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22.10.2013 Editorial

Nunoo-Mensah's Intolerant Gospel Corners Mahama

By Ghanaian Chronicle
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In remarks at the commissioning of a 9-unit classroom block for O'reilly Senior High School in Accra last Saturday, Brigadier-General Joseph Nunoo Mensah (rtd) criticised Ghanaian workers for 'incessantly using strikes' to twist the arm of the government to achieve their demands.

General Nunoo Mensah, National Security Advisor to President John Dramani Mahama, also characterised the rash of strikes as a 'sign of a high level of indiscipline', and advocated the 'suspension of the salaries' of striking workers.

The President's Security Advisor claimed that while he strove to complete the classroom block, a personal donation from him to O'reilly, he often drank only orange juice, and urged workers to learn to sacrifice a bit for the Motherland in gratitude, after the Single Spine Salary Scale had tripled public sector salaries, or seek greener pastures elsewhere.

'As I walk in the sun here from morning till evening, sometimes I only drink orange juice to build a school for the future of our children. Then some teachers say that they won't teach them because they are on strike! It is very sad that we toy with the future of our children.

'Every Tom, Dick and Harry gets up and is calling for a strike. If you don't want the job, Ghana is not a police state, take your passport and get out of this country. If you can't sacrifice like what some of us have done, then get out. If the kitchen is too hot for you, get out,' he ordered.

The General's comments have been roundly condemned by the Ghana Medical Association, local government workers' association, and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), among others.

The Chronicle thinks it unfortunate that General Nunoo Mensah seems to have forgotten that he now operates in a social setting, and not from the barracks, where 'obey before complain' is the ruling maxim.

It seems he also forgets that discipline is inculcated and not plucked off trees. It is unfortunate indiscipline is imbedded in the general fabric of Ghanaians. But his generation of military officers are blameable for the rampant indiscipline in the country more than anybody else.

It is they who overthrew Dr Kwame Nkrumah's government and the method he had put in place to inculcate discipline from infancy. Maybe Nkrumah's approach was controversial, but what did the military replace it with? Nothing! Maybe they lacked the necessary foresight.

Yes, workers' salaries may be suspended, but it can only be done by law. Late British Iron Lady, Baroness Margret Thatcher, instituted laws governing the proclamation of strikes in the United Kingdom, in contravention of which strikes could be declared illegal for forfeiture of workers' salaries. Can General Nunoo Mensah point to any such law here?

In the view of The Chronicle , the storm that General Nunoo Mensah's comments has raised, in the midst of the Trades Union Congress' popular agitation against an over 130 percent killer hike in utility rates, has pushed President Mahama into a tight corner, from which only revolutionary measures could extricate him.

And as the Head of Department of Political Science at KNUST suggested on JoyFm last Saturday, it should be a cut in public sector political salaries across the board, as an incentive for the TUC to stomach the killer tariffs. Such an action would demonstrate clearly to all and sundry that sacrifice and patriotism are not being asked only of workers, but of the political class also.

And The Chronicle has a formula ready: President Mahama and Vice-President Amissah-Arthur - 30 per cent; Special Advisors, including Council of State, Ministers & Deputy Ministers - 25 per cent; Chairmen & Members of Boards - 20 per cent and all Members of Parliament - 15 per cent.

Once such is done, the TUC would see sense in appeals to accept the killer tariffs and defer their 10 per cent increase in salaries to be effective in January 2014.

This is the Voice of Reason. Please let us all heed it!


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