About 16years ago, in primary four I recall my class teacher citing two scenarios; to do with “demanding” respect and “commanding” respect. Then, I could not draw any real life experiences to suit those two contexts, but my conclusion then was, to “demand” respect only smacks of gross inferiority. I am moved to write this piece, after a long break, thanks to the recent Metro TV discussion that almost exploded, due to Hannah Bissiw, the Deputy Minister for Works and Housing’s demand to be addressed with “H”onourable (with an emphatic “H”). As I ponder over the transcripts of the discussion, I am amazed at how relevant my childhood class lessons have become to our modern democracy.
Back in the days, we used to joke about the fact that less performing secondary schools always the title “GREAT” before their names (I am not responsible for anyone’s examples), while the likes of Pojoss, Presec, Gey Hey etc, choose to run around flatly with their basic names. All these are beginning to make sense to me now. For the benefit of those that I am losing by my twirling, Hannah Bissiw demanded for Kweku Kwarteng to address her with her titles during a debate on Metro TV, else she would not allow him to make his submission.
I do not totally disagree with Hannah, on her claim, especially considering the fact that apart from twisting Kwaku’s arm to address her by “her” title, she would probably not command that anywhere else.
After the appointments of Ministers by the NDC administration in March 2009, Hannah Bissiw stood out clearly as one of the square pegs, struggling to be fitted in a round hole. Then again, I thought to myself, considering what Major Courage Quashigah did at the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Health, it would be woefully immature and irresponsible to conclude that a Veterinary Doctor would not be suited for second-in-command at the Works and Housing Ministry. We have seen it before in the country, and on a scene like this, where the sector minister is himself a civil engineer, it was not out of place to make Hannah Bissiw his deputy.
Then comes the discharge of duties, from evicting of Ministers of the past administration from Government bungalows, from description of the Ohene-Ntow “fried rice factory”, her conclusion of $20 million needed to curb flooding in Accra, allocating herself a Land-cruiser at the Ministry, Ghc 850,000 for renovating seven Ministerial bungalows and her involvement in the award of $10billion contract to a firm in South Korea to construct 200,000 affordable houses for Ghanaians.
To tone down a previously perceived abrasive piece, Hannah does not come anywhere to being called “H”onourable. In plain language, I have explained the basic steps needed to arrest flooding in Accra, without resorting to huge government budgets. Secondly, Ghc 850, 000 spent on seven houses works out as Ghc 121, 500(c 1.21billion) per house; and this was for renovation ONLY! Thirdly, sitting unconcerned, while $10billion is awarded to a Korean company to build affordable housing only shows insensitivity towards the plight of Ghanaians. From simple mathematics, each unit will cost $50,000 (Ghc 75,000) or c750milllion and yet these are called AFFORDABLE!?! The biggest secret is, Ghana’s nominal GDP per capita stands at $900.
Considering an ideal scenario, that the average family of four will take 15years interest free to purchase one “Affordable” house if they decide to go without food and drink, as well as keep their children out of school for all 15years. For all the reasons in the world, this Minister, who has wholly or partly been involved in this broad daylight robbery of Ghanaians, gross insensitivity and disregard for the plight of poor Ghanaians, still insists that she be addressed with the title, “H”onourable; in the words of my Rastafarian friends...”NOT I”. In my dictionary, any minister with no regard for the fact that our country is a poor country, and hence does not approach manning his/her sector with prudent, budget less-dependent alternative solutions does not merit the title “H”onourable.
In the case of Hannah, from her Rambo showdown in calling for the arrest of a driver in the full glare of the public’s eye, and also overturn a Taxi, who would address her with “honourable”?
For the greater part of my life, the only Prime Minister of Great Britain that I knew was Tony Blair. As I write now, I am still struggling to recall the titles that came with his name. What I conclude is, there is a silent “Honourable” that goes with calling H.E President Mills, “Mills” which Hannah Bissiw obviously admits to have clearly lost in the eyes of concerned Ghanaians, so no doubt she craves for the superficial “Honourable” which means nothing.
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