It is now official! In the political doctrine of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), campaign promises count for nothing. I am sorry, if I have raised the temperature of those who have made it a point of castigating anybody who dares to raise issues with the NDC and its leadership. This assertion is not the figment of my imagination.
It was a carefully thought-out pronouncement from Alfred Abayeteye, NDC Member of Parliament (MP) for Sege. It was not as if he was secretly recorded chatting to his wife in the bedroom. When he asserted that campaign promises have no legal backing, he was live on E-TV.
In effect, pledges for votes, which culminated in the NDC winning power with a margin, which was less than one-tenth of the 520,000 spoilt ballots from the party and its presidential candidate were just meant to fool everybody.
The Akans will tell you. Apokyerene Firi Nsuo Mu Beka Se Denkyem Anya Tipae A, Yengye No Kyim (If the frog comes from under the water and pronounces that the crocodile has had a headache, no one could doubt the claim). The frog lives under the water with the crocodile. Alfred, the Honourable Sege MP, is a key member of the party owing its birthright to the all-night shooting spree indulged in by the mutineers on that fateful last day in December 1981, culminating in the mid-morning announcement by Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings. When Alfred, the Sege MP, makes a declaration on the political party that sent him to Parliament, he obviously knows one or two secrets most of us could only conjecture.
It is not a million years ago, when the occupant of Government House and leader of the umbrella family got members of the House and the teeming population of this country holding our heads in disbelief, with the statement that on the campaign trail throughout the country, in the events leading to the NDC siege of the Electoral Commission, he had never promised to put money in the pockets of hard-up Ghanaians. Squealer, in Animal Farm, could not have interpreted Napoleon better.
To trust in the NDC to deliver on its trillion promises, is to put one’s health at risk. As for me, I will never buy a secondhand car from the party in government. After two years spent changing Jubilee House to Flagstaff House, and removing the Ohene Djan tag from that stadium adjacent to the Independent Square, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills and leading members of his administration have demonstrated the propensity for mistrust.
It is a matter of we would do this and that. Talk, they say, is cheap. Walking the talk is quite a mind-boggling experience.
The other day, Vice-President John Mahama mounted a platform offered by the student wing of the party, and told the cheering youth of tertiary institutions that the NDC had achieved in two years, what the New Patriotic Party government of John Agyekum Kufuor could not do in eight years. And what is it that he was praising the NDC for?
The Second Gentleman of the land was patting the shoulders of his administration for bringing the rate of inflation in Ghana to single a digit.
Do not tell that to those in the buy and sell business. In a country, where prices of goods and services rise faster than a supersonic jet, it is one of the miracles underpinning state policy under Atta Mills that inflation keeps falling. Like Kwaku Baah, leader of the opposition in the era leading to the midmorning broadcast of December 31, 1981, ‘kenkey,’ the popular food item along the coast of Ghana, was the common denominator in Mahama’s economic theory.
In Atta Mills’ administration, he giggled, the size of kenkey had stabilised.
I do not believe he is regular with kenkey as a meal. Kenkey is now served in the 50 pesewa denomination. If the Vice-President had checked out, he would have awoken to the rude realisation that kenkey, under the Kufuor administration, was not going above the 30 pesewas mark. Like the Word Miracle Church Head Pastor, Agyin Asare whose doctrine of Christianity appears to be linked to miracles, the Atta Mills-Mahama fiscal axis is brewed in the magical pot of Dr. Grace Bediako’s statistical configuration. It took this nation one night to work out the magical feat that this nation had apparently achieved Middle Income status longer than anybody realised.
The economic well-being of the entity Ghana though does not synchronise with the well-being of the people. That is the magic in charting the path to our new status as nationals of the Republic of Ghana. It is one of the creative minds of those working the sums in the engine room at the Ghana Statistical Service that our new Middle Income status has no semblance to incomes of the people.
The new concept is so strange that when a visitor arrives at the Kotoka International Airport, expecting workers carrying their briefs on behalf of the Republic, smiling with content and happily assisting travelers, he or she is met by grumbling ground staff, seeking every means to rob the transit passenger of his or her hard-earned foreign exchange. We have suddenly become more adept at cooking stories of transit visas without receipts.
When Dr. Juliane Zeidler, on transit at the Kotoka International Airport enroute to Namibia, encountered the strange behaviour of ground staff, the traveler hit on a bright idea of writing to The Chronicle. “As a frequent traveler across the continent, I passed through Accra last week. With great delight, I read the news that Ghana was a Middle Income country, faring well on the development path.
“The more I was shocked and disgusted to learn about the high level of corruption and poor attitude of many airport personnel, starting with immigration officers, but extending to baggage handling personnel, taxi drivers and so forth.
“Being on a connection flight within a few hours on my way up from and just three hours on my way down, to southern Africa, I was surprised to hear that I should pay for a transit visa.
I mean, I am just connecting flights and did not plan to leave the airport. No discussion with the immigration staff (and not only one person, a whole customer service chain) insisted I could only pass through with a transit visa in my passport.”
Paying US$20 I had to insist on my receipt, and on my return trip had a really hard time soliciting it – clearly annoying the man in uniform who had already seen the money go into his pocket. I was shocked that most airport staff that I told this story to just said: ‘well they need to bolster their salaries.’
“Speaking to Divine Dovlo, he indicated that he was “really sorry that I cannot do anything.” Keeping the receipt for follow-up or just to let it disappear? This is not speaking well for a medium income country. If the salaries are so bad that a whole airport customer service chain is criminally deceiving passengers and passers through, this is a poor state of affairs.
Medium income or not. Not a pleasant experience and really making Ghana appear unprofessional and corrupt. Bad entry to the country bad image of the country.”
There are no prizes on offer for guessing rightly that many others with similar experience are suffering in silence. When all aspects of our lives are manned by footsoldiers, Ghana suffers humiliation in the eyes of the international community. Suffice it to state that Ghana might be one of the few nations on earth where the well-being of the state appears to have no bearing on people’s welfare.
By the way, has Dr. Grace Bediako finished with the 2010 Population and Housing Census? With the rate of ‘success’ envisaged, data from the exercise is likely to be as reliable as the single digit inflation statistics and the event that led to this nation of impoverished Ghanaians, waking up to realise that it had made the transition to Middle Income status overnight. Welcome to the empire that Prof. Do-Little has built in 23 months of doing nothing!
*The Ebo Quansah Column is published on Tuesdays and Thursdays.