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17.03.2004 Feature Article

Letter from The President: The Army's "redesigning" assignment

Letter from The President:  The Army's
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Countrymen and women, praise singers and 'against' people, I have been closely following the debate which has been sparked by the brand new ceremonial car I used to review the guard of honour at the Independence Anniversary Parade. You remember my last letter before the parade? In that letter I stated that we had no justification for celebrating our independence – because we are now worse off than we were when the British colonialists were here. I recommended that instead of celebrating the events of 6th March, 1957 we should rather pour ashes on our heads, wear sack cloth and mourn. Alas, my advise was not taken and as we have done for over four decades, we converged at the Independence Square for a national parade. On that day, I was quite taken aback when I saw the brand new 'half' Nissan 4WD vehicle, which was made available for me to use for the review. I enjoyed the ride – who doesn't like brand new things? But I think the use of that car for that particular occasion was inappropriate. Why? Because it is a frigging waste of money! The old Land Rover, which Nkrumah used for the first Independence Anniversary 'transports' us back into the days. It is a very useful historical monument and it is the only appropriate vehicle for reviewing the Independence Day guard of honour. We throw that vehicle away, for whatever reason, and we are discarding a very important part of our history. Whose idea was it anyway to get a new review car anyway? Did I ever ask for a new vehicle? Maybe I did, but I don't remember. Whatever you have to say about that car, please don't accuse me because I had nothing to do with it. I went to the parade ground, they brought a car for me to ride in and I jumped aboard. Initially, I thought it was a custom-made car. As I rode on it for the review, I began to wonder why I was not feeling guilty about riding on such an expensive car. I really enjoyed the ride while it lasted. But now I don't want to ride on that car again. Never! I like the old, vintage one which really gives me the independence feeling. It is not spoilt and I don't see why it should be discarded. I also think that the new review car is a reflection of our national folly. Look, that car was originally bought for about four hundred million cedis for the State Protocol Office. Then some under-worked engineers of the Army decided to please me by cutting that car apart (halving it), all in the name of 'redesigning'. Now a car, which could have been used for various purposes – like transporting visiting dignatories and for my own medium-distance travels – has been reduced to a contraption, which can only be used for just about 30 minutes in a whole year. What sort of wastefulness is that? We would have been better off selling the car, for say 200 million cedis, and the proceeds given to Dr. Frimpong Boateng at Korle Bu to redesign a few hearts. Better still, we could have used the money to renovate the Kanda Cluster of Schools, which is on the verge of collapsing and killing hundreds of innocent children. Someone has really caused a huge financial loss to the state. I don't know if it's me – but whoever did it has to be punished. I have just read a publication in one of those newspapers which have taken it upon themselves to sing my praises that the engineers of the army want us to praise them for 'redesigning', and rendering the car useless. I also heard someone saying on radio that 'redesigning' that vehicle is the Army's first step in its bid to build a Ghanaian car. First of all, I want to make it clear that the army's job is not to make cars. Theirs is to defend our territorial integrity and occasionally maintain the peace. If for one reason or the other they are seldom called upon to execute these functions locally (except in areas like Dagbon, of course) they should not waste their time and our money to 'redesign' expensive cars. If anything needs 'redesigning' it is their delusory minds. What makes the army engineers think that they should be congratulated for 'redesigning' that beautiful Nissan, which had already been well designed by some Japanese chaps? Is it because, the cut the car in half and managed to fix some retractable steps at the rear? A Japanese teenager can easily do this and he won't expect to be praised for it. What the engineers in the army have done is like converting a powerful computer with video, audio and various other capabilities and turning it into a mere jukebox and expecting to be praised for it. I'd rather say “shame” to the army. Perhaps they need ideas on how best to deploy their expertise to produce something authentic. Instead of 'redesigning' vehicles, I suggest that army engineer's regiment should be deployed to the northern parts of the country to design pumps which can be used to extract water from the belly of the earth. This will serve the hundreds of thousands of people in the area who have no access to potable water and have been compelled to drink from guinea-worm infested rivers. We must be tired of importing pumps (and borehole equipment) from people who know nothing about the hard rocky conditions up north. The engineers in the army should also come up with some 'appropriate' but cheap local technology for recycling the sea of waste products we are drowning in. How about designing (not redesigning) an efficient system, which will ensure that waste collected in Accra is transported through an underground system to the Burma Camp, where it will be converted into useful energy for cooking for the troops? I bet they've not thought about this. All they want to do is redesign, redesign and redesign. Well, I can also suggest a 'redesigning' concept for those who love to redesign. How about redesigning that obnoxious mis-invention known as the KVIP. I have never hidden my disdain for the KVIP. In fact, I think whoever invented the KVIP (aka 'whito') should be arrested and jailed for wasting his brain cells. We have not found inventor of the KVIP yet and I think the army can help me forget about him by remodeling the KVIP. For starters they should redesign the KVIP to reduce the intensity of the stench it produces. Still on facilities for dealing with the final by-product of human metabolism, I will like to see the army engineers redesigning even the water closet system we use in our homes. I feel very sad that every time I experience an abdominal evacuation, I use about 30 litres of pure drinking water to clean 'things' up. Yet, there are millions of Ghanaians who pay a fortune to get a one-litre cup of water to drink. Is it possible for underworked, overpampered and 'redesign'-happy engineers in the army to develop a system which can automatically pump waste water from the bathroom into a receptacle? Water in this receptacle could be used to clean 'things' up after every individual episode of abdominal evacuation. By so doing, water, millions of litres of clean drinking water, which would have been used for such a 'wasteful' venture will be diverted and supplied to those who have access to none. 'Redesigning' is easier than designing an original. But there is much more glory and pleasure in the latter. Perhaps, the army engineers do not know this. Since I came to sit on the Black Star stool, I have over-pampered them so much that they feel I (and my government) should applaud everything they do. They have taken undue advantage of my fear of a coup. Now I have told them my peace of mind and I am happy. I don't fear coups again. Halleluyah! Excellently Original, JA Fukuor [email protected]

J. A. Fukuor
J. A. Fukuor, © 2004

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

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