Rain, rain go away, come again another day

Sun, 7 Jun 2015 Source: Frankly Speaking

I usually don’t write about sports not because I don’t understand their language, but in my time as a young journalist, I always preferred reading the sports articles from my very good sports writer colleagues.

However, this week, I was pushed by events in the United States, Switzerland, and here in Ghana to dwell on sports, football or soccer to be precise. The push came from the arrest in those two countries of top FIFA executives and the sycophantic and hypocritical statements by Kwesi Nyantakyi, the president of the Ghana Football Association (GFA).

By mid-day Wednesday I had finished writing my piece for this week, but decided to hold on until the next day before sending it to the Editor of this paper, unknown that events to take place by the evening would bring compelling reasons to abandon my completed script.

One of the popular nursery school rhymes which some children usually sang and I learnt from them, because I never had the opportunity of going to a nursery school, goes like: Rain, rain go away, come again another day.

I never understood the import of the rhyme and have never bothered to find what it really means even in my adult life until I began writing about what has become an almost annual ritual in Accra and some parts of Ghana – flooding.

It’s without doubt that some parts of Ghana, particularly the national capital, Accra, has to deal with floods any time there was a downpour, yet it seems as a nation, we have never bothered to consider this as a gargantuan setback and a disgrace to our nation.

I remember two years ago when Accra got flooded and some of us took the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and its chief executive, Mr Alfred Oko Vanderpuiye to task for their failure to act. Some of our usual die-hard political praise-singers descend heavily on us sometimes with unprintable language for questioning their boss.

I remember Uncle Oko and some politicians going round and giving the usual sugar-coated promises that things would be well soon and that immediate action was going to be taken to solve the perennial flooding of the city.

Nothing concrete happened between last two years and last Wednesday when Accra flooded. Unlike last two years, Wednesday’s flooding brought in its wake a national catastrophe, which has already claimed over 200 lives by conservative calculations.

The Goil Filling Station at Circle which exploded was a direct result of the floods and the many people who died from the inferno were for the same reason, because the flooded roads forced some people to stay in their vehicles longer in traffic in front of the filling station, whiles others were seeking refuge at the filling station before the explosion.

As usual, the photo-shoot rounds by politicians have already started as they move with a hoard of journalists to record and publish their never-to-be-fulfilled sugar-coated promises in newspapers, on radio and on television screens.

Sometimes some even shed tears before the television cameras; tears which dry up too quickly as soon as the cameras were gone.

One of the positives about decentralisation is the fact that district assemblies (forget about the nice euphemism with which some call themselves metropolitan or municipal) can prioritise their needs and devote more resources and energies to them for the benefit of the people.

The Odaw River and many gutters around the Kwame Nkrumah Circle are almost always chocked and any serious and forward-thinking local government administrator would design and implement a more lasting plan to ensure that such gutters and the river are never silted.

Unfortunately, the best the AMA could be credited with is occasionally desilting the gutters and usually leaving the sand and rubbish on the banks of the gutters and the Odaw River to later find their way back into the gutters and the river – a form of a ritual, at least showing us that they are working.

Meanwhile, when one raises issues about this behaviour of the AMA and Uncle Oko, the arrogant response is that they are not to be blamed but rather those who throw rubbish into the gutters and the Odaw River. I think they have a point.

But the question is why can’t the gutters be covered to prevent anyone throwing rubbish into them? Is it not the case in most capital cities around the world? After all, Oko Vanderpuiye lived in the United States before becoming the chief executive of the AMA, and he knows well that drainages must be covered.

Recently Uncle Oko travelled outside the country and came back telling us that he had been elected (or was it sold to him?) the best mayor of Africa. Oh, its’ true, I’m not kidding you, dear reader.

And the irony of it all was that he hosted the conference of mayors in Accra this week which was graced by this flooding, and showcasing to his fellow mayors why he is the best mayor in Africa – he inspects flooded communities every year with television cameras following.

As usual, the politicians have started taking cover by telling us to avoid blame games. Haba, what else should we do, that despite the so-called national sanitation day in Accra where Oko made himself the traffic warden, the arresting policeman, and the presiding judge arresting drivers and giving them his own prescribed punishments, Accra continues to flood and kill people?

One fact about us as a nation is that governments don’t sack their non-performing appointees especially those who have powerful godfathers and mothers in the corridors of power, and such non-performing appointees also don’t resign because nobody can do them ‘huuu’. Pity!

For this reason, instead of Oko Vanderpuiye feeling ashamed and resigning, he moves round with his bosses with a policeman holding an umbrella over his head doing photo-shooting for the media.

For now, all that I can say is to plead with the rain to go away for now and come another time, by which period we would have forgotten that over 200 people died on Wednesday night because some people failed to do their work.

Is GFA president Nyantakyi there; can somebody please tell him that whether he cried for Blatter’s resignation or not, we will call for investigations into the activities of the GFA in the same way FIFA is being investigated. GFA can never be outside the realm of our national focus and he and his team cannot again bully us by running to FIFA.

We will come back to why Nyantakyi voted in the name of Ghana for Blatter when it was clear the FIFA executive body had engaged in corrupt practices; Nyantakyi’s baseless statements over the resignation of Sepp Blatter; and his unwarranted accusation of the US government of “clandestine moves to destroy the image of FIFA”.

Columnist: Frankly Speaking