If I am a comedian without any concept of political correctness, the SCOAN tragedy would have been a fertile field for crack comic punch lines.
With my unorthodox views about the so-called contemporary men of God, I am tempted to take a swipe at the victims to tickle my readers. But, to go for the jugular at their expense is poor taste. Besides, I am a cultural conservative, though there are some of our cultural practices I will not touch with a ten-foot barge pole, however, there are some that I celebrate with flourish shrouded in an unmitigated passion. I believe that you don’t peddle evil and insinuation about a departed soul, at least, for the sake of the grieving family. And I will do my best not to hit below the belt.
There is a truck load of blame to go around, but my burning rage about this tragedy and the sting of my pen will be felt by our politicians, not to mention the tangential complicity of the current government. Also, the ecclesiastical community will, as well, be consumed in the vortex of my anger.
It takes tragedies of this kind to make people sit up and ask the right questions. Sadly, we’ve been bombarded by the wrong questions left, right and centre on the terrestrial, print and electronic media. Some have even attempted the sacrilege of blaming the victims, which is rather a ridiculous soft target that leaves the main culprits of this avoidable disaster to sip their cocktails in the comfort of their homes, while they strategise to the lead the charge the other way. But, we are not all blind.
It is a known fact that one of the fatalities went to the meeting with his car. It doesn’t take the brains of Einstein to extrapolate that he was relatively a well-to-do person, based on Ghanaian standards. Now, the question that will not go away is why will a person like that expose himself to mortal danger, or better still fall for this 419. The answer is not farfetched, and it is very glaring. Anybody who sweats for a living in Ghana is desperate and anxious for tomorrow. Can you blame them? Not quite! The simple reason is that the economic situation keeps deteriorating year in and year out without any possible end in sight, courtesy of our politicians.
We all know that it is a Herculean task to solve all our economic problems. On the other hand, there are certain avoidable self-immolation economic behaviours any serious government can steer away to alleviate the suffering of hard working Ghanaians. For example, the avoidance of the crippling ubiquitous inflation. Some of the SCOAN victims are successful businessmen and women, and they have tried everything, but how can you guarantee your future financial security when you are operating in an economy, in which inflation can wipe out totally your life savings within a decade. There are certain types of inflation that the government cannot practically do anything about, especially, when oil prices shoot up. But, the home grown inflation deliberately created by our politicians for their own selfish ends is what perforates my heart each time I look at the figures.
At the inception of the Fourth Republic, when politicians became ‘accountable’ to the electorates, the exchange rate was hovering around ¢390 to the dollar. By the time Rawlings left office it was ¢3550 to the dollar – the national currency had lost 90% of its value. At the end of Kufuor’s tenure it took ¢10,500 to get hold of a dollar; the cedi further lost 70% of the value that was bequeathed to him in 2001. That of the last four years has been abysmal, even with the additional income coming from oil. The months leading to the last election saw the shredding of the cedi. If the Bank of Ghana had not floated bonds to mop out the excess liquidity, it would have been disastrous. Applying unnecessary financial manipulation of the currency, which is avoidable if they had done the right thing in the first place.
The main source of our economic woes is the perennial hyper-inflation. What actually sustains this pernicious problem is the fact that the incumbent government always waits till election year, and then speeds up projects that should have been spread over the four years, purposely to bribe the electorates. They then release money for the completed projects, flooding the economy with excess liquidity. It is just like having a whole year rainfall coming down in a single day. Definitely, you are going to have flood, no matter how sophisticated the drainage system is. The unintended consequence, which they do not really care about, is a weakened currency, as a result of fierce competition for the scarce foreign exchange for purchases of capital goods, and ordinary traders cashing in on the brisk economic activities. The direct effect is the increases in the prices of our imports. The advantage we should have gained with an export drive is non-existent, because our main export, cocoa, is not a life-sustaining commodity and does not fall into that category, where we can push to sell more. Besides, our productivity regime is not refined enough to take advantage of a weak currency to embark on an aggressive export drive – it is, therefore, a double loss for us. The most eye-watering damaging effect to the economy is that interest rate is pushed up to make the banking business worthwhile for the operators.
Secondly, in addition to the corruption, the stealing of state funds couched in the benign language of ex-gratia to assume some air of legitimacy is what is screwing all Ghanaians. The ridiculous salaries paid to the unproductive Members of Parliament (MPs) – legislators who don’t have mind of their own. It is hard to believe that demand and supply does not apply to this bunch of opportunists. Any idiot at all can become an MP, yet they claim they are better than teachers, doctors, pharmacists, and what have you. The supply of every commodity is what determines its price. The supply of MPs is literally limitless. Still, they are paid these outrageous salaries, which destroy moral and blights our productivity. Productivity is what determines the strength of a currency, and not financial manipulation or gold reserves, as some ignorant economists will have us believe. Furthermore, what really gets my blood boiling in my arteries is the blatant disregard of the countless protests against the addition of the 45 new constituencies. It was sold as a constitutional requirement, which is absolute bonkers. They forget that the Constitution was written to serve our interests, but not to enslave us, as the creation of the 45 new constituencies encapsulate.
Thirdly, our primary schools are just playgrounds for Ghanaian children. Though there are some underlying reasons for the dreadful state of affairs, for example, the lack of motivation, poor nutrition, parental negligence, etc. Surely, that should not cause seven schools in the Denkyembuor District in the Eastern Region to score zero pass rates in their junior Basic Entrance Certificate Examinations (BECE). These are some of the things that fuel the desperation of Ghanaians to run into the arms of these heartless, inconsiderate, and selfish so-called men of God like TB Joshua. Their anxiety is palpable.
One writer recently wrote a pathetic piece entitled ‘TB Joshua provides alternative for Ghanaians – Doctors can go to Bed’. I need not comment on this crass article. It is very sad that in this day and age, people cling on to such nonsense and promote this group of ignorant mammals who attack their victims like a wild beast. They bust them open and shred their flesh like a discarded document, and play with their minds like two year olds.
The ecclesiastical institution that a few years ago could boast of men of virtue with a genuine call from God to do his work has now become a den of thieves. About 50% of them are crooks, and the rest, who are sincere, believe their own stupidity. The authentic ones are incredibly rare and very hard to find.
In the past it used to be ‘a calling’, it is now a profession that is attracting thieves and tricksters. They have become spiritual psychics like the way medical doctors are able to diagnose your ailment from what you tell them. The epidemic of family feuds in the country can be laid at their doorsteps. If anybody is having a hard time, or does not have the funds to treat a disease as a result of the incompetence, stealing and chicanery of our political leaders, the diagnosis is always none other than a family member. Some are so dangerous to the extent that they even accuse little children of being fortresses of evil spirits.
After their insidious diagnosis, they offload the burden of proof on to their victims. They tell them if you have enough faith you will be healed. So if you don’t get healed it is not their fault, because you don’t have enough of the faith currency. For them to get away with it is beyond me. I cannot answer the question why some people don’t get healed, but it is presumptuous on their part to assume that if you don’t receive your healing or breakthrough, as they poetically put it you don’t have faith. Paul, who could raise the dead, lived with an ailment all his life after his conversion. He even asked the Lord to heal him, and he was told my grace is sufficient for you.
Miraculous healing does happen. There are cases where terminally ill patients have made remarkable recovery without any medical explanation, while nobody is praying for them. I can’t believe that very well-educated people fall for this. Even the late President Mills, a whole professor, fell under the spell of TB Joshua. The state of mind and the circumstances of a substantial number of Ghanaians can be likened to the proverbial drowning man. They clutch at anything; that is why they fall victim to an obvious conman like TB Joshua. It is their anxiousness to eliminate the pain and uncertainties in their lives that led the SCOAN victims to exchange that precious gift of life for a mere placebo holy water that never was.
The churches have become just like a social club, as a form of insurance to cater for any future eventualities. However, they employ unqualified actuarist ‘pastors’ who pay themselves obscene salaries for the privilege. They are literally bad insurance companies. A Nigerian congregation engaged in a shameful self deprecation for allowing their pastor to travel first class, while they could easily buy him a jet. So, jet they bought, while there are very poor people in the same congregation who could use, not charity, but hard ball productive investment to engage them. Jesus said, the son of man has no place to lay his head, but those who want to take up his mantle, now live in castles. Jesus did not own or ride in a chariot, but they now fly in their own jets – what an irony.
If you want a life insurance – buy a policy from any reputable insurance company. Better still, form churches in your homes and read the bible, because the bible says, where two or three have gathered in my name, I am in their midst.
Lastly, this is what I think. The victims of the SCOAN disaster should be redeemed. The leadership should be prosecuted for corporate negligence, because that is what they have become – a corporate money making machine that swindles their customers with cheap products such as holy water and inefficacious prayers that cost nothing.