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Opinions Wed, 9 Nov 2005

Mr. President, thanks for the tea cup

When I wrote the article titled Hotel Kuffuor ....the Second Stanza, I was completely unaware of the response the article was going to elicit. Subsequent to the publication of the article, I have been very encouraged that an overwhelming majority of respondents have resoundingly condemned the chicanery of the government, but I have also received some withering negative responses.

I have received all sorts of negative responses ranging from being called an Ewe idiot to one who did not understand anything about the principles of modern economics and the new global world economic order.

Those 2 accusations stuck out at me, because nothing could be farther from the truth. For a half Ga, half Akyem lad who was blessed with a relatively good education, the notion that a destitute country like ours which has to beg for cash to augment its annual budget should spend its hard earned taxpayers money on such ludicrous expeditions boggles my mind.

I did not learn anywhere that there was a new economic world order that defied common sense. I did not learn anywhere that there was any theory of modern economics that states that if you are the president of a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) like Ghana which professes to possess scant resources, you should take those resources, misappropriate them in a manner devoid of all foresight, institutionalize pillaging of the very resources by you and your cohorts and then inform your citizenry to look to the sky, watch and pray.

This type of economics is very simple to understand because it is the economics of Kleptocracy. Mr. Kuffuor and his gang of ?merry men" remind me of a hymn that was very popular when we were but students, and it goes like this

"Christian seek not yet repose,

Hear thy guardian angel say,

Thou art in the midst of foes,

WATCH AND PRAY"

In one breath, he tells us that we should buckle our belts harder because times are hard, very hard indeed.

He tells us that we should understand why he needed to turn the Ghanaian into one of the most overtaxed and under paid species on this planet.

He tells us that we should understand why the cost of living in Ghana is so unbearable.

He tells us we should understand that our country is so broke, civil servants, doctors, lawyers, nurses, policemen, engineers, teachers and other professionals whose contribution to this nation is vital to the strength of our economy cannot enjoy a decent standard of living.

He tells us that our children in the universities have to sleep 8 to a room and have lectures outside because there simply are no resources to build new hostels.

He tells us that it is ok for the old, the young and the infirm to die needlessly because we cannot afford the necessary preventive and diagnostic resources that will save so many lives.

If we dare to complain, the "merry men" quickly tell us that we should stop complaining because the "Sasabonsam" Jerry Rawlings and the NDC are around the corner.

In another breath he tells us that it is ok for him, his family and his merry men to line their pockets with the proceeds of institutionalized corruption, nepotism, cronyism and downright skullduggery.

He tells us that it is ok for him to assemble 47 of his most trusted echo bunnies and board an aircraft to see the premiere of a documentary starring chimpanzees and gibbons in which he played a supporting actor's role.

All of this was at enormous expense to.....you guessed it! The suffering, overburdened, tax paying citizenry of Ghana, whose everyday existence has been turned into a battle of rubble and bleached bones by the voodoo economics that this government has pursued.

Then he tells us that we should have blind faith, and trust that everything is going to be alright. Everything is going to be just alright.

Anyone who is in doubt that the frivolously expensive movie ticket that the president and his gang of 47 bought to Washington was a monumental waste of the Ghanaian taxpayer's resources should read what "Baghdad Bob" Kwabena Agyepong, the president's press spokesman said. He outlined what he thought constituted some of the palpable benefits of the trip. Kwabena Agyepong is fast building a reputation cast in the mould of fabled Mr. Sakamoto; the swimming teacher who taught people how to swim but never knew how to swim himself. Kwabena Agyepong is making the _expression "square peg in round hole" look like a truism. His penchant for bungling the defense of his boss when he finds himself in a sticky situation is now the subject of legend. From the Hotel Kuffuor debacle through the per diem scandal, to the present issue at hand, the arrogantly intemperate Kwabena "Bob" has shown a tremendous ineffectiveness in his stated objective to turn some of the president's lemons into lemonade. Instead he has managed to effect cock up after monumental cock up that could only make the president's political opponents just lick their chops.

Kwabena in an interview that can best be described as the musings of a bombastic windbag, boasted thus; "President Kuffuor, the first African president to be recognized for his exemplary leadership of diversity and inclusion was presented with crystal urn (large tea or coffee container) custom-made by an exclusive designer, by Coca Cola." This statement alone should tell the discerning amongst us that Kwabena ?Bob" was unable to enunciate any immediate dividends from the trip, save for the teacup which bore the hypothetical inscription "this teacup was awarded to President Kuffuor, the diversity and inclusion president". He was also unable to tell Ghanaians what to "Watch and Pray" for this time.

The truth of the matter is that this trip cost the nation billions of cedis.

The truth is that it was unnecessary for the president of Ghana to embark on this needless junket and the premiere of this documentary could have been organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism in conjunction with the Ghana Investment Promotion Council.

The truth is that this president and his gang of "merry men" will look for any opportunity to board an aircraft for the sake of per diem.

Some conservative estimates have the cost of the trip at over 9 billion cedis, if one takes into account first and business class airfares, luxury hotel bills in Washington and London, per diems and feeding expenses for 47 people. Unfortunately for the president, just like Osofo "Akwasi Amankwaa" of Ghanaian folklore, who preaches one thing and does another, his flock are becoming increasingly agnostic and he is finding it very difficult to convince the congregation that their blind faith is going to yield any palpable results.

His constant reminders that "Sasabonsam" is just around the corner is now drowning amidst the sea of realization that he himself is at the cusp of all that is going wrong in our country. Ghanaians are becoming increasingly convinced that he and his gang of ?merry men" simply have no grasp of how to fix our problems, do not give a rat's behind about the plight of ordinary Ghanaians, or a combination of both. People are now wondering whether this was the same man who promised all manner of things but has only delivered them to his family and bunch of "merry men".

Whilst no one in his right mind will suggest that a president should not embark on foreign trips, this president's 54 trips outside the country have an underlying theme that is making most Ghanaians squirm. An underlying theme that most of the trips are frivolous exercises in institutionalized kleptocracy, An underlying theme that most of the trips are fraught with lavish spending that is of little benefit to Ghanaians, An underlying theme that the man's sole aim for entering politics was to better his and his family's lot alone.

All the money that is bilked from the consolidated fund to finance these needless junketing trips can be utilized to ease the suffering of Ghanaians and help promote an enabling environment for those so called investors that the president claims to be wooing.

If our children are better educated to take advantage of burgeoning opportunity, If our middle class literati are better paid, so that they do not leave the country en masse, If we develop our human resource capacity to deal with the challenges of the 21st century, If we take steps to create a legal system that ensures justice for all irrespective of tribe or creed, If we give our citizenry the kind of tax breaks that will kick start the kind of spending that will boot our economy, If we encourage Ghanaians living abroad to return home and create businesses with tax incentive packages instead of taxing them through the nose when they bring their cars to the nation's ports, If we recognize that it is better for wealth to be distributed amongst the middle class in Ghana rather than for the Commissioner of CEPS to come on TV with a sheepish grin to tell us that he has exceeded the revenue collection targets the government set for him, If we invest in infrastructure that! will make potential investors unafraid to invest their precious capital in our country??..

I could go on and on and on but I won't. I hope that President Kuffuor has saved up all the air miles he has logged on British Airways for the next president because it could be utilized to save the Ghanaian taxpayer some money; money that can be used to achieve more realizable economic goals.

Last but not least, on behalf of every Ghanaian who woke up today and didn't have a job, on behalf of every Ghanaian who lost a loved one today because there were no doctors or nurses to treat them when they got to the hospital, on behalf of every Ghanaian whose child came home from school today because there were no teachers, on behalf of every Ghanaian who could not afford a decent meal for himself and his family, on behalf of every Ghanaian who woke up in a kiosk that was floating on the Odaw River, on behalf of every Ghanaian who could not pay his electricity bill today, I would like to extend my most profound thanks to the president for winning.

Thank you very much Sir, for being a winner.... winning the teacup that is!



Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Quaye, Rikard