Just Promise Us Anything

Mon, 8 Oct 2012 Source: Casely-Hayford, Sydney

Critical News, 7th October 2012

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

Pothole, potholes. Once the rains come down, potholes grow everywhere in Accra. Places I have driven to many times have grown large craters and they are multiplying. I trundled to Dome over the weekend on my way to the Black Rasta, Ras Kimono reggae concert in Aburi and there were potholes like amoeba chains all over the road and even the ramps in Christian Village. The ramps meant to slow you down to save lives have got potholes right in the middle, so you have to avoid that part of the ramp and the gutter or ditch on the side. I know we have a say here in Ghana that we do not have a maintenance culture, but that is just a translation from the real meaning that we do not make available enough funds to continue to maintain roads once we make them. Look on the George Bush highway, just recently finished. Within the first month after it was commissioned, someone crashed into a pole and collapsed it onto the middle walk lane. It is still lying there destroyed, seven months later, no attempt to drag it away, if we can’t fix it. Pedestrians maneuver their way around it as they dodge the oncoming traffic.

On that Highway, will Urban Roads ever get round to providing more crossing points for pedestrians? I think someone promised this would be done three months after the road was completed.

And that is what we do. We make promises to the taxpayer, because we know that come the next 4-year cycle, gullible instrumentalist voters will rally round the small political chop money being spread and wait for the next consignment of new promises. The Ghanaian taxpayer is the most short-changed I know.

So this week, I am being lazy. I googled 2 finds. “John Mahama+Promises”, Nana Akuffo Addo+promises”. Interesting stuff.

President John Dramani Mahama has assured the rank and file of the NDC of leading the party to victory in the December elections. In Juapong, The President explained that all development projects started under the late President Evans Atta Mills’ administration would be completed to improve the socio-economic lives of the people. He said plans were far advanced to revamp the Volta Star Textile Factory at Juapong, as government would soon ensure that investors take over the factory to make it more viable. At the National Best Teacher’s award, the President promised to build houses for teachers next year. He said the project will be prioritized to help solve some of the major problems faced by teachers. He said instructions have been given to the GETFUND to ensure this is done. In the Western Region in August, President John Mahama was reported as saying he is the Joshua who will take the people of Ghana to the promised land. When he got to Chorkor, President John Mahama promised to improve the living conditions of the fishermen and fishmongers in Chorkor, a fishing community in Accra. The President made this promise on the last leg of his ‘Thank you tour’ to the people in the area. According to him, the fishermen would receive new outboard motors the following week. This was in September. Addressing a durbar of chiefs and people in Tamale, President Mahama reiterated government’s commitment to resolving the Dagbon chieftaincy conflict, but Secretariat spokesperson, Mahama Shaibu rebuffed that, saying “We were promised that the NDC will establish a presidential commission to look into it and now they are talking about resolving the issue? Are they going to resolve the issue devoid of arresting the perpetrators of the Ya-Na?” President John Mahama pledged to personally help find a lasting solution to the several chieftaincy disputes in the Greater Accra Region. Speaking in a meeting with the Greater Accra Regional House of Chiefs at the Castle the President says some appear to have been resolved, he says more needs to be done to end such crises. Addressing party supporters during the manifesto launch in the Volta Regional town of Ho, last Thursday, President John Dramani Mahama said when the NDC retains power, it will permanently solve the problem of load shedding, adding that the vision of the government is to produce 5,000 megawatts of power by 2015.

And what is in Nana Addo’s arsenal to compete? The flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), promised to introduce stiffer punishment that will make corruption unattractive and very expensive at all levels of the society when he is voted into power. Again, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has promised to ensure that Ghanaian students get access to free education in public universities by the end of his tenure as President. Next on his bill, he has promised all Ghanaians of a grand plan by his government to “wipe out illiteracy” in Ghana, when voted to power in 2012. His government will make quality education really free, compulsory and highly accessible to every child, from nursery to Senior High school level. At Akyem Osenase, Asamankese, Akanteng, Kobriso, Brekumanso and Ekoso (all in lower West Akyem Constituency) as part of his “restoration of hope” tour of the Eastern Region, he said “A government under my presidency will reduce poverty and create wealth for Ghanaians as a measure of improving the quality of their lives”. Nana Akufo-Addo also assured them that he would not abolish small-scale mining as being speculated in certain quarters by his political opponents. He said instead, he would modernise the system to create more employment avenues for the masses.

Now all this is only from the first 2 pages of my Google search and in no order of importance.

But we cannot leave this article without a follow up on the District creation thing, which is what it has become, because no one I talk to understands the purpose of all this partisan wrangling by the NDC and NPP. CI78 was still riddled with mistakes and even when Parliament’s own committee pointed out the mistakes, the majority in Parliament still went ahead to put it to the vote and passed an error-ridden law. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court started hearing the case on several fronts. My understanding is that the Supreme Court can now actually declare it bad law. Good for democracy, no?

We found cannabis at Heathrow, Cannabis in a taxi on its way to Asesiue from Accra and a Rastaman in the Volta Region was arrested for cultivating a large wee farm. Could it be that there is money in cultivating and exporting wee? Maybe legally? as a non-traditional export crop? I am just saying.

There has been a lot of noise this week about President Mahama’s corruption status. Politics as usual, the NPP trying to discredit him, either directly or through his brother Ibrahim, who spent some money on a fifteen minute advertisement at 9pm, Thursday on GTV to showcase his operations and debunk an alleged cover up by his older brother (the President) regarding the ghc57million facility with Merban. All interesting stuff, but yet to develop into a real political game-changer.

Rawlings was in Ho for the NDC manifesto launch. All I remember were his closing remarks, “ma no e si”. If it were anybody else it would mean his lips are sealed. JJ? Keep guessing. He still has not shown his hand whether Konadu or NDC. Meanwhile the NDP is yet to go to congress to endorse Nana Konadu. We stay focused.

If you receive this article online, you can click on the links and read the stories yourself. Most of the links are lost in print. Apologies.

Paa Kwesi Ndoum promised to lay bare his personal and business tax returns and assets. I agree. But not him alone, it must involve all presidential aspirants. Both Nana and Mahama must meet the minimum disclosure requirements as per the law and they should all make it public in a national daily. This is a sine qua non in a true democracy and if you respect the people you govern. Vice Presidents are not excluded.

The last word is for Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Communication as he urges the Ghanaian media to be up and doing by questioning critically, statements made by politicians adding that “the media should have questioned Nana Akuffo Addo when he indicated he was going to fund the free educational promise on corruption money”.

Sure, so why worry? Just go ahead and promise the voters anything and everything. You can always come back and blame your predecessor for not leaving a good enough legacy to enable you to fulfill the promises. In Ghana it is a workable excuse.

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

Columnist: Casely-Hayford, Sydney