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Letter from the President: Last Curtain Call

Mon, 28 Jan 2008 Source: Daily Dispatch

Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, I have some bad news for you. I’m very sad to inform you that this should be my last missive to you. I’ve pondered over this for months and I think I’m making a good decision. In fact, I thank God that I have finally come to this decision.

You see, I’m a very busy man and with my term of office almost at an end, my schedule keeps getting tighter. I am therefore compelled to cut out a few of the ‘useless’ things I do so I can focus on my ‘core business”, which does not really include writing letters to you. So this is my last. I may pop one in the mail box every now and then but my letters are not going to be as regular as they’ve been in the past four years.

I’m sorry you are not going to hear from me in a long while. But let me say that it’s been a wonderful experience – writing to you and reading from you. I enjoyed every letter I wrote and every response I got from you was a pleasure to read. I know for sure that there is great need for regular communication between the excellent one and the citizenry. I will recommend to the next president to be writing to you – if he has time. At the very least, I think the next president should present monthly (and, if possible, weekly) broadcasts to the citizens – allowing questions and answers over a 90-minute period. Whoever says this is impossible will be lying to you. Trust me. The president has a lot of time on his hands and he isn’t the busiest man in the country as some of my officials will have you believe.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve travelled the length and breadth of the country cutting tapes. Yes, simply cutting tapes to commission (or some say, inaugurate various projects). Within one week, I commissioned a hotel, a road and a football park. A busy president doesn’t have time to waste on petty things like this. But the point is that in my last term of office, I need to be doing more of such tape cuttings to assert my legacy. Had it not been for me, would there have been a stadium in a hamlet like Essipon? This being an election year, tape cutting also sends some positive signals to the electorate.

However, I hope to God that the next president will not waste time on petty things like tape cuttings and that he would consciously make time to engage with the citizens in whatever way possible but in a manner which is way better than the ‘People’s Assembly’. Yeah, we held one in Takoradi last week and as usual it was a praise-singing arena for my excellent self. It should not continue like that under the next president. The idea, I think, is good in principle – that people should be afforded an opportunity to have face-to-face interactions with their president. But as we’ve seen, the assembly has been turned into a forum for needless, sycophantic praise-singing and unrestrained begging. I’m tired of people asking me to provide them with fishing nets and goats. So I’m hoping that the next president will continue to engage with the people in one way or another but definitely not with the same people’s assembly format I’ve used for the past few years.

Interacting with the people is not the only suggestion I have for the next president.

I’d like the next president to make the welfare of the people his number one priority. I’ve done a lot of silly things in power – all in an effort to make life a bit easy for the next president (so that he doesn’t do the silly things I did). For example, we have spent large sums of money building a new presidential palace. All of that money could have been spent building a first class hospital that can be compared with the very best in Hamburg, London or Toronto. I decided that we need a presidential mansion instead of a health facility. We’ve also spent a lot of money to host a major football tournament, without actually knowing how much we’d get in return – except, of course, the so-called legacy projects like the stadium in Essipon. The least said about the money for last year’s independence anniversary, the better. And, oh, you may also consider all the money I spent on my favourite pastime – travelling. I believe that the next president will be able to look upon all the money I’ve misspent and think about how it could have been used to improve the lives of the people.

There are many efficient ways of spending scarce resources for the welfare of the people. Creating jobs for the boys is definitely not one of them. The next president should therefore not do as I’ve done – appointing too many ministers and deputy ministers and special assistants to the ministers as well as special assistants to the special assistants of the ministers. If the next president gets rid of all the useless hangers-on, he’d truly be seeking the interest of the people.

If he also travels less than I’ve done, he’d be doing himself (and the people of Sikaman) a lot of good. For now, that’s all I have to say to the next president.

As this is my last letter, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who took time to read my writings. Some of you were even kind enough to write back. I really enjoyed reading from you. Some letters were very civil, offering completely different perspectives on some of the issues I wrote about and forcing me to rethink some of the positions I had taken. Others, however, were very insulting, displaying an alarming lack of intolerance and tribal bigotry. But I took everything in good faith. I believe that we are all learning. Tolerance is a habit and it needs time to be developed. So I hope for the best. I wish you well and may God bless us all.

You’ll miss me,
J. A. Fukuor

Columnist: Daily Dispatch