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Opinions of Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.

The "dumsormuststop" street demonstration should open the government’s eyes

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Folks, those of us who have been bold enough to challenge the government's handling of the energy crisis in the country are relieved that despite all the childishness that characterized the rhetoric preceding the May 16 street demonstration by those angry at the prolonged "Dumsor" albatross and their opponents, the event passed off without any untoward happening.
It is only one in the series of practical actions and negative outbursts by Ghanaians feeling the pinch of the energy crisis and compelled beyond all reasonable doubts to make their voices heard. No matter what happened before, during, or after the May 16 show of anger---or how the bitter criticisms against the "Dumsor" crisis have been received or rebuffed by the government---the street demonstration has sent a clear message that the government has no other option but to respect: that Ghanaians are fed up with its inability to solve the electricity problem and will do whatever they can to register that sentiment.
What happened in Accra is only an inkling of the deep-seated anger that is seething in them nationwide. Who knows the extent to which this public display of anger and frustration will go ext? Clearly, the political implications cannot be missed: the government is the loser!!
Once it is established that life in the modern era cannot be lived without electricity, it is incumbent on those with the power to pull the purse strings to use public funds to provide electricity for consumption in every sector of national life. Unfortunately, the government hasn't been responsible enough to recognize that fact nor has it been smart enough to solve the problem without creating room for it to be politicized. Forget about the constant declaration of intents and purposes. The people can read between the lines!!
What has happened is a clear eye-opener. The government already has its back to the wall and should be grateful to those pressing the button for it to know that anything that will culminate in the electoral decisions to be made at Election 2016 will rely heavily on this electricity crisis and its impact on national life.
We cannot now quantify the enormous negative fallouts; but we can say that much of what is happening to worsen living conditions can be blamed on this energy crisis. It is a terrible blot on the government's handling of issues that must be acknowledged and tackled. Even in this situation, the prices of petroleum products have been raised (See…/NewsArchive/artikel.php…) and there is talk of tariff for the scarce electricity to be raised. A time-bomb being set already? How much pressure can the government put on the people without expecting them to "explode"? And is the government that much insensitive?
Assurances that the "Dumsor" crisis will be tackled cannot be accepted unless supported with practical evidence. One particular aspect for which the government must be grateful is that those condemning it over this "Dumsor" problem haven't hidden their political bent---some threatening to vote against it at Election 2016 and others revealing that they will use this issue as a political electioneering campaign bait.
These people have insisted that this "Dumsor" problem has negatively affected their businesses and will definitely influence their electoral decisions. Whether they are already known as avowed opponents of the NDC or not is immaterial. What matters at this point is that the government's own inability to solve the problem has exposed its underbelly for attack.
That is why the government must act with circumspection and do things decisively/expeditiously so it can solve this problem to save its future. Only then will it redeem itself.
Once the climate has been set, we should expect more. Even if it solves the problem eventually, lingering doubts will still influence "doubting minds" still unsure of its honesty and integrity; and its avowed opponents will intensify their campaigns to undo it at Election 2016, clearly because they will appeal to a wider constituency than they did in previous elections.
The government's own mis-steps that have angered the labour front, particularly, are evident. Those workers who have been laid off or those who have suffered adversely from this electricity crisis will not forgive it soon. Others are nursing their own grievances.
Within this context, it is politically expedient for the government to tread cautiously so it doesn't inflame passions all the more. Its functionaries who are still unsure of what the real political capital is or where it lies should be cautioned in their public utterances and political posturing.
When everything settles down after all, it will not be difficult to conclude that this "Dumsor" crisis has turned out to be the government's worst enemy. Forget about the NPP. It is this "Dumsor" that will make or mar its political fortunes.
Something has to be done quickly to remake the government's political will. The street demonstration just held should be seen as the urgent call to action. Only then will anything coming from officialdom be relevant to the agenda for a "Better Ghana". How can there be a "Better Ghana" when the energy crisis throws everything out of gear?
It must be pointed out that the main consideration for determining victory or defeat at future elections will not be solely based on “development projects” or other superficial issues as ethnicity, character traits of candidates, or any other substance that has no direct bearing on the lives of the people. That main consideration will have to do with how the government in power seeking re-election has instilled hope in the citizens for a brighter and secure future in which they will live their lives in decency and be assured that their political will and contributions toward sustaining democracy are worthwhile.
The citizens will want to repose trust and confidence in the political authority that knows how to use the resources of the country to improve living conditions and not to “dance around the target” to erode everything that6 they have stood for all these decades under self-rule. That is the challenge.
The government has to re-engineer itself in the light of the “wake-up calls” now being sent to it under the auspices of the “Dumsor” crisis so it can do better than it has done so far. Only then will it endear itself to the people to be retained in power. Anything short of that will be a culmination of running a fool’s errand. And who wants to do so but a celebrated fool who doesn’t know how to use political power to advantage? I am not done yet and will return.
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