By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
July 8, 2010
It is difficult to understand why the Rawlingses will take the government for a ride and turn round to present it as heartless. In other words, knowing very well what the government has done to relocate them, why should Nana Konadu turn round to present this jaundiced view of the issue for people to hold government culpable for their plight? I am at a loss at this point. Could this stance of the Rawlingses be part of their grand political scheme to paint President Mills black and, therefore, render him unattractive for removal from the NDC’s political equation? I am guided by recent rumours and hints of Nana Konadu’s interest in leading the NDC at the 2012 elections.
If those rumours and hints are anything to go by, then, her current posture and utterances belie a hidden agenda. But she must remember that what she has just led herself to is a double-edged sword, which will not spare her too. I can already foresee the chips falling in place against her. By trying to cut off the leadership of this government to spite her own political ambitions, she may end up blowing her goodwill into pieces. The politics of deception, chicanery, treachery, and trickery will not secure her what she may be looking for. Even if it does, its benefits are temporary but the negative fallouts will be painful and long-lasting.
Contrary to Nana Konadu’s claims, there is nothing wrong with where Rawlings lives at the moment. I don’t begrudge him for turning to his holiday resort at Vume, near Sogakope, as his temporary residence. After all, is that not his personal property? I remember when news first broke out in the early 1980s that those chalets belonged to him and tongues started wagging, especially whenever he visited there at the weekend to enjoy his water sport on the Volta River. He became a sight for sore eyes and residents of the surrounding settlements would always find time to enjoy watching him play around. If that property can serve his residential purposes now, why not use it?
Nana Konadu claims that she is residing with her mother. What is wrong about that, especially after the state has spent money renovating that house? After all, was that not the beginning point for her in life? I wish my mother were still alive for me to snuggle to and seek advice from on how to make hay while the sun shines. That is not to say that at her age and with all the stature that she has carved for herself Nana Konadu should still be “a mama’s daughter.” For all we may care to know, her mother may be disappointed at her for failing to do what all others have done. Could Nana Konadu not have put up a building of her own to occupy? She could, considering all that she has been all these years. All-in-all, it is inconceivable for the daughter of the late J.O.T. Agyemang of the ex-Ghana National Trading Corporation (GNTC) fame to claim to be homeless in Ghana!! W...h...a…a…t?
Let us not allow ourselves to be deceived by this trickery. The Rawlingses are not so poor as not to afford any decent accommodation worthy of their stature. What has happened to their house at Adjiringanor, which Rawlings himself broke the news on in response to allegations that he had constructed a huge mansion? He told us all that the building wasn’t what people were portraying it to be and that it had taken his family a long time to have anything of the sort. What is preventing them from occupying that house and saving us from their tantrums?
I am angry at the Rawlingses because I can read a deeper meaning into this aspect of their politics. Why do they always want to portray themselves as VICTIMS of circumstances? In the kind of political dispensation that we have chosen to run, this posture of victimology must not be tolerated, especially if it seeks to create the impression that the government is mindless of its responsibilities. Yes, the government must work to protect the security and interest of its citizens but it must not give any preferential treatment to anybody. Those who deserve support must be given; but the constituents of that package of benefits must be determined, streamlined, and agreed upon. In any case, why should End-of-Service Benefits be given to such people while others are denied? Are we all not to be served equally in seeking to enjoy the national cake?
That’s why Rawlings has to bear responsibility for abolishing End-of-Service Benefits for Ghanaian workers in the public sector only to turn round to establish a Greenstreet Committee to propose benefits for him and others at the end of their tenure. This measure was adopted by Kufuor as he used the Chinery-Hesse Commission to secure himself a paradise-on-earth. President Mills’ intervention might have temporarily assuaged doubts and fears about this ESB affair but do we know what is in store for him and the MPs, especially, at the end of their term?
While all this indecent rush to secure their own future goes on, no one is thinking about the fate of Ghanaian workers whose practical contributions are the mainstay of the national economy. These are the workers whose taxes feed the Consolidated Fund or any other avenue for running the affairs of state. These are the people who, despite their meager earnings, manage to save something for the rainy day (as the ant does) while our politicians behave like grasshoppers.
No one is thinking of the plight of the cash crop producers, fishermen, miners, factory workers, and several others whose sweat, blood, and toil props up the national coffers. They pay tax and are left with what they can barely survive on. Yet, these poor workers manage to provide accommodation and the bare necessities of life for themselves when they retire. They don’t look up to the state to house or feed them. They don’t ask to be driven around at the expense of the state. These are the national heroes even if no one acknowledges their worth. The time will come when these hardworking and decent Ghanaians will rise up to demand accountability from these politicians. Then, the kind of “revolution” that the country’s democracy needs to stand firm will be launched.
Here is how the conditions of such a “revolution” are being created. In January 2001, when Kufuor entered office, the first thing he did was to steal 41 million Cedis from the national coffers for the refurbishing of his private residence from where he chose to perform his functions as the President. He had refused to live in the Osu Castle but gave his nod for more than one billion Cedis to be spent renovating that structure. The circumstances surrounding these issues are well known to us.
Huge sums of money were spent renovating official bungalows for government appointees to occupy. Getting to the end of Kufuor’s rule, the sordid manner in which government bungalows were disposed of aroused anger. The indecent haste with which government functionaries (and those not Ministers but still occupying official residence) manipulated the system to acquire those buildings added more flame to public anger.
Public lands were fraudulently acquired by these politicians. The dishonesty surrounding the sale of estate houses built with public funds or loans contracted by the government is still worrisome. The beneficiaries of this monkey business were government functionaries, their wives and girlfriends, friends, and family members, not to mention party activists and MPs.
The disposal of government vehicles showed Ghanaians how senselessly self-acquisitive their politicians could be. Beginning from the sale of some vehicles to NDC officials and government appointees at the time of Rawlings’ exit to the mad looting of property that occasioned Kufuor’s departure from office, we have been given incontrovertible evidence that our politicians don’t deserve our sympathy in any way. Under our very watch in President Mills’ government, corrupt practices are prevalent. These politicians are hell-bent on twisting the arms of the people for personal gains.
In any case, they don’t sympathize with the ordinary suffering Ghanaian. If they did, why won’t they work hard to improve standards of living for the people while in office? Yet, at the end of all this thieving and lying, they want the state to continue supporting their lifestyles in retirement. Do you see how these happenings will boil down to a civil action to teach these politicians the bitter lessons that they will never forget?
I want to say that whatever fate now befalls the Rawlingses is the product of their own miscalculation, and they shouldn’t bother us with it. We already have our personal problems to contend with.
Rawlings may be wondering why “things are knocking things for him” but the explanation is simple. His post-office life is as controversial as his in-office one was. He appears not to know how to use his talents to get him genuine benefits and is fixated on raising dust here and there. This kind of conduct will not generate goodwill or income for him. It will only deprive him of peace of mind and reduce him to the depth of misery. To serve his purposes better, he should consider investing his time, energy, and endowments in something other than this predictable attitude of locking horns with everybody in sight. If he does that, he will make life more bearable for him and his family and stop bothering us with his tantrums.
Simply put, the Rawlingses will get no sympathy from many Ghanaians, including me. We are fed up with this constant torment from them about their woes while no one bothers about the excruciating poverty that is destroying the people’s lives. What Ghanaians go through everyday doesn’t come anywhere near what the Rawlingses are complaining about. Yet, those in leadership positions don’t do anything to solve their problems of existence. They concentrate attention on their own interests.
Does anybody have any sympathy for the numerous Ghanaians who (through circumstances beyond their control) are either street children or who live in slums in Sodom and Gomorrah (in Accra and Kumasi), Nima, Agbogbloshie, Ashaiman, Kokompe, and all other shanty communities in the towns and cities in the country? Are these people not mostly the poor menial workers who pay tax every day to the District, Municipal, or Metropolitan Assemblies? What is the government’s plan to provide decent accommodation or social services for them? Should the emphasis be on only the politicians whose earnings alone would be enough to give such slums a befitting facelift but are spent on things that don’t profit those slum-dwellers? And if they leave office too, they want to enjoy comfort at the expense of the state!!
There is already too much anger in the people, and our politicians must be careful not to stoke the fire any more. Rawlings and his family should be guided by history not to overstep bounds. They should stop behaving as if they are the only pebble at the beach. They failed to make hay while their political sun shone and must live with the consequences. It is, however, not too late to redeem themselves. The choice is theirs to make. If they want to step on the backs of the poor people to reach their paradise-on-earth, they will trigger actions that will have unpleasant consequences. May they heed advice now.