This President is a vexation to our spirits. He gets on our nerves on a daily basis even as we continue to lick our wounds in these austere times. He portrays to Ghanaians that he cares about our plight but in reality he does not.
His populist stance is annoying and gradually becoming a nuisance. In fact, the man is trying to play smart; but his smartness continues to expose him to public ridicule.
Two weeks ago, I wrote in this column and recounted the many manifesto and campaign promises made by the NDC in their quest for power, which have became a mirage, and challenged them to prove me wrong. In fact, I even quoted the pages on which they made those juicy promises in their manifesto. One particular promise they made to residence of Accra in particular, and Ghanaians in general, was the one bordering on water and filth.
In their manifesto, they wrote the following: “an NDC government will end the perennial water crisis and the troubling filth of our communities and cities by significantly expanding and upgrading water and sanitation infrastructure. Immediately after holding the reins of power an NDC government will use ONE HUNDRED DAYS to get rid of all filth in the national capital.” It has been six years since this promise was made to the good people of Ghana; and instead of getting rid of filth in the capital city, the city has become so engulfed in filth that cholera is our lot today whilst Ebola is knocking at our doors.
Unable to keep the promise, and with cholera killing people every day, the Jaguar Jokers concert party hit town to entertain the people they have disappointed badly. The first joker was Mr Amissah Arthur, a fine Fante gentleman who has found himself in the wrong party of liars and propagandists.
The President had travelled to the US to strike a deal with the IMF for a bailout, and so my Fante gentleman seized the opportunity to showcase to the world that even though the Akan Trio, a concert party formed many years ago in the Western Region, is defunct, he will resurrect the Akan Trio concert party and make sure it continues with the hilarious jokes it was noted for. For the first time in the political history of this country, it had to take a whole Vice President of the Republic to visit refuse dump sites with the city’s mayor. When I saw Mr Amissah Arthur on television the other day inspecting filth in Accra, I added “Tankas” (Town Councillor) to his name.
I thought with the public bashing which followed Vice President Amissah’s action, Mr John Mahama will take a cue from it. This time Mr Mahama proved to Mr Arthur that when it comes to holding the shovel to clean gutters, he (Mahama) was better on the job.
The difference between the ‘Tankas” of yesteryears and Tankas Mahama is that unlike the years gone by when the ‘Tangas man” cleaned the gutters with his bare hands while wearing ‘Charlie Wote”, “Tankas Mahama” has introduced a vogue in the whole operation by wearing gloves and boots with custom-made shirt and trousers to match. And so there he was, scooping the dirt on the ground while his failed Mayor held a long broom, hiding his shame behind a hollow smile and pretending to be sweeping. Interestingly, some of the ‘gutter cleaners’ were not wearing gloves. Ah, maybe they are immune to contracting cholera. John Mahama is very smart indeed. Instead of going down the gutter to do the job like the way Chairman Rawlings did in his revolutionary days, he stood at the edge of the gutter while a lady went down to scoop the dirt for him to gather into the wheelbarrow. Kwaku Ananse, the wise man, was at work at Odododiodoo, the backyard of Nii Lamptey Vanderpuye, the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development.
If what the President did was to show the way things must be done, he has seriously missed the boat. From the days of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghanaians knew that at a point in time communities must come out to join a communal labour. As I always insist, the crown of martyrdom was won many years ago but this time because of the way government functionaries display wealth, the crown has become too heavy to wear. Assemblymen and women can decide to call on the people to come out and join a communal labour; but the stack reality is that due to the harsh economic realities, people will ignore such a call and instead go out there to toil in the sun in order to get their day’s meal. They know the taxes they pay are supposed to be used to hire labourers to do the job. Even in the villages where communal labour used to be the order of the day, people wake up at dawn to go to their farms if they know that that day will be a day for communal labour. Times are hard and each and everyone is desperately trying to make a living, damn communal labour.
The multi-million Ghana Cedi questions I will like to ask this populist President are: Who are paid to do the job? What are the duties of the Accra Mayor? Will the President go to Takoradi, Kumasi, Tema, Tamale etc to clean the gutters there? Is the cleaning of gutters part of the duties of a President of Ghana? Where are the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and his Deputies? Is Oko Vanderpuye the only qualified person to be appointed as the Mayor of Accra? There is an assemblyman or woman in the electoral area where the President was seen cleaning the gutter. In fact, we have Unit Committee members as well in the area. Should it take a whole President to go there and clean gutters?
Somebody out there should tell Mr President that we have come a long way as a people who lived under a revolutionary era and a democratic dispensation. We have seen Presidents, who even though did not go down the gutters to clean, made sure those they appointed did the job. Presidents all over the world rule their nations with brains but surely not with propaganda and brawl. These days, trying to hoodwink the people by playing antics, like the President did, do not work. People have wised up and any populist stance will surely backfire. In one month’s time, President Mahama should go to the place and see whether the gutters are not choked again.
If the President wants the people of Accra, and Ghanaians for that matter, to move in sympathy with him, he should boldly come out and apologise to Ghanaians and concede that the NDC government’s promise to use one hundred days to get rid of filth in the capital city was a hoax and an attempt to throw dust into our already red eyes. If he fails to do that, he will continue to clean gutters, thereby, leaving very serious work unattended to at the seat of government. And come to think of this, my cherished reader; couldn’t the amount of money used to purchase the thirteen luxurious cars for our chiefs be used to rid the capital city of filth? The truth is that this President is thinking of how to remain in power rather than how to rule the country. He says one thing and does the other. If you promise the people that you will use only ONE HUNDRED DAYS to get rid of filth in the capital city, and six years down the line you, as the President, have to clean gutters, you become a laughing stock.
And did I hear the President say his government will provide free dustbins to residents of Accra? Oh, no Mr Populist; the issue is not where to dump the refuse but how to evacuate the refuse and how to acquire a dumping site. People will get the dustbins and load them with refuse; but if there are no vehicles to pick them up at their gates, it will surely spill over and cause another mess. Undoubtedly, our President is good at instructing and directing; and so he should instruct his mayor to liaise with chiefs who can offer land for the dumping of refuse. He should also direct the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development to acquire more tipper trucks and employ labourers for the evacuation of refuse in Accra and other big cities. I rest my case for now, until I see Mr Populist down the gutter in Kumasi.
I know what you are waiting for: the type of cigar I am puffing today. The brand is called Casa Magna Colorado, made in Nicaragua and voted the best cigar in 2008. The smoke has cleared and the ashes have settled after puffing my way throughout the whole day. You can now uncover your nostrils for fresh air.