'Be citizens, not spectators'

President Akufo Addo At New Years School1 610x400.png President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

Tue, 27 Apr 2021 Source: Sampson Boamah

I have come to you at this critical moment of our nation to talk about matters of national concerns and to speak as a responsible citizen. These views, when considered, will shape the destiny and future of our beloved country.

There are a lot of issues that have gone on and are still going on which need to be pointed out to the authorities so they can act on them in the best interest of the country. I am writing about us being citizens and not mere spectators.

I quote from the inaugural speech of the 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush, as he addressed the crowd which attended his investiture in 2001, “I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building your communities and our nation.” This same statement was quoted by Akufo-Addo in his inaugural speech in 2017 when he first took over the reins of government.

He was heavily criticized for not acknowledging the source of this statement. I am not here to talk about plagiarism or whether someone did steal another’s intellectual property without paying due respect to the source. Nonetheless, such acts should not be tolerated.

I find every aspect of the above quote very insightful and intriguing. It is a statement that calls on all responsible citizens to take up their rightful places in the Ghanaian community to ensure that our country becomes a better place. I have lived in this country for over 2 decades and I have participated in 3 elections. This country should be in a better position if our leaders are doing the right things. As a responsible citizen, I am going to talk about some of the ills I have seen and observed in the last 4 years under the Akufo-Addo administration.

The state of the Ghanaian economy is in terrible shape. I remember vividly, before the 2016 elections, the then opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and its candidate Akufo-Addo, painted a very horrible picture of the Ghanaian economy led by John Mahama. They attributed the sufferings of the people to the mismanagement of the economy by John Mahama. They went to the extent of saying, "We are sitting on money, but we are suffering” (“Y3te Sika so nanso 3kom d3 yen”) and other claims just to tarnish the image of the then government for their political gains.

They made a lot of enticing promises that sounded ‘sweet’ in the ears of electorates. They even said they would transform this country into ‘paradise.’ Akufo-Addo said we should give him just “18 months” to turn this country into a better place. We, as a people, thought if John Mahama’s government was insensitive to the plight of the people, this very government would be different, but it looks as if the situation has deteriorated the more. Are we still "sitting on money", Mr President?

What is the state of the Ghanaian economy today? I am not here to talk about their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures that they always mention to deceive and confuse the good people of Ghana. My mother in the village does not understand what GDP means, likewise many of her contemporaries. All she cares about is that the prices of goods and services on the market should be better than they were under the Mahama Administration.

In one of his speeches, Dr Bawumia said, "If the fundamentals are weak, the exchange rate will expose you”. He received a lot of applauds from citizens because they thought the governance at the time was in terrible hands.

Today, this government is being exposed by the same exchange rate in such an awful manner. The prices of goods keep increasing each day. I daresay that we have a weaker economy. The economy cannot even provide 2 square meals for ordinary citizen. It is only politicians who 'eat' all the sweet and beautiful things in this country.

If I want to continue with the state of the economy, I would not be able to proceed to other issues worth discussing. Just within the first quarter of 2021, the prices of fuel have been increased by about 25%. How on earth can a government be this wicked and callous? Is it because they are not living the normal life like the ordinary citizen, that they do not understand and appreciate the plights of the people? They always go to parliament to present a nice State of the Ghanaian economy, but the reality is gloomy and appalling. Permit me to say, “when the fundamentals of the economy are in weak hands, the exchange rate will expose you.” I will write a full article on the state of the Ghanaian economy in the coming days.

Another issue worth discussing is the increased rate of unemployment. I cringe anytime this matter comes up because I know the impending dangers this problem can cause. This country would not be in this kind of mess if we have had better managers of the economy. Ghana, a very resourceful country is endowed with numerous natural resources, but the country is in a very deplorable state. There is no correlation between the quantity of resources and the country’s development. How can we be blessed with these kinds of resources and still have issues with unemployment? During the 2016 election, Akufo-Addo and his NPP made a lot of fuss about the unemployment rate in the country. They made many promises that looked as though should they come into office; they would avert such an ‘endemic’.

They promised that when they come, they will build a factory in all the 216 districts and many other innovative ideas that for me were very laudable. Now, they cannot even give an account on the specific number of factories they have created within the last 4 years. My home district New Juabeng North in the Eastern Region has no factory.

The unemployment rate is tripled if not quadrupled under this government. The government has no clear plan to move the teaming youth from their unemployment state into a situation where they can find a better job that will enable them to contribute their quota to the development of the country. They always pride themselves on creating NABCO. Meanwhile, this NABCO is not sustainable and does not even have a clear plan that will put these people into a better place. Taking 700 cedis at the end of the month and looking at the high cost of living, how do you survive in such a terrible economy? How much do Akufo-Addo's ministers take as a salary every month? Year in year out, we have dozens of graduates churn out from various tertiary institutions with very little hope of securing employment.

Graduates now turn their attention to betting because it serves as a source of hope and anchor to them. That is the pathetic situation we find ourselves in. If you are not part of the party in power, getting a job can be difficult. The country has become a political party country rather than a national one. As citizens and not spectators and as responsible citizens, if we do not demand a harsh form of accountability from this government, they will continue to take us for a ride. If you take 4 years to create about 90,000 unsustainable jobs, how many years will it take to create permanent, sustainable jobs?

As responsible citizens, we need to revolt against this form of oppressive rule by this government. We need to hit the street to demand accountability. They need to fulfil all the promises they gave while in opposition. People are dying because they do not have jobs that will sustain them. If this issue of unemployment is not taken seriously, the country is headed for doom. A time will come when even criminality will be deemed tolerable.

People need to survive and if the means for them to survive is not there, they will find other ways to do so. If citizens join forces to hit the street for one week or march to the seat of government, the government will sit up and remember that it has a contract with the people. We are over this sluggish style of leadership.

While in opposition, they campaigned against the large size of the government of the then Mahama administration and at the same time spoke against families and friends’ government but when they came into office, they decided to do more than what the predecessors did. I was dumbfounded when I heard Akufo-Addo’s government had exceeded over a hundred ministers.

How can such a small country as ours have over 120 ministers especially for a party which campaigned against this same practice? Where is the politics of principles? In my opinion, this government is the most hypocritical we have ever had since this country was born. They do not practice what they preach. They preach virtue today and tomorrow, practice vice. If you take political power as a means of empowering your family and your party, do you expect us to be happy? The sad thing is that with the quantum of ministers he appointed, we did not see any better changes in the lives of Ghanaians.

The only thing we saw was that his family and the people that were closer to his government enjoyed the most. Because he wanted to find jobs for his party financiers and party faithful, he created all sorts of ministries that were not even necessary. I think the people of Ghana have not been citizens enough. We have looked on as spectators and we have been constantly fooled by the government.

The return of ‘Dumsor’ (erratic power supply) is another cause for responsible citizens to hit the street. When Akufo-Addo was in opposition, he benefited from the misfortunes of the Mahama administration. The government campaigned heavily on the back of Dumsor and many Ghanaians also bought into that idea because the problem at the time was very unbearable.

We needed someone who could redeem us from our predicament. Indeed, we have had a relatively stable power supply in the past few years, but what we are beginning to see this year is something that requires we join voices as citizens to speak against, for the government to resolve the situation. One thing that this government can be assured of from us as citizens and not spectators is that we will hit the street if this problem continues to persist. The lip services should be over. We need men and women who are capable and have clearer minds to serve this beloved country. We will not tolerate any low standard form of leadership when the issue of Dumsor comes up. If it was bad during John Dramani Mahama’s time, it can never be good during Akufo-Addo’s time.

The troubles that come with this incessant power cut is very frustrating and disheartening. Businesses and all forms of activities come to a halt the moment the power is taken. Not only this, but many people also lose millions of Ghana cedis whenever there is blackout. Even if you have a stand-by generator, buying fuel is another ‘devil’ you must deal with. Prices of fuel go up almost every month.

I cannot end this epistle without talking about something very dear to my heart that drains the nation’s coffers. The issue of corruption needs no introduction in the Ghanaian community. “Corruption has been a major canker right from the days of Adam and Eve” as John Agyekum Kufuor rightly put it. Yes, we know that this issue has been with us for a very long time but what we need to do as a country is to put in measures that will deter public servants and politicians from stealing from the coffers of the state. Akufo-Addo and the NPP were very vociferous when in opposition regarding this deadly canker of corruption. They capitalized on every opportunity they had to hit the Mahama government on the issue. We thought we had gotten a saviour at last to rescue us from the menace of corruption. The NPP branded Akufo-Addo as an incorruptible person, as someone who will clamp down his own should they ever be involved in any corrupt practice.

I was particularly happy when during Akufo-Addo’s investiture, he said, “If you want to be rich, stay in the private sector.” Which meant those who come into public service should not see that as an avenue to amass wealth. That was a statesmanlike statement by the president at the time. Little did we know this corrupt business was rather coming to flourish under the ‘incorruptible’. How many corruption scandals have hit this government in the last 4 years? How many people from his government has he been able to put behind bars or arraign before a court? Does the president think he has angels as ministers? This government does not have the teeth to bite those corrupt officials within his government. His political opponent calls him “The Clearing Agent.”

The seat of government has been reduced to a “Clearing Agent” portfolio! They painted John Mahama very black while in opposition but since they came into office, they have not been able to arraign any of Mahama’s ministers before a court. The fight against corruption has become lip service for this government. People come into politics and within a few years, they become millionaires and billionaires. Where do they get the money from?

Sadly, this government seems to fight responsible citizens who are determined to fight this canker of corruption. Look what the government did to the former Auditor-General. In a very ridiculous and bizarre circumstance, he was asked to proceed on a compulsory leave of over 150 days and when his leave was due for him to come and continue with his work, the government had the nerve to challenge him about his nationality and age. For me, that was the most nonsensical and barbaric thing any government could do. If you are determined to fight corruption, why don’t you rather use your office to protect such a person, someone who has served his country for over 30 years, has his nationality and age challenged just a few months to his retirement by the government, led by the president. This is shameful! In any case, which serious government will ask its Auditor-General to proceed on a compulsory accumulated leave of over 150 days if they do not have something fishy to hide? The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has become “a toothless bulldog” office. Many people had confidence in that office because of the appointment of Mr. Martin Amidu but to our surprise, this office seems to be one of the hoaxes of this government. The only thing they can do is to talk. The rhetoric is too much. Just when Martin Amidu decided to crack the government, the nature of things started to change, and this led to his unfortunate resignation. It looks as if when you want to fight corruption, corruption itself will fight you. State institutions that are supposed to help fight against corruption will fight any individual that wants to fight it. The government has become a stumbling block to those who want to fight corruption. Time would not permit me. I will write on this topic in the coming days and have ample time to talk about this ‘pandemic’ and the dangers they pose to the safety of this country.

There are dozens of issues that need to be highlighted and a spade ought to be called a spade. All responsible citizens should rise and take their rightful places in society and be bold enough to speak against any ills especially within this Akufo-Addo administration. We should not treat this government with kids’ gloves, neither should we be charitable. They should be reprimanded whenever they need to. Do not ever think because you voted for Akufo-Addo, you cannot criticize him and his government. If you do that then you are a spectator and not a citizen, a spectator who has not input in the governance process of our country. Akufo-Addo would not be pleased with you. I know you expected me to talk about other pressing issues, but as I said earlier, time would not permit me to do so.

We all need to be citizens, not spectators; responsible citizens who can call the government of the day to order. In doing so we will be building a society that is conducive to live in.

Ghana must work again; Ghana will work again. YOUNG POSITIVIST, a concerned citizen of Ghana.

Columnist: Sampson Boamah
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