Appointments and Boycotts, Wash and Wear

Mon, 28 Jan 2013 Source: Casely-Hayford, Sydney

Critical News, 27th January 2013

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

Ghana is now all about creating history. We are on the edge of either loosing out in the group stage of AFCON 2013 or surging ahead to the quarter-finals. Either way, history. If you watched the Ivory Coast v Tunisia match, you should be quivering for Ghana. Ivory Coast are playing “socca”, “agoro”, “samba” football. A masterful performance for ninety minutes, sixty of that without Drogba. When Drogba was brought in to scare the Tunisia defense, it was major. Within a few minutes, the game changed into overdrive and the Elephants played a full 90-minute game with panache. When we meet them in the final, history will be made. May I remind all African Christian footballers and supporters that God does not take sides in a football match. Pray as hard as you want, the game will be decided on skill and stamina. That is what sports is all about. God remains neutral till the referee blows the whistle. If you want to win, play well. Mediocrity is not rewarded in sports, neither is it rewarded in the courts of law.

The NDC claimed a victory when they were joined in the petition challenging the voting results. The Supreme Court agreed with their counsel that they can be a part of the Mahama defense. The big question now is whether they (NDC) will use all the tactics they can muscle to delay the process, till it becomes too frustrating to carry on. How strong will the Judges be when it comes to resolving deliberate legal delay? We already know Mahama says he will call 4,800 witnesses and that is the first salvo. It is popular to say the wheels of justice move slowly, but can Ghana afford to do this slowly? The NPP believes they have a very good case. Ghana needs to know if they can convince the court. Ghana also needs to know if the NDC won this and maybe other previous elections fair and square. Tired of this already? It will run for another three months at least. Let’s stay with it, it will establish some rules at the highest level of decision making in the country. But we need haste without compromising legal integrity.

Energy Ministry versus Volta River Authority of Ghana (VRA). The Ministry has a Communications Consultant (Edward Bawa). The VRA has a Head of Corporate Communications (Sam Fletcher). One of them is building on an original lie told to the people of Ghana by President Mahama at the IEA debates, that the “dum-so, dum-so” would be over by 15th November, 2012. He (the President) clearly not knowing what he was talking about, held up his right palm for all of Ghana to see and lied flat. We all knew he was lying, but for a minute, as the lights stayed on consistently throughout the voting period, we actually thought it was true. Soon as the results were announced and JDM was declared President, wahala started. Suddenly, we are in emergency mode and rationing power, so brace yourselves, we are looking at April 2013 at the earliest. Sounds familiar? My advice to all Ghanaians out there, go and buy some cheap Chinese lanterns and get ready to replace them in 3 months. We are part of Africa, South of the Sahara, creating employment for the Chinese people. You should go and see the queues in front of their new Embassy.

Fire, fire, fire. Destroying farms, markets, ECG supply stations, fertilizer plants, homes and anything that stands in its path. We are not equipped to implement quality standards and monitor same. How many more fires and lives before we really wake up to the fact that we have to implement rules and prosecute recalcitrants? The latest fire at BBC warehouse, makers of Leyland paints created some furor when the owners refused to cooperate with the Fire Service. This illegality is still open to interpretation and prosecution.

Tarzan Wireko Brobbey put this one succinctly for me. Newly appointed Presidential Policy Advisor Dr. Sulley Gariba made an on-air statement on JoyFM Newsfile, Saturday that there are “about 51” institutions currently operating under the Office of the President, which do not have ministerial supervision. First of all he does not know exactly how many and does he know that his boss was a Vice President of the Government that did not provide direct ministerial supervision? Tarzan’s point was made before I could call in an identikit comment. If so, then place them under the right ministries. How many more persons do we want to be appointed for these ad-hoc institutions? Is that what they are? We cannot find a home for MASLOC, the Microfinance and Small Loans Center? Then scrap it. But better still, take the funds allocated to MASLOC for the taxis, agriculture, sewing machines and all that overlapping stuff we do through LESDEP, NYEP, YESDEP, Youth in Potholes, etc. and give it to the various banks to manage at determined rates. No need to appoint a whole bazooka of people to manage funds that can be better utilized as venture capital and Youth in Agriculture programs. If we are going to continue with this kind of foot-soldier handouts for another 4 years, we are heading for disaster.

I already have a beef with these presidential offered positions at the Castle or Jubilee House or Flagstaff house, wherever. Is Fiifi Kwetey going to supervise Mr. Seth Terkper’s job at the Ministry of Finance? Together with allied institutions? What are these airy-fairy positions we are creating at the Presidency? Is anybody thinking through what we are hearing? It is bad enough that we appoint a person to a portfolio and even before he is vetted, he is re-assigned. This is a Presidential Staffers job right?

Same old ministers, same boycotts, same arguments, same inertia. The one-sided vetting of ministers in Parliament is not exactly what Ghanaians expected. This one Ghanaian believes it weakens our democracy. I can see the NPP point of view, since they have a challenge in court to disestablish the validity of John Mahama’s nomination. I will say it again, that if the NDC (now that they have been joined to the case) and John Mahama did indeed rig the election, then they do not deserve to serve the people of this country. I do not want a cheater to run my life, certainly not for four years or even ever. If it turns out to be much ado about nothing, then NPP is stigmatized in our politics. The outcome is pivotal to our history.

But we have a principle of sorts posited by the NPP and we face the decision whether vetting ministers by NDC members alone will question the substance of the nominees sufficiently to provide a team that can cater for the myriad problems we face. What I heard, even from a shoo-in Seth Terkper, was not answers to questions of capability, but rather answers to run-of-the-mill issues way below his ability. Hannah Tetteh’s vetting was also not up to scratch and in this regard the NPP boycott affected the substance of the process. That the NDC Parliamentarians are comfortable in their seats and majority count when the floor comes to accept or reject nominees is another kettle of fish altogether.

I want to know what ET Mensah and his team of septuagenarians can bring to the table anymore. I am struggling to find less scathing words to talk about this. What occupies a politician’s mind when such opportunity is presented to clean up house, create change, develop momentum and leapfrog progress for the governed? I have never dabbled in politics so maybe I do not understand the dynamics of “support for payback”.

I said many times that President Mills lost a huge opportunity to scour his team and make history, but he created his own. My first encounter with security forces since I came back, took me to the castle. After two hours of “conversation”, I made my point to the man in charge. All we have to do in this country is do what we know is right and proper to solve our problems. It is not complicated. Same old wash and wear ministers, wash and wear boycotts, leading us nowhere.

The French forces in Mali are running the fringe Al-Qaeda terrorists out of town. Our ECOWAS forces are yet to marshal their team to land in Mali. We do not have fighter jets to do the job, and Nigeria is fighting its own Boko Harram nuisance in its backyard. If this spills over to us and other neighbours, how do we do? Should we be grateful to France and allies? Will Britain come to our aid in similar circumstances? God forbid we should get there.

Ghana, Aha a ye de papa. Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

Columnist: Casely-Hayford, Sydney