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February 16, 2006 | Feature Article

Kufuor, Cape Coast and the Peoples Assembly

How much did the Presidents trip to Cape Coast last week February 7, 2006 cost the ex-chegner? Many believe that the cost must be passed on to the NPP party. The outing dubbed "Presidential Peoples' Assembly", the 6th in the series and the first to be held outside Accra, appears thoroughly unproductive and a leak in the public pursue.

Bussed supporters and praise singers of the NPP party, load of officials and government appointees including Minister for Roads and Transport, Dr. Richard Anane who dropped in an excuse at CHRAJ as accompanying the President for an important national assign as though the CHRAJ investigation were less important. Of course, this indicates the wisdom in the administration procedure of suspension or interdiction; standing or stepping aside when such grave allegations are made against an official.

In the famous NPP driven Kofi Coomson corruption charges against some NDC officials in 1998 involving Mr. P.V. Obeng, Col. Osei Wusu and others, these officials stepped aside. Not so with the NPP Government and its public appointee. Shielded by the 'Great' leader President Kufuor, the NPP appointees are simply immense from corruption accusations etc.

The Accountability Office created in the wake of charges and accusations against these officials lived up to its image of a front. Recently, the incestuous institution appears to have been given a new image badly needed to show up the public distrust in this outfit.

"Bring cases to us –urges office of Accountability" the impassioned plea of the new D! irector Professor K.K. Oduro as he "challenged the general public and media to test the credibility of the office by providing them with information that could lead to the exposure of corrupt government appointees"

Ask Prof. Oduro first to tell the public why the credibility gap developed in the first instance. If Prof. Oduro is serious about his challenge let him pick up the Mr. Haruna Esseku, ex-NPP Chairman's taped voice and tell the public what he makes of the octogenarian's voice and tell- tale leaks.

But at Cape Coast the full array of the Kufuor Government was present. In tow were same believing officials from the IMF, always impressed by everything a client state, even from the 39 or so years of Mobutu, to that of the deceased old fox on our easterly border.

President Kufuor of course is a master at handling such public media encounters.! Unlike the former Head of State who believed in telling it all as it is and getting into problems for telling the truth all the time and so openly, Mr. Kufuor has the sense of the diplomatic ambivalence. Little wonder he has some foreign ministry background having served as a Junior Minister in the erstwhile Progress Party (PP) Government of Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia.

As "The Chronicle" put it, "Kufuor chats with country men from Cape Coast". Of course, it was precisely that – a chat, nothing to be taken seriously? Boosted air-condition facilities, fair amount of fresh paint and oiling of chairs etc. New electrical lines etc. a great new line of contract and jobs for the boys. More seats, extended video coverage etc, President Kufuor is reported to have dropped into the podium promptly, Not a minute late. Congratulations! ! To be substance- unfortunate to report was business as usual. Promises, more promises, self-adulation and replay of the old gramophone record with the needle trapped in the wax. A veritable broken record, played, replayed and over-played.

Cape Coast, stadium contract has been awarded and work has already commenced and would be completed in time. Who in Cape Coast doesn't know this after all the prior noise on this?

So why did the President spend so much money to go to Cape Coast to tell them the obvious. No news!

Cape Coast stadium is being built in addition to that in Sekordi, Accra, Kumasi. Tamale. Yes, but without this would we have qualified for CAN 2008? 40 million euro contract has been signed to solve the perennial water shortage in the area, well; this is per! ennial Afahge festival Presidential promise. Check the Presidential speeches annually from 2001 -2005.

In the end, the people of Cape Coast opt to slaughter a cow to the gods of Brumsu for more rain. Would you believe that they believe more in the efficacy of this "paganistic" act than in such Presidential promises and edicts? Meanwhile the schools and colleges in the Municipality have advised themselves more practically by acquiring huge bore holes and water reservoirs. In these, they trust and not the Presidential and Regional ministerial claims.

On the fight against corruption, the President said his government has enacted the new Procurement Law to make public procurement more transparent".

Luckily, CDD and the G.I.I.'s Mr. Batiderm have responded. Laws by themselves do not stop deviant behaviour. Action, transparency, enforcement, constitutes the basis for sure deterrence.

Caught between whether to advise the Cape Coast audience to go to the police with their complaints or to the Castle, Mr. President took refuge in the Procurement Law. As the adverts increase in the newspapers for indenting etc, many more are cynical that the process may as well be a mere formality. Meanwhile, Transparency International appear to join millions of Ghanaians in asserting that President Kufuor and his NPP Government are yet to do more in this area.

But why bother Mr. President? He believes corruption is in every country, including London, Japan etc?

Venture capital trust fund and Export Development Fund among others, have been created "to promote especially indigenous firms so as to expand an! d create more jobs in the country"?

Nice, comforting words, but the truth is that the indigenous firms are shutting down like ninepins. Asphyxiated by high utility bills, smuggling arising out of over liberalization and inability to enforce sanctions against known defaulters, more workers are driven back into the labour market.

Dredging of the fishing harbour in Ghana with neighboring fish landing sites at Winneba and Munford to benefit. This sounds like the late Ato Austins promises of the 1986's when he was the Central Regional Secretary.

In spite of the huge votes garnered by Kwesi Nduom from the people of Edina, nothing much has changed dramatically for them except his own Coconut Grove Hotel, which now hosts literally all state conferences and seminars. He is still batting with the defecation, begging and harassment of tourists who troop into! Elimina to see the 1482 slave edifice –Elimina Castle.

Question time sounded worse than boring. One Pastor Oppong had a part on the back as the President supported his plea that Ghanaians must not invest working time in churches. What are Pastor Oppong and the President saying? How many people working in establishments where proper work ethics and proper remuneration is being paid are steeling off into churches during office hours? Religion is the opinion of the poor, so says Karl Marx.

We pray to secure jobs. We pray to hold on to our jobs. We pray to win a contracts or secure visas to move to greener pastures.

The President's claim, "God moves in a mysterious ways, but he has given us the faculty to fend for ourselves even as he blesses our efforts. So we don't need to stop the day to day work to go and sit temples waiting to see miracles". How else do we secure jobs and contracts if we don't have party cards, family contacts upstairs or money to grease the already soft government palms? For many, miracles are the only option left today. Thank God, our God is true. The Sabat Motor issue was raised again. Incredible, but President Kufuor again called on the Attorney General to study the case. The wonder is the continued faith of the Sabat workers in the NPP Government.

From 2001 when NDC was pilloried on this matter, the Sabat workers have chased the President from one forum to another.

Mr. Ayikoi Otoo the combative Attorney General could only do what-he knows best. A civil action has commenced and a criminal action is soon to follow. No joy for the dying Sabat Motor workers. What they want is simp! ly their retrenchment money which President Kufuor 's government gave them assurances yester-years.

A Mr. Koomson assaulted, dragged on the ground two years ago by the Police after the Presidential entourage had left complained no investigation. No action. Poor Mr. Kooson, he didn't appreciate that he was epitome of the NPP Government's insensitivity and impunity.

Let Mr. Koomson ask about Ya-Na and 40 other chiefs. The assault of NPP Capos in Cape Coast and Winnaba during their internecine warfare. The murder of Alhaji Mobila. CPP chairman in Tamale. The Bissian experience in Nungua, where the NPP constituency chairman was beaten to a pulp etc and NDC is seen as violent party? Same musicians sought the President's help to help enforce the copy right law. His response was classic. Go look for a lawyer to enforce the law on your behalf.

Shaddy work on the road leading to Lake Bosumtwe?

The President asked the citizens in the area to report any shoddy work they might notice for swift action. Why are Dr. Anane and his Ministry still in place then?

Away from Accra, Mr. Agyir Blankson told the Cape Coast around that he had all the names of the hawkers in Accra who would be given spaces in the new market. Challenged about the state of the Bawjiase, Menkessim, Kotokuraba Market, the President tasked this representatives in the region to updates him on the development in the markets.

In futuristic style, the minister for local Government talked about a "quantity survey of the Bawjiase market before it is put in tender".

Not to be left out, Hon. Isaac Edumadze, the only person fit to be Regional Minister! in Central Region for six years in the NPP Government, hinted at a plan to "build a market complex, which needs external funds.

He "disclosed that he has had meetings with the local Government Minister to source funds from the international community to build a proper market that would stand the test of time and weather" at Kotokoraba market?

Pipe dreams! Well, the tough questions were yet to be asked when the greatest test of the success stories of President Kufuor was put by fate- there was power outage!

The overloaded cables, overloaded bussed crowds and the pressure from the several gadgets installed, cut out the light. Many guests trooped out to fan themselves and seek for God's true air. President Kufuor kept faith with himself and remained trapped like Dr. Obed Asamoah in his seat for some ten minutes under the sweltering heat –ready! to go down with the boat- true captain?

In the end the soul was willing but the flesh was week –President Kufuor gave up, left the expensively decorated conference room and abandoned the peoples Assembly.

So much money pumped into the days efforts which was in substance nothing more than a public relations gimmicked.

Noting new, nothing achieved except an opportunity for the chiefs in the area to enjoy some decent "item 13" after the event.

Last imposed question, Mr. President how about all the high electricity bills and such poor service including the one that left rotten eggs in your face last February 7? Did we go or did we come?

If the answer is unfavorable, will you be prepared to be surcharged with the expense for the day's fiasco?

Of course, Kwabena Adjapong and his team were at work the next day –President Kufuor had most successful chat with his countrymen from Cape Coast yesterday. H'mm Business as Usual. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Rikard Quaye
Rikard Quaye

The author has authored 11 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author's column: RikardQuaye

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Rikard Quaye and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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