When GH¢8.7 Bn Is Wasted Buying Votes While Chasing $3bn Loan… Vision Can Only Be In Short Supply

The Kasoa Divisional Police headquarters in the Central Region was a beehive of activities on Monday, March 10, 2014.

As suspects being prepared for court left their cells handcuffed to each other in rows of five and loaded onto two vans, new suspects were busily writing their statements and going through the formalities that would make them replace those heading for the courts.

At the Domestic Violence Support Unit, officers were busily mediating between raucous ex-couples tearing into each other. More marriages are ending on the rocks faster than usual, and with it the family bonds and support systems are left in shambles.

The economic squeeze is contributing immensely to the collapse of the family unit and replacing the peace and candour with haggling in many homes. The quarrel is mainly about who takes what and more importantly, the breakdown in the duty chain of caring for children.

Apart from the problems of the family falling apart, many institutions are bearing the brunt of the economic malaise. It looks like the impasse at Legon, where authorities of the University of Ghana put the law into its own bosom by erecting barriers to collect road tolls against the law of the land still rages on.

Legon is arguing that the state of Ghana, which owns the university and is supposed to fix their roads, has reneged on its duties. The university authorities, without recourse to the might of the state, which had failed them, went to the open market and raised funds to fix their roads, so the story goes.

To pay for the loans, the Vice-Chancellor and his administration began the construction of road toll booths to put a charge on all vehicles arriving and leaving the university campus.

The unilateral declaration of the University of Ghana, naturally engaged the rest of the society, which feared that the pioneer project at Legon, would be replicated unlawfully in many other communities throughout the country, if not checked.

While the debate was on about the rights and wrongs of the Legon venture, the National Security, sneaked in under the cover of darkness and broke down one toll-booth under construction. It is a matter of using the might of the state to break Legon’s back.

Evidence is emerging of a new Ghana, where state power is unilaterally employed against institutions and individuals perceived as not towing the line of thinking at the Jubilee House.

It is interesting to note that the ‘three wise men’, out-doored with fanfare to spearhead the agenda of President John Dramani Mahama’s infrastructure development, are experiencing withdrawal symptons.

When President Mahama named his Cabinet after the 2012 Presidential and Legislative Elections, three prominent names in the National Democratic Congress stable of ministers were conspicuously left out.

It did not take long for an official explanation to come. The President, in his own wisdom, had appointed Alban Kingsley Sumana Bagbin, Mr. Enoch Teye Mensah and Cletus Avoka, all ex-Cabinet Ministers, to constitute themselves into a Special Presidential Team to executive the infrastructure vision of President Mahama.

Party and Presidential spin-doctors went into overdrive, pontificating on how busy the ‘three wise men’ were going to be, when they start rolling out the Presidential action plans, especially the one on education.

Last week, President Mahama broke the ground to signify the beginning of work on the much touted 50 school project, with his ‘three wise men’ conspicuously absent.

We are beginning to learn that in spite of all the roof-top publicity of the relevance of the ‘three wise-men’ in President Mahama’s infrastructure vision, all the three were mere footnotes on the big day.

Apparently, it was only on the day of the exercise at Nyannoa, in the Upper West Akim District of the Eastern Region, when a deputy minister in Mrs. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman’s Education portfolio, remembered the role of the ‘three wise men’ and sent them text messages as invitation for the event.

There are no prices for guessing why Mr. Bagbin, E.T Mensah and Avoka turned their back on what is supposed to be their pet project.

As the drama of the absence of the ‘three wise men’ began to unfold, Ghanaians woke up to the rude shock that the Adomi Bridge at Atimpoku, in the Asogyaman District of the Eastern Region was going to closed down for two years for repair work to be done.

Yes, you read right; for two solid years, the bridge would remain closed. Between now and when the bridge is supposed to open, travelers are required to pay through their noses to use the make-ship replacement- the pontoon.

According to Stella Frimpong, a woman trader, talking to the Ghanaian Times, it cost her GH¢2 to cross the bridge with her goods. Now she is required to pay GH¢3.70 to use the pontoon. The economic squeeze is biting harder.

According to the state-run newspaper, the ferries charge between GH¢1 and GH¢40, depending on the size and weight of vehicles to ferry across the Volta River, though human traffic is free.

It looks like the Ghanaian is beginning to know no respite in the economic and social difficulties of the moment. Barely two months ago, the President officially commissioned the Bui Hydro Project and took a swipe at those associating him with power outages.

Trust Ghanaians to be innovative! Someone hit on a bright idea that a new means of accosting a friend could be through the problem of power outages in the country. To immortalize the experience, the person gave birth to an innovating idea of greeting each other in the new diction: ‘Memewo Dum-so-oo.’ The respondent would then reply: ‘Yaa Mahama.’

At the Bui Dam site, President Mahama asked Ghanaians to remember themselves of the Presidential role in solving the power outages. “Memamo Kanea-oo,” the President rephrased the new greeting. “Yaa Mahama.”

With the power outage back with a bang and the main power players warning of long times in the dark, President Mahama has rather chosen the propaganda approach to the problem. According to the Ghanaian Times, the Head of State told a meeting of the Western Region House of Chiefs in Takoradi at the week-end, that the government was searching for a formula to return 360 megawatt of power, missing from the national grid, as a result of shortfall in the supply of gas from the West African Gas Pipe Line.

The Head of State described the current power outages as temporal. The interesting development in the spectacle is the disclosure by the main players in energy supply, that this nation may probably be in the gamut of power outage, for a long haul.

At the week-end, Energy Minister, Armah Kofi-Bua, flew to Abuja for an urgent meeting with his colleague in Nigeria, over our eastern neighbour’s failure to meet its contractual obligation in gas supply to Ghana.

The Chronicle has learned that instead of 150 cubic feet of gas expected to flow through the West African gas pipeline a day, Nigeria has only been able to supply between 30 and 70 cubic feet.

While the shortfall clearly amounts to contractual abuse, Ghanaian officials dare not overstretch the issue, which could lead to a complete shut-down from Nigeria.

Industry players are quick to point out that with the dire state of the Ghanaian economy, the attitude of Nigeria could not be divorced from the inability of Ghana to pay for supplies already made.

This Government is leading this country from one crisis to another, without a solid programme for getting this nation out of the woods.

Last month, a self-proclaimed Archbishop, Nicholas Duncan Williams of the Action Faith Chapel, organized a special prayer session for the revival of the economy and ordered the cedi to rise again. So far, evidence suggests that the cedi has plunged further into the bowel of the earth.

At the week-end, Pastor Mensah-Otabil debunked the idea of praying for the economy as a means of reviving it and rather called for visionary leadership and hard word.

“It is time to stop all night prayer meetings for a change in the economy. Every nation that has moved from third world to a developed world has a clearer policy,” the Leader of the International Central Gospel Church advised.

Where is the policy for this nation, when the 31.7 kilometre Suhum -Apedwa stretch of the Accra-Kumasi Highway is abandoned to its fate, while leadership concentrates on building access roads to nowhere.

When as much as GH¢8.7 billion is wasted from the state treasury by buying the vote of the people in 2012, while officials go begging for a $3bn Chinese loan that would never come. Where is the vision to propel this nation out of the woods? I am afraid we are on a wild goose chase!