It is also an undeniable fact that the destruction caused by dumsor within the period was very massive. Both businesses and individuals tasted the devastating effects of dumsor.

Now that the situation has improved, it is insulting for Opana to tell us to applaud his government for the so-called “fastest mobilisation of emergency power in our history”. If he knew emergency power could be mobilised, why did he wait for dumsor to unleash its menacing effects on us before resorting to emergency power mobilisation? Is it not apt to describe such an utterance as shameless?

By the way, has Mr Opana seen pictures of the pupils in Kperisi M.A. Primary School on the bare floor writing? Since he believes in evidence-based learning, I’m sure the pictures would speak louder than words from my pen. We salute the courageous headmistress of the school for her patriotism; and pat Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on the back for coming to the aid of the school by ordering 500 desks.

Mr Opana should realise that the fact that he doesn’t see tears flowing on our cheeks does not mean we don’t cry. The suffering he and his ilk are making us endure is making us cry within. But we hope to change that soon.

See you next week for another interesting konkons, Deo volente!

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