Palaver -- Like Robin Hood of old, President Kufuor dished out promises like confetti in Election 2000. But unlike Robin Hood, President Kufuor did not only rob the rich to give to the poor. He robbed both rich and poor and gave them to his family and party.
To every community and every group and association in Ghana, there was at least one promise by President Kufuor in 2000. The promises were so titillating and salacious that Ghanaians opted to give the covert promisor a chance.
Four years are up less some six days, and Ghanaians are calling in the promises.
Lower school and University fees now have ended up in unbearable school fees.
VAT for which some people died has not only been embraced but also increased from 12.5% to 15%. Fuel which powers our factories was one of the earliest casualties, from ¢6,500 to ¢20,000. Water, electricity and tariffs generally have shot up astronomically and without rhyme or reason. From registration of companies to clearing of goods at the port, prices have risen as if the Government has gone mad.
The result is that people are simply not paying but finding other means.
Thus the textile industry has literally collapsed due to smuggling.
Thousands and thousands of workers have been thrown out of job as their companies hit the bottom. Valco is dead.
Bank of Ghana shed thousands.
The 100,000 jobs to be created in 12 months never materialised.
Mass transport is depicted by an ephemeral littering of some gaudily painted buses with an occasional one as a sop to various communities.
Ghana Airways has collapsed.
Westel is off.
The Golden Age of Business as a concept has been lost from the economic cliché of the times.
President Kufuor and the NPP take refuge in so-called burgeoning informal trade and business. But these are survival businesses and not the jobs promised in Year 2000.
Some held President Kufuor to his promises of Year 2000. His reaction was violent: “I didn't promise to return Nkrumah's body to anyone”, he shot at the Nzema chiefs who had to pick their sandals and scamper back to Nzema land.
The Adas were more resilient. “Where is the promise to repeal the PNDC Law on the Songhor Lagoon”, they queried only last week at a Press Conference. “No way” to any attempt to sell our salt heritage to any individual from Brazil or Ghana”, they insisted.
The President had earlier berated his Special Assistant in this case for not being sensitive to the interests of the Salt Winners Association. He still talks about a Brazilian connection?
The University community feels wholly betrayed. The workers, except their national leadership that feels emasculated by Minister Yaw Barima's allegation of doles of envelopes to “sensitise” their people, are groaning and yearning for the type of leadership to lead them to hit the streets.
GBC and GCB leadership were thrown out and disgraced. 'Zero tolerance for corruption' is now an irritating jibe from the NDC, which was supposed to be at the butt of what is now a huge and monstrous joke.
The size of the public service bureaucracy ballooned beyond countable proportions as over 2,000 foreign returnees placed in plum and in some cases sinecure positions like Wiafe at the Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing Company.
With all the ridicule one would have thought that President Kufuor would have matured politically in four years and avoid wholesale and “do-able” promises. Not so John Agyekum Kufuor.
On the campaign trail 2004, he is waxing eloquent in promises. But at Shai-Osudoku recently, he went over the bar (See 'Chronicle', Monday, November 22, 2004 – “Gloria Akuffo Energised by JAK, Gizo).
Calling for a vote for the return to a second term in office, President Kufuor pledged:
“Trust us on December 7, and give us the mandate so that what people are saying that Ghana is resuming the role of showpiece would be a reality. In the next four years, Ghana will be like heaven. Give us the mandate so that we can do Positive Change Chapter Two for the nation”.
Well, promises!! A politician should affirm them as a road map for the next four years. But turning Ghana into “heaven” in four years dee – this one, my brother!
Well the Paramount Chief of the area in his address “praised the President and his government for not neglecting the area and thanked him for sending one of the Neoplan buses to ply the road and for selecting Ghanatta as one of the model schools.
The chiefs, who compared the President's performance to the late Dr, Kwame Nkrumah, appealed to him for improvement of telecommunication facilities in the areas, which needed construction.
Well, let us all join the Chief of Osudoku to thank President Kufuor for a yeoman's work in sending numerous developments to the Shai/Osudoku constituency made up of one bus and nominating Ghanatta as a model school.
Never mind the issues of growing poverty in the area, high tariffs and utilities, increased school fees and other social economic difficulties the people are enduring.
Do we re-vote NPP for giving us one bus in our constituency? What party of ideas! HIPC, HIPC, HIPC – Hurray!! ARISE, YOUTH OF GHANA! THOSE whom the gods want to destroy, it is said, they first make mad.
And the truism in this old saying can be found in the way the Kufuor Administration last week clowned its poor handling of national affairs, especially in sports, with that strange decision, on the CAF football competition finals, which sent the rest of Africa wondering what had gone wrong with Ghana. In the first place, the regime started its four-year journey, marred with the most horrific disaster to be recorded in the country's sporting history.
On May 9, 2001, only a few months after the outdooring of the regime, 126 Ghanaian soccer fans, who left home, hale and hearty, met their sudden death at the Accra Sports Stadium, under bizarre and mysterious circumstances; a suffocation from tear-gas.
Of course, with a group bathed in the waters of a blood-fed fetish in power, many are those who saw the disaster as no mere accident.
It was a price Ghanaians had to pay, as a ritual, compensation, according to those well-versed in activities in the mystic world.
But, need one dismiss this claim, when one looks back to the events, only a week ago, when the President disappointed Ghanaian soccer fans, with the postponement of an event which could have rather calmed down nerves and reduced the high political temperature on the eve of the general elections.
A bearer of bad news was reported to have delivered a message to Caesar, for a second time, so he had to beware of the Ides of March.
And the result; To hell with CAF! To hell with Security Meetings and arrangements! To hell with Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak! And to hell with the excitement of soccer fans!!
The order from Pya must prevail. No, match! And there was, indeed, no match!
But, that was only meant to top a chain of disappointments, not only on the soccer scene, but sports, as a whole, under Kufuor.
For, the whole four-year period under Kufuor Ghana performed so dismally in sports, that our star seized to shine, casting a gloom on our record, wherever we found ourselves in an international contest.
Perhaps, the worst of them all was the debacle at the Athens Olympic Games. We got nothing there!!
But, what else can we expect from a country, under a radarless youth and sports policy!
Instead of maintaining the Ministry of Youth and Sports, President Kufuor created an amorphous Ministry of Education, to be responsible for Youth and Sports.
With no clear designed assignments, the collection of Ministers and Deputies, packed under that Umbrella Ministry, scrambled and scuttled for portfolios, resulting in some being cast by the way side and remaining redundant, while others jumped from schedule to schedule,as the Government wearily struggled, without success, to leave a name, when gone. In a nutshell, it has been four years of anxiety, four years of disappointment and four years of agony for the youth of Ghana.
A vote against the Kufuor regime, must come as a relief to a Government, which has nothing to offer the youth and it must be glad “if the cup passes away” from it.
If, for nothing at all, the youth of this country, must have something to cheer about, in the field of sports, apart from gaining from other useful programmes that can engage their attention and turn them out, as responsible future leaders.
All is not yet lost. And December 7 provides the opportunity for the restoration of the confidence of the youth, now lost in negative and unrewarding policies. And watching over-size-billboards!