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Opinions of Thursday, 3 December 2009

Columnist: Adu, Kwasi

Open Letter To Prof Mills

CJA Leader Says He is Devastated

Dear Mr. President,

I am devastated to hear and read that you have directed that your political appointees should make themselves available to NDC foot soldiers. My distress derives from my realization that I had been gullible to have believed your campaign promise that “Ätta Mills as President will be president for all”. Apart from this, you have now given Presidential endorsement to the hitherto unstated practice among the two major political parties that Ghana is a spoil of war, which is to be scavenged upon exclusively by the victor party and their “foot soldiers”.

Mr. President, if you had sat down to carefully consider the trend in the last elections which brought the NDC to power, you would have realized that it was not only NDC members and supporters who voted for you and the NDC. What happens to such people now? By saying what you have said, you establish in the mind-set of the rest of the population that the NDC misled non-NDC citizens into voting for the NDC, knowing well that under your administration, their interests and expectations would not matter.

In 1976, the then Head of State, General Kutu Acheampong nearly imposed on this country a non-party system of government which he called “Union Government”. His argument was that party politics divides the people and alienates the other people who do not belong to the winning side. Some of us, at the time, argued that he was wrong. Because of that, together with thousands of members of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) and others, we vigorously campaigned against Kutu Acheampong’s Union Government (UNIGOV) idea until he was removed from office in 1978. We thought, at the time, that we had won the argument. Thirty-one years on, you have confirmed that Kutu Acheampong was right, after all. Your government is trying hard to abolish any notion of equal opportunity for all Ghanaians under your rule.

Mr. President, this statement of yours exposes the inability of your government to appreciate the fine line, under a democracy, between political party and government.

I had thought that when a political party is vying for power, it does so because of the belief that it has better answers to the problems confronting the whole population. It therefore seeks the national mandate to work for the whole country. Hardly did I know that your party was really seeking the mandate of the whole country only to meet the interests of your party members. Your appointees, ranging from Cabinet Ministers to District Chief Executives, as well as Managing Directors of state corporations and their boards of directors, should be working for everyone in the country and be treating every citizen equally without consideration of party affiliation, or political orientation.

Mr. President, most of your appointees are not post-holders in the NDC. How do you then expect them to suddenly assume the role of party bigwigs who are expected to resolve problems for only NDC party members?

By the way, how will this directive work in practice? Do people have to approach your appointees with their NDC “foot soldier” cards or what? And what exactly would they be expecting the Ministers to do for them? Can you imagine a situation whereby people would form long queues in front of each Ministry asking for their “legitimate” demands to be addressed? In any case, what exactly is meant by “legitimate demands”? Demand for children’s school fees, money for food, or payment of hospital bills? Where will Ministers get the money to meet such “legitimate demands” of NDC foot soldiers? How much are Ministers paid? Or will they have to resort to creative accounting with public monies? Otherwise, tell us what exactly you mean by “the legitimate demands of foot soldiers”? Do you have a national list of NDC foot soldiers that you would make available to every appointee to enable them to identify the genuine foot soldiers and meet their “legitimate concerns”?

This is sad, Mr. President, because you have just nationalized the partisan interests of the NDC. This will become a millstone around the necks of those of us who do not belong to any political party. You do not expect me to smile from now on.

Four months ago, I met one unemployed NDC serial caller who thought that, with NDC in power, he should be given a car by the government. When I argued with him that the government cannot be expected to give him a car, he retorted that I am out of tune with contemporary politics. A month later, lo, and behold, he was driving a four-wheel drive vehicle. My investigations revealed that this vehicle was acquired for him by “someone”. What is the interest of this “someone” in giving a fuel guzzling car to an unemployed serial caller who cannot fuel the car without going from one Minister to the other to have his “legitimate demand” about fuel addressed?

With this directive, your promise to fight corruption now goes out of the window. For how can your appointees meet the demands of party functionaries without being corrupt?

Mr. President, you now understand why I am heart-broken? Since non-NDC Ghanaians have little hope of having their “legitimate concerns” addressed by your appointees, you should not blame these disenfranchised citizens if one day, they welcome a non-party government in whatever form. As for me, if that adverse situation should ever happen, all that I may have to do is to sit in my doorway, and listen to a rendition of Eddie Donkoh’s “Na who caus’am, Oga” while chewing on my fresh tobacco leaf (“monto”).

Kwasi Adu

Editor’s Note: Mr. Kwasi Adu is the Convener of the Committee for Joint Action (CJA)