Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer for the 2016 presidential elections, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, will lead thousands of Ghanaians in a demonstration dubbed ‘Wongbo Demo’ to protest against the incessant power outages popularly called ‘dumsor’ afflicting the country.
Anthony Karbo, a Deputy Director of Communications of the party, who made the disclosure, said the demonstration is a protest against the unending energy crisis and the economic challenges facing the country.
Although dubbed ‘Wongbo Demo’ to wit ‘We are dying demo’ in Ga, the protest is not limited to the power outages, but also the fallouts from the energy crisis which has exacerbated the existing economic woes of Ghanaians in both the private and public sectors.
Nana Addo’s role in the demonstration will offer it a rare momentum and a fillip to thousands of his aggrieved compatriots who are expected to heed the call to hit the streets.
Announcement about the pending demonstration has been rife for some time now, but Nana Addo’s leadership role in it just popped up in Karbo’s statement over the weekend when he spoke on Citi Fm’s Point Blank programme.
The disclosure about Nana’s participation has made waves already in the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), whose propagandists are already busy putting a spin around it.
Nana’s participation in the demonstration will be the first in recent times, the last being in 2000 when he joined in a protest march dubbed ‘Ya bre demonstration’ organised by a multitude of opposition parties under the aegis of Joint Action Committee (JAC) against the NDC.
Karbo is reported to have disclosed on the Point Blank segment of Eyewitness News: ‘Nana Akufo-Addo will be at the forefront of this demonstration because he needs to show that it is the concern and welfare of Ghanaians that matters.’
The energy crisis remains an albatross around the neck of the Mahama government, providing political fodder for the opposition NPP and others to lash at the ruling party.
The crisis has been around for three years and NPP elements have said cynically that their party handed over power to the NDC bereft of an energy crisis.
NDC has responded to the series of queries from their opponents with a request for alternatives rather than criticisms.
The Deputy Communications Director of the NPP however defended the demonstration and the now incessant criticisms over government’s handling of the crisis which the Power Minister said should end by the close of 2015 – a year to the next election – failing which he would resign.
His remarks and threat of resignation did not win him sympathies or friends, but rather attacks from a cross section of Ghanaians who said they do not care about his resignation and just want a restoration of the old order of constant electricity, wondering why they should wait for a year before power can be restored, having been earlier told by President Mahama that 2013 would see the end of ‘dumsor’.
In 2012, in the heat of the electioneering campaign, President Mahama promised to make ‘dumsor’ a thing of the past by the end of 2013. But three years after the promise, the government is now considering emergency power plants which are expected in May 2015, raising questions about the sincerity of the 2012 promise.
No Dumsor in 2009
‘This crisis has lasted for three years. Some of the handing over notes the NPP gave to the NDC in 2009 didn’t include this electricity crisis,’ Karbo said, adding that the Kufuor administration addressed similar power challenges in 2007 by rolling out certain measures which nipped the problem in the bud.
The Kufuor Administration, Karbo said, did not seek alternatives from the then opposition NDC, but got to work on the challenges; for instance establishing the VRA plant in Tema which provided 110 megawatts of electricity.
‘Had the government completed crucial projects in the area of electricity provision, we would not have found ourselves in the problems we are today,’ he said.
‘Atuabo should have been ended by 2010. This government should have gotten Atuabo up and running but today (2015) as we speak Atuabo is not up to full capacity.’
In announcing the impending demonstration, the NPP believes that the problem can be fixed immediately if the NDC government was determined, instead of subjecting the nation to 24 hours blackout and half a day of power, according to the load shedding timetable being managed by the power distributors, which in most instances is not adhered to.
According to the main opposition party, if government can buy electricity from neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire to watch football during the AFCON in Equatorial Guinea and the Christmas and New Year festive period, the same thing can be done for households and industries who are suffering because of the ‘dumsor’ that has plunged over half the country into darkness during the operation of the load shedding.
Reports say industries are collapsing, with workers losing their jobs because of the crisis. Artisans like barbers, tailors, hairdressers, welders, ice water sellers are starving because there is no light to operate.
A March 6 demonstration by a group, ‘Concerned Ghanaians’, is not attractive to the Police who are set to, as they put it, ‘use legitimate means to stop it’. The grouping has however called the bluff of the law enforcement agents, insisting they would go ahead.
The late President John Evans Atta Mills took part in demonstrations organised by the Committee for Joint Action (CJA) at a time when the ruling NDC was in opposition.
The demonstrations at the time were against what the NDC considered exorbitant prices of petroleum products as well as privatisation of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone BV which the NDC promised to reverse.
The late President reportedly promised reducing prices of petroleum products drastically, which promise he failed to fulfil.
The Northern Region, whose electricity supply is managed by the Northern Electricity Department and was spared the outages, is now experiencing it in full gear.
By A.R. Gomda
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