Feature Article of Friday, 13 January 2012

Columnist: Doe, James W.

President Mills focus! A dilemma

President Mills by the end of 2011 proved to Ghanaians he was a master sling shooter, for a search of a better word archer, since in his own words while overseas he was able to “kill two birds with one stone.” Unfortunately, back home he has not been able to find an antidote to the barrage of distractions, name calling, scams, disjointed communication, unfulfilled “better Ghana” promise, disunity in his party and government.

We should not sit idle and let another double decade to be lost to Ghana’s development agenda. This could actually be the reality if the conundrum of events in Ghana now does not change in the right direction under President Atta Mills.

There are still many who believe that the President Mills’ administration will be positively written in the annals of Ghana’s great presidents. This can only happen if the President is focused since time is running out. It does not pay to concentrate on distractions since the pundits will tell you that is the game of politics. So without a tough skin, firmness, determination and perseverance forget it!

Although, the last decade which begun in 2001 was lost under President J.A. Kufuor he will still be fondly remembered as one of the three Presidents who chalked some success in the governance of Ghana after Dr Kwame Nkrumah and President J. J. Rawlings. There were many others, like prime minister, president, heads of state of Ghana since independence whom I could not assign any particular enduring achievements to.

As such when President Nkrumah promised seeking first the political freedom he delivered it in addition to a robust infrastructure for Ghana by the mid-sixties. For this and other considerations he was posthumously honoured as the African Leader of the Millennium.

President Rawlings achieved real democracy in Ghana for the enormous awareness he created in people’s power, grassroots participation, probity, accountability and laid the foundations for a modern economy.

President Kufuor stabilised Ghana’s democracy, by handing over to President Mills albeit the reluctance from his party and was said to have quadrupled Ghana’s economy. He awarded himself a medal of honour and later received the World Food Prize jointly with President Lula Da Silva in 2011.

President Mills who promised he will hit the ground running but from the look of things for the most part since 2009 was crawling and by the end last decade of 2010 the Better Ghana Agenda promised was becoming an illusion. Even when the clarion call came just a few days into the Mills administration from a troubled President Rawlings for Mills to change gears if he is to reap any success was to no avail. It is noteworthy that Rawlings brought Mills into politics, a rift begun to show at the top and in the bottom with ordinary foot soldiers of the party in the earliest days of the regime.

Let us be clear that peace is not exactly what you announce to be but rather what you wish for. It is a state of absence of violence. So a person can aspire for peace and also be steadfast and strict. It could be likened to spare the rod and spoil the child.

The distractions to Mills’ presidency were on course long before he became president. For instance Mr. Gabby Darko boasts of crafting the “poodle.” There was the famous “doctor-NPP” who announced him sick in South Africa unable to return home before the 2008 election. Later the opposition pronounced him dead, so President Mills in the eyes of the NPP his appearance is like a “ghost” and not before long he became the president in 2009. Have these pressures affected the president? Many believe the “poodle” rant have made President Mills distant himself from his mentor President Rawlings.

And in his recent awkward pronouncement President Mills recently said he was looking for an opportunity to meet Rawlings may only attest to this fact. The statement was so profound in revealing a no kowtow to the “poodle” pressure. “Really, what prevented him or prevents him from meeting the founder of his party all these time.”

Is it to prove to Mr. Darko he was his own man and with all apologies not a “poodle?” The last but not the least will be when he despairs to the issue of the “dead” or “ghost” which was propagated by the same journalist. Somewhere last year Gabby also called a fellow journalist and Minister of State on News File program,” Stupid” and refused to apologise and has since announced his retirement from politics.

I have heard from someone visiting abroad from Ghana mention the President was terminally ill two weeks before the Daily Guide reporter Mr. Charles Takyi-Boadu churned the NPP’s agenda in his question about “cancer” to President Mills. This was another distraction an attempt to supplant a disease on him.

But we all know a number of leaders have been treated of debilitating diseases from Presidents Fidel Castro (Cuba), Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), to Lula de Silva (Brazil) and most recently Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina who suffered from thyroid cancer. So, President Mills knowing all these facts, should he continue to ignore the founder because he will be called names only to alienate a big chunk of his electorate?

President Mills has been aloof and at best only made piecemeal gestures for amicable solution since the Sunyani NDC Presidential primaries and have not sought to unite the party since. The former first couple deserves better treatment from all and sundry and if not from anyone at all, from President Mills and Mr. Asiedu Nketia because they are currently de facto leaders of the NDC. And for Asiedu to call his bluff by refusing to answer a simple question is spite on independent voters also called sympathisers. But why should a party like NDC not have a National headquarters by the way?

The notable victory of the president was with another distraction during the Ivorian crisis when he vehemently opposed to interfering in the internal affairs of another nation, having been fiercely pushed to the wall by his opponent, Nana Addo. The worst case scenario would have been that Ghana engaged in cross-border war with Ivory Coast. And clearly, like in the Angolan crisis Ghana’s oil would have been siphoned freely by ships overseas with no revenues coming into Ghana or at best gone to war loads.

Many have complained about the proper monitoring of oil production since the method currently deployed is unacceptable. Instead of using dip-stick (ruler) to measure crude oil produced at the Jubilee Oil Field approved ultrasonic flow meter should be used.

The riddle to solving the puzzle for the NDC to succeed in the 2012 elections is enormous since the isolationist stance is also not yielding positive results for President Mills. Such that, the way things stand today in this election year of 2012 if the opposition does not do anything “silly,” the NPP will win the elections.

For instance, the “All die be Die” slang by Nana Addo has been repeated too many times, in Ghana, on the European Tour; in the UK it formed the lyric of a song, in a Germany speech it was elevated to using all weapons and there was no turning back in a recent statement before Christmas. But for Ghanaians by the way, will demand an unequivocal apology from Nana Akufo-Addo if he really wants to be President.

On the issues bedeviling President Mills and need to be tackled immediately is the housing issue. For example like President Rawlings used Chinese to build the Nkrumah mausoleum and the National Theatre at a time when Ghanaians thought China was substandard. President Rawlings was also able to rebuild the Independence Square and so on.

Under President Kufuor, he used the Indians to deliver on his Jubilee House, in the same way President Mills has all the powers to use executive order and let STX’s Koreans and even Indonesians build the promised houses for Ghanaians.

By saying this, I mean the President should make it clear to Mr. Bernard K. Asamoah, the photographer turned “contractor” that his actions poses threat to the nation and should step aside quickly and quietly or face the consequences of a “scam artist.” My checks in the USA revealed that Western Forms Technology, do not know this man and have nothing to do with Mr. Asamoah. No wonder the security services in the country have threatened to vote the other way if government reneges on this existential promise of housing.

In order to put things in perspective to President Mills and for the nation not to lose a second decade, this housing project will be the beginning for Ghana to gain the trust of the investment community globally. Especially, as countries in Asia become super economies. We know Brazil have overtaken the UK as the fifth largest economy, China became the second what was hitherto the position of Japan for over half a century and last week India has become the third largest economy.

Since President Nkrumah described South Korea in his book as, “a country of scattered villages” in the sixties but they have come a long way. I lived in Korea in 2008 and learned the advancement they made from being an aid recipient country to become FDI donors an opportunity Ghana cannot shed to the Gulf States, Europe and China.

This is how the STX Korea Chairman Kang Duk-soo summed it for 2011, “STX is keen to expand its footsteps into emerging markets,’’ said Kang, adding several big deals from countries in the Middle East and Africa will make it stronger.” In Saudi Arabia, STX landed a raw-materials project worth $2 billion, while its construction affiliate has completed a housing complex ahead of schedule in Abu Dhabi (Korea Times).

It is appropriate to know that STX made its fortunes in shipbuilding and currently diversifying into mining and real estate. By the way several conglomerates (chaebol) or industrial giants like Samsung and Hyundai motors of South Korea making significant advances in electronics, automobiles and construction of all sorts whose experience Ghana can tap into.

Over the decades Ghana was equal to Spain economically at independence, then in the sixties and seventies Japan tried to invest in automobiles engineering (Nissan of Auto Parts Company and Subaru cars on loan to taxi drivers) and electronics (Sanyo and indigenous Akasanoma) but failed. But Japan advanced to become second largest economy for fifty years. China overtook Japan in 2011 to become the second largest economy

The other issue that need to be tackled and soonest is “the incidental tens billions of dollars” paid to a single person, Mr. Woyome it could not be right all those who saw this happen should leave their jobs immediately. This is what I will call Ghana Greed and if the money is not refunded could be another blow to the government. How can a country that relies heavily on multi-donor budget support (MDBS) arrangement with the IMF afford such a mess? Unless to caution that President Mills should debunk his mind from this constant appeal of the “wheel of justice grinds slowly” and act now.

It is also on this same issue of MDBS that there was no real course for alarm to sound confrontational on the issue of a general statement by PM Cameron that targeted mainly East African countries especially Uganda and Malawi in particular in the South. But again as part of the agenda of distraction from his opponents President Mills’ knee jerk reaction made him respond fiercely, making Ghana’s newly found ally wobble into causing President Obama to repeat a similar sentiment as PM Cameron a week later.

Every Ghanaian knows there are gays (“obaa berima,” mote mote), lesbians also albinos in all in the mist and understandably are so by no fault of theirs. So, through the kind heartedness of the Ghanaian it is a non-issue as we do not discriminate in any way towards them. Rather through prayers and support of families many live a normal life and do not become a nuisance to the public space since there could be correctional consequence.

This is the truth and the posture the world could rather come to Ghana and learn about. Just like the problem of bullying and dousing in schools of developed countries which is permissible with strict rules only during the first week of school. In short these are not issues Ghanaians worry about.

The question is will President Mills give a statement again the UK sounds a note of caution by tying of aid to the rights of albinos to cease from amputation of albino limbs in Tanzania. Has anyone heard someone or the tabloids call President Mills gay? All these are the dilemma the President faces going into the 2012 elections.

The failed youth program can be tackled wisely through measures to improve especially on the fifty percent BECE failure rate nationwide which have become a course for concern. While the GES and Ministry of Education initiate improvement in its responsibility of paying and catering for teacher’s needs.

There should be a massive National Youth program, a kind of massive Job Corps program and vocational training schemes nationwide that will recruit National Service Personnel from the teaming graduates and able senior students to assist with teaching and learning in all junior BECE schools. These should be assigned to communities as tutors through the district assemblies as after school home work and teacher assistants and paid some allowance on hourly basis. Indirectly jobs will be created in enabling a good course.

Since Mr. Woyome thinks he earned the millions of dollars in question without any service to the nation he should either refund it or donate all to this course of training school children. In effect the President Mills should use his wise counsel to demand that the whole money should be refunded to the state. I would rather not want to go into the legal implications of the saga for now.

On jobs, Mr Ablakwah announced to the youth during a recent end of year meeting with supporters and youth at the National Theatre or was it the Conference said, the government has procured something like 20,000 jobs or if even he mentioned 200,000 jobs. This could be and effort of too little too late.

So comparing it to one million jobs of President Kufuor even if those were part time jobs, in labour terms translates into some 500,000 jobs. So either way which is better? And a further translation into votes who wins? A large proportion of Ghanaian youth today is independent and can vote anyhow according to policies that pleases them. The promised Mills jobs have not even started he was just urging the youth to register now. Dr Sekou Nkrumah was right then, to say the youth program had been stalled and only beautiful on paper.

The other revealing news that was shocking to me, explains some of the weaknesses in this government. That is hearing a Mills cabinet member, Mr. Jamal on Adom FM say that, Deputy Ministers under the Mills administration do not attend cabinet meetings if the substantive minister is available. Then I asked myself could this be a matter of policy or style. Hence, a situation that seems to have beaten the imagination of Ghanaians why there has been more misinformation or multiple disjointed explanations on relevant government policies.

There is a call now or doom for President Mills to reshuffle the team “B” (Dr. Spio-Garbrah) and bring in as a matter of urgency what could be referred to as team “A.” I am not sure if the team “A” is in the position to fix these and any lingering problems like the tax increases on fuel as one major promise the NDC said they would never do. Certainly, time has long run out for the President to deliver anything significant on the “Better Ghana” agenda.

Source: Doe, James W.

Email: worlator44@hotmail.com