My Better Petition Through Asamankese

Mon, 15 Apr 2013 Source: Casely-Hayford, Sydney

Critical News, 14th April 2013

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

To really see how much of a task we have on our hands you must travel through Ghana. I met Adobea in the early hours of Wednesday morning. On my way back from the now imperative “old man early morning walk”, I stopped to buy Hausa Koko. On the corner just opposite First Stop Hotel on Asamankese main street, sandwiched between two JHS and Primary schools, she has chosen the ideal spot to inveigle the children’s fifty pesewa pieces as they saunter past to early morning class. Her icon is a set of worn-out car tires, vertically stacked just next to the vulcanizer’s air pressure machine. Every small town has one of these, a block-making stall, a carpenter making outrageously in-elegant sofa seats, the small central market and the eventually-accepted village dread-locks Rastaman constantly wandering out of the forest enclave; you dare not suggest that he is not spiritual. Hausa Koko costs twenty pesewas for a generous calabash full unlike Accra where you pay fifty pesewas for a mean potion and the tea bread is again half the price.

I slow down from my brisk pace ready to purchase, then I get this stench. A powerful mixture of rotting produce and human excrement. A Trotro honks loudly from behind and I all but stop in a hail of dust just near Adobea’s plastic covered koko container. I turn my head away from the dust and just there, I had not noticed it before, are two young ones poised squatting on heir heels, early morning business, right there on a pile of spreading plastic waste creeping closely to the koko stand. A few meters away from them a group of sheep is foraging for tasty lumps.

I move on quickly after the trotro takes off, forget the dust-spiced Hausa Koko with excrement flavoring and head to the hotel for something more sanitized and less nutritious. Later, I fond out the refuse dump at Asamankese is no different from elsewhere.

Throughout my journey from Volta to the Western Region, the menace is the same. No one has planned for refuse and solid waste management and even in Takoradi, the stench permeated through the hotel room, wafting nonchalantly through the open windows (because there was no power) unbridled and defiant, challenging me to a duel between it and heat. What can I say? Mi ma wo dum-so.

But you have to see the Galamsey pollution across the Western Region. No drama. We are in the most devastating ecological mess of our time. The forest is dying, the contaminated rivers are drying out, silted and slurried with chemicals that have decapitated tree tops even as they stand in the ground. You virtually see and feel the pollution as you drive through the attempts to complete the highways from Ayanfuri to Tarkwa and Takoradi and the roads cannot be any worse. We built the roads, tarred them and then left them to pothole away, not caring that a good road network will encourage economic activity between districts. From Ho, across the Adomi bridge finding our way through un-marked highways and streets, you need a driver who has passed by a few times to guide you to the next town. My four-day trip opened my eyes to the impossibilities. And I ask myself, when politicians are putting up their posters and sign boards, do they see what I saw? All over there were John Mahama and Nana Addo posters lining the roadsides making promises to lift us out of poverty and provide better conditions of life. That both parties have governed for at least eight recent years and we cannot free our poverty bondage, clearly we are pointing in the wrong direction. Too much talk, too much corruption, too little implementation and a derth of rural development. Why won’t the youth constantly drift to the big cities?

On Tuesday 16th April, we will start the Petition hearing proper. The NPP side has filed their affidavit in chief and the NDC side has been served. They have 5 days to respond and get their defense up. The six key points of the petition; (1) over-voting, (2) no signatures on pink sheets of Presiding officers or their attendants, (3) voting with no biometric verification, (4) same serial numbers on pink sheets with different poll results, (5) different results recorded on pink sheets in respect of polling stations with same polling station codes and (6) polling station locations not included in the origional 26,002 as determined by the EC before voting took place. In total, The NPP claim 4,637,305 votes are affected, which if corrected will change the results to JDM 39.17%, NADAA 59.55%. We shall see. Look at this table to get a quick overview. It makes interesting reading.

This Government has to stop making it the collective responsibility of Ghanaians to fix the “challenges we find ourselves in”. This is fast becoming the mantra of Government politicians, as if we woke up one morning and all our cocoa trees were gone. Ghana is not broke, the NDC Government has impoverished us. Ghana is not short of cash, the NDC Government spent all the cash we had, borrowed more and spent that too, without clearly telling us where the money at. This Government is behaving as though it is a new Government, discovering new pockets of problems every day. The reason the doctors are striking and Pharmacists and Nurses if they get a chance, is because Government spent ghc8.65 billion on itself and the party without thinking about the repercussions. The Doctor strike is not illegal because doctors are asking for more than they are entitled, they are asking Government to give them their due as negotiated through their employment of service. Yes, if prolonged, patients will suffer and some might become terminal, but did Government think about critical services before they spent fifteen million on Akonfem rather than pay doctors the ten million they owe? The public guilt rap being attached to Doctors is diversionary and unfair and this Government broke as it is, must meet its obligations. No cash is the root cause and that is where the blame lies.

I am relieved Finance Minister Seth Terkper realizes that when you have to negotiate to spread debt payments rather than pay a lump sum, you are cash broke.

Anyway, CHRAJ says they are starting an investigation into the Akonfem matter under sections 218, 286 and 287 of 1993 ACT456. Simultaneously, JDM has set up a small investigative body, made of Fiifi Kwetey (part of the problem), SADA officials (main culprits in the case) to report to him (the main protagonist with possible links to Asongtaba). If Kwesi Pratt is reading, this is what we call a conflict of interest. Another commission to look at the GYEEDA excesses and structural deficiencies as well as report on possible corruption is headed by Ferdinand Gunn of Ernst and Young. They have till the end of June to complete the work and report to Youth and Sports Minister, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah. I don’t know what to make of all this. The Constitution tasks the Council of State (Article 278,1,b) to instruct the President to set up commissions of enquiry in the public interest where they determine a need. So far zero from them. They see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing. We should withdraw ex-gratia.

The Jubilee Fields might start flaring gas soon; the gas we are queuing up to buy and need more, Ghana Gas Company has managed with systematic inefficiency to delay the project until it has now become necessary to waste the little we have. Mo.

And we finally found EC head Afrai Gyan. But this one was upset and swore at all the media and Supreme Court judges. How dare they suggest he was out of the country when he was on his tilapia farm grilling some for the eventual long haul of the Petition filing?

My girls from OLA Secondary School. Nana Oye, they were strip-searched before they took their exams, ensuring failure for the weak and sensitive. No panties allowed, not even with liners.

And Amidu had his day in court. Three days to nail a solid case against Agbesi Woyome. Is he back? Ah, no, he has till the 17th.

I did not see MyJoyonline publish my Critical News last week, I had a paragraph in there blasting them for a poor show on the previous Saturday’s Newsfile. They always publish my pieces, there is no coincidence, so I suppose JoyOnline do not see a poor show on Newsfile as critical news?

Baroness Thatcher of the UK died this past week. She was found sitting up in bed in the Ritz hotel, cradling a book in her lap, she had suffered a coronary as later autopsied. She will be buried soon, the former British Premier who dominated International politics for a decade and more, died quietly contrary to the way she practiced her politics. In Ghana, the people of Otuam, where our late President Mills hails, threatened to disclose the murderers of their son, whose death was never autopsied and whose quiet life now threatens to become a storm, when on his death anniversary (24th July) the person(s) now cursed by the 52 deities will strip themselves naked in public and confess their crime. Vive la difference.

All the same, here is a good tip. Just before you enter Takoradi from Accra on the right side, make sure you stop at “God Loves you Chop Bar”. It is a memorable lunch.

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

Columnist: Casely-Hayford, Sydney