Saturday, June 23, 2012

On the President Medical Checkup

But also, as I pointed out, that also entails hard work. That new Africa is ready to fight his own battles and show that after all the black man is capable of managing his own affairs. We are going to demonstrate to the world, to the other nations, that we are prepared to lay our foundation - our own African personality. As I said to the Assembly a few minutes ago, I made a point that we are going to create our own Africa personality and identity. It is the only way we can show the world that we are ready for our own battles.” – Kwame Nkrumah, Independence address.

In a few days Ghana will celebrate republic day on the 1st of July.

The nation attained a republican status exactly fifty-two years ago. We can be sure as day follow night that our officials will roll out the big drums and made our people gyrates senselessly. Well-crafted speeches will be flawlessly delivered by our smooth-tongued officials about how far we have travelled and how much gain we have made.

Never mind that many of our people still go hungry and that the living conditions of many of our people, especially in the rural areas, remain abysmally poor. Never mind that we still cannot provide adequate potable water and electricity for the majority of our people. Never mind that inter-tribal wars are raging across the land.

Never mind all these; you can trust our state officials to attire themselves in the best foreign attires money can buy, mount foreign-made rostrums and use foreign-made audio equipments to shout themselves hoarse about how good we are doing, and how unprecedented our achievements are.

It is difficult not to feel deeply anguished about the sad state of affairs in our dear land and continent.

Wherever one looks, it is as though we are just not a serious people and that the fact that we lag so badly behind other races does not seem to faze us at all.

As I write this, a Chinese woman is in orbit aboard a Chinese-made space-craft docked with a Chinese-made space station.

Modern China history began in 1949 when Chairman Mao led his revolutionaries to seized power. Ghana gained her independence in 1957. So there is just eight years in between the two countries, but the gap in material and physical achievements cannot be bigger.

Economically, China has not only become a global economic powerhouse, but is slated to become numero uno in a few years. China is at the cutting edge of science and technology with the country producing more scientists and engineers than any country in the world. The country also produces more Ph.Ds than any in the world.

We produce absolutely nothing in Ghana – that is despite all our huge mineral deposits. And rather than embrace science and technology we still allow damned religious charlatans to rule our lives with their stupid scams.

Our officials see absolute nothing wrong in beseeching heavenly fathers in purely earthly matters. And they found absolutely nothing wrong or ironic in attiring themselves in expensive dresses to go around with begging bowls.

And rather than bemoan our fates, majority of us will also shout praises at leaders whom we ought to laugh to scorn because of their obvious and palpable short-comings.

I don’t know about you, but I feel immensely sad to see that few days to celebrating what should be an august day for our nation, the only news in town is that of our president going to the United States of America to check on his health.

Few days prior to that, the internet has gone viral with rumour that the president had joined the ancestors.

Once again, the notoriously-lethargic government communication team was found wanting. Nothing was heard from officialdom until the president appeared to tell us that all is well with him, but that he was on his way to the US for medical check.

He even joked about his purported death!

News filtered out later that the routine medical checkup might last as long as ten days.

Like in most things in our dear nation, the rumoured death of the president and the medical checkup soon gained political colourations.

The opposition parties demanded that the president comes clean on the status of his health; whilst the government party says that it is nobody’s business where and when the president decides to do his medical checkup.

This is sad, really!

Listening to all the analysts that pontificate on this issue it is, sad, incredibly sad that no one appears to see the bigger picture.

As usual, we appeared to be consumed with the mundane than see the bigger picture of what the president medical trip abroad portends for the country.

I listened to very crass arguments like mayhap the government does not trust Ghanaian doctors, since they could belong to opposition parties and thereby leak the president’s medical record for partisan purposes.

And these guys vociferated very loudly and expected to be taken very seriously.

We are in this country when ex-President Kufuor successfully underwent a surgery at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. He emerged and was full of praise for his doctors – all of them Ghanaians. We are yet to read his medical records in any of our newspapers.

It is indeed sad that fifty-five years after our founding president, Kwame Nkrumah, boasted to the world that the black man is capable of managing his own affairs, we still did not see anything wrong in ferrying our president to foreign lands for medical checkups. We still appear not to be affronted that whilst small countries like Israel and Cuba have managed to build world-class medical facilities which earn them good money, we still spend our borrowed money to send our leaders abroad for medical checkup!

Whatever our political or ideological persuasions, as human beings we should empathise with any sick person. Our African culture mandated us not to speak ill of the sick or the dead. Hence, the saying by our elders that: “To laugh at infirmity, deformity or calamity is enormity.

We should strongly empathise with the president and wish him well, but as this column has consistently articulated, those that charge themselves with ruling us ought to show us some basic respect.

It is crass for some government partisans to come out to tell us that they do not trust our own doctors to take care of our president, and that is enough reason to rush him outside.

It is also wrong and insulting when officials come out to tell us that the president’s health is none of our business; it is.

As private citizen Atta Mills, it is no one’s business where the man chooses to get his medical treatment. But as PRESIDENT Atta Mills, it is our business to know where our president is 24/7. It is our business to know the state of our president’s health as he is the only person whose decision can make or mar our collective destiny.

Honestly, I think that lack of basic trust has become our biggest problem now in Ghana and in Africa.

The lack of trust coupled with lack of self-confidence among us has become the bane retarding our development.

Today, we longer believe like Nkrumah did that the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.

This is evident with the poster of a white Jesus our people prefer to adorn their churches and homes with nowadays.

Our governments, over the years, also demonstrated this lack of trust by their constant adjurations to ‘development partners,’ to come to their aid even for the simplest of tasks – that is not when they are appealing to almighty gods.

It is sad that in all the discussions about the president’s medical sojourn abroad, no one has come up with the issue of the security implications of rushing our presidents to foreign lands for medical checkups.

It is a given that most foreign doctors that treat foreign leaders will work closely with their country’s intelligence agencies. So, it is to be assumed that these foreign agencies, not peopled with the most morally upright folks, can use this knowledge to their country’s advantage.

And why shouldn’t they?

What if we have a president that has given them a hard time and they decided that a regime change is desirable?

Ok, that might look like an extreme scenario. How about this: since it is also a given that, unlike us, trade delegations from other lands, rely heavily on briefings from their intelligence agencies.

Armed with full knowledge and complete dossier of our president’s health record, what is stopping these foreign trade delegations from arm-twisting our president with the threat of releasing any potentially-embarrassing medical record to the opposition in order to gain undue advantage? It is election year after all.

I hope that I am not the only one who has wondered what sort of hold foreign powers had on our officials that made them signed agreements that are obviously detrimental to our national well-being - like accepting ten percent for oil.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The state of the nation

I don’t know about you, but I reach for the books but when things get tough and confused for me.

I also take solace in listening to music. I don’t know about you, but reggae remains my favorite music genre. I am not talking about the ‘modern’ form of reggae where people sing about glorified violence and other utter rubbish.

No, I meant the old-school root reggae by such incredibly talented musicians like Culture, Burning Speare, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff etc, etc. I am also very much in love with Lucky Dube because his lyrics are just so powerful. I don’t know about you, but Bob Marley remains my all-time favourite musician.

I just cannot get enough of BMW. Like a good psychologist, Bob Marley has a line for almost every occasion.

As I lay down to ponder about the state of affairs of the Ghanaian nation, my mind drifted to one of my favorites from my massive collections of Bob Marley’s prodigious works.

Listen to Bob Marley in “Natural Mystic”:
There's a natural mystic blowing through the air;
If you listen carefully now you will hear.
This could be the first trumpet, might as well be the last:
Many more will have to suffer,
Many more will have to die - don't ask me why.

Things are not the way they used to be,
I won't tell no lie;
One and all have to face reality now.
'Though I've tried to find the answer to all the questions they ask.
'Though I know it's impossible to go livin' through the past -
Don't tell no lie.

There's a natural mystic blowing through the air -
Can't keep them down -
If you listen carefully now you will hear.

There's a natural mystic blowing through the air.

This could be the first trumpet, might as well be the last:
Many more will have to suffer,

Many more will have to die - don't ask me why…”

I don’t know about you, but I simply cannot remember when things were this bad or appeared this troubled in our dear land.

And I have seen a lot, I tell you.

Not only is there general hardship in the land with prices of goods sky high. This is despite all the protestations of our lying politicians, who continue to spew their usual gibberish. They told us the lie about taming inflation when our money buys less and less foodstuffs.

That was until the IMF team came to shut them up. Sadly, an IMF team has to come to our rescue, by telling our elected officials that their inflation figures simply did not add up.

That’s another troubling thing. When eminent Ghanaian economists voiced the opinion that things are terrible in Ghana price-wise, many officials rush to lambast them and rubbished their assertions. However, when the IMF team made the same observation, our usually voluble officials kept mute.

Would that have to do with the fact that the members of the IMF team were white people?

Talk about inferiority complex!

Whilst our officials are beating chests and trumpeting their unprecedented achievements, hardly a day passes now without a story of suicide or group suicide in today’s Ghana.

Husbands are wasting not only their own lives, but wantonly taking those of their wives and, sometimes, children. Wives are also killing their husbands and then murder themselves. School children are now into hanging themselves.

What is going on?

As though the personal tragedies are not enough, ethnic groups in the country are now resorting to primordial violence in quarrels with their neighbours.

Ethnic violence has flared up Nakpaduri in the Northern Region. It has destroyed lives and properties at Kpassa, in the Volta Region, at Ekumfi Narkwa in the Central Region and the latest hotspot was Hohoe, also in the Volta Region.

A coconut thief in the central region almost caused a major ethnic war between the Fantes and the Ewes.

Rather than dampen the tension, politicians, including the Regional Minister, did what they do best, engage in utterly useless blame game.

By the time, tension calmed, three people have lost their lives and properties destroyed.

We have barely recovered from that tragedy when Hoehoe erupted in communal violence as some Muslim youth clashed with their Gbi landlords, over a burial mishap.
By the time the security agents restored calm, people have been killed and several houses, including the chief’s palace, have been burnt.

What is going on?

Why are Ghanaians, people who tout themselves as peaceful, suddenly become so agitated and ready to visit violence on themselves and on other people?

Things are just not the way they used to be.

It’s like things have fallen apart in our dear republic.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
” – William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming.

A time there was when civility was the norm in our society and the very act of shouting on another human being is regarded as a huge taboo and heavily frowned upon.

Today, citizens behave as though one is in this life only to prove how masculine or macho one is.

It is all about me, me and me.

In today’s Ghana, there is little regard for other people’s rights or feelings and scanty regard for authority.

Driving on our roads nowadays has become very dangerous enterprise, as almost everyone drive by heart, as they say around here. Most people handling vehicles these days think that traffic rules and regulations are mere suggestions. At the first sign of traffic hold up, people abandon all sanity and start to do their own thing. Gone are the days when driving on the wrong side of the road was considered a barbaric thing to do. Today, you are considered a big fool if you decide to follow a slow moving traffic.

Also gone are the days when only ambulances, fire trucks and high government officials blare sirens, nowadays, anyone in uniform, or anyone driving a big, four-wheel vehicle, believe himself entitled to special road consideration.

When, indeed, did we get things so spectacularly wrong? When did we become such a lawless and ill-disciplined society?

If the behaviour of our people is abhorrent, equally distasteful is the behaviour of our officials who looked on unconcerned as things spiraled out of control.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I know of no civilization that was not built on strict discipline and strong adherence to laid down rules and regulations.

Ok, Ok, we live in democracy and all that. I also didn’t forget that our country’s motto is: “Freedom and Justice.”

But methinks that we are taking this freedom thing too far. And if we don’t check ourselves, we are heeding into serious perdition.

What, however, is far more disappointing and troubling is the deafening silence of the president.

For Christ sake, the president is our country’s chief executive. He is also the father of the whole nation. It is to him we look up to for leadership, support, direction and for succour.

I cannot think of more important thing that should occupy our president’s time and mind than the peace, security and general well-being of our nation and of its people.

It is only when people feel secured that they worry about any other thing, including food. The man running away with his family will think of only one thing: security. The family escaping communal violence is pre-occupied only with saving their lives.

I am one of those that wish President Mills well and had hoped that he will prove his critics, including his mentor, President JJ Rawlings, wrong by providing quality leadership for the nation and thereby prove his mettle.

Readers of this column will remember that I castigated President Rawlings, a man I admire enormously and rate as one of the greatest African leaders, for his incessant criticism of his successor.

Today, it looks as though former President was more far-sighted than I and many who failed to see his prescience.

We then have those that argued that the president does not need to go everywhere since he has people charged with assisting him. Proponents of this line of thought include deputy information minister, Okudzeto Ablakwa.

I find this line of argument totally imbecilic.

Of course, we have officials at every level of government, but none of them put himself forward as a presidential candidate to canvass for our votes. We did not vote for the National Security Coordinator. Neither did we vote for regional ministers.

And of course, we have other members of family, but it is to the father we all look up to provide security. We expect our fathers to be there for us when we are in distress and need him.

Of course, presidents cannot be everywhere at all times and we did not ask them to. It is only in emergency situations that we expect our president to rise up to the occasion, show his face and, by his very presence, give us succor and show us that he cares.

People ought not to forget that we did not beg him, the president came on his own accord and begged to lead us. He was the one who claimed to have answers to our problems.

If Ghanaians are dying, from whatever cause, and the president sits at his palace, say nothing, do nothing to show that he cares, why exactly do we need to have a president? What is the need to have a president that is unwilling or unable to share our plights and give us comfort? What point is there in having a president who is totally absent and invisible when the situation in our dear land calls for urgent and decisive leadership?

And why did the president have time to receive IMF delegation but cannot find the time to go and comfort Ghanaians in distress?

When Americans elected Ronald Reagan, an elderly, grade B movie actor as their president, they did not expect him to solve all their problems.

It is on record that the man slept through most of his presidency, but when critical situations arose, Reagan was there to make impressive speeches that make Americans feel good about themselves. Reagan’s brand of economics (Reaganomics) bankrupted his country, but he successfully sold it to his people with well-crafted speeches and winning smiles.

"The battle for the mind of Ronald Reagan was like the trench warfare of World War I: never have so many fought so hard for such barren terrain." - Peggy Noonan, special assistant and speech writer to Reagan, 1984-88.

Reagan the man was empty up there, but he got very competent speech writers to write speeches which he delivered flawlessly.

Americans love him enough to give him a second term.

"Reagan won because he ran against Jimmy Carter. Had he run unopposed he would have lost." - Mort Sahl

Almost totally absent-minded, Reagan, nevertheless, jocularly laughed his way through two terms (from January 20, 1981, to January 20, 1989). He was so adept at brushing off bad news that he made Americans forget their problems.

However bad things were, Reagan always exhorted Americans to “Win one for the Gipper (his favourite football hero).”

"Sometimes ... when you stand face to face with someone, you cannot see his face. (Following summit meeting with Ronald Reagan)" - Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev .

I am not privy to the inner workings of the Castle, Ghana’s presidential palace, but I repeat that the president’s men are doing him great disservice.

Are the palace jesters that surround President Mills unaware that elections are just five months away?

How, on earth, do they expect to sell their man to the Ghanaian people?

Or have they concluded that their gargantuan achievements are so monumental that grateful Ghanaian electorates are lining up to return him to power without even seeing his face!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Koku Anyidoho should resign

“The most tragic thing in the world is a man of genius who is not a man of honor” - George Bernard Shaw

Life every man holds dear; but the dear man holds honor far more precious dear than life.” - William Shakespeare

Among the definition of HONOUR is “source of pride: somebody or something that brings respect or glory and is a source of pride to somebody or something else.”

The opposite of honor is DISHONOUR which is defined as: “a cause of shame or loss of respect.”

Among the things that brings dishonor are stealing and the telling of lies. In many African cultures, the telling of lies is heavily frowned upon. This becomes more problematic if a chief is caught telling lies. This fear of a lying chief might explain why in many of these cultures, the chief is not allowed to directly speak to the public; his spokesperson talks on his behalf.

When you are caught to have made statements that turned out to be false, you lose not only your credibility but respect. The loss of the respect of your peer is considered a great dishonor. Your loss becomes even bigger if you hold any position of authority. This becomes gargantuan when you are the official spokesperson of the president of the country.

There is simply no higher authority in our republic than the Executive President. For good or bad, the president is the highest authority. It therefore behooves anyone with any connection with that august office to comport him\herself with the highest decorum and maintain the highest integrity at all times.

Mr. President is not only our chief executive and political leader; he is also our moral compass. He is the measure with which our country is judged.

The office of the presidency is hallowed and is treated with the utmost respect. In return, the president and his men\women are expected to be circumspect, very circumspect in all their behaviours and dealings.

The actions or inactions of the president can bring great disrepute to the republic. We saw how a US president, Richard Nixon, was brought low when he dishonored his office. In our time, the brilliance of Bill Clinton could not safe him from huge embarrassment when he was caught with his pants down, so to speak - moves were made to impeach him.

He has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so.”- Walter Lippmann

In many cultures, honour is held is such esteem that people, including very important people, choose death over dishonor.

One of the Yorubas most powerful kings was King Shango, now a deity. Faced with impending dishonor, King Shango committed suicide.

This may explain why the Yorubas have the proverb: “Iku ya ju esin,” which means that death is preferable to shame or dishonor.

Among the Japanese, hara-kiri is a traditional form of suicide, sometimes ritually performed as a point of honor, involving disembowelment with a sword (sepukku).

Faced with dishonor, Japanese choose death. Even in modern times, several top Japanese executives and politicians have reached for their swords and performed seppuku rather than faced public ridicule and ignominy.

The question of why some Africans choose to stay in office after being publicly ridiculed has bothered me greatly.

I do not advocate wholesale suicides, but why should the allure of office keep a man or woman at a job where he has been totally laid bare, completely rubbished and utterly disgraced?

Why do some Africans choose to stay in office and face public opprobrium rather than resign honourably, pick themselves up and start elsewhere?

I still wonder what the president’s Director of Communications, Mr. Koku Anyidoho, is waiting for before he tenders his resignation.

The loud-mouthed braggart has done little but cause embarrassment to the presidency since day one. The man charged with speaking for the president of Ghana has turned out to be a serious gaffer.

Was this not the same Mr. Anyidoho who some months back threatened to show someone ‘where power lies,’ as though we live in some banana republic where presidents can make laws, interpret and enforce them.

And he was referring to no less a personage that the main opposition leader of the country.

Speaking on Focus FM in London, the president’s spokesman was at his nastiest. Listen to him: “Let Akufo-Addo…if he says he is a man, a true man from Akyem because he claims God gave all us two balls each unless his is three. Maybe, his is three but if he thinks his is three and for that matter he is man enough than all of us in this country, he should dare make a wrong move.”

“I am saying it today that Akufu-Addo should dare. I know Gabby (Otchere Darko) is in London and listening. Gabby you are my friend and I’m telling you that you and that your Akufo-Addo,. If you claim to be men, make… this country and you will see where power lies. We are waiting for them since they say “all die be die’.

“They should be careful they would not be the first to go visit their ancestry; Akufo-Addo, Jake and Mac Manu should be very careful they would not be the first to visit their ancestry because we will not just sit down in laxity and watch Akufo addo use patapaa, huhuhuhu and kekeke to destroy this country. That, according to him, was why he had always said “Ghana is not Akufo-Addo’s property.

It does not belong to him; it belongs to all of us” and for that matter, Akufo-Addo should stop throwing his weight about as though the country belonged to him.”

In vain we waited for the president to fire Mr. Anyidoho from his post for such crass mis-behaviour.

Was this not the same Mr. Anyidoho who breached all protocols and etiquettes and announced to the world incomplete report of an ongoing investigation into a cocaine case?

Again, listen to him: “Today Asem Dake is in custody and ...I can promise you, President Mills is going to go to the bottom of this matter. Nobody, be it a former president, be it a sitting president, be it an erstwhile president, anybody who is involved in this cocaine matter..., you can be sure that President Mills will let the people of Ghana stand and point fingers at those who were involved in this dastardly trade.”

This was the president spokesman speaking on a very sensitive case that was still ongoing.

It appears however that Mr. Anyidoho overreached himself when on the night of June 3, 2012 when the nation was embarrassed by a light off at the Baba Yaara stadium at Kumasi, he announced the sacking of the Kumasi director of the Electricity Company of Ghana.

Nobody can acquire honor by doing what is wrong” - Thomas Jefferson

Bellowing at top voice, Mr. Anyidoho told us that “The president is angry, very angry. Heads will roll.” He then announced the sacking of the Director of the ECG at Kumasi.

It has since turned out that Mr. Anyidoho was simply telling lies; the president gave no such directive.

Caught in the web of his inaccuracies, he claimed that some faceless “Senior officials’ took the decision.

How pathetic!

How on earth could this man forget that he speaks for the president of the republic and that no one is senior to his direct boss?

The government quickly came out to clear the air and said that no such decision has been made.

But the damage has already been done. As has since been revealed, the president simply does not have the power to relieve a director of ECG of his appointment. It also turns out that there are actually two directors of ECG at Kumasi – EAST and WEST.

The man paid to polish the image of the president has brought the office of the president into huge public ridicule.

The ramifications of Mr. Anyidoho’s transgressions are vast: If we cannot trust the president who can we trust?

Who are we to believe if the words of the spokesperson of the president lacks currency?
Mine honor is my life; both grow in one; Take honor from me, and my life is done.” – William Shakespeare

On the 8th of June 2012, the office of His Excellency, President John Atta Mills, released a statement that totally stripped the Director of Communications at the presidency of all authority.
The terse, dry statement minced no word in making it absolutely and abundantly clear that Mr. President has lost all confidence in the man that ostensibly man his communication directorate, Mr. Kofi Anyidoho.

For those that missed the release, here is it in full:


The Office of the President wishes to state that all directives and decisions emanating from the Presidency including appointments, are communicated formally and signed by the Secretary to the President or in some instances by the Chief of Staff.

All other Government information is communicated through the Ministry of Information by Press Release or other means and in some cases where appropriate by the relevant sector Ministries, under the direction of the Minister-in-charge.

The Office of the President wishes the Media and General Public to be guided by these procedures and channels for communicating Government information.




In plain and unambiguous language, the President said that his official Spokesman no longer speaks for him and no longer has his confidence.

This is the only interpretation we can give to the press release; it is not open to any other elucidation.

I waited and waited for Mr. Koku Anyidoho to do the only honourable thing and resign his appointment.

In vain I waited; three clear days after his office was stripped off all authority, Mr. Anyidoho still hang on to his untenable position.

The man that threatened to show Nana Akufo-Addo where power lies has been shorn of all powers, yet he refuses to resign.

What exactly does Mr. Anyidoho do now as he no longer speaks for the president? Does he go to his office, shuffle papers around; look busy, smoke his cigarettes, consume his liquor and go home satisfied that he has put in honest hours for which he ought to be paid?

Interesting days lie ahead indeed.

I love the name of honor, more than I fear death. “ - Julius Caesar

Would Mr. Anyidoho still form part of Mr. President entourage on local and foreign trips?

Sadly, the untenable position of Koku Anyidoho lends great credence to those that maintain that the presidency of John Atta Mills is the weakest in Ghana’s history.

Why on earth can’t the president simply fire his errant Director of Communication?

For crying out loud, the man has been nothing but unmitigated disaster at the ultra sensitive position to which he was appointed.

Actually, his appointment is one that grated so many nerves because the man simply is too crude, too uncouth to be a spokesman for Ghana Chief Executive.

Aside from a stint as the editor of a scandal-mongering rag sheet based in Accra, the man has no professional qualification to recommend him.

Little wonder that in nearly four years, the president has not delivered any inspiring speech. The president’s address at the United Nations where he catalogued provisions of school uniforms as high achievement became the butts of joke.

Ok, he has a big mouth (literally and figuratively) that he is ever eager to use, but that is not what we expect from one that speaks for our president.

Having thus apparently been promoted far beyond his professional competence, he becomes garrulous, combative and exhibits all the negative traits of those that suffer from great inferiority complex – the need to compensate.

A qualified and competent presidential spokesman will not see any need to sling mud with any and all mud-rakers. A competent presidential spokesman ought to have the decency not to engage in every verbal fisticuffs that comes his way. He ought to know that effective communications skills are not measured by verbal pugilism.

It is the job of the President’s spokesman to communicate, effectively, happenings at the presidency. He is to explain to the public in easy to understand terms presidential affairs decisions, projects and programmes. He is also to shield the presidential from media embarrassment by effectively explaining what exactly the president wanted said.

The shortest and surest way to live with honor in the world is to be in reality what we would appear to be; all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice and experience of them.” - Socrates

Readers of this column will remember that we have lamented several times that the weakest link in President Atta Mills government is his communication team. They are just not up to par. Both the government and the party’s communication team are simply not doing their job. In fact, they appear to be undermining the great work the president and his energetic deputy are doing by not effectively communicating it to the Ghanaian public.

It may be rather too late in the day to revamp the communication team, but the president can still try to salvage something by getting rid of people like Koku Anyidoho and Lante Vanderpuye.
Honestly, blokes like these characters have no business being seen around a serious and decent president. They lack not only the professional qualification, but they simply do not have the cultured upbringing and personal decorum demanded by such high offices. Serious presidents do not have business to surround themselves with characters with the integrity of hyenas.

It is now easy to understand where ex president JJ Rawlings was coming from when he bemoaned that the Atta Mill presidency has been hijacked by a cabal of nogoodniks.

If, indeed, the president’s party, the National Democratic Party (NDC), has run into a ditch, it should be clear that it was people like Koku Anyidoho that led it into that ditch.

Honor isn't about making the right choices. It's about dealing with the consequences.” Midori Koto

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The president is angry

Chiefs should not make new laws when they are angry. – African proverb

My brother, do you know that the president is angry?

You, since when did you get close to the president to know his mood?

Where have you been all this while?

In Ghana, of course. I have not travel anywhere.

And you didn’t know that the president is angry, very angry. Actually he was so angry that he fired somebody.

No, you kid me now! The president is a very sober-minded person, and he is not likely to go around shooting people up.

You, I don’t mean literally!

Ah, I’m relieved! What type of country would will be living in if the president started firing his gun at random?

I beg you o, I didn’t say that he killed people or fired his gun. I didn’t say the president actually kill people. Do you want them to charge me with treason, sedition, felony or what?

What do you mean, then? You have to explain things to feeble-minded simpletons like myself.

You! But I wonder where you are that you didn’t hear about the great anger of the president.

You and your rumour-mongering, when did you become privy to president’s mood to know that he nursed humongous anger?

I didn’t say that I was privy to the president’s mood. Actually I heard it from the Horse’s mouth.

The president’s horse; didn’t know that the president keeps horses.

You, don’t be so daft! It was a figure of speech. I meant the information came from the President’s own spokesman.

You gotta be kidding! You meant to tell me that the president’s official spokesman told you that the president has been shooting people.

Don’t be so dense.

Me, dense, Is that not what you just said?

You really don’t get it. I said that I was speaking figuratively; the president didn’t go out to kill people. I was just employing a figure of speech.

Can’t you save us all these hullabaloo by getting straight to the point you are trying to make?

I said that the president’s spokesman said that the president was very angry and that this anger resulted in the president sacking the boss of the Kumasi ECG.

What, the boss of the Electricity Company of Ghana at Kumasi, serious?

Yes, that is what the president’s spokesman said.

I cannot believe this of the president. He always looks so calm and collected, and don’t people call him the ‘Asomdwene,’ or prince of peace?

That is why the whole things is so shocking; it is so totally out of character for the president to behave so.

And did the spokesman tell you what get the president so upset that he sacked the ECG boss?

I didn’t say that he told me personally; he announced it on the radio station. He called the radio station and told them that the president was very upset and that he has terminated the employment of the boss of Kumasi ECG or suspended him, something to that effect. The president was very upset, the spokesman said.

Ah, but did he say what got the president’s goat?

Where have you been? Didn’t you see how the whole nation was embarrassed by the light off at the Baba Yaara Stadium in Kumasi during the Ghana versus Lesotho football match?

Wait, wait, the light off at a stadium got the president so upset that he has to sack the Kumasi ECG boss?

That’s what the president’s spokesman said.

Then we are in trouble in this country?

Why did you say that; what do you mean?

We are in serious trouble if light off becomes excuses for firing ECG bosses.

Why, can’t you just imagine the national embarrassment, don’t you think that heads have to roll, figuratively speaking?

That is just what I don’t seem to understand. We have about three or four national black outs this year alone, and I didn’t hear that the president sack anyone. I just try to imagine the total number of man hours lost in our agriculture, mining and manufacturing industries during those blackouts. I just try to imagine the number of deaths occasioned by those blackouts in our hospitals. Yet our president didn’t get so upset as to sack anyone. So, why would he be going around sacking people because of a football match light mishap?

You really don’t get it. Do you know any Ghanaian who doesn’t love football? Do you know of any Ghanaian who doesn’t feel passionate about our Black stars?

All that could be true, but I still don’t understand why mere football matches should be more important than the running of our economy.

You cannot be serious. So, the president is watching his football, maybe with some important dignitaries and , vooom, just like that, EC switches power off. Do you mean to tell me that running economy is more important that causing the president huge embarrassment?

I don’t believe that tale. The presidency does not run on the ordinary national grid, and I cannot believe that the home of the whole Executive President of the Republic of Ghana will not have automatic generator to stand by in case of light off. I therefore find the whole story incongruous, fishy. Something is terribly amiss.

Like what?

How do I know that the spokesman was not just telling us his own opinion?

But he was quoted as telling us that the president was upset and that head would roll. He then announced the sacking of the Kumasi ECH boss.

I won’t put it past petty officials trying to impress friends or their apushkelekes by using the president’s name. Supposing, just supposing that the spokesman was watching the match with his current affairs and the light went. He tries to impress the lady by grabbing his phone to call radio stations and purported to speak for the president. It looks impressive when you yell down the line and tell people that the president is saying this or that, doesn’t it? Again, if, and that is a big if, the president chooses to relax by watching a game of football, would he not do that with his family and chums, rather than with a spokesman?

But the president hasn’t come out to deny it!

Presidents are very busy people. Where would they find the time to react to every story they read in our news-papers, which are not noted for accurate reporting, to begin with. But that is not why I said we are trouble.

Why did you say that, then?

It simply does not look when people in high position lose their cool and start calling radio stations. We will never know whether or not the president was angry. We will never even know whether the man like football or watch that particular match; that is not the issue. What we know is decisions, especially presidential-decisions, should be made after very deep sober reflections. It does not look dignified when those that speaks for the president turn themselves into serial callers.

Why are you changing the subject?

I am not changing any subject, I’m just telling you what I find disturbing about the whole tale you told me. To begin with, my understanding is that president’s have no power to sack civil servants just like that. There are procedures to be followed in terminating appointments of employees of state’s corporations. Blessedly, we no longer live under military regimes where such things are the norms. So, when someone calls radio stations to announce the termination of people’s appointment, it ridicules the office of the president. That is my main gripe. The second problem I have is that I learn that Kumasi ECG actually is divided into two sections – East and West. A presidential spokesman must always be on top of issues. If he comes out to announce the termination of the appointment of the Kumasi ECG boss, it is the duty of our journalists to call him to order. They should make him look ridiculous by pointing out the ridiculousness of his statement. Secondly, they should have asked him from where his boss, the president, derives the power to play dictator.

The action or inaction of a chief can destroy a town.” – African proverb

Friday, June 1, 2012

A free Education manifesto for Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo

On the expansion of knowledge I stand.” – Martin Luther

I should like to damn the communications department of the main Ghanaian opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

There we have a bunch of incompeteniks looking on in askance whilst the other parties bash the most laudable idea propounded by their presidential candidate to hell.
Gosh, what a bunch of imcompetendos!

Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo came up with the most praiseworthy programme of any political party since overthrow of the first republic – free education for every Ghanaian child up to the SHS level, and we have some people lampooning it to hell.

And more gallingly, the so-called communication team of the NPP failed to rally robustly to defend this most commendable programme. They allowed the opposition a field day to condemn a programme that every patriotic Ghanaian should embrace and support.

Since the nogoodniks at the communication department of the NPP are unlikely to do anything positive soon, I have given myself the task of drafting the following address for their candidate.
Of course, any political party can adopt it with the hope that they will remember to substitute their candidate’s name!

“Fellow Ghanaians, I send you my greetings. Few days ago I announced my party’s programme and policy on education. I announced my intention to take the burden of education off the shoulders of struggling parents and make the provision of free and qualitative education the state’s burden.

I announced that my government shall provide every Ghanaian child free education up to the Senior High School level.

Sadly, my political opponents, I shall not call them enemies, saw everything wrong with this proposal.

Without debating the merit or otherwise of this scheme, they condemned it as unachievable, utopian, expensive. My character was not spared the venomous darts of the people who, given their privileged positions in society, ought to know better.

I shall not insult my intelligence and my mind by taking issues with the puerile and often prurient arguments posited by my opponents. And I have too much respect for the good people of our blessed republic to resort to the types of gutter languages my opponents elected to employ.

The issue is not about me, Nana Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Like every human, I admit to having foibles and defects; only the gods are holy and without blemish. As Our Lord Jesus Christ said:” Let him without blemish cast the first stone.”

I stand before you today, my fellow compatriots, to make a solemn and sacred pledge that I stand firmly by my proposal to provide free and compulsory education for every Ghanaian child up to the Senior High School level.

This is my sacred covenant with you and you can take it to any bank.

If even I did not do any other thing during my presidential tenure, but ensure that every Ghanaian child is not deprived of education because of the circumstance or situation of his or her parent, I shall feel fulfilled indeed.

It is quite simple, dear compatriots, but in order to confuse issues, my opponents chose to lambast my person. They say that I have inordinate ambition to become president.

My only reply to them is that for how long shall we continue with these types of pedestrian politicking that has not benefitted our nation in our over fifty years of our existence as a nation?
I am ambitious, so what? It is only the dead that have no ambitions.

They say that I am arrogant. If not engaging in guttersnipish politicking is arrogance, so be it. I offer no apology.

Yes, I am ambitious. I am ambitious to see Ghanaians and Africans performing at the same level as the other people and other races.

I have been truly blessed in life. Very few Ghanaians had my privileged upbringing. I had the best education there is to be had. I have led a very successful life that few people will ever be privileged to live. I am fully contented with my station in life.

My only ambition now is to render a service to the society that has been so kind to me. I should love to use the remainder of my time on earth to improve the lot of my people. It is an ambition for which I render no apology.

My reading of history and political economy taught me that no nation has made progress with an illiterate and badly educated citizen. It is equally true that none of the nations we call great today left the education of its children to any other entity but the state.

The foundation of every developed economy was laid by the provision of free, qualitative and compulsory education. Rescue and correct me if I’m wrong, please.

Even in the most capitalist of countries, the state provides the largest investment in education. We can cite the examples of the United States of America and the Royal Kingdom of the Netherlands.
In the technically-advanced countries, where the state does not provide free education, they make it possible for students to have easy access to grants or loans so that every child is given equal access and opportunity to quality education.

This is what I propose to do and it is what sent my opponent into overdrive.

They asked question about how we are going to finance it. It is sad that this question is being posed by those on whom our society has bestowed some privileges.

Many of those leading the charges of ‘No money’ were those that enjoyed the free education our founding president, Kwame Nkrumah, provided when our country was poorer and has less resources than we have today.

Fellow citizens, it is quite simple, really. When we study history and look around us, the only lesson we can draw is that knowledge is everything.

We are called ‘poor,’ ‘third-world,’ ‘hipc,’ and other derogatory names because we have been unable to equip our citizens with the necessary education that would make them the equal of the best in the world.

But the fault lies not in our starts but in us. It lies in our inability to get our priorities right.

As the great Nigerian Playwright, Ola Rotimi, said: “The gods are not to blame.”

We have been lucky and very blessed in Ghana. By providing us with immeasurable mineral resources, the gods have certainly done their best for us. What is left is for us to provide the brains to transform these metals into products that will drive our economy and improve the lives of our people.

Fellow citizens, I say that it is time we ask ourselves some questions. We ought to ask why, despite all our vast resources, we remain poor and we continue to beg?

Our mineral resources are vast and plentiful, but without the human resources to transform them into usable products, we shall continue to rely on the technical help of other people. And let no one fool you that these technical help come cheaply. No, they don’t.

If you read that our nation receives between four and six percent as royalty for our gold and ten percent for our oil, do not be surprised.

These insulting arrangements are possible only because the foreigners know that we lack the technical capabilities to use our god-given resources. They know that without them, these resources cannot be extracted and exploited. So they demanded and got huge chunk of what should rightly belong to us.

Inasmuch as we hated this arrangement, there is absolutely nothing we can do about it so long as we refused to equip our own people with the required education. We should try to understand that the foreigners invested heavily in their technical education. Today, they are reaping handsome rewards from their investment in education.

And why do my opponents find it difficult to accept that we try and do the same thing? It is true that we have huge reservoir of oil and lots of gold and other minerals. But any geologist will tell you that these are finite products that will one day be exhausted.

What is inexhaustible is knowledge. The human brain possesses infinite and immeasurable possibilities and potentials. By investing in developing the brains of our children, we are building a large pool of inexhaustible reservoir of brain power that will benefit our country in years to come.

We currently spend between 5 to 7 percent of our GDP on education. My scheme will add about two percent more to this. That means we will still be spending less than ten percent of our resources on education. I say that this is price any serious nation should be to afford to pay.

It is sad that those that have no problem splashing huge sums of money on dubious judgment debt have issue with increasing education budget.

Let no one tell you that education will come cheap. It will not. But as the saying goes: “if you think that education is expensive, try ignorance.”

For years we have tried ignorance and it has not helped us. Today, fifty five years after our independence, we still rely on foreigners to do the most basic of things for us. We still do not construct the bulk of our houses; we still do not build our own roads; we still do not construct our own dams; we still do not grow our own food; we still do not participate at any level of science and technology.

But we are consuming all these things. And let no one tell you that they come cheap; they do not. Last year, our bill for imported rice was over five hundred million dollars.

Fellow citizens, my intention was not to bog you down with all these sad statistics. I only intend to put into context what my proposed education policy is set to achieve for our dear country.
The truth is that we simply cannot continue the way we are going. We need a paradigm shift. We need a change in our mindsets. We need to shift our gaze from consumption to production. We can do this only by acquiring the knowledge and the skills necessary to transform our lives and the future of our dear nation.

I do not say that it is going to be easy. But as your president, I intend to take harsh and hard decisions. One thing we all have to learn is that nothing good in life come cheap.
Nations are built by leaders willing to take the critical decisions that are necessary in order to change the destiny of their nations. Societies are built by leaders with visions who provided the necessary architectural visions citizens need to galvanise themselves.

We only have to look at the tiny statelet of Singapore to see how the provision of high quality education can transform a country from a backward state into a first world economy within a generation. Singapore has no mineral resource of any description. What the country has is high grade, highly educated people. Today, the around four million Singaporeans, occupying about 685sp km of land, enjoy a standard of living at par with the best in the world.

Cuba is another example of a country that managed to transform itself by providing free and qualitative education for her people. Today, we very enthusiastically welcome the help the tiny Island is rendering to our country in the field of medicine and agriculture. Cuba’s population is about eleven million; we are twenty four million. Cuba is earning good money from her prudent investment in education and is able to afford to send us high-quality medical staff. And let It be remember that it was Cuban troops that broke the back of the South African troops and ensured the independence of Angola.

If the Singaporeans and the Cubans can do it and my opponents say we in Ghana cannot, our retort should be: “Any why not, massa?”

We can also cite the example of South Korea. This is another country that dramatically transformed itself into a world power within a generation.

I was told that one of the South Korean giant conglomerates has as its motto” Korea can do.”

That is the whole spirit. A people must believe in themselves. They must have confidence in themselves. Without this self-confidence, no transformation is possible. We must also say: “Ghana can do!”

My opponents ask where we are going to get the money to fund our education programme. It is hard to understand why the same question is not being asked as to how we find the money to import rice and buy al the comforts for our Power Elite.

When it comes to paying dubious judgment debt, we find the money without problem. But when it comes to educating our children, we hear lamentations of “where is the coming going to come from.”

Fellow Ghanaians, I made a compact with you today. Let no one tell you that it is going to be easy. Life is about making choices. Do we continue on the same sad path we have walked over the years without getting anywhere, or we make the decision to do something different, however radical.

It is true that we have sectors like defence, health, agriculture and housing that require huge investments.

But when we consider it critically, the simple truth emerges that the best defence our nation can have is highly educated, motivated and patriotic citizens. If the people of Ghana see their government invest heavily in their education, no one needs to exhort them to become patriotic and defend the country stoutly. We can be truly secured only when our engineers and scientists are building for us the tools and equipments we require to defend ourselves.

The foreign content of our agriculture, housing and industrial inputs are what drives the cost high; this can easily be remedied when we start to rely on our indigenous technologists to provide them using our readily available materials.

Another thing that I learn from my study of history is that every society that has succeeded has sacrificed a generation.

It simply means that a generation must commit to make itself the sacrificial generation, defer its enjoyment so that the society can save and prosper for future generation to enjoy.

That is the crust of the matter. The question and the choice before us today is stark: are we prepare to make this sacrifice?

As your president, I am ready and prepare to lead this transformation. I do not say that I can make Ghana become a developed nation in my first four years, but I can and I shall lay the foundation to set us on the path to become a power to be reckoned within ten to fifteen years.

If the South Koreans, the Cubans, the Singaporeans can do it, I say: Ghana can do!

To show my commitment and seriousness, I have assembled a bi-partisan study group of the most qualified Ghanaians to study submit to me within the next four weeks a total and holistic plan to transform our education system. Their sole remit is to produce for us an education system that is directly and organically linked to our industrial, agricultural, scientific, technological and cultural policies.

I shall share their report with you as soon as it is ready. But I wish to start clearly and unequivocally today is that my first act as a president is the enactment, by an Executive Order, if necessary, that will introduce a free and compulsory education up to SHS level.

It is said that pessimists see problem with every proposition, whilst optimist sees proposition in every problem. I am by nature eternally optimist. When they say “it is impossible; it cannot be done,” I say “why not?”

Fellow Ghanaians, I make a confession to you today: I have just one wish in life, and that is to die with a smile on my face knowing that I left behind a Ghana, nay an Africa, that has finally woken up from centuries of deep slumber and is rightfully taken her place among the comity of nations.

Fellow compatriot, I conclude my address with this paraphrase of the saying by a US president: “It’s education, stupid.”

I thank you all for lending me your ears. May the ancestors continue to guide us and light our path with wisdom, love and understanding.
God bless our great republic, Ghana.

Wise saying:

" Never use both feet to test the depth of the sea." - African proverb