Just a few days ago, Professor John Evans Atta Mills was jogging through the VVIP lounge at Kotoka. Next week we will bury him in State in the style he portrayed all his life. A simple man with simple ideas and simple issues, his was never to rock the boat but follow a gradual pace at the people's will.
The President's death was not a big surprise to me. I have written several pieces these recent months and on 24th June in particular, I tried to tease out an affirmation of what I thought was wrong with the President. This is not a topic I particularly want to delve into. As Ghanaian culture goes, it is frowned upon, which is why when JJ Rawlings gave an interview to the BBC in Congo Brazzaville it triggered a slew of insults from many corners. Is it becoming so that Ghanaians now see JJ as not culturally savvy? Dr. Akwettey at IDEG thought he could have waited a few days more, because he (JJ) did say the truth. The late President's family however, went a bit ballistic. Their rejoinder to JJ called him out and not in a nice way at all. “uncouth, derogatory and uncensored insults”. Read the full text from the family. Abusuapanyin Nkum-Kyereba Twidan signed off for the family with some displeasure. Would the late President have handled it this way?
All those who knew the President was unwell (Rev. Nii Amoo-Darku) and failed to make it a National issue now impress me. After the fact, people tell us that the President had been fighting cancer for years? The President himself was not open enough to admit that he was in dire straits, even when he had ample opportunity. He went to TB Joshua for spiritual counseling at least three times in the recent month. I reserve comment at this point.
The more ominous issue, is who then was running the country? I hear many conspiracy theories about power factions in the Castle, but none have been clearly identified. This sad death conjures up a considerable number of interesting problems and the NPP party has a few ideas. NPP Communications Director Nana Akomea was on Joy Fm Newsfile with interesting angles.
The choice of Vice President will tell us how things will develop from here on. Kwesi Botchway, Goosie Tannoh, Hannah Tetteh, Mike Hammah? Names are coming out of the woodwork like crazy, with all kinds of links. Even Nana Konado Agyeman Rawlings has been mentioned. But that is a doom's day scenario by those who hate the NDC most intensely. Decisions about Nii Lante Vanderpuye, Mayor Oko Vanderpuye, Kobby Acheampong, Fiifi Kwettey, and the foul mouthed Okudzeto Ablakwa will point the way this election will be contested and where President John Mahama's policy thrust and moral compass will direct Ghana. The coming week will reveal more about the way the NDC intends to dig out of this abyss and what it will need to hold down the Rawlings faction and particularly Nana Konadu Rawlings and Kofi Adams. The first salvo by the National Executive Council of the NDC to exclude JJ from any decision about the NDC flag bearer has set a tone. The rumor mill claims a schism between JJ and John Mahama.
The new president is currently the leader of the party. As far as name recognition goes it makes sense to make him their presidential candidate. But Mahama comes with a whole baggage and a brother.
Finally, finally. This week the Bank of Ghana sanctioned Access Bank for currency irregularities in contravention of the Foreign Exchange ACT 723. Access Bank has been suspended for 6 months from foreign currency dealings. Five forex bureaux suffered worse. They lost their licences. If the Governor may please sit up, there is a lot more of this going on in the country. We must have a sense of termination in Ghana. Leaders must resign, be sacked or tried and jailed for crimes committed against the State. Until we start doing this, we remain in a black hole of corruption and wield no stick of prosecution. The ongoing fact finding by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee and the trial of Woyome and a few other matters are a start. We must finish and prosecute in order to chalk a deterrent for future opportunists.
I met an die-hard investor over the weekend. He has been back and forth to Ghana many times in the past decades trying to close a deal here, a deal there. He said Ghana has made him proud and he has been vindicated after all these years after becoming a Board Room joke. He was so impressed with the smooth transition after the President's death that he bought me cocktails to celebrate. So we penned in a significant date when he will be back to look at how much larger an investment he would be asking from his shareholders. If our politicians learn nothing at all, they must try and understand how the politics poisons the business.
So, is Mahama going to be good for the economy, foreign investors and internal democracy?
Our new President is a historian and a communications person. I have heard him talking economy many times and I am sure he understands the words he is reading and he certainly pronounces them well. But does he understand how this economy works and what it needs? Does it need a Kwabena Duffuor at finance? Will he be open with Ghanaians and admit corrupt officials for prosecution? Will he re-instate Martin Amidu? Will he progress the Freedom of Information Act? Will he pressure the Electoral Commissioner to implement the Representation of Peoples Abroad Act? Will he? Will He? Will He? I have too many of these to sit and wait.
President Mills is going to be buried on the 10th August.
Four months to elections, this is a most challenging time for the NDC party and John Mahama. They have a media breather as the leading stations are also taking a break from all the politicking and threats. How important will the new NDP party be in the elections? Another successful challenge like the Reform Party challenge to the NDC in the 2000 elections? How will the Volta Region vote? How critical is the verification process to our voting? These and many questions are bugging Ghanaians.
Least of our worries is the two year sentence handed to Adamu Dramani by an Accra Fast Track Court. The MP was found guilty on false declaration of office, perjury and deceiving a public officer and was whisked away to begin his sentence shortly after the verdict, Friday. Adamu Dramani was deemed by the court to have a valid British Nationality, before contesting and winning the Bawku Central seat in 2008.
Our new President told Ghanaians as far back as 2010 that the NDC Government would move into Jubilee House imminently. Before they could do so, Nii Lante Vanderpuye and company changed the name to Flagstaff house and then there was no more a Jubilee House.
My problem with President John Mahama, is the many promises he makes with no delivery. Four big examples off the top of my head. STX Korea housing project, fisherman's wharf at Winneba, Western Region 10% allocation to the region and SADA. Unquestionably he comes as across as very sincere both in private and public. Well, we have to get in the trenches again, see what is there.
So President Mills might be buried at Flagstaff House (Jubilee House), which he refused to occupy as the new seat of Government during his term. How ironic that in death he has no reason to fear whatever prevented him from moving in. How powerless is life, how powerful death and those we leave behind. We are whispering in the quiet corners of Ghana the things we know to be true, but which our culture restricts in its most courteous way.
Alius valde week advenio. Another week to come!
Sydney Casely-Hayford, email@example.com