The State of Our Nation

Today, ours is a nation slipping into anxiety. The ordinary people, not the politicking lot are beginning to murmur and grumble. There are genuine concern, the principal among which is the galloping prices of petrol, diesel, and liquefied petroleum gas.

As the chief executive was awaited at Parliament House to give the State of the Nation Address (SoNA) yesterday, the proletariat and peasants were wailing for reduction of

fuel prices and the lowering of the cost of living generally. Wednesday, commercial

drivers in the capital hit the streets and withdrew their services early in the day; making

the streets deserted but rendering employees and the self-employed who wanted to

rush to work stranded. If you have an idea how many times tro-tro and taxi drivers had,

in recent times, attempted to hold this protest but were prevailed on to call it off, then

you are left in no doubt that – as our people say – the water had flooded the frog to the

croaking level.

The Opposition has stoutly found its voice and it is taunting government and calling

leading lights of the regime as liars. Government communicators are having a hard time parrying off the barrage of accusations or using ‘eye-strong’ to bulldoze their arguments through on radio and television. How did the New Patriotic Party regime reach here?

Couldn’t the government have performed better than it has over the last 13 months?

Well, most governments around the world implement their toughest polices in their

earliest months and, thus, become unpopular early. They, in the final years and months of their terms, roll out friendlier programmes to win back the sympathy of the masses.

Recently, the Accra Metro Authority – and the Local Government Ministry for that matter – pulled down unauthorised structures, drawing hue and cry from vendors and squatters most of who had voted for the NPP December 2016. Whether the local and central

governments will close their eyes for the same encroachers to return in 2020; and

whether the ‘victims’ will be ‘fooled’ to vote for the party again is another matter. The

point for now is that second and third years can be rather rough for many a government.

Failed promises

That notwithstanding, there are quite a few avoidable errors of this regime that have

further plunged it into deeper unpopularity. From opposition, you don’t promise heaven on earth only to be given the mandate for you to repeatedly ask the people to tighten

their belts. In fairness to the NPP again, this is not the first time a party voted into power is failing to deliver many of its promises on time. But, of course, anytime a party went

back on its word, the people wailed and you can only expect more protestation when

the people are growing more sophisticated. When you have the privilege of coming to

power, you don’t pile on the promises only to fail to deliver many. Today, an ace down

the sleeves of the NDC is the reminder of the President that, after promising in the 2017 SoNA that he would get 59 factories working by now, not a single one has taken off!

Political circus

If you can recall the promises made by predecessor John Dramani Mahama to end

dumsor, you remember his claims about how many ‘E’ blocks were going to be ready

when for the community day second-cycle schools, then you have recent editions of the promise-and-fail syndrome. You may not need to go to the Agyekum Kufuor and Jerry

Rawlings regimes. Just stop at Evans Atta-Mills who promised to clean Accra in 100

days and was never able to until his unfortunate demise almost four years later. But,

wrong is wrong; what is undesirable is surely objectionable.

That is why, this day, Ghana Today, implores President Akufo-Addo’s government to

fade out the pledges as it does all it takes to make good the outstanding promises.

Where there are bitter pills to swallow, tell us; we will naturally complain, but let the end justify the means. Where you have realised a promise you made in opposition or early

in government is simply not feasible, have the humility to apologise and retract. Therein lies some embarrassment and political incorrectness, yes; but the consequences of

being seen to have deceived the people are more dire. This nation needs to have its

sight fixed on development; we are still crawling. You need not be reminded that you

badly need a second and even maybe a third term.

As I wrote this piece Thursday morning, as Parliament waited for the arrival of His

Excellency the President, there was a lot of expectation from party faithful and

sympathisers that he would come to soothe the pain of Ghanaians. For some, there was despondency. For the opposition, it was unfettered opportunity to bash the government mercilessly. And, the critical media granted the opposition a perfect theatre, after all that is part of our job. For the sycophantic media, it had a hard time trying to convince

anybody fairly objective that we are in good times.

 

Sometimes, it is amazing how the more things change, the more they remain the same. You wonder when this circus we have been put in since 1993 is all going to end.

Yesterday, it was Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa claiming his NDC government had

created 650,000 jobs while his labour and employment minister had no inkling where

the employment avenues were. At the time, the NPP that was in opposition mercilessly criticised the NDC regime for lying, using the critical media as its effective platform.

Today that the tables have turned, the NPP’s Akoto Afriyie is laying claim to a similar

gargantuan employment figure, when everyone, including himself, can hardly show

convincing evidence.

Bare facts

I’m sure, as the people waited last morning for the State of the Nation Address, they

expected to hear the truth and nothing but the truth. Beyond that, they were expecting

honest labour to push government’s agenda to victory. The people expected some relief from the hardships they were going through. They were prepared to keep on sacrificing to push the regime’s laudable projects. But, they also were expecting leadership by

example. The president’s men and women should live modestly like their master!

 

Ghana Today

…with A. C. Ohene

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