President John Dramani Mahama says he is unperturbed by the series of demonstrations and agitations against his administration; and like the proverbial dead goat, he was not afraid of death.
According to him, he had experienced so many demonstrations and strike actions by public sector workers within the last two years that he had been in office as President and did not think it could get any worse in the remaining two years that he had to finish his term.
Speaking to the Ghanaian community in Botswana, President Mahama said, ‘I have seen more demonstrations and strikes in my first two years; I don’t think it can get worse.
‘It is said that when you kill a goat and you frighten it with a knife, it doesn’t fear the knife because it is dead already,’ he said, for which reason ‘I have a dead goat syndrome.”
President Mahama therefore said he was unfazed by any demonstrations that would come up, so Ghanaians could probably cry all they wanted.
This was in virtual response to calls by the Deputy General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, for the President to grow a thick skin for criticism because as the trade unionist put it, ‘the President should have a big belly for nonsense’.
The President had earlier asked Ghanaians not to ‘slide into purposeless lamentation’ and self pity over Ghana’s challenges, which he said were drawing the nation backwards, at the country’s 58th Independence anniversary celebration last week.
At the Independence Day celebration in Accra, President Mahama admitted that though ‘more challenges remain unresolved, there is no reason for Ghanaians’ to be saddened by the worsening energy crisis popularly called ‘dumsor’ and the huge budget deficit among others, a situation that forced government to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an economic bailout to help transform the ailing economy.
This was not the first time President Mahama, who is touted as a communications expert, had taken a pot-shot at Ghanaians for their criticism of his government.
In his 2015 New Year message, he told Ghanaians to be hopeful about the coming year and stop the cynicism.
He repeated same in his State of the Nation address in February when he said politicians and professors at the university who must be imparting knowledge in the youth had been jumping from one radio station to another to engage in unbridled cynicism and mischief, just to distort the reality and pollute the minds of the populace in the face of the current crisis facing the country.
President Mahama indicated that ‘often, what has happened is that in election years, trade unions and everybody sees that government is in a vulnerable place and so that is where demonstrations and agitations for increased pay begin to happen.’
According to him, ‘because of the sensitivity of the period and the fear of losing election, government normally will give in to some of these pressures and before you see the budget is out of sync and then when elections are over and then government is installed you have to start the belt tightening all over again.’
But this time around, he said he and his government would ensure fiscal discipline and not be compelled by any pressures or circumstance into overspending in the year 2016 – an election year – by the weight of demands and strikes of workers.
However, pundits believed that the agitations and strikes were self-inflicted by the government, citing the workers’ pension funds which were in arrears and triggered waves of strike actions among public sector workers as an example.
Ahead of the 2012 elections, the NDC overspent its budget by GH¢8.7 billion, over-exposing the Ghanaian economy which had since not recovered from the malaise.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu
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