Oil & the Economy took Centre Stage

Ebo Quansah in Accra

Someone said the other day that Social Democracy is a political concept that allows discredited communists the opportunity to act as if they have abandoned the principle of communism in favour of a less totalitarian model of government.

It is difficult to argue with this definition, given the occurrences in the communist states of Eastern and Central Europe after the cold war. From Russia to Romania, the former communist dictators found solace in Social Democracy when communism collapsed with the end of the colds war.

In Ghana, we woke up one day to be told that the National Democratic Congress (NDC), formed by Jerry john Rawlings after eleven and a half years of dictatorship, and with virtually all the operators of the state totalitarianism at the time, had become social democrats.

In a way, the party has changed. It has move d from the era when the head of state led from the front in overturning vehicles. Obviously, the change in leadership has helped. The NDC is now led by Prof. John Evans Atta Mills who evokes the image of God Almighty in anything and everything. It is as if this nation has moved away from the secular state it has always been.

The other day, after Prof. Atta Mills had stated that he would not mind turning the Castle into a prayer camp every weekend, an irritated friend observed that we better turn this nation over to Archbishop Duncan-Williams of or Bishop Charles Agyin-Asare, to ensure that the miracle that propels the Action Chapel and the Word Miracle International would rub off on national assignments.

Social-Democrats or not, certain habits die hard. The agitation of its footsoldiers, which erupted in the seizure of public toilets to locking up of state officials in the offices, is a phenomenon from the era of dictatorship.

The party and its officials have done their best, without success in their efforts, to move away from promises which remain mere paper guarantees. In yesterday’s issue of The Chronicle, the paper captured the NDC Member of Parliament for Cape Coast on its centre spread outlining a number of government projects earmarked for the Central Regional capital.

Answering questions put to him by some members of his constituency, after making a donation of 10 computers at Dahia, a suburb of Cape Coast, Mr. Ebo Martin Odro said the construction of the Cape Coast Stadium, reconstruction of the Kotokuraba Market, dredging of the Fosu Lagoon, an interchange at Pedu Junction, and a dual carriageway to link Pedu Junction to Mpeasem were some of the projects to be executed by the government of the NDC in Cape Coast, as part of the ‘Better Ghana’ agenda of the Atta Mills administration.

The story was reported for The Chronicle by David Allan Painstil. Incidentally, the Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Ebo Martin Odro, made the same pledge at Christmas last year. The same reporter broke the news to The Chronicle.

“The Member of Parliament for Cape Coast, Mr. Ebo Barton Odro,” wrote Mr. Painstil in the January 5, 2010 issue of this paper, “has declared 2010 a year of action for the Central Region, especially, the former colonial capital, Cape Coast.

“Briefing the press in Cape Coast during the Christmas celebration, Mr. Barton Odro, who is also the Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, revealed that a number of development projects had been lined up to make Cape Coast a vibrant regional capital.

He mentioned the construction of an ultra-modern bridge over the Fosu Lagoon, dredging of the lagoon, reconstruction of the Kotokuraba Market, the Mpeasem Artisan Centre, and a hotel along the lagoon.

Other projects listed were the Cape Coast Stadium, Coca Cola factory, Workers Housing Project, the construction of the Pedu junction interchange, and the rehabilitation of Cape Coast roads by Construction Pioneers (CP).

It is interesting to learn that when the rains came, and floods followed, the bridge over the Fosu Lagoon collapsed. For months on end, one could not connect the Elmina road from the beach road.

One had to touch base at Pedu on one’s way from Victoria Park to join the Elmina Road.
It is the sign of the times that in spite of roof-top advertisements of an improved economy that has leaped-frogged this nation into a Middle Income status, the average Ghanaian cannot afford the basic necessities of life at Christmas. In homes, offices, market places and everywhere across the country, Ghanaians are crying for basic food, as Christians ring in the Christmas.

In spite of obvious difficulties facing the large mass of the people, phantom figures keep popping up about the fantastic performance of the economy. It is difficult to understand how we are well off, while the citizens wallow in poverty. Knowing how the NDC is desperate to cling on to power, I would not be surprised if state resources are being applied in an overdrive public relations to cook stories of the economy.

Read this on Ghana Web. “If you think that China is the world’s fastest economy, think again. However, among the major (or larger) economies, China does remain the fastest growing economy. But, if you slip down the list, 1 Ghana 20.145 percent.

“Many economists believe that Africa is the next boomtown. Several African nations are now growing at a rapid pace, trying to make lives better for their people. None more so than Ghana.

“For quite a long time, Ghana received many an unflattering adjective to describe its economy:  “worst managed,” “disastrous.” However, the small African nation has since then come a long way, and is the world’s fastest growing economy today. Ghana economy is growing at a blistering 20.15 percent.”

One contributor praised God for giving this country Atta Mills. Let’s give thanks to Atta Mills and his good policies and ‘Better Ghana Agenda’.

Another wrote: “NDC-Ghana is now the toast of the world. The glory days are back in just two years.”

It ties in perfectly with the phantom achievements recorded in our version of the Green Book. In that publication, supposed to have been compiled by the Ministry of Information with the party propaganda secretary defending it to the hilt, projects are captured without corresponding figures on the ground.

It is not everybody though, who is enthused by the phantom figures being pushed through. A doubting Thomas pasted this on the web in response: “Ghana’s economy is top in the minds of some NDC members. How much does Ghana get from its gold, 5 percent, diamond is also questionable. It all ends up in the pockets of some foreigners. In China, it stays in the country. Ghana is poor and in debt.”

Another simply said: “It is not true.”

If this country is suddenly the fastest growing economy in the world, do not tell this to the street vendor. He or she is preparing to go back home for Christmas. But, there is nothing in the kitty. He or she is not alone in this dilemma. Many parents and guardians are running out of ideas on how to get something for the kids. It is a very dire situation. In some homes, the situation is so serious that man and wife have parted. They cannot stay together anymore, if the man is incapable of playing his role as head of the household.

I have always stated that I would not buy a second hand car from the NDC. It is not every mineral they bandied about is gold. When Dr. Grace Bediako announced that Ghana had joined the exclusive club for middle income earners, she added that apparently, this nation had grown by leaps and bounds without anybody knowing. The economy had ballooned during the era of former President John Agyekum Kufuor. But, that was one era chastised by the current administration as the lowest ebb in the political evolution of this society.

The year 2010 was dominated by news about the discovery of oil and how to extract it. When the black gold was discovered in June 2007, the New Patriotic Party administration of President John Agyekum Kufuor placed an order for a floating vessel. In May this year, the vessel was named FPSO Kwame Nkrumah. President John Evans Atta Mills dispatched his better half to do the naming ceremony in Singapore.

It looks like in the political diction of the current President of Ghana everything begins and ends with Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. I have spotted him on a few occasions trying the china wear that Osagyefo made famous.

It took the vessel slightly over one month to sail all the way from South East Asia to its present location, about 60 kilometres off Cape Three Points.

Last week, President Atta Mills turned on the wheel to pump the first barrel of oil into the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah for storage, ready to be shipped out.

According to the initial estimate, 55, 000 barrels per day would be ready for the international market. I am told the crude from Cape Three points is of such good quality that the refinery at Tema is incapable of turning the black gold into petrol, diesel, and kerosene for home consumption.

One hopes it would be possible, with our economy supposedly growing faster than any in the world, to set up another refinery at Takoradi for the purposes of refining our latest find for home use.

Politics dominated most discussions in the country. When the NDC went to Tamale in February for their congress to elect officers, the news was not in the retention of Dr. Kwabena Adjei and General Mosquito as Chairman and General Secretary respectively.
Atta the Mortuary Man, was the centre of the attraction. According to the former occupant of Boom Junction, his friend Atta, the Mortuary Man, would not listen to any advice. He was a chain smoker and did well with the booze.

One day, when the one-time occupant of Boom Junction accosted his friend, Atta, the Mortuary man, he had then stopped smoking and was looking hale and hearty. It was a message that elicited an instant response. President Atta Mills rose to declare that following the narration, he had dropped the Atta from his name. The announcement was of no effect. The President still answers to his Atta name.

The NPP also elected new officers to run the administration of the party. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey became the new party boss. He took over from Peter Mac Manu. Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie was elected General Secretary at a successful congress in Kumasi.

Before then, the party reeled under pressure from an exposé by Craig Murray, one-time Deputy High Commissioner of Britain in Ghana, who wrote of corruption under the NPP administration in a new book he published.

According to Murray, the Kufuor administration awarded fraudulent contracts to international companies, including a Zakhem International, which was contracted to build the Kpone Power Project.

In the words of Murray, the Volta River Authority bought turbines from the manufacturer Alsthom for $70 million. It allegedly paid Zakhlom $80 million. “After three years, what do Ghana taxpayers have to show for their $150? Absolutely nothing! An empty field at Kpone surrounded by Ghana’s largest concrete wall, so the Ghanaian public does not see that their money has been stolen.”

The NPP did everything to dispute this assertion before holding their presidential primary that threw out Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo to battle for the right to the Jubilee House as its occupant in the year 2012.

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