On Your Marks, Get Set And Run!!!

Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto

When you are appointed by a president in a hurry, you have no other choice but to be in hurry as well.  If you decide to go slow like a snail you would be left behind and the dew of dawn will soak you.  It was my late father who told me that when you enter a town and see people running towards one direction, you should also run towards that direction. He said if you run in the opposite direction, you do so at your own peril.  Today, I am going to write about only three ministers of the President Akufo Addo’s administration who should be in a hurry like the president

The Minister of Food and Agriculture should lace his boots and hit the road running like a hare because the sector collapsed under the John Mahama-led administration.  Thankfully, even before I could complete this piece, the sector minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto has started his race by reducing the cost of fertilizer by 50%. This means a farmer who used to buy fertilizer at GH¢100 will now save GH¢50.  And do you know what GH¢50 can do for a poor farmer in a small village?  When ex-president Kufuor was in power he introduced the fertilizer subsidy which went a long way to help increase output by the farmers.  In fact, food became relatively cheap and farmers enjoyed from their labour.

By the time the NDC left office, the agriculture sector grew by 0.04% which is unacceptable considering the fact that the backbone of the economy is agriculture.  Instead of importing fertilizers for the farmers, the NDC government preferred to import luxurious V8 cars for ministers, chiefs and queenmothers as well as some selected media personnel to mislead the people.  The sad aspect of the mismanagement of the agriculture sector is that while the NDC government asked Ghanaians to patronize locally produced rice, they, their family and cohorts were eating foreign rice.  In other words when they asked us to tighten our belts, they made sure they were wearing elastic belts which gave room for expansion.

The cocoa industry was flourishing and booming when Mr. Kufuor was in power but nose-dived when the NDC took over in 2008. The NDC under John Mahama did not know that when they adopted selectiveness as far as the Mass Cocoa Spraying exercise was concerned, they were increasing the number of pests that destroy cocoa pods in Ghana.  They sat in Accra and issued instructions to their people down here to make sure only cocoa farms of NDC supporters are sprayed.  What they did not know was that when you spray the farm of an NDC supporter and the pest called ‘akate’ flies from the farm, they end up on the farms of the NPP farmer.  And when the potency of the chemical reduces, the pest will fly back and destroy the farm of the NDC supporters.  That was the reality and so at the end of the day, the tonnage of cocoa produced in the country reduced from one million to less than seven hundred tons.  The stubborn goat thought it was destroying the walls of its owner by rubbing its body on the wall but it did not know it was destroying its own skin.

I became highly elated when the president created the Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation headed by Mr. Joseph Adda.  In other jurisdictions, the issue of water is classified as a human right issue.  They say water is life so anything concerning water is not treated lightly. Here in Ghana, we have always been paying lip services to the pollution of our water bodies.  I have sworn never to stop my own crusade against the operations of the “galamsey” gangs until thy kingdom come. In fact, I have declared a holy war and I will never run to the wall until this menace is stopped, defeated and wiped out on the surface of Ghana.

The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation should also be in a hurry like the president.  Recently I visited one of the galamsey sites and what I saw was simply an eye sore.  How can people be so callous?  What is more annoying is that those who are engaged in galamsey are able bodied persons who could as well get involve in other endeavors rather than the galamsey. Mr. Adda has a very fine opportunity because everybody is against the galamsey menace and so he has the backing of Ghanaians. If he is not able to fight the galamsey guys, the president should fire him and appoint a more aggressive person to the position.  I mean the president should appoint a person who will be prepared to put his nose on the grindstone and fight galamsey no matter whose ox is gored, that is if Mr. Adda fails.

Sanitation is one area which continues to pose danger to the nation, particularly the capital city of Ghana, Accra.  Anytime I visit Agbogbloshie, Nima, Kaneshie, Accra central and other slums in the city I cry for mother Ghana.  Sixty years after independence and the country is still grappling with how to keep our cities clean. This is unacceptable and the minister should not wait for any moment before tackling the sanitation problem.  Successive governments failed to tackle the issue because they waited for a long time and when election is around the corner, they did not get the courage to fight the sanitation issue because of political expediency.  The NDC lost the recent general elections partly because they closed their eyes to the issue of sanitation. It was the NDC which promised to get rid of filth in the cities by the time they get one hundred days in office but after eight years in office they left behind the worse as far as sanitation is concerned.  Mr. Adda must see that as a guard post and act decisively so that his name will be written in gold after his tenure of office.

The creation of ministry of Inner City and Zongo Development is so dear to my heart that I cannot wait to see how the ministry will operate.  Mr. Boniface  Abubakar Saddique should run faster than the president because the expectation of the people of the Zongos are so high that any delay will not argur well for the minister, who is a Zongo boy.  You see, apart from the ten regions we have in Ghana, the Zongo is undoubtedly, the grapevine eleventh region and a heterogeneous community with different tribes who practice Islam.  Developing the Zongos is going to be a Herculean task because the layouts of the Zongos throughout the country has nothing good to write home about.  The truth is that the Ministry cannot develop all the Zongos within four years but if Mr. Saddique starts immediately, many Zongos will see change and the rest will have the patience to wait for their turn. I do not know the modus operandi of the ministry but I expect the minister to involve the youth who are in the majority at the Zongos.

Anytime I am in Accra and pass by Chokor, Agbogbloshie  and other slums in the capital city which cannot be called Zongos,  I ask myself whether we are a serious nation. These places lie at the heart of the city but sadly conditions there are so bad that you begin to think whether we are in South Africa where Soweto lies at the center of Johannesburg and surrounded by plush buildings of architectural wonder.  You can find such slums across the length and breadth of Ghana but successive governments closed their eyes at the mess.  And so when President Akufo Addo added these places to the Zongo Development Ministry, calling the places Inner Cities I could not help but clap my hands for the President.  As students, we used to tease our colleagues who lived in these places. We jokingly told them that when Queen Elizabeth visited Ghana in the early sixties and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah took her around Accra and they reached those places and Queen Elizabeth wanted to know why such slums existed in the city, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah told her that they were zoos.  (I beg, we are just joking so please throw no stone at me). If Dr. Kwame Nkrumah could turn a fishing village like Tema into a modern city, I see no reason President Akufo Addo cannot do same for the people of Chokor and the other slums.  It is a matter of time since Rome was not built in a day.


Listen to the names of some of the arrested Delta Force boys and you will understand why the government has created a ministry for the Zongo Development:  Awal Sadat Abubakar, Bamba, Abubakar Sidiq Abdul, Hameed, Jamil Issah, Hamza Mohamed, Salu Issakah, Abbas Caeser, Suleiman Wadud, Salu Yussif.  These are all Zongo and Muslim names.  Similarly all the Azoka Boys in Tamale are Zongo boys so you may ask yourself:  Why only the Zongo boys?  The answer is very simple. Many of these guys are illiterate and unemployed.  Since the devil finds work for the idle hands, they do not hesitate to join others to play the fool around. In Accra when politicians want hooligans to play the buffoonery, they don’t look far.  These guys are always ready at Nima, Agbogbloshie and other slums. That is why Mr. Boniface Siddique must not fail the people of the Zongo now that he is in charge of the development of the Zongos.  No wonder Jimmy Cliff, the Jamaican Reggae star sung “Struggling man, no time to lose”!!!


Eric Bawah