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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Columnist: Eyiah, K. A.

You can take the Boy out of the Village, but………

you cannot take the village out of the boy

K A Eyiah

“You can take the boy out of the village, but you cannot take the village out of the boy.” In my dormitory back in my secondary school days, this is how we used to describe village boys and even the city types, sometimes, when they did things that were considered extremely silly or small-minded. I can still picture the face of one particular “Accra Boy”, who was regularly labelled as such, even though he believed he was a city boy and therefore did not deserve the tag.

The late Professor K A Busia one said, “I am a village boy, but I am not a villager.” And that was very true because he was one of the most refined politicians of his time. That is not something that you say about many of our African leaders of today, not even the ones that were educated in some of the most prestigious universities around the world.
When I read about the “rebranding” of Ghana’s Mass Metro buses with the photographs of the three former presidents of the Fourth Republic of Ghana and that of current President Mahama, I could not believe my eyes. I had to read it two more times. My first reaction was, “Was I dreaming or reading something from Russia, North Korea, Burundi, The Gambia, Chad or another one of those basket cases in Africa.” Ghana, after nearly sixty years of independence?

That exercise is crude, insensitive, extremely daft and primitive! It is bad enough for our sitting president to be coaxed by CNN to stand by their official signboard to be photographed grinning from ear to ear, but to display his photograph on buses that will soon break down for lack of maintenance? Whose bright idea was that? How about the two living former presidents? Were Mr Kufuor and Jerry Rawlings part of this “nkurasesem”? Did they actually agree for their “black and white” photographs to be displayed on the buses while Mahama’s was done in colour?

Jerry Rawlings I can understand. Having been out of the limelight, which he so craved like a child and a new Christmas toy, it must be really depressing for him not to see his and his wife’s photographs on the first headlines of every television station at night or on the front pages of our national newspapers, but Mr Kufuor? What exactly did he hope to gain by his fuzzy black and white photograph on buses? Isn’t his international exposure and respectability good enough for his 77 years? Why does he need his photograph on buses that ply muddy trunk roads and pot-holed highways?
In the UK for instance, George Osborne would have coaxed private companies to advertise their brands on the buses, so the treasury could squeeze some more cash out of them, as it is done with the underground train stations and tunnels. Instead, in our primitive economy, the taxpayer’s loans are rather paid to corrupt party hacks and cronies, to advertise a non-performing president, so their non-thinking supporters can recognise the president in an election year? It really shows the kind of illiterate goons that are running our economy. Is it any surprise that our national currency has lost 185% of its value in six years of NDC stewardship?
Good leaders are loved by their subjects not through capricious laws of coercion and acts of deceit or gimmickry, but through their visible achievements in the form of improvements of the people’s well-being – health services, good education, social services, provision and or improvement of amenities and general quality of life. It is not about embossing the president’s effigy on used toy laptops to school children who cannot read or count, and who live in areas without electricity. That amounts to inculcating dishonesty in young children!

The last time I checked, large numbers of children, about 80% of the total, in fact, who finish Junior Secondary School in Ghana cannot read or write one decent sentence in any language. A very large percentage of these functionally illiterate boys and girls live in the rural area. From the way the president’s own wife misquotes the great Kwegyir Aggrey, I am almost certain that their Bole-Bamboi and Tain constituencies are not immune to these depressing statistics. In a country where teachers are paid a miserly 12,000 to 18,000 per annum, my quick ‘back of the envelope’ estimates tell me that 3.6m GHC could have been used to employ 66 trained school teachers over three years, to lift about 6000 children of the Bole-Bamboi and Tain constituencies from JSS1 to JSS3, out of the bleak future that they have been sentenced to by a disintegrating education system!
I have learnt that a staffer has branded as “useless” a BBC Africa journalist who posted this ridiculous “branding” bunkum on his twitter site. Mr Staffer, here is the headline from the Daily Mail of today, 28th December, “Misery for the residents of towns swamped by flooding – but Britain still sends £1BILLION in aid to the world’s most corrupt nations.”

What this BBC journalist was trying to tell you and your president, and by implication the rest of us Ghanaians is that, “you nitwits cannot dissipate your resources on useless ventures and expect my taxes to support your fraudulent Mickey Mouse National budgets!” And that is exactly what they tell those leeches in the United Kingdom who dissipate their Lottery winnings on alcohol and cars and then head for the benefits office for hand-outs.

The resignation of the minister in charge of this theft is not enough. If the lady is stupid enough to allow herself to be used by rogue party hacks for such despicable dissipation of the taxpayer’s money, she should be prosecuted and jailed for this criminal waste.

More than ever before, Ghana needs an Independent Prosecutor and a REAL Freedom of Information Bill. The constant desecration of the Presidency of the country – Ms Coton and Aveyime rice production, Construction Pioneers, Mabey and Johnson, Cementation, Ghana@50, Braer Aircraft purchase, Isofoton, STX, SADA, GYEEDA and now this rebranding daylight robbery – demands that something is done about the stench of corruption which rises from the presidency and permeates every facet of Ghanaian society. All the people involved in this cheap scam, including John Kufuor and Jeremiah John, if they had prior knowledge of it, should bow their heads in shame! I hope they do not make any attempt to attend Watch Night Service on Thursday!