A Christmas Letter To President Mahama
Dear Mr President,
I feel very depressed as I write this letter to you. I, like majority of the people of this country, feel physically, financially, economically, spiritually and politically depressed as the year 2014 closely peters to an end. Perhaps this is going to be my last piece for the year just about to end. This year has been a crisis year for this country and the very majority of its people. I recall your promises during the dying days of the year 2013 when you promised that Ghanaians will be better off in the year 2014. Pardon me, Mr President, if I am the only one who did not see the better things you promised us.
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown is a hackneyed statement but we cannot cease saying it in appreciation of the challenges of leadership and the decisions that leadership has to take to address the myriads of problems that queue for solutions in the midst of the scarce resources being competed for by all segments of our society. This is not peculiar to you, Mr President. The difference however is the fact that some presidents confronted with such decisions have chosen the most pragmatic path which, painful though they might be initially, have in the long term alleviated the problems of the society, even if it is in just one sector.
Ghanaians are physically depressed because your promise of a better 2014 has produced the opposite. You may ask what empirical evidence is available to me to draw that conclusion. Many of us (the citizenry) had to go through needless exhaustion to remain where we are. The more we try to improve our conditions of life, the further we go down. It has just been like swimming against the tide. The best many of those whose lives you promised to improve could do was to maintain their social and economic positions as of the year 2013. A greater majority of us were worse off than the previous year. The physical exhaustion to maintain this appalling state of life is better experienced than told.
Coupled with the physical struggle to survive were the health issues which could not be supported by the health system as a result of the collapse of the National Health Insurance Scheme and the constant withdrawal of services by health workers who used that weapon to compel you to meet their legitimate demands.
Mr President, the financial depression we suffered nearly killed all of us, particularly in the second half of the year. Yiieee, it has never happened before ooo—how the cedi which, just some 24 months before had been touted as very stable, resilient and all the kominini against the strongest currencies under the sun, all of a sudden suffered a stroke. It could not even limp as all the currencies ran pass it. Prices of goods and services skyrocketed to the heavens on an hourly basis.
Traders lost lots of monies, and consumers became helpless. Interest rates from the commercial banks went up, and Ghanaians who had legitimately put their monies in forex lost them because they could not access them.
Your government's financial commitments to the society were not fulfilled; statutory payments to state institutions were not made, thus stifling their performance and contributions towards our larger society. Mr President, the people are amazed at your priorities when it comes to spending public funds. We do not understand why you are so much interested in pumping monies into the GYEEDAs, the SADAs, the YESes and others when the GETfund for example has no funds to pay contractors for jobs done that will help our kids and their education.
Oh yes, Mr President, the MMDAs are owed a whole year's Common Fund, so nothing goes on at the district level. Economic activities have suffered under this policy of yours. You promised us all that the dum-so-dum-so was going to end this year. Mr President you know better than I do that the problem with electricity is going to worsen in the coming year. This singular problem you failed to resolve in the year has had very grave consequences for the economy.
Businesses have choked, smaller ones have been strangulated while yet the medium and bigger ones have become less competitive in the global market. Thousands of jobs have been lost, incomes have ceased and hopelessness has visited many homes. Teachers and nurses are not paid, particularly the young ones who have been posted to new stations. Everything has become yamaaaa under your leadership.
Mr President, in the face of all these problems a lot of thievery is going on under your very nose. Why? All well meaning Ghanaians are talking about it but it seems you are not bothered about it. The churches, muslim clerics, academia, even your own President Rawlings is concerned about the thievery but there is no sign of you changing it.
The nation's roads are in such a bad shape that movements from one place to the other have become nightmares. There is no region in this country where one form of demonstration or the other has not taken place because of poor roads, yet Mr President is interested in building interchanges. This is not to say that interchanges in themselves are not necessary, but when the arterial roads that move towards the interchanges are so poor and unworthy of vehicular movements, interchanges become white elephants.
I know, Mr President, having failed to meet the basic needs of the people of this country, you just want to embark on such projects so that at least when you are out of office, you will also be remembered for having built some interchanges. The big cities are very dusty because of the poor roads, what will an interchange mean to us? Over the week, I heard your people shouting their voices hoax for allegedly turning the Kumasi Airport into an international airport. Well let us even take it that it is true that BOEING 747s can land and take off from the Kumasi Airport, how many people travel by air in that region? Thousands of people travel to and fro on the Kumasi-Accra road 24 hours a day. The Suhum-Nsawam portion of that stretch is terribly bad. Mr President still believes it is important to build an airport used by less than three percent of commuters than the thousands that risk their lives on that road each day.
Mr President, throughout the year the people experienced regular upward adjustment of the prices of petroleum products on the grounds that a certain automatic adjustment formula has made it possible for prices of petroleum products to go up as soon as the crude oil prices and other factors go up. Hmmm! We have tolerated this for such a long time. Today the price of crude oil has gone down by about 40% but all of a sudden the automatic adjustment formula has become non-functional perhaps because of dum-so-dum-so. Why are you deliberately treating us this way?
I believe many of the people have lost their faith in even their Maker because they cannot understand why He would subject them to the leadership of a president who is so callous and uncaring about the suffering of the people. But, Mr President, I want to assure you that the people of Ghana are not going to tolerate the shabby treatment you have meted out to them this year. Should you not change your style and bring some hope into their lives in the year 2015, the kind of political upheavals that will confront your government can never be controlled.
The temperature of this nation is getting to its boiling point. Next year should be a year that will determine the stability or otherwise of this country. The decision is yours. To my numerous readers, I wish you the best even as we celebrate the X'mas in a very mournful manner. I offer nothing more than mahogany bitters.
By Kwesi Biney
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