The True State Of The Nation Is In The Market Place!
Ebo Quansah in Accra
One of the first things I saw and heard on television in the New Year was the State of the Nation Address delivered by transitional President John Dramani Mahama. Throughout the Christmas and New Year festivities, I lived like a cave man.
Power went off in the house on New Year’s eve. Several calls to the faults department at
Dansoman were answered with an assurance that repair men would call. They did not show up on Christmas Day. They were nowhere to be seen on Boxing Day either. They did arrive on December 27 to repair the fault. The power lasted barely four hours.
I spent four more nights in darkness before the fault was eventually repaired on January 3. The State of the Nation address on the mid-morning of January 4, 2013, was among the first major items I watched on television for over one week
With roof-top advertisements in the media about the importance of the State of the Nation address, I was determined not to miss a word of the President’s speech. It is only proper to state that good old Ghana Television did not disappoint. Occasions like these epitomise the importance of the state broadcaster.
When Vice-President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, the man appointed by the President to head the Transitional Team, in spite of a very woeful performance in the Vice-Presidential debate, arrived at the forecourt of Parliament and was ushered into the cChamber, I knew the President would not be far off.
The entry of President John Dramani Mahama to give an account of the first four-years of the NDC Mark II administration, the pomp and pageantry displayed by traditional drummers, and the alertness of a Guard of Honour drawn from a detachment of the Ghana Navy, the stage was set for a true account of the state of this nation in the past four years.
It is not every day that I see the transitional leader in suit with a tie to match. So when the mounted squadron of the Ghana Police escorted President Mahama to the forecourt of Parliament House in formal dress, I knew the day was a very important one in the annals of Ghana’s political history.
Immediately on arrival, the navy band struck the national anthem: “God Bless Our Homeland Ghana…” I wonder why we have decided to jettison our old national anthem: “Lift High the flag of Ghana…”, which was a call to patriotism, in favour of “God Bless Our Homeland Ghana”, which I consider to be a rendition of a Salvation Army song.
After the anthem, the President inspected the Guard of Honour formed by the navy in their all-white attire looking like heavenly angels before retiring into the Chamber of Parliament to be received by the out-going Speaker, Her Ladyship Mrs. Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo, in the company of the two leaders of the House, Majority Leader Cletus Avoka and Minority boss Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu.
After a brief ceremony, during which the Speaker welcomed the President and invited him to speak to the nation through the floor of the House, President Mahama called the attention of the entire nation to himself.
When he began his speech by drawing attention to the unfortunate departure into the next world by the late President John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills and ex-Veep Alhaji Aliu Mahama, I nursed the feeling that the Transitional President was going to deliver a statement that truly reflected the state of the nation and its 24 million population.
That was where my optimism disappeared. Instead, President Mahama veered off unto the propaganda lane, talking of the non-existence achievements by an administration, which legitimacy is a source of litigation in court.
I thought the kind of propaganda spewed by the President on the floor of Parliament was a job meant for the likes of Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, acidic mouth Tony Aidoo, or Richard Quashigah in his capacity as Propaganda Secretary of the NDC.
The President descended into the gutter of Schools Under Trees, claiming that his National Democratic Congress administration had removed 40 percent of the 4,000 schools Under Trees, it claimed to have inherited from the previous New Patriotic Party administration.
One does not need to be a mathematics guru to appreciate the fact that the President’s sums work out at around the 1,700 schools Okudezeto-Ablakwa claimed had been removed from under trees. If the President is unaware, up till now, his Deputy Information Minister has not been able to produce the full list of those schools that have been removed from under trees.
Instead, Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa has contrived to lose GH¢25,000 from a vehicle claimed to have sent to a car wash at Nima. This country is now populated by two groups of Ghanaians. Those who are talking down on us as a result of the booty of state they are appropriating to themselves, while we the wretched of the earth us suffer under their Pontius Pilate.
What some of us know is that under the guise of removing schools under trees, the NDC leadership has succeeded in working out gargantuan schemes, under which huge state funds have been siphoned into private coffers and party campaign machinery, which were used to buy votes during the last elections.
It is on record that during the Kufuor regime, a six-unit class room block was built throughout the country for GH¢85,000. Under the NDC, the same unit block cost the tax-payer between GH¢300,000 and GH¢400,000. If the President’s figure is correct, it tells much about how 2,000 sewing machines were distributed in the Ekumfi Constituency alone, on the eve of the elections, in addition to thousands of other goodies and physical cash.
It tells much about why Parliament, for instance, may have no use for the quality of representation from deceased President John Atta Mills’ home constituency for instance. This booty, obviously funded from underhand dealings in inflated state contracts, I dare state, could be why Abeeku Crenstil, without any classmate of note, is likely to waste everybody’s time at Ekumfi, by idling away in Parliament House and collecting a fat cat GH¢7,200, while the constituency is left without any effective representation.
When I hear from government officials pontificating on single digit inflation, I get the impression that they do not go to the same market the ordinary Ghanaian has had the misfortune of buying goods and services from.
Yesterday morning, I decided to fix a bit of stew for rice before reporting to work. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the small Voltic bottle of palm oil now sells for GH¢2. Just before Christmas it was selling for between GH¢1-GH¢1.50.
The true State of the Nation exists in the living conditions of most of our people. Four years ago, when this administration took charge, we had just celebrated the Christmas and New Year festivities. If truth should be told, a sizeable chicken was being offered for less than GH¢10. In spite of the uncertainties created by the 2008 elections, which had a run-off in addition to that famous vote in Tain, a large number of Ghanaians were able to afford basic chicken for their families.
If you talk to the ordinary man on the street today, you are likely to be told that most Ghanaians were unable to feed their families on the basic necessities of life during the Yuletide. For most Ghanaians, life is hard.
When I heard yesterday that this administration had indeed, thought of shipping Deputy Attorney-General Ebo Barton-Odro to Parliament as First Deputy Speaker, I gave up on the Mahama Administration.
It looks like no lessons have been learned from the infamous Woyome affair. We should all gird our loins for more hard times ahead. Better Ghana is a euphemism for worse times ahead. I shall return!
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