Something must be ruffling feathers at the old Slave Castle. Nii Lante Vaderpuiye, an aide to the President, first dropped the hint that all may not be well with the composure at Government House on Metro Television on the morning of Monday, November 9, 2009.
On the same day, Presidential Spokesperson, Mahama Ayariga, took the complaints to the media at the press conference.Long before the two officials made the complaints officially, there had been attempts by aides to the President to intimidate the Acting Editor of the Ghanaian Times newspaper.
The official worry amplified by Mr. Ayariga, who recently courted publicity for carting five state tractors to begin a hiring business, is that some media houses, including state-run Ghanaian Times, had deliberately misrepresented the President’s concerns about complaints from Ghanaians on the slow-pace of government delivery, to set the good people of Ghana against the President of the Republic. On metro Television, Mr. Vanderpuiye stated that there was no bitterness in the President’s tone when he spoke to the people of Asante Mampong which could have suggested anger.
A number of Ghanaians, including my humble self, got an entirely different impression. Whether Prof. John Evans Atta Mills was smiling or was knocking things about is not the issue. The fact that he was concerned about was people’s perception that the government was not delivering on its many promises to the nation is a source of worry to the Presidency.
I cannot claim to be an expert in the various versions of the Twi dialect. But I do understand where one is coming from if a person say: ‘Se Wotwe Ahoma Wo Soro Na Se Amba A, Na Biribi Kura Mu’ (if you pull a rope from above and it does not come down, then something might be holding it).
I heard the President clearly going on his usual tirade of blaming the New Patriotic Party, claiming they did not bequeath many resources to the new administration. He told his audience that the Atta-Mills Administration had succeeded in untying all the knots, and that pretty soon the government would be up and running.
I do not need Mahama Ayariga to lecture me on what the President meant by this admonition in a language that was a criss-cross of Fante and Twi, whatever the Castle makes of that statement, there was a complaint by the President about the criticism by Ghanaians which reminds me of an interesting event in the 1970s when this country was under the thumb of the military oligarchy answering to the name Supreme Military Council.
When Ignatius Kutu Acheampong toppled the Busia regime on January 13 1972, one of the reasons he gave was that “the few amenities we were enjoying even under Nkrumah had been taken away”. After decorating himself with a four-star medal, the then Chairman of the SMC found the going so hot that he went bananas. Ghanaians, he complained, were retracing all calamities to his leadership. Meye Nyame Na Mato Nsuo? (Am I God to make rains?) He hit the roof when people started to complain that under his leadership even the rains had failed. Thereupon, a decree went forth making rumour mongering an offence throughout the land.
Those were the days when student agitation for the military to disengage from national politics had made the various campuses war zones. “As for rumour, we shall monger”, student went about shouting from the roof-top, to the discomfiture of soldiers in armored vehicles and mounted constabulary stationed on the campus to intimidate students.
We may not have reached the stage where this government might be inclined towards applying the law to silence its critics, but the President’s utterances at Asante Mampong seem to suggest that the shoe is pinching. Evidence is emerging that the President is beginning to feel the heat of not being able to deliver on the many promises he made on the campaign trail.
Then candidate Atta-Mills and is aides toured the country promising everything under the sun while vilifying their rivals in terms that could not be described as civil. The former law lecturer told campaign audiences that as soon as he marched to Government House he would put money in the pockets of Ghanaians. He would also reduce the cost of petroleum products drastically. Aides even suggested that during the Atta Mills Presidency, a gallon of petrol would not sell above GH˘2. The tribal card was visibly in play.
From Mumford, in the Gomoa West District of the Central Region, for instance, Prof. Atta Mills was quoted by almost all media houses as having told bemused fisher folks that because ex-President Kufuor did not care one hoot about the plight of Fantes and their means of livelihood, he had collapsed the fishing industry and sited the biggest cold stores in the Ashanti Region. More than one year after the allegation, neither the President nor any of his trusted aides had contradicted the position of the media houses.
I can bet my last pesewa that at the time, then candidate Ata-Mills spoke those words; he knew that all state cold stores were put under divestiture by the Provisional National Defence Council, which begat the NDC, and that the state of Ghana never constructed any cold store in the Ashanti Region while President Kufuor occupied the Castle.
The 2008 Presidential campaign was fought in the Central Region in a mood that sought to create the impression that the Fantes were at war with those claiming Ashanti ancestry.
I have known and related with the good old Professor of law for nearly three decades. He has sought my opinion on a number of issues and I have also benefited from his benevolence over the years. But the sort of campaign mounted on his way to Government house completely turned me off his charm.
Prof Atta Mills is a very nice man to lead this country, but the way the Presidency was sought told much about how anxious for power he was. If he could go bananas for power, then he must bear the consequences of his actions. If people are complaining about the slow pace of delivery, it is premised on the kind of promises he made on the campaign trail, many of which cannot be fulfilled by an administration fielding, in the words of Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Team B materials.
If I were the President, I would sincerely apologize to the good people of Ghana for misrepresenting the truth during the campaign period. The free fall of the cedi means that we are all going to experience more hardship. I do not think the President should be frustrated by complaints from the general populace.
I do not know whether or not the President has taken the worry of Ghanaians on board. His aides may not like to be told this, but the stark truth is that every single Ghanaian, save perhaps the sycophantic few living off state largesse, is complaining about the state of the economy and its impact on the people. If the President thinks he is doing his best, then he is behaving like the proverbial king who appeared in public without clothes.
Source: Ebo Quansah For Daily Guide/Ghana
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