Green Book of Comic Relief
Ebo Quansah in Accra
Like the original Green Book published in the 1970s, and containing the thoughts and supposed wise counsel of slain Libyan Leader Colonel Muammar Ghaddafi, the Green Book packaged by the so-called Government Communication Team, and outdoored by Vice-President John Dramani Mahama, contains materials and claims that defy logic.
In his Green Book, Col. Gaddafi states of women thus: 'Women like men are human beings. This is incontestable truth. Women are different from men in form, because they are females; just as all females in the kingdom of plants and animals differ from the male of their species. According to gynaecologists, women, unlike men, menstruate each month. Since men cannot be impregnated, they do not experience the ailments that women do. She breastfeeds for nearly two years.'
The man, who gave himself the title of King of Kings of Africa, had a very interesting exposÃ© on freedom of expression. 'Whilst it is democratically not permissible for an individual to own information or publishing medium, all individuals have a natural right to self-expression by any means, even if such means were insane, and meant to prove a person's insanity.'
Like the late Col. Ghaddafi, the compilers of the 'Overview of the Better Ghana Agenda' meant serious business. Most of their claims though, border on Ghaddafi's propensity to go off the mark. The compilers' admonition to Ghanaians to give President John Evans Atta Mills a second term, based on the so-called achievements listed in the 86-page document put together with public funds, tells everything about what the publication is all about – a propaganda tool for an administration that lost its way at inception, and has since failed drastically to take the people along its journey of misadventure.
'It is clear that the unprecedented achievements contained in this compilation justify a second term for President Mills. Many challenges still confront us, but President Mills is definitely laying the solid foundation, necessary to attain the objective of a transformed industrialised nation,' the so-called Government Communication Team concluded, after a compilation of false claims, make-beliefs and propaganda.
One of the most nauseating claims ever made in the name of governance in this country is the single digit inflation being bandied about. For nearly two years, inflation is supposed to be in single digit. Meanwhile, prices of goods and services are rising in treble and quadruple figures. This nation is about the only country on earth where inflation figures in the books of the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), bear no relation to the actual rise of prices of goods and services.
I have talked extensively to Mr. Ebo Duncan, Director in charge of compiling inflation figures. How inflation is calculated at the Ghana Statistical Service must be a source of worry to all Ghanaians. According to Ebo Duncan, when officials in charge of the indices for inflation approach any of the shops earmarked for the exercise, and that shop fails to open that day, the GSS lists all items for the exercise from that particular shop as zero-rated. In effect, throughout the country, those items cost nothing.
Of course, in this country nothing is given away for free. The message out there is that these inflation figures cannot, and are not reliable. If anything at all, the way inflation is calculated does not tell the picture of rising cost of goods and services, which makes the calculation of other economic indices an uphill task.
If single digit inflation in Ghana is bogus, try working out how this administration came to claim that it has achieved the magical one million tonnes mark in cocoa production. In 2007, I worked as Editor on a Ghana Review magazine, dedicated to the 60th Anniversary of Ghana Cocoa Board.
The Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod) at the time was Mr. Isaac Osei, who had been drafted in from his envoy duties as Ghana's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. An official document prepared by Cocobod, and published in GRi, traced the history of cocoa production in Ghana, and the expanded programme put in place to reach the magical million mark by 2010. In view of the importance to the issue at stake, I quote the three relevant paragraphs from the Cocobod document.
'The first shipment of cocoa beans from the Gold Coast was made in 1885 …By 1911 the country was the world's leading cocoa producing nation with 41,000 metric tonnes… Due to rapid expansion in cultivation, production reached 140,000 metric tonnes in 1960, increasing to a record 590,000 in 1964/65. Production fell sharply to 324,000 in 1976/77 and to a record low of 158,000 in 1983/84, when bush fires and drought devastated a number of farms.
'Production has picked up once more, and in the 2005/2006 season, output hit the 740,000 mark for the first time. Now, the Ghana Cocoa Board, the nation's regulator in the industry, is targeting one million tonnes mark by 2010.'
It is interesting to note that in a forward to the GRi publication, then President Kufuor made the following remarks: 'The celebration of the Diamond Jubilee is being organised under the theme 'Cocobod - 60 years of total support for nation-building.' The theme could not have been more appropriate.
'Today, not only has the value of cocoa from Ghana been enhanced, its production capacity has risen from as low as 158,000 tonnes in the 1983/84 crop season, to a record high of 740,000 tonnes in the 2005/2006 crop season.
'Obviously, the mass spraying exercise sponsored by the government has paid rich dividends. We will continue to do our part to ensure that the country reaches the magical one million tonnes by 2010,' then President Kufuor stated in 2007.
True to his word, the country intensified various measures aimed at improving on production. The realisation of the magic one million mark in 2010, could therefore, be attributed to the foresight of the previous administration. The Mills administration was only a benefactor, and not the initiator of the programmes that brought the one million tonnes reward.
As former the Chief Executive of Cocobod explained later, the government of ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor 'subsequently went for an external loan of $70 million abroad, which it invested in heavily improving cocoa seeds. Part of the loan was used to build warehouses at major cocoa production areas across the country, among other things, and that has yielded positive results,' explained Isaac Osei, now Member of Parliament for Subin.
On page 22 of the Green Book, the beautiful picture of the newly-completed Tarkwa Hospital Complex adorns the page. The so-called Government Communication Team listed the project among the many hospitals the government claims to have constructed in the three and a quarter years it has been in power.
Earlier, on a visit to Tarkwa, President Mills had told the people that he had delivered on his promise to provide them with a fist class hospital complex, a claim that brought the Member of Parliament for Tarkwa Nsuem to her feet. Mrs. Gifty Kusi issued an official statement deploring the Presidential claim.
'It was potentially dishonest for the President to claim credit for something the NDC did not initiate. It was the NPP which initiated for the $34.23 million facility from the African Development Bank to construct two modern hospitals at Tarkwa and Asante Bekwai in June 2003.'
According to Mrs. Kusi, 'procurement on the Tarkwa and Bekwai hospitals was completed in 2008. The Tarkwa Project was awarded to Top International Corporation, while the Bekwai construction went to Consar Limited. Given the foregoing chronology of events and activities, let me ask, which part did the NDC, which came to power in 2009, play?'
The document captures the establishment of two new universities in the Volta and the Brong Ahafo regions thus: 'The Bills for the establishment of the University of Health and Allied Sciences in the Volta Region and the University of Energy and National Resources in the Brong Ahafo Region were passed in 2011.
'Work is almost complete on the statutes for the temporary campus of both universities. The two governing councils of both universities have been inaugurated, and admission is scheduled with the new academic year in September 2012,' according to the Green Book.
Apparently, a number of residents are not enthused with the pace of work on the Volta campus. They claim that structures were not in place for academic work. 'It is disappointing; it is disgusting, childish, and juvenile play, as I will put it,' complained a resident to Joy FM 'that the President, knowing well that think tanks are from the Volta Region, and he has a core of them around him, could come and deceive us.'
'It is just very pathetic that you have so much trust in somebody, and that person later betrays you. Prof. Mills came as a candidate: We trusted and voted for him. Because of what he has done, we no more have any trust in him,' another resident stated.
The Green Book paints a glossy picture of the success of the Buffer Stock Company that has been established to store food for a rainy day. According to an official literature on the company, it was established by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture on March 19, 2010 to purchase, preserve, and distribute foodstuff in the country.
Solely owned by the government, it is to guarantee farmers an assured income by providing a minimum guarantee price, and a ready market for their produce.
The success or otherwise of it is epitomised by the Ministry's own research, which established that price of maize especially, has shot up, because we are entering the lean season. The ministry's research is what established that in some parts of Accra and Tema, kenkey is sold for one cedi a ball, and triggered the President's well publicized trip to Nima, Maamobi and Accra New Town to buy kenkey.
For whatever its worth, the failure of the document to highlight the Alfred Agbesi Woyome scandal, and the 94 Euro payment to Construction Pioneers under very dubious circumstances, tell everything about the spurious nature of the document.
The notion out there is that the President could be implicated in the allegation that Alfred Agbesi Woyome might have funded some aspects of the Get Atta Mills Endorsed in its game with FONKAR. Coming events, they say, cast their own shadows. But, when a government pays GH¢640 million in judgment debts, and budgets to pay GH¢700 million in the 2012 budget, it tells much about how corruption is becoming the norm rather than exception.
The re-emergence of cholera in the national capital as a result of the failure to move solid and liquid waste tells a lot about the failure of a regime that advertises the slightest gain from the roof-tops.
Twice, in recent times, the whole nation has been plunged into darkness. It all boils down to the fact that not much is working under John Evans Atta Mills. Like Gaddafi's Green Book, the compilation by the so-called Government Communication Team, is comic relief at best.