Posted: Friday 5th September 2014 at 9:30 am

No Security Under Mahama

A government has the key responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of its citizens. This, in my opinion, is the paramount responsibility of a government.

The safety and security needs of the citizenry are many; food, clothing and shelter are the three common human needs all citizens are entitled to on a daily basis. Beyond these, we talk about education, health and security against any external aggression on any individual by either a group of criminals or a deviant in society. Since individuals on their own may not be able to attain all the above, society has agreed in modern times to entrust their resources in the hands of a few of their compatriots to use those resources to meet those basic needs on their behalf.

Sometimes I get worried when I have to raise some major failures of the Mahama administration. It seems to be over flogged but I have no choice as long as the Mahama administration does not show any signs of knowledge of what needs to be done to help this country in addressing its challenges. Yes, there is an Akan adage which literally translates that as long as a boil persists on any part of the body, the palm will never cease massaging that part of the body.

In the year 2014, an era of computer and massive information flow, as well as scientific advancement, cholera has become incurable and unmanageable in Ghana. Scores of lives are being lost, hundreds are being infected daily, health workers do not even have the most basic of preventive disposables with which to attend to infected patients, whilst the epidemic increases by the day. Cholera patients are sharing beds and some of them have to make-do with benches and the floors of our health facilities. Sadly, even our health providers themselves stand the risk of contracting this disease due to the absence of the requisite logistics. Yet we have a government.

In modern day cholera treatment, health workers themselves need certain basic things to manage the cholera patients; most important among them are disposable hand gloves, flow of water and sanitizers in extreme cases. We are aware of the dearth of water flow in many health facilities in this country. It is a fact that many inpatients in most of our health facilities often have to buy ‘sachet water’ for use, even pregnant women. How can we deal with a disease like cholera without regular flow of water?

Some of the modern equipment required for cholera patients are special beds with holes under, specially located at the position of the buttocks where a chamber pot, with water and detergent, is placed so that the patient who is too weak to visit the toilet, even where there is water, can ease himself or herself while in the bed. Vomit bowls are provided for those who can manage to use them, while those who are too weak to do that are provided with mackintosh rubbers. These are all absent in our health facilities in this day and age.

Let me come back to the disease itself and the reasons we have been bedevilled by it. Health workers are saying that for a person to have cholera, he or she might have taken something which has faecal matter in it. The general belief is that the cause of cholera is filth. It is a fact that this country is unprecedentedly filthy, even though the NDC promised to deal with it within the first 100 days of assuming office. Six years down the line, this country is inundated with filth. The management of it has overwhelmed the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies for various reasons.

Primary among the reasons is the lack of funds for the MMDAs to efficiently collect and manage waste within their catchment areas. Waste collection and management is such an expensive venture under Mahama’s leadership. The statutory disbursement of the District Assemblies’ Common Fund has suffered huge arrears, thus hampering the ability of the MMDAs to at least deal partly with the problem. Huge sums of money are deducted quarterly from the coffers of the MMDAs for ‘services’ imposed on them from the centre, which are not approved by the various assemblies, leaving them virtually with nothing to pay off their debts let alone embark on other activities of substance.

I can now understand why Oko Vanderpuje was clapping while President Mahama was desilting the drains. Oko seems to have said, ‘you think it is easy to collect refuse without money, do it yourself.’ With the dexterity with which the President was doing the work, Oko might have told himself that, ‘ah, this man is wasting his time at the Jubilee House; he could as well take up this job as a Supervisor; how clean Accra would have been.’ To the President, this symbolic (according to Ade Coker) act of the nation living in filth and getting a President to come down and collect refuse, is so pungent.

First, the citizenry must be compelled to abide by simple by-laws governing sanitation and good environmental practices. Laws must be enforced for the general good of society. State institutions must be well resourced to deliver on their core responsibilities as far as health issues are concerned. Is it not shameful that in this era some houses in our cities do not have toilet facilities, and that public toilets which are meant for people in transit have become major toilets for households?

In spite of all the above, both the citizenry and the state are responsible for the situation in which we find ourselves. It is therefore the responsibility of government to stem the spread of the epidemic in the short term while we deal permanently with the problem in the medium to long term. Government, as a matter of urgency, must embark on a more vigorous sensitisation exercise and initiate bold and pragmatic measures to combat this epidemic now. I am sure government spokespersons will talk about monetary constraints. Even if government cannot do that nationwide, the seriously affected areas in the country must be given the needed attention. If that cannot be done, then there is no security for any of us under Mahama. If we cannot deal with ‘ordinary’ cholera, what will happen if the dreaded Ebola pays us a visit?

Mahama has sent this nation into unprecedented excruciating economic and social difficulties; and now, he is killing us slowly with a preventable and treatable ailment as cholera. Perhaps Mahama took an oath to annihilate the people of this country and destroy our heritage; thank you for your efforts, Mr President.

ET TU, GJA?

What am I hearing; that the just ended 19th Awards Night of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has generated some controversies in respect of who should have won the coveted Journalist of the Year Award? That the Committee’s recommendation for that position was set aside without any explanation by the GJA executives in favour of a lady from the GGCL? I hear the lady’s story was her reports from the Supreme Court during the election petition. Yes, Aku Baneseh’s reportage from the Court was excellent. But was it an exclusive piece which solved a social problem or drew attention to a problem that was killing all of us slowly but had not caught the eye of anyone?

That is not to say that that is the only requirement a Journalist must meet in order to receive an award. But a story known to everybody, a story reported by almost every media house, in my view, can’t be so exceptional for a coveted award. Hmm, Otumfuo Osei Tutu was right after all. In fact this is the second time a GJA award has generated such controversy. Remember the late Kobla Dumo’s award? If the GJA cannot organise its internal awards fairly, it loses the moral authority to criticise a society which is full of corruption, nepotism, ‘homeboyism’, ‘oldboyism’ and ‘partymemberism’ in almost everything we do in this country today. A word to the wise is in the pen.

STANLEY AGRYIRI-BLANKSON

So you are there? What was he doing at the polling station where the Greater Accra delegates converged to vote in the special voting exercise to select five aspirants from the seven vying for the NPP presidential race? Well I hear he coordinated for Nana Akufo-Addo for the Greater Accra and the Volta Regions. He had reason to be over excited. Congrats, anyway.

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