Letter from the President: Shut it, Jerry

Fri, 11 May 2007 Source: Daily Dispatch

Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, I heard that Jerry Boom has started speaking by heart again. His latest outburst, the newspapers have reported, was in The Hague at a ‘lecture’ to commemorate Africa Day. I will get to the substance of what he said (or did not say) shortly. But I want to know, why anyone would invite Jerry Boom to address a gathering to commemorate Africa Day in April when the day actually falls on May 25? I mean Jerry is not exactly an expert on African affairs and I doubt whether his knowledge of the continent is as deep as his expertise in coup-making. So I smell a little rat whenever I think about that fact that someone actually sat down and hastily arranged a conference and invited him as guest speaker on ‘African affairs’ in an important city like The Hague. From what I’ve read in the newspapers, I think seriously that those who organised the conference had an ulterior motive, which was to give the man a platform to either embarrass himself or to speak ill of me.

As things turned out, he did an excellent job of both. As usual, he used the platform to lambaste my government for being the worst he’s ever seen in Africa. In Jerry’s eyes, my government does not respect human rights, we are corrupt and we are totally insensitive to the hardship our people face. That’s fair criticism, I believe. As embarrassing as his comments may be to my government, I am glad that we didn’t treat him like he treated former heads of states and that he’s alive and strong enough to be going around the world, saying whatever he likes.

But Jerry did more than criticise my government with his Hague lecture. After he had spoken so bitterly against my government, he also reportedly proclaimed that Sikaman could “explode” anytime soon because the very conditions that made him stage two coups in the 1970s are still prevalent today. Details of his remarks are very sketchy. But with his track record, I don’t think it’s ever beyond Jerry Boom to say the things he’s been quoted as saying. He has used the ‘explosion’ euphemism on so many occasions that using it one more time (in a foreign land) will not be so difficult for him to do. After all, you repeatedly say what you strongly believe in. The man believes that our nation could explode and he has a right to say what he thinks. However, this is where I think, he succeeded in making an ass of himself.

You see, I worry about the state of the nation – like everyone of the 20 million citizens of Sikaman. Sometimes, I seriously feel we are going into the abyss. This energy crisis is a mess. At any given point in time, half the country is plunged into darkness. Industries are collapsing or scaling back their expansion plans because there is no electricity. No one in this country is happy with the power rationing (except, of course, those of us who are privileged enough to be in government and are supplied with generators and free fuel). To add insult to injury, I got up the other day and witlessly asked people to face the crisis with confidence – as if prizes will be given to those who exhibit the most tenacious survival instinct in the darkness. And what worries me most is the fact that I can’t make rain fall into the Akosombo Dam and I can’t provide instant electricity and therefore, me and my government, appear to be in no haste to resolve the problem.

I am also not happy that despite the much touted economic gains, people are still crying about the lack of money in their pockets. I especially become very distressed when I see that upon all the cries of the people, a privileged few (mostly in government) are becoming richer with each passing day. I don’t exactly lose sleep over it, but I am also not happy that almost every week one group of workers or another goes on strike to demand better pay or improved service conditions or both; doctors today, health workers tomorrow. Factory workers today, office clerks tomorrow.

Indeed, our country faces numerous challenges, which, I am sorry to say, I cannot resolve. In fact, I am very glad that very soon I will be leaving office for someone else to come and carry the burdens of this nation on his shoulders. So I share in everyone’s (including Jerry Boom’s) frustrations that this country is not moving forward as fast as we’d all like. And anyone has the right to criticise, condemn and lambaste government anywhere, anyhow. But those who will be taken serious are those who tend to criticise and offer alternative solutions – not those who criticise needlessly and fail to offer alternatives, choosing rather to issue veiled threats and engage in needless scare-mongering. In fact, it seems to me that Jerry Boom is the only person who criticises and issues threats.

There was a time when I used to get scared when I heard Jerry Boom speaking about explosions, implosions, gun shots, fire power or anything that has to do with coup-making. I believe there were many other citizens who felt the same. Not anymore. We are wiser now and we know for sure that Jerry Boom is a toothless bulldog; he can’t bite. And we are all tired of his ‘Sikaman will explode speeches’. I wish he’d change his style a bit.

You see, sometimes – I sincerely believe – our former president means well. Jerry Boom wants the best for this country. But sometimes he gets too passionate and, need I say, irrational with his arguments that I find it difficult (almost impossible) to take him serious. It’s easier for me to end up thinking that he just takes an inordinate delight in “speaking by heart.” But someone should please tell my predecessor that he should change his style a bit. He should be more diplomatic and less belligerent. He should learn to be an elder statesman and he should surround himself with sound counsellors. In fact, he should strive to keep his mouth shut, unless it’s extremely important that he speaks. And when he does speak, please he should stop threatening us with coups. We have had enough.

Damn! I can’t wait to show Jerry how an ex-president should carry himself.

Excellently yours,

J. A. Fukuor

Columnist: Daily Dispatch