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10.11.2003 Feature Article

Letter From The President (XXVI): Ministers, take note

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Countrymen and women, staunch loyalists and overly critical opponents, whoever said excellent ones don’t have fun. Wow! The past week was a particularly memorable one for me. I won’t forget the day I had the singular pleasure of gazing at and assessing the ‘potentials’ of so many ‘apuskelekes’ of different sizes from all the four corners of the Universe. I have heard the criticism that I should not have met with those models and that a president should “make himself scarce small”. In fact, for the first time since I became president Mama Tess criticized me and it was all because I had granted audience to those models. Someone also wrote in the newspapers that I looked “too available”. Hey, no one should spoil the fun for me. If I don’t make myself available, should I expect any available ‘apuskeleke’? I pray that more of such international beauty contests will be held in this country. Perhaps next time Mama Tess will not be around to watch my every move and my aides will be wise enough to arrange any future meeting with such models and beauty queens behind closed doors. My well-cultivated skills for wooing women are not for public consumption and/or appraisal. Over the last weekend I had a very tough time at an interaction with the members of my governing team. It was meant for us to take stock of our operations and, with the elections around the corner, devise more creative ways of making promises we can’t fulfill and forge a united front for defending our failure to fulfill past promises. I could not bring myself to tell them some hard truths I think they deserve to hear and I ended up presenting a very clever speech, delivered very boringly, urging the ministers to lead very modest lives. In other words, I would like my ministers to pretend that their economic conditions are worse now than when they were not public servants. They should do everything to keep their salaries secret and make public suggestions that what they take home at the end of every month is far less than what a minister in the Somali republic of Puntland receives. They should pretend to be poor by allowing their cars to breakdown in the middle of such busy roads as the High Street until people start taunting them with shouts of “one gallon minister”. If we want the citizens to tighten their belts, as we’ve been urging them to, we have to give them the impression that in spite of our elevated positions, we have not escaped the tentacles of HIPC. As I have already stated, courage (not the agricultural type) eluded me just when I needed it most, and so I could not raise some of the very pertinent issues I had to raise at that ministerial retreat. Thank God my non-agricultural courage has returned to me. “Better late than never”, the Whiteman’s ancestors have said. I have therefore decided to tell you about all those things I failed to tell the ministers and I expect you to deliver the message to them on my behalf. I am very sure that the courage to say these things will elude me by the time I finish writing this letter that is why I need you to deliver the message to them, please. First of all, I have been seeing a lot of my ministers on TV, talking and talking and talking – about nothing. I am a Ghanaian and I think my views represent those of a significant portion of our population. We (Ghanaians) are tired of hearing ministers repeatedly singing the same tunes about government’s commitment to one policy or the other (for example, making sure that every household has at least one KVIP). I think the problem here is that my ministers have been accepting too many invitations to ‘grace’ one occasion or the other. I don’t blame them though. The question I ask myself is why do people keep inviting ministers to ‘grace’ their occasions? Don’t you know that when you invite a minister to a programme, all he does is tell his secretary or chief director to write a speech suited to the event. Hours before the event, he is given the speech and without so much as a skim the minister tucks the script either in his pocket or file and drives (or is driven) straight to the programme venue. The first time he reads through the speech is when he’s been called to deliver it and so they end up reading unintelligible scripts, with all the grammatical and factual errors. I am therefore urging my ministers to find better ways of spending their time instead of ‘gracing’ occasions and delivering unintelligent speeches. My ministers are also said to be engaged in the habit of stealing – yes, taking what does not belong to them. Some embezzle state resources and others use their position to steal private property (including the wives of unsuspecting Ghanaians – remember Tobroni?). I am often tempted to believe almost every newspaper report, which suggests that one minister has stolen or coveted private or public property. My reluctance to investigate such reports is borne out of the fact that I don’t want those who know some of my deepest, darkest secrets to turn against me in vengeance. But my patience is running out, the pressure is getting too much to bear and the earlier the ministers stop stealing, the better. Otherwise, with the elections a few months away, I will be forced to make a scapegoat out of someone. Finally, I have noticed that a lot of my ministers are just putting up an act – pretending that they love me and will die for me. They are quick to pick up the megaphone to sing my praises at the least opportunity. They forget that, it is very easy for an excellent one like me to see beyond the façade. I know those who will not hesitate to stab me in the back for moving them from a ministry where they had a lot of opportunity to steal to a ministry where there is little or nothing to steal. Some ministers also sing my praises for the sheer fun of it. They just like to be bootlickers. I abhor all types of unnecessary praise-singing because it does not augur well for my presidential ego. Such praise-singing makes me feel more powerful than the Invader of Baghdad. I don’t like it and the earlier it stops the better for me, our party and our dear nation. Ah, my courage is gone. I can’t say anymore. Excellently Yours, J. A. Fukuor [email protected]


J. A. Fukuor
J. A. Fukuor, © 2003

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

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