Business in Ghana

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The Jokers Gallery. Critical News, 28th February 2016

Posted by Business in Ghana on February 29, 2016

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

The State of the Nation dominated our lives in the week. But the after party is yet to come as the NPP threatens to release their true state of the nation on Monday.

I quite liked the idea of presenting a sample of regular folk as testimony of what Government thought it had achieved. Many disagree with me, and someone actually sent a text into our Saturday program on Citifm’s The Big Issue to congratulate me for “seeing the light at last”.

All in good fun and progressive debate in the attempt to be fair and call it as you see it.

But I have a big beef with what I saw as very childish behavior by the President and the equally infantile posturing of both sides of the House, waving flags and showing placards as if in some playschool ground, listening to a propaganda speech from the school prefect. And the President has to bear the brunt of my sharp tongue when I say his attitude when it comes to this particular event is way below acceptable and he must accept responsibility for egging our child-like Parliament on as if their only job in the chamber is to wait for certain pre-selected phrases to pull out a provocative card.

I want a more serious parliament, with more emphasis on critical change mechanisms and opportunities for the people of this country.

As I write today, I am not clear what the state of this nation reads like.

But I particularly want to share this piece sent to me by an unflinching Occupier, Mr. JB Aidoo who sent me this article as he also looked at claims by the President on the road infrastructure in the country.

Unblinking Mahama Wants to Reap Where He Has Not Sown

Now you may choose to punch holes in his history or probably agree with everything he says. The point of all this as far as I can see, is, if you resurface a 250 meter road over a period of seven years and manage to make a kilometer stretch of previously difficult road passable, that does not constitute much of an achievement.

Build me another Adomi bridge, save me two hours of travel time between Accra and Kumasi, give me a bullet train so I can go to work in Takoradi in the morning, return in the evening as a normal working day and still be refreshed with my bank account intact.

I will applaud and sing your praises from citadel to pulpit and call you a Hero of Change and thank MTN in the process for a wonderful contribution to our communities in 2015. This year’s edition was very rewarding and I expect if they decide to do this again next year it will be even more glamorous and competitive.

So here is what Mr JB Aidoo had to say. His words verbatim.

Delivering his 2016 State of the Nation Address, President John Mahama claimed the construction of the Tarkwa-Bogoso-Ayanfuri road as one of his achievements. That was absolutely a mark of sharp practice. It is unfair to claim laurels on a silver platter and reap where one has not sown.

The Tarkwa-Bogoso-Ayanfuri road project is a legacy that President JA Kufuor bequeathed to Ghanaians including funding, engineering specifications and designs. The road is part of the western arm of the Golden Triangle (Takoradi-Kumasi). Before NPP left office in January 2009, the 87 km stretch from Takoradi to Tarkwa has been fixed. The focal point from Apemenyim to Tarkwa 57 km was funded by the European Union. It was a grant, and construction works up to Tarkwa town were completed in 2008. Just at that time, President Kufuor secured another tranche of EU grant, equivalent of US$73 million, to continue to Ayanfuri (98 km) starting in 2009.

Following caustic-tongued Tony Aidoo’s peppering of the late Professor Mills in his early days in office to discontinue all works on Kufuor’s projects, the Tarkwa-Bogoso-Ayanfuri road project just like many others (i.e. Legon-Adenta, Kumasi Sofoline interchange, and Suhum overpass) was stalled. It was not until 30th of March 2011 before the late President went to Bogoso to cut a sod for the resumption of works. Construction had needlessly been delayed for 27 months just because of sheer political expediency. And as we speak today, the project is still not completed.

For John Mahama to usurp credit for the construction of Tarkwa-Bogoso-Ayanfuri road today, smacks of disingenuousness. The same undue sharp practice of the President finds expression in the provision of rural electrification.

On record, the all-time single largest rural electrification project ever to have happened in Ghana was initiated by JA Kufuor in 2006. This was referred to as the WELDY LEMONT Project, which was to benefit close to 3,000 communities. Hitherto, the number of beneficiary communities in any single electrification project in Ghana has been in the tens and hundreds but never in the thousands.

The process of securing the loan of US$358 million from the American EXIM Bank took more than 2 years until 2008 when the money was finally granted. At the time of approval of the loan in Parliament, John Mahama was a member of the august House.

And so, when President Atta-Mills and the NDC assumed office in January 2009, the cake had already been baked, and was ready for sharing. Weldy Lemont, the American contractor had been selected by the Kufuor administration and gotten ready with the mobilization. What the NDC came in to do was simply to continue with its implementation. From September 2008 through 2009, 2010 to date, therefore, virtually every rural electrification that has taken place in the Western and Central Regions in particular and other regions generally in Ghana, has been part of this gargantuan Kufuor legacy.

Oteng Adjei luxury cars saga is very reminiscent of the woes of this project. Put in-charge of the implementation of the project, the then Energy Minister Oteng Adjei diverted US$2 million of the project money for the purchase of luxury cars. It became household news. And he did reveal that it was an NPP project they (NDC) inherited.

By his act of misapplication, many beneficiary communities have unduly suffered. Many have not been connected at all. Many that are connected, suffered long delays from start to completion. For many others, even though the towns and villages have been connected long ago, meters have not been supplied to enable the people enjoy light. Settlements such as Ohiamatuo Simpa, Kookoase, Aggrey-Parkso, Krofoforom, Appiahkrom, Kwahu Bisaagya, Benna Nkwanta and many more all in the Amenfi West in the Western Region, which were connected way back in the 2012 general elections, have not been supplied with any meters as we speak. It is painful to see the rights of the people to the enjoyment of social good deliberately being denied by incumbency ploy all because of votes in the forthcoming 2016 general elections.

Quizzed at a DW worldwide telecast interview recently about electrification in Ghana and the question of the luxury cars, John Mahama himself admitted that the project that had generated so much brouhaha in the country was in his own words, “initiated by the previous administration”. He himself did not play any role in the advent of this project save that he might have participated in the approval of the loan then as a Member of Parliament. If he turns around today to take credit for this same project, then where lies his integrity?

Finally, if the national coverage of electrification today has increased from 58 percentage points to 80.5 percentage points, the giant contribution of former President Kufuor to rural electrification can in no way be glossed over or taken out. Ghanaians must be told the truth, and I dare say that President Mahama cannot reap where he has not sown”.

Many more suvh persons are reporting what they see and know on the ground. The attempt by our politicians to make something out the nothing they perform is holding this country back and killing our initiative. A friend just sent me a text. His simple question?

What has the current government created to make Ghana a more habitable place to live? Well, the NDC government is pointing to all these roads, hospitals and schools. So if these are the super-achievements, what is a government really meant to do?

And so the gallery of Parliament was filled with the bowing and scraping of select persons, dancing to his jokes and strutting with bellicose jingoism.

Ghana, Aha a yε din papa. Alius atrox week advenio. Another terrible week to come!

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