100 Days of Modesty and Moderation
The story is told of a Muslim Ulami, who was being disturbed by children playing behind his house while he was meditating. This Muslim legal scholar thought of how he could send these children away so that he could have his peace to meditate.
He is said to have gone out to tell the children that a man was distributing sweets at the centre of town so all the children started running to the town centre. With the children gone the Ulami had the needed peace to pray. However, when he finished his prayers he saw streams of people trooping to the town centre and when he asked about what was happening, he was told that a man was at the centre of town distributing gifts.
At first the Ulami broke into laughter, knowing very well that he originated the story, but when he saw many more people going to the town centre, he himself began to doubt. To cut a long story short, he also joined the crowd to the town centre thinking that what he said might be true after all.
This Writer has narrated this incident to show that he personally does not see how important the first 100 days of a President is, but since everybody else is rushing to the town centre, he might as well join in.
History has it that at the height of the Economic Depression, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt used his first 100 days in office to quickly push through Congress a series of reforms aimed at righting the economy.
Since then, the first 100 days of each administration have become a benchmark to track the progress of a new American President.
So Ghana, a typical copycat, has borrowed this practice from America, but as usual Ghanaians did not copy correctly. We started computing from the day President John Evans Atta Mills was sworn in, instead of the day he started work, as is the case in United States. From the Untied States computation President Mills' 100th day falls on Friday 17th April 2009.
The Ghana News Agency reported on 6th March 2009: “Modesty and moderation replaced flamboyance and extravagance as thousands of Ghanaians from all walks of life on Friday congregated at the Independence Square to mark Ghana's 52nd Independence Anniversary.
“In line with the policy of cutting down expenditure at the State Protocol Department and with an eye on environmental concerns, the miniature Ghana flags distributed at the function were made from paper, which is bio-degradable rather than the ubiquitous plastic.
“Only two dispatch riders instead of the previous more than a dozen escorted President John Evans Atta Mills, apparently to cut down on fuel consumption.”
For those, who followed the 2008 electioneering campaign, the phrase “cutting profligate spending” was more than often on the lips of the then “Candidate Mills”.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Manifesto said it in as many words; “establish a lean but effective and efficient government by cutting out ostentation and profligate expenditure, rationalizing ministries and ministerial appointments and promoting service, humility and integrity as canons of government”.
To this Writer, who had had the occasion to complain about the lifestyle of some functionaries of the former administration, the fulfilment of this promise by President Mills alone gives him 50 per cent of the marks to be awarded. One only hopes that he would keep watch over his appointees to ensure that “they walk in the path of righteousness for…”. It is often said that riches cannot hide.
GNA reported on Monday April 13 2009: “President John Evans Atta Mills on Monday gave his administration “high marks” on its performance in the first 100 days, saying the Government had achieved a lot of the things it set out to do.
“Speaking at a news conference at the Castle as part of activities marking the first 100 days of his government, which falls on Friday April 17 2009, he listed the pledges in the manifesto of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), and said most of the things had largely been achieved.
“The NDC promised a leaner government compared to that of the Former New Patriotic Party administration; respect for accountability and probity; cutting off of extravagance and profligacy; review of taxes and tariffs; inauguration of the Board of the National Council for Persons with Disability; tackling of the sanitation problem; composition of Boards and control of armed robbery.
“'If you see what we have done, we've scored high marks,' he told the news conference, which was also attended by Ministers of State and party officials.
“President Mills noted that while the first 100 days were regarded as honeymoon for governments, his did not enjoy a honeymoon.
“He said his government had only three days to prepare to over take power in the midst of very high public expectations and dismissed suggestions that he had been slow in government. He was declared President-Elect on Saturday January 3, 2009 and was sworn into office on Wednesday January 7 2009.
“He said his administration was moving as fast as the Fourth Republican Constitution and other legal processes permitted it to do.
“President Mills stressed the need for a through approach to governance, devoid of taking hasty political decisions that the government might regret later, but said the records showed that his administration had moved rather fast.
“President Mills said he did not want to repeat some of the mistakes that were made in the past.
“'The people of this country will never forgive us if we do something adverse to the law,' the President said, adding that he would shield neither members of his government nor the previous administration that fell foul of the law.
“President Mills drew attention to the fact that under the rule of law; there was the need to follow due process and that entailed time to collect facts and figures and to carry out thorough investigations.
''It is not our intention to repeat the mistakes. Some people were asked to proceed on leave and they were on leave for eight years….Remember the allegations that were made against (members of the previous NDC government)… They even went to my house saying I have stolen a car.'
“President Mills said he had full confidence in his Ministers, adding that with time, their abilities would stand out for all to see.
“During question and answer time, President Mills repeated his statement in the State of the Nation Address to re-examine all high profile narcotic cases and deal with culprits according to the law.
“He said the assassination of Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II, Overlord of Dagbon, would be re-examined without any pre-conceived ideas, and that the criminal aspect would be separated from purely chieftaincy issues, stressing that there would be no peace in that area so far as the criminals walked free.”
To this Writer, President Mill has begun on the right note. One only hopes that he would continue to walk the talk. Indeed things in Ghana must from now be done in President Mills' way. The buck ends on his table. He is ultimately responsible. To improvise from our American friends; “if you find the sitting room too cool you better get out”.
A GNA News Feature by Boakye-Dankwa Boadi