Opinions Sat, 2 Mar 2013
– Part 1Anybody who professes to be a master of all but seriously was an empty vessel, naturally turns out to be a master of nothing. Such a person should be scorned. One could master in several trades but chooses to specialize in either one or two and have general knowledge about the others, but if he persistently claims to be a master with the same level of proficiency in say, all the five or seven trades/ professions, obviously, that person would naturally turn out to be a master of nothing. Similarly, that is the situation most Ghanaians find our current president without the author being an exception. It looks like that he has bitten more than he can chew. The promises are extraordinary. They are just fake campaign promises and I therefore entreat my fellow compatriots never to take them serious. The numerous developmental projects and other faculties of infrastructure cannot be supported by even the economy of the United States of America within the 4-year term of office. No, never! However, Ghanaians in their abject poverty-stricken posture suddenly awoke last Thursday, February 21, 2013, i.e. by my time piece, 10.08 hours GMT to be glued to their radio/television sets for a ceremonial lecture by HE the President, John Dramani Mahama, for the State of the Nation Address. This took some 1 hour and 20 minutes. Because the whole lecture programme was sort of repetitive and monotonous in style and nature, some of the NDC MPs from the president’s own backyard, were even captured by most televisions cameras covering the event napping on the floor of parliament. Even some of them may have gotten to the extent of snoring mood as a result of boredom. President Mahama, until Tuesday afternoon 14.15 hours of July 24, 2012, (as stated by the ex Chief of Staff, Henry Martey Newman) when luck smiled at him to be gifted with the presidency, had been an honourable member of parliament for Bole-Bamboi, in the Northern Region for consecutive 16 years since 1992-2008. In 2008, he became the luckiest running mate to the late president, Prof. J.E.A. Mills, after his two other comrades, Mr. Martin Amidu -2000 and Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, 2004, had unsuccessfully fallen by the wayside through electoral defeats when they partnered the late professor for the two previous general elections. These references had become necessary because whilst he was the MP for his constituency, was unable to catch the ears of his former boss, ex-president, John Rawlings first during the 8 years period to beg for the construction of the 50 kilometer horrible road that took some two hours to make into a first-class road. Thereafter, whiles still the unchallenged MP, woefully could not again seek the ears of ex-president John Kufuor for the road network linking the two major towns, Bole-Bamboi – a distance of supposedly not more than the above, had to wait for years on end till luck finally beckoned on the constituents for the road network to be made possible.
STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS OR BUILDING CASTLES IN THE AIR
As someone puts it, the State of the Nation Address was completely different from the state of the nation. The one pertaining to the address, expresses the wishes and aspirations of exactly what the government of the day has been able to do and further hopes to achieve or better the grade during its tenure of office. These and other vital economic ventures beneficial to the entire populace are those, that in context, should be laid bare on the table for deliberations by the entire parliament and the general public. But in the instant case, the address for about an hour and half or so by the president yesterday, Thursday, February 21, was some propaganda gimmick very often associated with the NDC as a corporate body and nothing more. The president was however seen as being on a campaign platform doing a rally for votes but not what he was supposed to do to impress anybody mindful of enhancing his livelihood. If anything at all, his oratorical skills could be a little above average. The pith of the message was nothing to write home about let alone arouse the interest of the masses and bring back the hope -lessness position many people find themselves. When many people want good and better health care delivery system, he went on to say that all the regional capitals would be upgraded to teaching hospitals whereas doctors’ salaries and allowances still remained ‘Boakye bi din’. Till date, the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission have not yet woken up from their slumber to do active business. They continue to be stillborn children. They only delight in 4-wheeled drive air-condition vehicles and no serious work to think about the plight of those who would do the main job for the realization of the main dream. Today, it is the turn of doctors, tomorrow will be the turn of pharmacists; next time however, it will obviously be the turn of UTAG/POTAG. The perpetual plight of teachers in basic and second-cycle schools continues unabated and an albatross on the neck of government. Are we very serious at all as a nation called Ghana? Someone should tell me now how these perennial problems of this and that would cease forthwith.
STATE OF THE NATION GHANA
As the Nation Ghana stands now, Ghana is at the crossroads. The country is divided on party lines. Both the NDC and NPP are more than cat and dog co-existence. Ghanaians are living like cat and mouse or fowl and grain of corn. Politically, there are myriad of problems that currently confront her to the extent that many, many Ghanaians have felt disenchanted, disillusioned and dispirited even to be called Ghanaians but cannot, otherwise, choose to be called Togolese. And it is all because of the problems that could, when given the right nod and sense of direction by a well focused, purposeful and performing government, under the dynamic and able leadership of a bold and pragmatic personality who could easily hold the bull by the horn, would, in fact, surely make the numerous problems facing the country, become a thing of the past. One of the most salient and sterling points that should be condemned unequivocally is the claim by the president is the bluff that he is the ‘elected’ president of the Republic whereas this delicate matter was before the Supreme Court for determination and adjudication. Does he want us to believe the adage that like father, like son should definitely apply here in this scenario? Gone were the days when the late professor always insinuated, thus; whether you like it or not, I am the president; and only one president that I am. If the president has to date, not had time to consult with his political analysts/advisers, he should, by all intents and purposes, better refrain from holding his undeserved claim. Wait till you are proclaimed by the outcome of the verdict of the SC. It is unconstitutional. It is illogical. It is incongruous, just to quote his ‘own man’. Even though you have been sworn into office as president, that doesn’t flatly give you a licence or blanket approval and also the fact that some other serious minded contestants for the elections had seen wisdom and taken upon themselves to contest the credibility or otherwise of the irregularities and other malpractices fraught with that particular elections, you have no repeat no, authority nonetheless as Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, to lay hold to such claim until the outcome of the determination had been so declared by the Supreme Court. He should be given serious, rigid and right lectures in political science to be abreast with the current national and international trends and norms of political science in its entity as envisaged by our national constitution.
The first and most important of the utilities which Ghanaians have been yawning for regular service is water, because water is life. The second on the list of the endless list is electricity. Electricity as the most and major component and essential ingredient of energy has not been well with all persons living in the country. The ‘dum so, dum so’, syndrome, has now become a household hymn sung by all Ghanaians and foreigners alike living in Ghana. And since energy with electricity in quotes, was the major factor and engine of growth for all the manufacturing concerns in Ghana, one actually expected that soon after the mention of water, the president’s posture would have been apologetic and illustrative enough to appease all those whose businesses revolved round electricity for forgiveness or fatherly apology but failed woefully to appreciate their incapacitation and near collapse. Despite that health for all Ghanaians should have been a source of worry to this government, the president danced round the salient points and stated that so many hospitals would be upgraded; health posts would be constructed bla, bla, bla. Fine and fantastic! But what was actually needed and most important was the fact that he did not state that he would put his feet down and lash at the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission to end their bluff against the medical doctors and pharmacists in public hospitals who periodically hold Ghanaians to ransom because of disparity in salaries so as to ensure that their migration onto the SSSS umbrella should take place or become effective soon after he had read his 1 hour 20 minutes sermon on the Mount Carmel. Have many people realized the spate of fires that have taken toll of lives since the beginning of the year? How about the strange carnage on our roads since the year began that claimed the lives of two University of Ghana undergraduate female students – Ms. Fobih and a friend? What about the rate of committal of suicide by helpless and hopeless people who have regretted being Ghanaians under this government? The least talked about divorce of all proportions in Ghana today, leaves much to be desired. These and many more incidents are really the ongoing events and happenings in the country that almost everybody thought the president would talk about but decided to dodge the truth on the ground. Did anybody hear him say that the FWSC should compulsorily migrate doctors onto the SSSS system within 24 hours or what? If he never ventured to say anything like that about that subject matter, what, then, actually prevented him from saying that instead of the gesticulations as if he were hypnotized on a campaign platform rattling for party support and firm conviction for votes to win political power? Why the total silence about the mountains of filth that had engulfed Ghana in unreasonable and unprecedented proportions?
Was he only interested in the upgrade of the salaries of MPs for Gh¢7,500. 00/p.m.; Deputy Ministers Gh¢9,000. 00/p.m.; Ministers about to take some Gh¢10,500.00/p.m.; the Vice President giggling and laughing with a basket in hand for Gh¢11,000.00/p.m. and he, himself with an unprecedented gargantuan basket (‘froto’, the straw bag whose content is twice as much as the largest size of the Ghana must go bag) to take home some Gh¢12,000.00/p.m. Probably, as he might rank the second highest in the sub-region whilst the country continues to have myriad of strange problems; does this rather fascinate the government much more instead of grappling with the most essential problems confronting the nation now? Is that what we call good governance or he was just rattling the Queen’s English on a campaign platform for applause with the usual slogan “Ye be dii keke”? We are so tired of such rhetoric Papa Dramani Mahama. Since there is eternal judgment one day for us all, it is all well and good for him. Personally, there was virtually no point to say all that he said without first arresting the salient factors that retarded the work output of the doctors and their comfort before embarking on the gargantuan projects (hospitals and other para-medical facilities) to accommodate them, acquire their day-to-day working tools et cetera before expecting the end result that was maximum productivity.
Why this shameful stance? Someone should stand up from amongst the crowd to be counted as a hero or heroine. Do we know that both the third and fourth year students will be writing their WASSCE exams in March-April-May-June this year? What classrooms are there for the exams? Have the third year students been able to complete their syllabus/syllabi sufficiently enough to be able to compete effectively with their fourth years? Have they been thought of in the upcoming budget sooner than later to be read by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr. Tekper? What future holds for these youthful persons? Has the WAEC made sufficient arrangement with the examiners/markers re their remunerations or they will have to finish and wait for such allowances? Do we have more than enough examiners or markers other than the usual ones and have their allowances and remunerations been bettered, worked out as at now or some magic wands await them after the next elections? Do we have any more classrooms for them? Why does the government headed by Mr. Mahama not call off his bluff and/or make nonsense of his late master’s campaign promise by re-strategizing the current three years second cycle education to four years again as the insistence by the NDC to their adamant 3 years would jeopardize the fate of the millions of students in a couple of years to come if Ghanaians should allow them to remain in power? Why, why, why? It was rather unfortunate that the president was very silent on the number of students who will pour out of our second cycle schools and technical/vocational institutions this year i..e. by the end of July. Apart from the technical/vocational institutions, between 450,000 and 500,000 students of both sexes will be pouring out of our second cycle institutions as well as the private schools. Without any act of exaggeration close to 750,000 students will be initially roaming the streets of the cities and the urban areas before their results start trickling in. And the saddest thing about the whole incident that does not prick any decent mind at all in government was that the public tertiary institutions we always pride ourselves as the Gateway to Africa to have are just five - the University of Ghana, Legon, with a maximum intake of freshers for Level 100 entrants will not be more than 30,000; the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi’s best intake will be 25,000. Then turning back to Cape Coast where, probably with the water problem and perennial water shortages made better and somewhat solved to make life a little bit easier and meaningful, with new faculties such as medicine, law and a couple of others; could only absorb some 30,000. Then, of course, the UCEW – University College of Education, Winneba, will reluctantly take some 25,000 with some tens of thousands doing their learning from home by means of on-line or distant education facility, still leaves many students in hopeless and abject situation because the best the UDS - University of Development Studies, situated at both Tamale and Nyankpala in the Northern Region can conveniently grasp should not be more than 20,000 mainly, due to the weather conditions that occasionally, does not favour the southerners going upcountry. In all, the maximum, our five State Universities can take for the October – May semester stands at 130,000 but not more. I stand for correction but would like the five institutions to come out with the total number of their fresh intakes yearly so that we know the students who will become ‘orphan students’. Out of this number, believe, you me, the protocol list will exhaust more than half. And did we go or did we come? This pidgin English is often said by one 2nd World War veteran who normally lectures me about his experiences and ordeals whilst in Burma on that fateful British Government expedition often says. It is really a pity! Assuming, the total intakes as per my estimates come true, the number of students that still remain stands at 620,000.The tertiary students who, due to employment freeze, have formed an association known as ‘Association of Un- employed Graduates” do not click as the government has no regard for them. Has anybody in the Mahama-Amissah Arthur dreamt to have some foresight or any business for them to do till the next fresh intake in 2014? Or, better still, we should leave them; as ‘wo be dii keke”.
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Columnist: Appiah, Kofi