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Opinions of Friday, 9 July 2010

Columnist: Adamu, Tanko Balik

Resettling Ex-President Rawlings, Whose Responsibility is it?

Where do I even start? Former President Rawlings and his family have no place to live and the nation is spending time to even discuss that? Wow! What a country we live in? Let’s start by admitting one fact as a nation. The fact is, if it is true that the Rawlingsis had no place to live except the one provided by the state, then they are the most irresponsible people to ever lead this beautiful country! This whole situation arose when their state provided housing was supposedly burned to the ground by a suspicious fire that nobody can explain. We are yet to determine what was burned in the said fire, how the fire was started, what efforts were put in to control the fire after it started and a host of other factors. Mind you, this particular property we are talking about is under 24 hour security post manned by soldiers. None and I repeat none of these people saw anything or even had the slightest idea of how to put out fires at the incipient stage. Something elementary school kids can do. Instead of our leaders to spend time in identifying all the institutional failures that went on and come up with better policies and procedures to educate our citizenry on fire awareness and how to deal with fires (I teach that in the US and can volunteer for my motherland), we are debating how to resettle a group of people who would have been amongst the top earners of the nation for over 20 years.

Why do Mr. Rawlings and his apologists like Herbert Mensah think and expect the country to resettle them? Why in heavens name are they so full of this entitlement mentality? Somebody needs to tell them that the state doesn’t have to provide anybody housing. There are too many people in Ghana that have suffered from disasters that are not of their making. I am going to try to list the kind of people in our dear country that have to be resettled first and if we still have resources then maybe we can think about the Rawlingsis.

The first on my list will be the poor people in and around Accra whose homes were destroyed by the recent floods. These people suffered from government failures in housing planning and poor investment in infrastructure by governments over the years. The governments of our country and I mean both NDC and NPP governments failed to regulate and enforce zoning laws that already exist. The result is buildings sprung up everywhere in the city thereby blocking waterways and eventually led to the perennial flooding we have been experiencing over the years. Instead of building adequate drains to contain both domestic and non-domestic waste water in addition to the water from the rains, we still had outdated open drains choked by plastic bags and all manner of solids that block and divert water movement. No desilting of our drains is on-going in our country. The consequences of these failures are the destruction of the lives of the poor who find themselves along the waterways. They haven’t been resettled by the state yet.

Second on my list of people who should be resettled before the Rawlingsis, are the poor people from my hometown of Pong-Tamale whose farms get burned every year by brush fires. These people through no fault of theirs lose their life savings almost every year to fires. They struggle to get by every day until the next farming season when they go out and try again to see what the Good God will have for them. I personally know people who have taken loans of close to a billion cedis from banks to farm and their farms ended in fires. These people cannot go to the banks and tell them they lost the money in fires. They have to find ways to pay the banks up or end up losing their homes and other properties that they used as collaterals. They have not even been told sorry by a so-called caring government!

Once we have started talking about people who should get resettled by the government, we might as well talk about those people who lost their homes during the so-called revolution and the coup that those criminals launched. People lost their homes because they had more than one bathroom; others had their businesses and homes burned by Mr. Rawlings and his co-conspirators under the guise of rescuing the country. The people who were “lucky” simply had their homes confiscated by Mr. Rawlings and his people only to be returned at a later date if they lived long enough to see it. Others till today never got their property back. Dr. Hilla Liman died as a poor man with nothing to show for his education. He could have made a lot of money for himself but he came back to Ghana to serve his country and you Mr. Rawlings made his life useless. Today you have the effrontery to ask Ghanaians to provide you and your family housing? What a crock!

The absurdity of this nonsense even gets worse when one stops to even think that you have been offered so many alternatives and you turned them all down. What do you guys really take Ghanaians for? After your party cried to the heavens for the state spending money on providing security for the private home of Mr. Kuffour (Something I agreed with you people on), you still have the guts to even let your voice be head after the state spent money on renovating your mother in-law’s house? What has your mother in-law done for our country apart from giving birth to your wife? And Mr. Herbert Mensah is not even ashamed to defend this balderdash in public? What is going on in Ghana?

Whenever I have to look at issues that are confronting our country, I tend to look at the implications of those issues on our children. If the whole head of state for over 20 years is looking up to the government for a home, how do we tell our kids that they shouldn’t be looking up to the government for anything? I hate to make this issue a racial issue but if you live in America like we do and you constantly have to listen to others tell you that black people will not survive without the government and then you turn around and hear a whole head of state asking the government to cater for his family, it really hurts. It is even worse when you think about the fact that you have to burst your balls to build for yourself a home in both your country and wherever you are domiciled.

Let’s put this into perspective, Mr. Rawlings retired at about the same time that Mr. Clinton left office. Mr. Clinton bought his own home, built a library and started working on charities. Not a cent of the money spent by Mr. Clinton belonged to the United States government. Now if you compare, the US is much wealthier than Ghana, yet they could not afford to give Mr. Clinton five houses. Remember the burned residence consisted of a number of individual houses! Ghana, a rather poor country whose children still go to school under trees, lack good drinking water and adequate healthcare provided free housing, gas, security, etc to its ex-president. This same ex-president who can not exactly tell us what he did with his pay for all those years that he was president is still not satisfied with what he had and we still have people defending him on radio. Is that what we want our children to learn? I am sorry but I don’t want my kids to ever have to depend on the state for anything. They will have to enjoy from their own sweat!

With all of the above said, I will like to restate my question, who is responsible for resettling the former first family? If your answer was that the Rawlingsis were responsible for the Rawlingsis, you are right! See Herbert Mensah the hypocrite for your prize!

I am not a fun of President Mills and his NDC but my advice to them is to ignore Mr. Rawlings and his ilk. Ghanaians are discerning people and they will soon get tired of the Rawlingsis. If you do not yield to their pressure largely influenced by their perceived popularity with the foot soldiers, they will soon realize that Ghana is not made up of a bunch of idiots. We have come a long way as a people and cannot allow ourselves to held back by one individual and his family. Majority of us had to reach where we are through our own toil and sweat. Some of us have to do it by washing dishes, others had to do it by driving caps, but we all did what we had to do to pay our way either through school or by investing our savings so that one day we will have a better future for our children. We have to welcome the former first family into our way of life. Join us in the fight for survival! The government of Ghana owes you nothing and the sooner you realize that, the easier it will be for all of us. Welcome brother!

Thanks for the publication.


Tanko Balik Adamu

Environmental Health and Safety Professional

Pittsburgh, PA, USA