Vindictive Presidential Staffers Association of Ghana
I am still struggling to understand what went into creating a constitution that allows the winner of an election to take everything to himself. The winner-takes-all mistake is part of the violence that greets our elections. It is part of the wanton corruption that has become epidemic. It is part of the reason why illegitimate election promises and programs are pushed on our votes.
Most of the real programs that holds promise for societal transformation are usually not promised during elections. Our politicians know, that, those real transformative programs are not sexy enough, for votes. The one this one that sham is what catches the votes. That is why the weight of some of the promises are watering down, to the struggling path we find ourselves.
I am a believer in any governmental intervention that holds universal appeal. That is why the Capitation Grant, which was introduced somewhere in 2005, was my all-time best government program, until the introduction of the Free SHS. Last week President Nana Akufo-Addo was reported to have said that using part of the oil revenue to fund Free SHS is the most equitable and transparent thing to do with our oil resources.
I agree with him, one hundred percent. The Free SHS, regardless of the sources of funding, regardless of its challenges, is the most sensible leadership fortitude in transforming our society, from the self-inflicted economic segregation in this country. As someone who actively supported the cause of change, I have lived in self-fulfillment in knowing that our young persons, regardless of their economic circumstances, can access secondary school education, and have the same chance as the rich, in their journeys into prosperity.
The 2020 elections are some two years away from today, but I am already sure that my vote is for Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo. I want to see the Free SHS succeed, and I believe he needs another term to stabilize what he has begun. At least for the first time in fifteen years, I never paid any fees for any first year Secondary School Student. That is what I voted for, and that is what I got.
As a country abundant in corruption, I do not believe that we have gotten to a stage, yet, in our development, where needs-based selective interventions will be free from parochial political corrupt interests. LEAP, selective secondary school scholarships, laptop distributions, and all of their siblings, are all well-intentioned programs which have been susceptible to greed and politics, and have ended up benefiting the rich more than the targeted poor. And some of those jaundiced programs became avenues for some contractors to fly guinea fowls across our boarders.
I am sure you are asking me to state my position on NABCO? It is laudable. It is wise. And it is empowering. It removes our young tertiary graduates from the indignity that is often associated with adult dependency. It removes our young people from certain critical vulnerabilities, and while creating job experience, it also holds a moratorium for the search for further and better opportunities, providing some three years of recycling beneficiaries.
I am unfortunately unsure if the Invisible and Delta Forces will allow the program to survive the structures put in place to ensure fair and equitable enrolment. Can the son, or the daughter, of a typical fisherman from Winneba, be able to, without seeing any MP or Minister, or another of their kind, go onto the system, logon, enter his or her details, and go back to sleep, guaranteed that she has the same chance to be selected as all others who are from the corridors of power?
Ok. What about ghost names? How are we sure that these our men and women in powerful clothes are not going to create their own certificates, to flood the system with ghost names, so as to get the GHC700 monthly allowances poured into their pockets – like the way we scammed the National Service scheme?
So the NABCO is good. It provides equal opportunities, to reducing youth poverty. But it must not be seen as one of the spoils of war, as though the only humans in this country are those who voted for Nana Akufo-Addo. Those who win elections are not the only hungry persons in Ghana.
Voting is an expression of opinion. I voted for President Akufo-Addo. The fact that my friend, Kwesi Kwame, did not agree with me, and therefore voted for President John Mahama, does not have to necessarily deprive him (Kwesi Kwame) of the benefits of citizenship.
Just in the last couple of days, I have seen two appointments; they are not major appointments, but they raise sufficient questions, enough to get us worried, more than we were, in our socio-political practices. Vincent Ekow Assafuah has been appointed as the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Education, while David Prah has been appointed as the Public Relations Officer for the National Service Secretariat. The two appointments came with profusely narrated affinity with the NPP’s 2016 victory.
While congratulating my two brothers for their appointments, I have wondered if they did not have concrete technical CVs, apart from the partisan achievements that accompanied their appointments. I have wondered how long they have been in the public sector, for which reason they suddenly rose to become key figures in those establishments, and whether or not their length of service is sufficient to get them into their present seats?
It is sufficient to appoint ministers and deputy ministers from the political class. But I am still struggling to accept the fact that we are appointing politicians onto technocratic roles – a departure from what we need for our development. The Public Relations outfit of any of the government agencies should never, ever, be filled with individuals flaunting in their political colors.
A week ago the leadership of Civil and Local Government Workers Association (CLOSAG) accused the government functionaries of taking on special aides who are taking over the work of civil and public servants. They held a press conference to protest, arguing that the practice is denying government machinery the due process that needs to be followed.
I am tempted to ask, how did they, themselves, those who were holding the press conference, got themselves recruited into the civil service. Most of them are perpetrators and beneficiaries of these same backdoor recruitment rots that deprives ordinary people the equal chance of gaining employment into the civil service. Press aides, constituency activists all turned into public servants at once, ones your party is in power. I recall some NDC communicators taking over the running of commentaries on GTV at the independent parade when the party won power in 2009.
As soon as a political party wins power, nearly all party chairmen, secretaries, and appointees suddenly turn into contractors, for roads, for buildings, and for medicine. The roads and buildings which were constructed by such stained shovels during the previous administration are now in states of shock, with manholes germinating in their wake. It is now the turn of the NPP government cohorts, to begin to construct roads with two weeks warranty – the winner takes all, one party at a time.
Ibrahim Mahama, for instance, has suddenly begun to have problems. His Nyinahin bauxite concession has been cancelled under very questionably discriminatory circumstances. This certainly would not have happened if he was part of the present government. There are reports of several concessions in the same categories as Ibrahim Mahama – whether right or wrong. Yet it is him alone whose business is being collapsed.
John Mahama, his brother, has lost power, so he seem to have become a vindictive target. If Ibrahim’s concession is wrong, then, like I have said in the past, you will have to cancel all those other concessions in the same wrong category as that of him (Ibrahim) – that is justice, and that is equality before the law.
These are exactly the reasons why I cried for change. A change, not only in the economic fortunes of political office holders, a change not only in the broader wellbeing of the followers of the winning political parties, but a change, also in how we carry ourselves in the sharing of our resources. A change that will demonstrate inclusion, regardless of political patronage and opinion; that would have meant more, to me, than the repetition of vindictive allocation of our collective resources.
James Kofi Annan
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