Memoires and Lamentations of Kwabena Amikaketo (17) Paying Rent for the Youth?
Kwabena Amikaketo sat in his favourite chair on his balcony, viewing the setting sun which was making way for the shadows to grow longer and soon cover his part of the world like a dark blanket.
That evening, his mind was in hyper-pensive mood, contemplating into lamentations what his favourite daughter, Echele, told him. Just before he went to the balcony, he had wanted to reflect on the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC’s) promise that when elected to form a government, it will make health care completely free in all districts.
Then Echele came to him saying: “Daddy, the NPP says it will pay rents for the youth when it forms the next government.” He could not believe it, and told his daughter that it could be another social media hype. She produced her iPhone tablet and showed him a news site which had Nana Akomea repeating what she just said.
Kwabena Amikaketo said: “Why this? I thought the NPP is not the kind of party that will make such unattainable promises.” He then asked his daughter to lend him her tablet to read and hear this nonsense of free rent for the youth.
Kwabena Amikaketo decided the NDC’s manifesto could wait, this was more pressing. He was not aligned to any political party because of his principled stand on politics. He voted based on his conscience and on issues, but strangely, he had always voted for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) since 1992, because he believed in what it says, and never regretted the position he took.
Kwabena Amikaketo had always defended the NPP, and was more vocal and articulate than some of the party members when it came to what the party can do and has done. Then this evening, just when he was about to critic another NDC promise, his daughter brought this to his notice. What he had in his hands could easily make him change his mind on the NPP for the first time. Paying rent for the youth? Backed by what economy, and at this time of an almost post-Covid era?
Kwabena Amikaketo admired the pro-capitalists. They have a way of making life easier for the working class in order to get the best out of them for profit maximisation.
Kwabena Amikaketo marvelled at President Kufuor who introduced a health insurance scheme, free natal care, free busing for school children and the aged, and other social intervention schemes which put shame on the socialists.
The New Patriotic Party, under President Nana Akufo-Addo, came with Free Senior High School (SHS), which put hundreds of thousands of children in the classrooms who, ordinarily, because of the inability of their parents to pay fees, would have been out of school starting to shape a path for their lives. He was very impressed at how the President, H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, stood unshaken and got this policy implemented against all the cries and attacks of the opposition, who are now saying they will start free education from nursery through to SHS, and make tertiary students pay half fees.
Kwabena Amikaketo did not want to wade off the reason he come to his balcony that evening. Today, he will have something to criticise the NPP on, for the first time. The NPP says what? It was going to pay rent for the youth when voted back to power. He pressed on the YouTube column to find out what the party meant by paying free rent.
What he heard made him pause for a moment and involuntarily shouted cheers to Nana Addo’s administration. The video clip began with statements about Free SHS and the fact that the party will solidify the scheme when re-elected into power. Then it shifted to rent and the youth. The youth, under Ghana’s standard, are those forty years and below, and the speaker spoke about how tedious a young worker must look for money to pay three to four years rent advance.
Kwabena Amikaketo was delighted when he realised that the rents to be paid for the youth were not going to be free, but rather they will come under a loan with a low interest rate. What was also spectacular was that the tenant will, in effect, no longer pay rent advance, for that will be settled by the government. He will, instead, start paying rent monthly as he repays the loan.
What the next NPP government was going to do was to establish a National Rental Assistance Scheme, which will take care of this. Landlords/ladies who register under the scheme will be paid the full rent advance, and the beneficiary youth will only have to look for money to repay the loan on a monthly basis with low interest.
The NPP government will further introduce a mortgage scheme for young people to start owning homes. Trust capitalists, they always have a way of getting the best out of the working class.
Kwabena Amikaketo sighed and asked himself how come no administration ever thought of such a scheme. It has to be only the NPP. He started reflecting on what a young woman he heard of went through in relations with payment of rent advances.
She was a very beautiful and ambitious young lady who came down to the capital after her vocational school to start work as a typist in a private office. She put up with her brother and his family when she started working. After almost two years, her sister-in-law started feeling very uneasy having her around and pushed bills on her to pay. Of course, she could not foot all with her meagre salary of GH¢400 a month before tax. Then out of the blue, she was given a quit notice by her inconsiderate sister-in-law. What shocked her most was that this was the same woman who insisted she came to Accra stay with them.
Yaa never misconducted herself, and when it came to male friends, she had none. She wanted to work and get enough money to do higher courses in secretaryship, aiming at company secretary. She had planned to get married only after she had cleared three higher courses. And now she had to leave her brother’s home and live on her own.
Yaa’s brother, who had been fed with untruths about her, had to yield to his wife’s demands and ask his sister to leave his home, giving her GH¢1,000 to look for accommodation. Fortunately, Yaa had a friend who took her to this landlord who was prepared to accommodate her, but the amount she was having could only do one year and he wanted three years advance. After much pleading, the landlord was prepared to accept her for a year, unless she could come out with the difference not less than two months to the expiry of the twelve months. If she could not make up the difference by then, she would have to quit or go into renegotiation for a full three year rent advance.
The rent was GH¢90 a month, GH¢1,080 a year, and GH¢3,240 for three years. She reluctantly settled in a single room apartment with a balcony that was converted into a kitchen by the previous tenant. There was no tap in her apartment, and she had to buy water from a man who had big reservoirs and sold water to the public. She had to make do with an outside bathroom, which served two other tenants. For a place of convenience, she had to walk almost half a kilometre to access a toilet facility operated by a private individual. She converted a medium sized pail into chamber pot, where she could pee into and throw the waste liquid away every morning and evening.
Yaa started life on her own, and all too soon the ten months deadline was just a month away, and the landlord reminded her of the terms and conditions. Either she does not pay and quit after the twelfth month, or she paid up the difference on the tenth month, or renegotiate for a three year rent advance, and this, he promised her, that the rent would go up to GH¢100 a month.
Where could Yaa turn to? Quit, but to where? Pay the balance of GH¢2,160, but where could she get that amount from? And failing to pay that amount by latest the following month will mean getting GH¢3,600. She was in a state of confusion and had no option but to confide in a friend.
Kwabena Amikaketo sighed as he recalled what happened next. If she failed to meet the deadline, with her salary, her bankers could only support her with GH¢1,200 and that is only after she had serviced her current loan. She has to get an additional GH¢2,400. She had no option than to go for renegotiation and look for a loan somewhere.
Yaa Eva’s friend took her to a money lender who was eager to loan her the GH¢2,400 but at ten per cent interest rate per month over two years. The snag was that so long as there was a principle outstanding, she was to pay the ten per cent interest. After two years if any balance was still outstanding, then she would have to pay twenty five per cent interest per month on the initial principal until she completely serviced the loan. So, in effect, she was going to pay GH¢340 per month for the next two years, and her salary was only GH¢400 – GH¢8,160 in total to be paid over two years.
The other option was that there was this very generous rich man in town who could pay her rent for her for free. But wait, there was no free lunch anywhere, he was a Casanova. And that meant she would lose her virginity and dignity to a man older than her father and married with a family. She could not possibly marry that man in case she got pregnant. But she had a choice to make and she must make one or she could find herself lodging in a bus stop or in someone’s kiosk.
Kwabena Amikaketo sighed and asked again, why did all the past administrations not think of such a rental scheme for the youth? The National Rental Assistance Scheme may have come a little too late for Yaa who made the worse of two bad choices. Today, after almost ten years, she is almost a destitute who could not rise up in her vocation. Saddled with debts and lacking the respect from the community she lived in, with no man looking at her twice, she knew her dreams were all gone, until a miracle came her way.
Kwabena Amikaketo prayed to the Lord God Almighty that the rent assistance and mortgage policies the NPP had for the youth should come to pass, so that one day Yaa would be a proud owner of her own house, and hopefully, her dreams would come true, as she was sliding down the second half of her thirties.
“Daddy, did you watch the video on the free rent for the youth?” Echele called out as she came to usher him to dinner.
“It is not free rent but better than free rent. Don’t get confused, I will explain to you and your siblings at dinner.” He rose and followed his sweet beautiful daughter.
Hon Daniel Dugan