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08.08.2003 Feature Article

Letter From The President (XII): Sell Everything

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Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, I have heard people passing some unsavoury comments about my government’s wish to wash its hands off the Ghana Commercial Bank. With the on-gong debate the reality has dawned on me that almost all those who call into radio programme do so because they have nothing to say. This is not really bad in itself because our elder says that “you only get a cure for your illness when you tell people about it”. The problem is that those who call into these radio stations to sell their illness (which in this case is ignorance) do not take the prescribed drugs for it. I am not out today to help cure the ignorance of the people. My mission today is simply to respond to some of the comments making the rounds about the planned divestiture of the Ghana Commercial Bank and other parastatals. But before I get into that I want to offer a testimony to the glory of God. Hallelujah! You know it’s been quite a while since I went to church and ‘testimony hour’ is not a regular part of the services of the church I attend. I am considering crossing aisle into another church where, week after week, I will be offered an opportunity to tell people about how God, in his infinite mercy has been saving me from coup plotters. To make a short story shorter, I am pleased to inform you that my able-bodied security men managed to foil a coup attempt on Sunday August 4, 2003. Indeed, no weapon formed against me shall prosper. Ak-47 bullets will turn into groundnuts for me to chew; rocket propelled grenades will turn into ‘apem’ plantain; stones will be turned into ‘bofrot’ and eggs hurled at me will turn into omelets. God knows I have not accomplished much. He knows am not doing as well as I promised. So he’s protecting me from evil coup plotters and he’s given me a new vision. This is a vision for NOW; no one seems to have the patience to wait till 2020… I am now going back to why I think GCB should be sold. You remember the man, B. K. Atanse? That old-fashioned diplomat, who is reported to have said that we should sell-off my government before we even consider the inviting foreign investor to take over the GCB. I think he is doesn’t like me very much. I had been making arrangements for him to be accorded something like a state burial (like having his wake keeping at the forecourt of the state house) if he kicks the bucket while am still the occupant of the Black Star Stool. When he compared the inefficiencies in the GCB to the incompetence of my government I got really angry with him so much so that I thought he had been recruited by the men hiding under the umbrella to say a few bad things about me. I have therefore purposed in my heart that if I ever meet him anywhere in town I will not even touch him with a 100-feet pole. We shall sell almost everything worth a cedi or more, except the government I am leading. The Ghana Commercial Bank will go, along with Ghana Airways, Ghana Broadcasting, the Water Company etc. All those who have been speaking out against the divestiture of state enterprises do not have a case. They claim that if we cannot sell ‘strategic’ national assets like the Water Company and the GCB to foreigners. If the Ghanaians knew that these assets were so strategic, why have they looked on unconcerned and allowed them to be mismanaged? Ghanaians know that if we allow these ‘strategic’ assets to remain in their hand, they will have free rein to do whatever they like. They won’t go to work on time and even when they do report for work, they will sit down and gossip. They will crack all sorts of jokes, some of them featuring my good sell. With little supervision from their Ghanaian compatriots, those who are working in the so-called ‘strategic’ companies will sleep on the job and device strategies for stealing from their companies when they are awake. Take the workers of the Water Company for example. They stole everything they could lay their hands on, including the chlorine used for water purification. Do you think that an investor from Burma will allow his money to be whittled away by petty thievery? When they are not stealing, most Ghanaian workers, especially those employed by my government, will quite often busy themselves planning funerals or doing some very odd things the people of the developed world cannot even imagine. Believe you me, if all those collapsed parastatals, like the GNTC and the sugar factories at Asutuare and Komenda had been in the hands of foreign investors, they would have been in full operation, offering employment to thousands of able-bodied Ghanaians. We will not conduct a referendum on whether or not any state enterprise will be sold – you think am a fool? So we will sell as much as we can – even the Black Stars team will be sold. I hope attitudes will change after the thousands of incompetent hangers-on have been sacked. This will speed our race out of HIPC-dom quite a bit. I will only consider the eminent ex-diplomat’s suggestion to sell my government if after selling all the parastatals I realize that very little has been achieved. Yours faithfully, J. A. Fukuor

J. A. Fukuor
J. A. Fukuor, © 2003

The author has 204 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: JAFukuor

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