Feature Article of Tuesday, 9 April 2013
Columnist: Damoa, Adreba Kwaku Abrefa
Holders of public office as politicians in so-called democracies in many developping countries as well as dictators across the world have been known to be mega-rich in their respective countries. As to how they have come to acquire and amass such wealth always raises eyebrows and makes people dumbfunded. Who dares ask how and where from? Most African leaders especially combine incompetence not just with petty theft, but with looting and pillaging their respective countries of their entire wealth. In so-called democracies, from the President, through to elected members of parliament down to other government appointees there is a viciously created insatiable appetite to enrich themselves not through anything lawful but through various methods that appear open to them to exploit illictly by reason of a culture of impunity that rules especially in Ghana with its roots deeply seated in the supposed Presidency, the seat of government.
John Dramani Mahama, the supposed President of Ghana has only just recently announced that the entire ‘veal’ of Ghana’s onetime moderately beefy coffers is completely consumed right to the ‘bone’ yet he has made provision for his emoluments to be increased more than twofold plus that of his Vice, ministers and parliamentarians all taking retrospective effect from 2009. I recently had a hint that there has been a similar clandestine increase in the pay of Judges, for some probable obvious reasons whiles teachers, physicians etc cry for help with their pay rather into inaudible government ears. Considering the frail and fragile condition of Ghana’s economy, it petrifies me and most Ghanaians for not hearing our out-spoken opposition Members of Parliament who claim to be champions of fairness, equanimity and magnanimity, feeling the least empathy for the plight of the ordinary sweating Ghanaian public and for the sake of mother Ghana, protesting against these perceived wanton increases with the most probable reason that they are no least beneficiaries.
Amazingly, some opposition members of Parliament who would wipe off our tears have rather not just shown a sort of temerity in defence of their inordinate pay increases but extreme impudence towards being members of the highly coveted august house. One such unfortunate remark was that being a member of Parliament is even below the indignity of scato-carrying; his reason being that members of Parliament are made to pay healthcare fees, school fees, as purveyors of peoples’ dailybread etc. In this regard, may I politely ask the ‘honourable’ members of Parliament how much scat carriers earn and also if it is anywhere close to their salaries, let alone other allowances for doing a job as nasty and undignified as so described. Had it not been from this unfortunate statement from a supposed respected ‘honourable’ member of a highly respected and prestigious ‘House of Representatives’ I never thought that paying my child’s school fees or helping some one else in charity, providing for food on the dinnertable etc is akin to carrying excrement of any sort. Our most respected House of Parliament is today unveiled as rather undignified; its occupants misnamed as ‘honourables’ rather than being appropriately referenced as dishonourables.
No wonder the supposed President, his Ministers, our members of Parliament and other appointees appear so impudent, disrespectful haughty and do not care the least for the sinking plight of Ghanaians. May I ask these rather ‘dishonourable’ members of Parliament et al if they are under any form of fiduciary compulsion to fend for members of the public. If indeed these are fiduciary responsibilities incumbent on members of Parliament as they claim to be performing, then, the national health insurance, the scholarship secretariat etc must as well be vested in the offices of the constituency members of Parliament who are performing the same duties. On the other hand, if these are mere acts of ostentatious publicity on the part of the members of Parliament who have personally developped the penchant for competing in giving higher funeral donations etc, they must as well shut their big mouths and desist from this Kofi Wayo type of ‘nhwehweanimuu’ publicity because they garner no blessings. Enough said of the above nauseating and emetic remark by people who are supposed to be respected by way of their conduct in speech and utterances of all sorts, it is time for Ghanaians to have a second and more critical look at politics and the role of politicians as against the civic rights and responsibilities of everybody as enjoined by law. The President, the member of Parliament of a constituency, a Minister of State, a government appointee etc is employed by the civil society whose contributions pay these elected and appointed officials and for whose sake they are in office. What is reasonably due to them by reason of their duties and responsibilities expected of them to carry out and achieve for the public is what they must be limited to; anything else in excess is grossly unreasonable and may be tantamount to theft. So far, the ‘President’ has not been able to come out to justify his pay increase that is back-dated to January 2009. Can ‘President’ John Mahama explain to Ghanaians what extraordinary work he has done for Ghana vis-a-vis any extraordinary achievements enjoyed by Ghanaians and the enonomy that merit his pay increase, let alone in retrospect to 2009? Members of Parliament have similarly not been able to defend why they should earn how much they earn and why they should enjoy pay increase to such inordinate value plus the fact that it is back-dated. What must be made clear is that there are other workers in Ghana who equally matter and who also feel the pinch of cost of living and socio-economic hardships prevalent in Ghana as a result of misgovernance. If the Presidency can enjoy the highest pay structure in Ghana with the biggest incremental leaps up by 120% with quadrennial back date, those of his officials enjoying similar leaps, why not other workers of Ghana too? What has the government done to other non-public sector workers and especially poor subsistent farmers to supplement these bad governance-induced national hardships by way of assuaging general cost of living? It is so surprising that not even PC Appiah Ofori and Kennedy Ohene Adjekum who appear to show extreme concern for the ordinary Ghanaian raised any concern.
It is commonplace that Ghana is heavily dependent on loans, grants and various generous handouts from our development partners of the ponent Regions. Ghana governments, from Rawlings, through JA Kufuor, down to John Mills/John Dramani Mahama consider the need to pay huge sums in ex-gratia payment not only to out-going members of Parliament, but also to sitting members of Parliament who have retained their seats and continue to retain their membership of our pillaging House of Parliament. People like ET Mensah luxuriate being a member of Parliament where every four years they look forward to receiving extra fat bundle of cash in ex-gratia. If Ghana can afford these payments, why can’t we afford 24/7 power supply, potable water for all, free education for all, free healthcare for all and desist from contracting loans and grants to supplement our annual budget? On assuming office as Ghana’s Prime Minister, Rt Honourable Prof Kofi Abrefa Busia –may his soul rest in perfact peace- voluntarily cut his pay by half; that of his Ministers was similarly reduced by a quarter to save Ghana from sinking into socio-economic mess. This was indeed acts of benevlence and benefaction where performance of Ministers in office has been unparalelled since. What we see today is naked corruption to untold levels involving the supposed President himself in various flagrant acts of mischief and theft defended with ingenue childish propaganda. I cannot decipher any rational behind these ex-gratia payments in regard to the fact that Ghana Ghana’s socio-economic strength and capabilities are only just teething and that in fact it is only currently that through our oil-find, we have been informed of a so-called doubled GDP boosted by oil proceeds. A doubled GDP does not mean there should be indulgence in profligacy when in fact the doubled GDP still requires dependency on donors; when people and cattle drink from same pond that doen’t even last through a 12 months cycle. Are we serious in any way?
I am hereby exhorting all well-meaning Ghanaians to rise up to a civil revolution against this thievery under the solemn banner of politics. They must be taken for infangthief. Down and away with ex-gratia of all sorts. Current happenings have evoked the shortfalls of our constitution as well as the short-comings of our Parliamentary representatives, our Ministers, appointees and ultimately the Presidency who only by false pretences shout that they care for us. Ghana cannot afford building new homes and offices for out-going Presidents when in fact majority of Ghanaians live in abject poverty and the government cannot provide even basic necessities of life. The notion and mindset that Ghana belongs to politicians must cease through a civil up-rising! The mindset that politicians and people in official positions are untouchables must be cast away as bogus. Everybody is within the dictates of the law and I ingeminate this statement that all are equal before the law. Don’t ever fawn to politicians and public officials and don’t beg them! Rather be bold and take them to task to deliver on their duties and responsibilities that will make you capable to stand on your own feet and fend for yourself!! Your obsequous conduct is what motivates politicians etc to steal from you!!
Qualifying criteria for candidacy to any public office through election must by description include people who will not necessarily come to be perpetually dependant on the public purse; they must be self-sufficent, highly principled and of good social standing. Down with people who borrow money to campaign to become political leaders such as members of Parliament only to recoup their losses through thievery and exploitation of the sudating ordinary poorman/woman in the street. Ascension to any high political office must be devoid of self-encumbering unachievable or hard to achieve promises that would require being dishonest. Cut your coat according to your size. Full stop!
Adreba Kwaku Abrefa Damoa; (London, UK)