The English would say robbing Peter to pay Paul. But my people in the holy city of Breman Asikuma put it in a different way: “wotetew m’afuw mu nnobaa ne ton me”, cruelly translated as “selling to me the produce from my own farm”.
All that these different versions of the same proverb say is that you are selling to me the produce you’ve stolen from my own farm.
I find similarities in this proverb in the way President John Dramani Mahama is being treated by some of his appointees. Many of them who are trying to please him are the same whose utterances, actions and inaction are causing the disaffection for and downfall of his government.
Usually, it is those who are close and appear to be among the most trusted ones who are the worst enemies of the President.
Korle Bu Teaching Hospital
In the last few months, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, for instance, has been in the news for bad reasons– corruption-related issues– and there is still no serious action or intervention from people in government to stem the tide and ensure that sanity prevails in the country’s biggest hospital.
As of now, if nothing is done, the Pharmacy Department of the hospital would soon be shut, and we all know the implications of that. The department is accusing the board, chief executive officer (CEO) and top echelon of overstepping their powers by taking over the revolving account of the Pharmacy Department. The staff there have threatened to withdraw their services after 72 hours (since Thursday) if the authorities remain adamant.
This comes shortly after the Korle Bu authorities purchased brand new cars for certain category of staff, allegedly including the CEO and a board member. The Ministry of Health doesn’t seem to have any effective control over Korle Bu and what goes on there.
Minister Yamin’s statement
Last week, the careless statement made by the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Joseph Yamin, to the effect that the government would discriminate in favour of NDC members in the selection of supporters for the Black Stars to Brazil has not received the attention of the government and NDC. This silence simply means that Yamin has spoken the mind of the President, government and party.
Bank of Ghana action
So far, the most succinct way of robbing Dramani to pay Mahama is the actions of the Bank of Ghana (BoG). First, the Governor of the BoG, Dr Kofi Wampah, and his team wake up one morning and introduce a foreign exchange policy which has adversely affected the flow of foreign currencies into the country.
Perhaps, Wampah and his team felt they were pleasing the government but the fact is that they have fatally wounded the government because since the introduction of that not-thought-out-properly policy, foreign currency inflows into the country has reduced drastically.
GRA worsens situation
As if that is not enough signals to the government for it to take action, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has also ditched the government further by its introduction of taxes that will definitely discourage people from banking.
Data from the Global Financial Inclusion Database (Global Findex) of the World Bank indicates that 70 per cent of adult Ghanaians do not have bank accounts, and their reason for not having bank accounts is the cost associated with banking.
Whose idea was it that ATM use must be taxed? Was it to please the President? Did the person think about the negative effect on banking and, for that matter, the national economy?
I’m not sure Ghana is short of experts who are also nationalists who can formulate economic and financial policies that would move this country forward. But when praise-singers are put in sensitive national positions we would continue to have policies like what we have witnessed in these recent days where in the coming days many bank customers would close their bank accounts and keep their monies at home.
For instance, is it not laughable that somebody paid by the taxpayer would waste working hours to bring a policy which requires customers who want to close their bank accounts to pay tax? I personally don’t wash my face bottom-up, but rather up-down, hence I will withdraw almost every pesewa in my account without informing any one I’m closing my account. Is this not common sense? Who are these our so-called tax experts trying to please?
Chief Executive Vanderpuije
And after the rains, President Mahama was happy going round the flood areas with Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, the Accra Mayor, who should have been the first person to be chopped off for ineffectiveness. Who gives building permits before people build houses? Vanderpuije’s staff are able to chase traders at Agbobloshie and Okaishie and harass taxi drivers but can’t check who violates the Accra Metropolitan Assembly’s own by-laws on building on waterways and other unauthorised places.
For how many years has Oko Vanderpuije been the Chief Executive of Accra, and what has he done to stop flooding apart from going round every year after floods with a pack of journalists to see himself on the front pages of newspapers and on television screens?
Mr President, I thought by this time you might have already found those who are stealing produce from your farm and selling it to you. Some of the people are the very ones who are bringing down your government and not necessarily the opposition parties
Mr President, I hope you’ve seen the many people who stand the risk of being carried away by the spillage from the Weija Dam. Have you asked the institutions whose responsibilities include the safety of the dam and also people in the catchment area why there are these annual rituals of flooding caused by the dam, which become death traps?
Your worst detractors are those around you, and you need to ‘shine your eyes’, as my Nigerian friends put it.
PS: Mr Inspector-General of Police, having openly accepted that the Police Service had done some wrong in recent past, would you please respond to the children and widow of Adjei Akpor, the 22-year-old man your men killed at Adenta on January 6, 2014 and give them justice? This is the 22nd week since the man was killed. Sir, I’m still waiting.
*The author is a Journalist and Political Scientist. He is the Head of the Department of Media and Communication Studies, Pentecost University College, Accra. – [email protected]