Cee Eye Whatever, Madam Speaker

Mon, 10 Sep 2012 Source: Casely-Hayford, Sydney

Critical News, 9th September 2012

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

President John Mahama gave a speech to the people, it was meant to be a policy statement. The NPP said it was just paragraphs of platitudes. I found some sense in some of the things he said, and the way to a Better Ghana. Daily Graphic did a 6-page verbatim pull out on 5th September. My favorite portion goes thus “Contractors who have done their projects will be duly paid without any further delay and I have instructed the Minister of Finance to provide Cabinet with a detailed presentation of any arrears owed to contractors this month and to indicate the steps being taken to effect payments forthwith”. I kindly request of the President that when this is done and payments have been made, can he kindly ask the Minister of Finance to publish the names of the contractors, how much they were owed and how much paid? I have a particular interest, because some big contractors owe me money for services rendered and I keep hearing that as soon as Government pays them, they in turn will pay me. With one of them, it is nearly 14 months. This is my personal and selfish request, Sir.

This man bit off the lips of three girls and defiled them with his fingers; we arrested and jailed him for 30 years. Another three men were caught on suspicion of serial killings. Kofi Gyedin was hacked on the head by Akwasi Acheampong for flirting with his girfriend when he went to collect his laundry from her (Acheampong’s girfriend’s) at 9pm. Sulemana Mustapha, a phys-ed tutor at Techiman Senior High School impregnated a third year student of the school. I wondered whether all this was part of Jerry John’s conditional fixes before he appeared at the NDC congress last week, but the IGP claims the crime rate is down by 1% even though communal violence is on the increase.

Then someone leaked Yaw Boateng Gyan’s latest security rapping to the public. The National Organiser of the NDC, claiming he could arrange secret apprenticeship training with Gbevlo Lartey’s National Security Agency and top it with payments from the Ministry of Finance, was caught in a storm after a secret tape of his instructions to a select group of macho men was made public. He admitted to the tape but claims it was only politics. It had nothing to do with the December elections even though General Mosquito charged the NPP party with doctoring the tape for political espionage. After all, Yaw Gyan was only explaining how he could corrupt National Security and process payments from the Ministry of Finance without due process. Finance Minister Kwabena Duffuor was furious. Could he afford another charge like this after he managed to swerve the Woyome saga? We do not know who leaked the tape. General Mosquito says it is an NPP mole, similarly doctored as the one with Kofi Adams and Gabby Asare Darko. And National Security Coordinator Gbevlo Lartey’s response to the security insinuations was just that, a response. As far as the public knows, Yaw Gyan is still safely walking the streets of Ghana.

But the real danger lurks in the shape of a young man touted as a member of the NDC communications team. Mr. Felix Kwakye takes up a lot of airtime speaking for the NDC. In this case, he supports General Mosquito in the NPP doctoring theory and goes further that, to breach National Security and use Government finances to pay party loyalists and plot mayhem in a national election is of no consequence. Why lose sleep over this triviality? I don’t know this mans background, but I will question his values. We are developing a dangerous group of future politicians.

With this entire goings on, the Constitutional Instrument (CI) 73 grew into 77 and finally 78 during the extended sitting of Parliament. CI73 was riddled with mistakes (over a hundred) and the majority in Parliament finally pulled it back with one day to mature and substituted it with CI77. The NPP minority flexed some muscle and walked out of Parliament. For a moment my heart stopped. The last spate of walkouts brought unnecessary toil to Ghanaians. Following the trail of this CI, Madam Speaker of Parliament Justice Bamford Addo, in exasperation, blew MPs off with a “whatever” ala my teenage nieces when she noted that 77 also had loads of mistakes. Finally we have CI78 from the Assembly Press. After weeks of trying to get rid of this “District Four Five” saga, the TUC, GII, CDD, some churches and especially the minority in Parliament are wondering where to turn. First, I should ask the NPP where from the holier than thou posture? We are going round in circles on this CI. Someone pulled another CI46 to illustrate the differences between the two. The best read I have found on this controversy is here.

Opposition stance is made indefensible because previous governments of either party take a politically advantageous end result, rather than ensure the law is followed to the letter or at least corrected to avoid future controversy. A private members bill is still “being considered” by Parliament when we need one like yesterday. So long as it is not in the interest of Government they will not table a bill. If the EC made a mistake 8 years ago, should we repeat it just so the political parties can record a 1-1 draw? They forget their job is to safeguard the interests of the people of Ghana?

The Constitutional Review Commission is yet to discuss and implement the people’s recommendations for change, and especially on decentralization and elections at the District level. With so much at stake and with so many issues to address, wouldn’t it make sense to manage a step-by-step process to a holistic end? The argument in the mainstream media from the NPP side is that the timing of “District Four Five” is bad. And I think it is true. Considering that the EC has to ensure a very accurate electoral register, monitor elections in all the new districts, not forgetting that they also have to hold new elections in the previous districts, place new names on the ballot and print all ballot papers in time for the elections, it seems a tall order. Political parties must also put time aside to go through their processes of selection and voting as well as allow time for candidates to campaign. Any half decent project manager will tell you have too many constraints. Best to re-plan, re-think and defer to a more manageable date.

Besides, where will these 45 new MPs sit? I suppose it does not matter that much, because our Parliamentarians hardly show up for work in the House anyway. From the NDC side, they claim it will ensure constituents are not disenfranchised. I can understand that line of argument, but it presumes that there are persons who are currently not represented at constituent level. This is clearly not the case. Every Ghanaian is today represented in Parliament. It is not the quantity of our governance; it is the quality of the representation we have to accept.

The decision has to be whether we are managing at the District level financially, with adequate infrastructure in place to produce economically viable units at that level. Can’t we tell that the urban drift is because there is no work at the district and town level? That there is inadequate employment and spending to attract and retain the youth, keep them employed and occupied with a future, if they choose to stay in the towns and villages?

We have urban drift. Accra, Kumasi, Koforidua and Takoradi are choked with poor sanitation, reckless housing, terrible water supply and temperamental electricity delivery. Why on Ghana earth do we want to create more districts we cannot manage and finance? Why create the administrative and economic nightmares? We don’t even have enough human resource to manage the existing districts yet another 45. There is a better way to do this and it is not by crossing political swords.

The NDC make the point that this is a decision by both sides, and the NPP say they are not against the new districts. So what do the people of Ghana want? And I have stayed away from the legal wrangling.

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

Columnist: Casely-Hayford, Sydney