The president is not only a miser but also a poor man. He has proved beyond reasonable doubt that he abhors ostentatious lifestyles and profligate spending. That is why he eats Ga kenkey without fish or 'shito'. A man who taught at the University of Ghana for more than 25 years, worked as the boss of the Internal Revenue Service for 10 years, was the Vice President of Ghana for close to six years and a sitting president of Ghana for the past three years, could not buy fried fish to add up to the five balls of Ga kenkey he bought at the Nima market the other day. When he asked for the price of kenkey and the woman told him one went for fifty pesewas, he should have as well asked for the price of the fried fish the woman had displayed on the table. Even the beggar on the streets of Accra will never buy Ga kenkey without buying fried fish. The man did not even wait to collect pepper or shito to match. I doff my heart to this Fanteman who eats kenkey without pepper. A president like this one should be given the chance to rule the nation till he dies. After all, he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth like 'Asomasi' whose father was the ceremonial President of Ghana. 'Fariyi Kwaegya, mbo, aye adze papaapa'.
I have been writing in this column that the handlers of President Mills are not doing him any good at all. Just look at the scenario which warranted a tour of five markets in Accra and the panic buying of balls of kenkey. The Ghana News Agency conducted a survey in some areas in Accra and Tema and came out with the result that the price of a ball of kenkey has soared up. In fact, the survey indicated that the prices range from fifty Ghana pesewas to one Ghana cedi. Radio Ghana picked up the story and broadcasted it to the nation. Based on the story, the Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Akomea, said that times were hard because apart from the price of kenkey, prices of other commodities had skyrocketed. That simple statement sent the Castle, the seat of government, reeling and shaking.
And so quickly the image makers of the government convened a meeting and decided that the president should, as a matter of urgency, move to some markets in Accra with a huge entourage, led by a motorcade. Wearing a deceptive broad smile, the man who is well known as a jester started shaking hands with the rented crowd. As he moved from one area to another, he did not ask of the prices of rice, gari, cement, sugar, etc, but when he reached where the woman was selling kenkey at Nima, he asked for the price of a ball of kenkey and when the woman told him it was fifty pesewas, he pulled out two Ghana cedis and fifty pesewas to buy five balls of kenkey. Because the family of the president is made up of Naadu Mills and himself alone, the assumption is that two people were going to consume five balls of kenkey without fried fish. (sic!!!). On that fateful day, the dogs of Naadu Mills did not get fish bones to eat. Poor dogs, and they were not allowed to go out to scavenge for carcasses! (But where is Sam Atta Mills, the only child of president Mills who was born out of wedlock?)
But on a more serious note, come to think of this, if indeed the president wanted to know the real price of kenkey, couldn't he have sent Koku Anyidoho to buy one at Osu where his office is located? The people of Osu are predominantly Ga and their staple diet is kenkey. As for the people of Nima, they are predominantly zongo people and kenkey is not their staple diet so the price of a ball of kenkey could be low at Nima.
The truth is that the woman who was selling kenkey at Nima had been coached to perform with President Bob Santo during that concert show. The whole thing doesn't wash. You think sey we be small boys?
As his term gradually grinds to an end, the president is continuously being made to look like a stranger in the country he governs. We the working class who patronize the markets are aware that the prices of commodities have increased drastically. We are aware the increase in prices of commodities is as a result of the increase in the prices of petroleum products. In the case of kenkey, we are aware that the erratic rainfall we had last year led to the low production of maize, the raw material for the preparation of kenkey. We are also aware that the issue of the food buffer zone being touted by the Minister of Food and Agriculture is a sham. In fact, those who live in the maize producing areas always laugh when they hear government officials telling people that they have subsidized farm inputs like cutlasses and fertilizers. If you visit the Techiman, Nkoranza, Kintampo, Wenchi and other markets located in maize producing areas, a bag of maize sells between GH¢100 and GH¢120. The businesswomen from Takoradi, Cape Coast, and Accra etc who buy from these markets pay high transport fares to convey the maize to their areas. They have no option but to sell the maize at a high cost to the kenkey producer, who also sells the shrunken balls of kenkey at high cost to the final consumer. That is simple logic and doesn't need a whole president to move the Castle to a market to buy a ball of kenkey to wrongly prove to Ghanaians that the price is low. When Mills held the reins of power, the price of a ball of kenkey was 20GP but three years down the line, the price has tripled if not quadrupled despite the so called single digit inflation figure. Instead of sitting down at the Castle to find the solution, our president is always being misled to play on the intelligence of Ghanaians. Gone were the days when we were so docile for our own economic good. This time around, we will never allow any politician to throw dust into our eyes. The president's trick backfired badly.
The truth is like a calabash. No matter how hard you try to submerge it under water, it will not stay there. As the president and his cohorts continue to lie to the people of this country, a time will come when they will have nothing to say. That will be the end of their tether. And that is where they will hang themselves. There is nothing more priceless than the truth. That is why the Lord Jesus Christ said, 'Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free'. If you use truth as a weapon to govern a nation, you are admired if even the truth is bitter.
During the 2000 electioneering campaign, candidate Kufuor told Ghanaians that the prices of petroleum products were unbearable and promised to do something about it when he was elected as the president of Ghana. At that time, the price of a gallon of petrol was six thousand five hundred old cedis. When he won the elections, he realized that as compared to prices of petroleum products in the neighboring countries, Ghana was selling cheaper petroleum products. The man was quick to retract and told Ghanaians that he did a mistake when he made that statement and charged Ghanaians to bite the bullet by paying realistic prices for petroleum products in order to keep the nation moving and to do away with smuggling of petroleum products to neighboring countries. He told us the naked truth and we as a people did not blink an eye when the price was increased to ten thousand five hundred old cedis per gallon of petrol.
It was President Mills who told Chaka Sally of the BBC's Straight Talk Africa programme that he did not believe in churning out cold statistics like the way the NPP did as far as the issue of inflation was concerned.
He said even though the NPP had been shouting from the rooftop that they were able to bring inflation down, when you visited the communities you could see able-bodied men playing draft and idling away because there were no jobs for them to do.
Three years down the lane, the NDC apparatchiks are daily bombarding our ears with single digit inflation, forgetting that their leader told us three years ago that he did not believe in churning out cold statistics. Indeed, three years down the lane, prices of goods and services have reached the sky while able- bodied men and women still sit under trees, idling away. Come again Mr. President.
Sometimes I sincerely have a soft spot in my angelic heart for the president. The quivering height and protruding belly of his spokesman, Koku Anyidodo, seem to overshadow the president's ability to think for himself. Instead of directing communication, Koku directs affairs of the state through naked and shameless lies. And the president seems to believe in him. And the president also finds it very difficult to uncoil himself from the magic grip of this man who is obviously a novice in governance. Koku uses this magic to force the president to dance naked in public like he did at the Nima market. Good Lord, how I miss the Gentle Giant!!!
By Eric Bawah