When fuel prices go through the roof

The Ebo Quansah Column

Ebo Quansah

Strange might not be the exact word. The latest happening in this land of our birth though, could not be normal either.  In a country of several contradictions, it might not be exactly strange that new means are evolving that defy verbal descriptions.

Not too long ago, in the immediate aftermath of the events that culminated in the occupation of Government House by the former law lecturer, there was a general uproar engineered by the presidential candidate himself that the new format for calculating increases in petroleum products, was beginning to be inimical to the well-being of the Ghanaian.

Radio and television programmes were inundated by wailing. Trust Ama Benyiwa Doe and Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, then Women’s Organiser and National Organiser of the party respectively, led from the front in shedding tears for the sake of Mother Ghana.  The people of Ghana, word went round, were being crushed by the weight of petroleum price increases under ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor, and the two organisers were more than concerned.

In those days, when the nation had just come out of HIPC, a gallon of petrol was being offered for GH¢5.30. On the international market, a barrel of crude oil was exchanging for $147. On Monday, a new formula evolved for working the same crude oil and refined petroleum sums.

It is to the glory of those who held placards on the streets of the capital and other major towns, and at the centre of the earth, and wept their way all through to radio and television stations, that the Ghanaian would have to fork out GH¢6.89 for the same gallon of refined petrol.

In the ‘Better Ghana’ model, the international price is just about $90, which reminds one of the changes effected in the anthem of Animal Farm under Napoleon. “Four legs good, two legs bad” became “four legs good, two legs better.” In the new model of working out the same sums in the era of Atta the Mortuary Man, the co-efficient of $90 is beginning to pop up an answer like GH¢6.89.

Passengers are voting with their voices in protest. It is not only the new petroleum price hike that is creating all the fear and panic. The timing could not have aided the ‘Better Agenda’ sloganeering in any way.

Immediately after a Christmas, in which basic items were conspicuous only by their absence in various homes, it is beginning to take on a callous note to leave the mass of our people tearing away at their hair in desperation, as most families contemplate sending the kids back to school with school fees hitting the roof.

In those days, when the Professor invented the door-to-door concept as a means of securing the votes of the people, he went round pontificating.

A gallon of refined petrol at GH¢5.30 while the international price was $147 did not show that the administration of John Agyekum Kufuor cared for the people, according to the then flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).  The Kufuor administration, they claimed, was as an insensitive administration that did not deserve to be allowed to continue to rule.

“Ami Dze Mepe Asomdwee’ (As for me I am the very embodiment of peace) he would trumpet, assuring his audience that he would reduce petroleum prices drastically.

It is to the glory of God that Atta Mills got the vote, 520,000 spoilt ballots or not. Now, everybody in Ghana knows what all the ugly noises on the campaign trail have come to. When lies were perfected into a campaign strategy, and tribalism became a trade mark in the ‘Adze Wo Fie A Oye’ concept in the Central Region especially, we are now all paying the price for pandering to their sweet tongues.

In all the ramifications of petrol price increase and its ‘Wahala,’ Ama Benyiwa Doe is missing in action. All the crocodile tears shed because petrol price had reached the GH¢5 mark has suddenly dried up. Rather, she is leading a fulfilled life as the Central Regional Minister, I am told.

One of my regrets as a Ghanaian is that Ama Benyiwa Doe is classified as my Regional Minister. I have written and said this several times. I will repeat it anywhere that as a citizen of the Central Region, I feel insulted by Prof. John Evans Atta Mills for appointing Ama Benyiwa-Doe as the political and administrative head of the region.

I think the way and manner that woman has conducted politics in this land of our birth is despicable, to state the least. I do not believe it is right to reward those who lie their way to power.

She was constantly weeping for Ghana, because Kufuor had pushed up petroleum prices.  Now we are beginning to learn.

Ama Benyiwa Doe’s comrade in arms is heading towards the Local Government and Rural Development Ministry from the residency at Koforidua. It is a very interesting development. Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, alias Brother Sammy Foto-o, has done well for himself. Like Benyiwa Doe, he has profited from the kind of politicking that emphasises more on make-believes than the reality. He will be a very interesting head for the Local Government Ministry.

I would like to believe the former law lecturer has one eye on the 2012 campaign. I could conjecture a lot of phantom activities in the run-up to the vote.

Writing about petrol increases reminds me about the Committee for Joint Action (CJA) and other pseudo-organisations that used petrol price increases as reason to prop up the Atta Mills administration.

I have heard my friend and classmate, Master Kwesi Pratt, raising one or two protests on radio and television.

One would like to believe though, that the one-man crusader he was against petroleum price increases during the Kufuor regime, would have propelled him to pit camp picketing the Castle for the way and manner Ghanaians have been short-changed immediately after Christmas.

On a more serious note, the people of Ghana have a duty to ourselves to seriously put to question pronouncements from authority. It is a fact of life that the international price of crude oil is rising. At the moment, it is slightly over $90. But it does not mean that we should be taken for a ride.

I am neither a governance nor economic expert. But my understanding is that the rising cost of crude oil aside, there is also a demand of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that we raise petroleum prices to mobilise more resources at home, as part of our dealings with the Bretton Woods institution.

It is one issue that should set all of us asking basic questions. What really, is the rationale for going back to the IMF and the World Bank, when the previous administration had began a policy of completely weaning this nation off these two institutions.

I will like to believe that as citizens, we ought to interest ourselves more in the governance process of this nation.  It is not in our interest to leave everything to chance with politicians, especially, when the NDC is in power. For me, I will never buy a secondhand car from the NDC.

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