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Opinions of Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

What! - Parliament & Government Unanimously Agree on Purchase of Sanitary Pads For School Girls?

A few days ago, Ghana became a cynosure of all eyes, but for bad reasons. President Mahama in his wisdom, proven childish in the end, felt obliged to transport over US$3 million cash aboard a chartered plane to Brazil to pay then agitating Ghana World Cup football squad.

Cash is known to be transported the world over. But the rush and circumstances in which the money was taken to Brazil, a dangerous place of all places on earth, for such a transaction to take place is what people all over the world with knowledge of the incident are mocking Ghana about. The President’s authorization and actions in regard of the money hurriedly transported to Brazil to calm down the Ghanaian footballers mock convention. Firstly, the plane carrying the money without any formidable airborne security escort could have easily been intercepted by criminals with knowledge of its cargo content. Secondly, the players’ lives were indirectly jeopardized. They could easily have been attacked by some brazen Brazilian criminals.

I am full of praises and thankful to God that nothing of the sort of our worst nightmare happened to the money and the players. However, this does not exonerate the President and his advisers from blame of being imprudent. Before I became aware of the incident, my White work colleagues approached me with the newspaper publication of the money issue displayed on their smart phones. They had a perfect opportunity to make fun of the Ghanaian leadership, intermittently questioning their wisdom.

Painfully, in the eyes of our White contemporaries, the primitiveness of the African, and especially of the Ghanaian, knows no bounds. How do we justify our going to them kowtowing for alms, only to have their hard earned taxpayers’ money cunningly embezzled by the Ghanaian leaders? Is our propensity to cleverly (by the perception of the Ghanaian of course) misappropriate funds sourced abroad a sense of display of intelligence or an indication of utter stupidity by the Ghanaian?

We are going for a loan from the USA. A chunk of the loan (over US$15 million) is earmarked for feasibility studies on the projects for which the loan has been sought. Another US$9 million and over is for purchasing sanitary pads for a selected, but until now undisclosed, Secondary school girls. What nonsense that is! Have our government and parliamentarians gone mad or what? Have they lost their memories, I ask again?

Let me pause to ask the parliamentarians a few questions to assess their mental state when they stupidly voted in favour of the loan with all its componential absurdities as just mentioned above.

1. Do the parliamentarians really represent their constituents in parliament? If they do, how? Do they listen to the wish of the people and act accordingly, or they are there only to represent their interests and how best to make personal money at the expense of their suffering constituents?

2. What is more important and should have been a priority – a) replenishing our hospitals with drugs, basic but urgently needed hospital machines etc. or b) purchasing sanitary pads for Secondary school girls (but not all Secondary school girls but an unknown selected schools)?

3. Do the parliamentarians know that their difficulty to helping the government set her priorities right by crossing the carpet when voting on vital national issues as the one in discussion makes them accomplices in crime when the government is queried and is investigated by the public on her dubious actions? They love to always vote on party lines despite the obligation for the contrary.

4. Have the parliamentarians not lost their oversight role of holding the government in check against her lack or excesses of her functions, when they always vote along the lines of party interests but not the collective interests of the citizenry?

The government should make known to the public which Secondary schools she intends to supply with the free sanitary pads. The government should also note that Ghanaians expect to be provided with drugs and other essential commodities that will make our health system work better to curtail most of the preventable deaths Ghanaians succumb to all of the time due to the lack of availability of such items.

My quick research/survey conducted upon hearing the intentions of the government as agreed by parliament to purchasing free sanitary pads for the female students of certain but unknown secondary schools in Ghana turns out the following results. Those interviewed are not only fuming at the lack of farsightedness by President Maham but also, prefer free medicines to free sanitary pads. Scarcity or lack of medicine in our hospitals can lead to the occurrence of preventable deaths but the lack of sanitary pads won’t. Provision of sanitary pads is only cosmetic but not essential in protecting lives or promoting educational equality between both sexes in Ghana as presumed by the government.

The girls who choose to stay at home during their menstruation do so not for the fact of being on their period but probably of the menstrual pains some go through. Menstrual pain is a disease that sanitary pad cannot cure but proper medication will. The government should wise up and stop playing ignorance in her bid to embezzle funds.

To many a Ghanaian I interviewed, President Mahama and the NDC want to steal part of the loan money for their party hence the money for the feasibility studies and sanitary pads as mentioned above. Who will be contracted for the importation of the sanitary pads and the envisaged feasibility studies? Will they not be NDC sympathisers who will as usual bloat the cost as usual? Regardless of who will be doing what, Ghanaian students do not need sanitary pads but rather medicines.

President Mahama and NDC should stop portraying Ghana in bad light by their disgraceful actions informed by thievery. I say shame on Ghana parliamentarians who do not know the duties for which they were voted to parliament. They only know how to amass wealth. No wonder they are not respected by their counterparts in the civilized Western world.

Rockson Adofo