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Opinions of Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Columnist: Quansah, Eboq

The Professor has failed the governance test (Part III)

“One of the key things this government has succeeded in doing is to promote corruption on a grand scale. The United States Human Rights Report 2010 established that since the Ekumfi-born Professor occupied Government House in January 2009, corruption is festering ‘in all branches of government’.”

Health officials are worried that the onset of the rainy season would fuel the spread of cholera in the country. Already, conservative estimates indicate that over 5,000 people are afflicted with the disease, with as many as 69 lives lost in five of the 10 regions of the nation.

“My greatest fear is that the rains are coming, and the very conditions that triggered this epidemic are still there,” says Director-General of the Ghana Health Service Elias Sory.

“People are not keeping themselves and the city clean. People commonly dispose of human faeces in waterways, and that, given the widespread use of makeshift wells, such actions are probably contaminating drinking water,” the Director-General complained.

According to Dr. Philip Amoo, Head of Public Health at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, the nation’s leading centre for medical health is overwhelmed and lacks space to cope with the epidemic. It is a frightening prospect, as the rains prepare to come down in torrents in the next month or two.

The Professor’s ‘Better Ghana’ agenda is simply not working. It is the sign of things to come that in the dry season a cholera outbreak is now reaching epidemic proportions. With rubbish heaps threatening to develop into full mountains on the street corners and several joints in the cities, towns and villages across the country, the germs that induce cholera and other illnesses associated with the tropics have several incubation areas to multiply in their millions.

The government’s policy on garbage collection is threatening to become a farce. Like most things in society, garbage collection has entered the realms of politics, with party agents licensed to take over most of the areas previously covered by ZoomLion, the company that has innovated garbage collection since it burst on the national scene just before the African Cup of Nations staged in Ghana in January and February 2008.

Without the requisite expertise and equipment, the new licensed collectors are unable to perform as efficiently as ZoomLion has been doing over the years. There is the nagging problem too of cheques for job done not arriving on time from the various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies.

The irony is that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) leadership and party agents had created the impression that under the leadership of the former university Don, this nation was in for a treat. The likes of Ama Benyiwa Doe, Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, and acidic mouth Tony Aidoo would have taken the Kufuor regime to the cleaners, if cholera had so devastated the land during the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration.

A rolling stone, they say, gathers no moss. But most Ghanaians were taken in by the daily ranting of NDC operatives while they were in opposition. The good old professor himself was at the forefront of agitation against the Kufuor regime.

Under the administration of Prof. Atta Mills, the centre is not holding in spite of roof-top advertisements of building a Better Ghana. If anything at all, the country is retrogressing. With oil money adding to the national budget, one expected this nation to move forwards in its development agenda.

Development, in the apparent diction of the party in power, is for the President to use state resources to campaign to be retained in the party’s primary to elect a new leader for the 2012 presidential elections.

Under the guise of inspecting development projects in the regions, the President is visiting constituency executives and doling out state largesse, according to concerns raised by the camp of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, the President’s declared opponent in the NDC presidential race.

Yesterday, a viewer sent a text message to TV Africa with a concern that sums up the frustration of the ordinary citizens of this country in the current paralysis in combating corruption. “When is the President going to cut the sod to begin the fight against corruption?” the viewer asked.

Sod cutting is the new phenomenon without any corresponding work. In early 2009, Vice-President John Dramani Mahama officially commissioned a bridge at Mile Seven on the Achimota-Ofankor stretch of the Accra-Kumasi highway. Two years down the line, the construction job has stalled. The project is far from being finished for use by motorists.

Last January, President John Evans Atta Mills cut the sod for commencement of work on the stinking STX Korea deal, under which an engineering and construction firm from Korea has been engaged to build 30,000 houses for state security operatives for a whopping $1.5 billion. Nearly four months after the sod-cutting, not a block has been laid in respect of the project.

Two weeks ago, as Parliament prepared to go on recess, the Government laid a paper before the august House seeking approval for a loan of $1.8 billion to construct the eastern corridor road linking the Volta Region with the northern half of the country. It is not the construction of the road that is the problem; it is the whopping cost and conditions attached to the loan that ultimately forced the government to withdraw the loan paper for re-presentation.

At a time when the call by chiefs in the Western Region, where Ghana’s oil is currently pouring out, for ten percent of oil money to be reserved for the development of the region has been treated with contempt, 15 years of oil money is to be set aside for paying off the loan for the construction of the so-called eastern corridor road.

That is not all, we are told that the government tried to seek parliamentary approval for seismic data on oil exploration to be included as collateral for the loan. I am told on authority that the opposition New Patriotic Party in Parliament was geared up for battle, when the government decided to withdraw the original proposal for re-presentation.

Sadly, this administration is also discriminating in siting development projects. What crime has the Western Region committed to be so discriminated against in the scheme of operations of the Atta Mills administration? Is it a crime for the region to site oil deposits and produce 60 percent of other export commodities in the country?

So far, the Western Region has no cabinet minister in this administration. Compare that with the Upper West Region which has its citizens occupying three key cabinet positions, in addition to a number of deputies. For the records, Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Benjamin Kumbuor, Minister for the Interior, and Yieleh Chireh, Minister of Health, all trace their roots to the nation’s youngest, and certainly, one of the smallest region in terms of land size and population.

One of the key things this government has succeeded in doing is to promote corruption on a grand scale. The United States Human Rights Report 2010 established that since the Ekumfi-born Professor occupied Government House in January 2009, corruption is festering “in all branches of government.”

With allegations that the President might not be enjoying the best of health, supervisory role has been ceded to people who do not officially hold any position in the administration. Quite recently, former President Jerry John Rawlings hit the roof, alleging massive corruption in the administration of the former law lecturer and Ghana’s leading taxman.

He was particularly, irked by the fact that the President has surrounded himself with key members of the Rawlings regime, who he claimed, contributed towards the NDC losing power in 2000. One needs not be a sage to understand that the former President was referring to Mr. Ato Ahwoi, described as the de facto Prime Minister of Ghana, Kofi Totobi Quakyi, and former security guru, Kojo Tsikata.

Insiders say a number of top NDC gurus are behind the establishment of companies linked to Chinese and other oriental businesses which are winning huge contracts and ripping this nation off. Some of Prof. Atta Mills’ ministers are also said to be milking Ghana dry. A number of them have allegedly put up about two or more houses each within the short span of two years.

The other day, the President himself, went public to state that it was not possible for any employee to construct a dwelling place with one’s own resources within three years of gaining a job. All the same, the Professor’s men and women are grabbing properties without the former top taxman calling them to order.

The NDC is trying desperately to paint a picture of a President who could not be corrupted. I tell you, the head of state of the Republic of Ghana could be likened to a co-tenant who has vowed never to steal any property belonging to the colleague. Anytime the friend is out, however, he would open all doors and windows and disappear.

In spite of the roof top advertisements of building a ‘Better Ghana’, served more on the lips than action, the United States 2010 Human Rights Report on Ghana made these findings: “Human rights problems included the following: excessive use of force by police, which resulted in deaths and injuries, ethnic killings and vigilante violence, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, police impunity, prolonged pre-trial detention, arbitrary arrest of journalists, corruption in all branches of government…”

The failure of the good old professor is summarised in an accusation leveled by Africanus Nii Abbey, National Coordinator of a group seeking to get the President to step aside in the next NDC primary election for a flagbearer in July this year. In the name of ‘Father for All’ Ghana and the NDC party is losing grip on the principle of accountability, which is one of the key principles underlying the formation of the NDC. The Professor has certainly failed to fly!

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