Go to Korle-Bu, Mr President!
6/20/2012 5:19:32 PM -
It is rather curious that whenever he is in dire need of medical treatment and attention for his alleged throat cancer, President John Evans Atta-Mills chooses the United States and New York City, of all places, instead of China, Russia or even Cuba, the ideological fonts of inspiration of his so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC) - (See 'Prez Mills Off to the US for Medical Check-Up' Ghanaweb.com 6/17/12).
Interestingly, in the wake of massive petroleum discovery offshore in the Western Region by some New Patriotic Party supporters in the oil industry resident in Texas and their business associates, upon taking over the reins of governance in January 2009, the Mills-led NDC administration vehemently agitated for the Chinese to be made primary beneficiaries of the same. To be certain, this is what the much-debated $3 billion development loan from Beijing is largely about. And so, of course, was the failed $10 billion STX contractual scam with the South Koreans.
As I noted back then, it would have made better sense if the KIA automobile manufacturers had been invited to Ghana, instead, to facilitate the industrial upgrading of the Suame Magazines and Abossey Okais dotted across the country.
Anyway, my interest in the rampant medical travels of President Mills is two-fold, namely, the impact of such privilege on the development of our national public medical system and/or the woeful lack thereof; and the critical question of whether, indeed, it is legitimate for such considerable financial burden to be shifted onto the sagging nape of the Ghanaian taxpayer. In the case of Ms. Zita Okaikoi, the former NDC Information Minister (See 'Zita Okaikoi Is Nobody's Fool' Ghanaweb.com 6/21/10), I vehemently decried the fact that as long as ministers of state and other highly placed officials in government were afforded virtual carte-blanche opportunities to travel abroad for medical attention, the likelihood of Ghana's healthcare system being upgraded to the level of even that of a middle-income economy was very doubtful.
What is even more troubling is that the Mills-led NDC government has shamelessly demonstrated time and again that access to qualitative medical facilities and services at home is not among its topmost priorities. And it is also quite likely that the President's all-too-lackadaisical attitude towards the Woyome scandal, that is, his apparently brazen and abject insensitivity to the economic interests and well-being of the Ghanaian taxpayer, has indisputably much to do with the fact that the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces does not have to endure the deadly kinks and unfathomable mediocrity of the country's current public healthcare system.
In sum, rather than cheaply make President Mills' ill-health an electioneering campaign referendum, the burdensome cost of his rampant travel abroad for medical checkups and treatment is what ought to be the campaign issue. And likewise, his apparently abject insensitivity to the relative inaccessibility of qualitative healthcare facilities to responsible, well-educated and hardworking Ghanaians is what ought to be fore-grounded in the ongoing national discourse on healthcare.
The question regarding the extent of the seriousness of his ailment is absolutely relevant, in view of the fact that even when he has insisted on being hale and hearty, President Mills has more than amply demonstrated that he is simply an incorrigible political weakling and an indescribably incompetent administrator. For instance, in the wake of the most recent flare-up of interethnic conflicts across the nation, the Office of the President was almost totally caught off-guard, even though scarcely a couple of weeks earlier, in the wake of power failure during the 2012 World-Cup qualifying tournament between Lesotho and Ghana, at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, the country's second-largest city, Mr. Koku Anyidoho, the cocky and rambunctious communications director at the presidency, would go on air and summarily claim to have fired the Asante Regional Manager of the Electricity Corporation of Ghana (ECG).
Those of us who remember the military overthrow of the Busia-led Progress Party (PP), cannot fail to vividly recall the fact that it was the quite mundane decision of Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia to seek medical treatment abroad that almost singularly facilitated his ouster by then-Col. I. K. Acheampong. The latter would also bitterly complain about the fact that Prime Minister Busia had drawn a whole year's salary in advance for the purpose at a time when most Ghanaian civil servants were barely making ends meet. In the case of President Mills, there appears to be a liberal access to our national coffers for the same purpose for which the Oxbridge-educated and far more competent and astute Dr. Busia had been constitutionally denied, viciously maligned and ousted. In fact, it would stagger the imagination of Ghana's second Prime Minister to learn that President Mills has virtually turned our national coffers into his personal wallet.
Our culture of politeness prevents many Ghanaians from calling President Mills by his real name, which is 'The Laziest Ghanaian Leader in the Postcolonial Era.' And it is primarily on the basis of his practiced laziness that Ghanaian voters ought to show Uncle Tarkwa-Atta the exit out of the old slave castle at Osu, come December 7, 2012.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of 'Ghanaian Politics Today' (Lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: email@example.com.