It is good to bring into existence, measures and processes in democracy that bring governance to the people. For that matter, the president meet the press to interact with them, is always commendable. This was practiced, as far as I can remember, under President Kufour, continued by President John Evans Atta Mills, by President John Dramani Mahama and now by President Akufo-Addo. Inasmuch as that is commendable, we are equally at liberty to subject events on such a platform to several and various interpretations.
Indeed, everyone must be able to bring the statements made by their leaders to their levels for discussion. That is what democracy is about. People must have the courage to bring discussions to their level and to enable them engage others and understand the issues at stake. It is on this background that I seek to bring some perspectives on the issues raised for the discussion of readers.
Democracy is about tolerance. Democracy does not depict friendship among actors in the sphere. For that matter, disagreements may come, but, actors in the democratic space must develop the heart to tolerate divergent views, no matter how strong those opinions expressed appear to be. It was a major blender for the government of Mr. Akufo-Addo to deliberately sideline media houses that they considered ‘hostile’ to them. As a matter of fact, the listeners of such media houses are also citizens who require to hear what positions, policies and programmes their leadership is pursuing. Indeed, such opportunities would offer them the means to critically examine and propose alternative solutions to what they have reservations over.
Efforts must therefore, be made to ensure a balance in the representation of media houses at the fora organized by the government to enable it send across its achievements and programmes. It makes absolute a difficult excuse when government claims it could not invite all media houses to one location when the same government was able to invite three or more media practitioners from the same media house with several other wings. It stood for reasoning, that one representation from a media house could have stood in, enabling others to also have slots to be present at the event.
Another issue that is worth addressing, has to do with the passing of questions to ministers and other government officials by the president. Inasmuch as I agree that it was not wrong, and also agree that there is no defined mode of engaging in questions and answers on such a platform, it would be appropriate to question the rational behind such a method of engagement by a president whom, not too long ago, was calling his predecessor incompetent. Readers will recall that at the time he and his team of party followers were calling the then sitting president John Mahama incompetent, he was able to meet the press under similar conditions and addressed every question thrown at him by the media in the presence of some of his appointees without running to them for cover. At least, a ‘competent’ president like the one Ghana has today, would have been expected to do more than John Mahama did in that regard.
On the issues on galamsey, it is indeed an important subject that require the concerns of every Ghanaian. It must however be stressed that if not for the fact that Mr. Akufo-Addo lied to individuals who are involved in galamsey for power, the fight against galamsey would have been easy. I hold the strongest view that politicians must be able to tell the truth and be elected on that basis. If a politician should lose elections for telling the truth, I believe the conscience of such an individual would be clear.
Why must a presidential hopeful deny categorically, assertions or allegations that he would stop galamsey, only to win power and go back to want to stop it? Is this not deceit? Can’t our citizens realize that those in the galamsey areas voted for a man who promised not to stop them from such acts? We must be truthful in all of these. Even as we intensify fights against the menace, we must be bold enough to tell the president in the face that he made this fight what it is today, and charge him to employ truth in his dealings with the people of Ghana.
Was it not interesting that listening to the President, he was quick to state that the past seven months were only periods of initiatives and not for any concrete achievements? Isn’t this in contradiction to the position presented to us by his own vice president Dr. Bawumia? If Dr. Bawumia could look Ghanaians in the face and present 103 achievements in 100 days as achievements under His Excellency Akufo-Addo, why couldn’t the president repeat same to the people after 200 days (7 months) in office. There appears a clear disconnect, indicating that some untruths were being told the people of Ghana at a certain time.
The president was in his usual elements when he rose to the defense of Mr. Alfred Obeng, Managing Director of Bulk Oil Storage and Transport (BOST). The president, had no difficulty embracing the report of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) which sort to exonerate Mr. Obeng.
In that process, even as the president embraced fully the report, he expressed that a committee had been established to look into the matter. The question that arises then is, to investigate a matter that the president is already convinced was settled by the BNI report? Why waste our time further to produce another report whose content would satisfy the position taken by the president?
What I found sickening in the response given by the president was to the effect that there exist no laws to regulate the sector, giving way for the manner the contaminated fuel was disposed. Even though the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) spoke in the initial stages of the revelations and cited legal breaches, the president could have taken another look to examine the provisions in the Public Procurement Act 2013 (Act 663) and specifically Article 83 and 84. I believe he could be guided to draw the attention of the MD of BOST on the mode for disposal spelt out.
The nation had over the past seven months, witnessed impunity in the domain of the public. Hooligans linked to the party of the president went on rampage at several locations across the country, and were allowed to walk free. The apex of such impunity was witnessed when a public court was raided by individuals to free their colleagues standing trial. It is scary.
That is not all, security officials charged with the responsibility of protecting lives and properties have been subjected to humiliating lynching and murder to the surprise of many Ghanaians. The latest, the murder of a police officer near Lapaz in broad day, by unknown assailants was the apex of impunity so witnessed in Ghana under the full glare of the public.
A government that has appointed seven solid leaders leading its security operatives, cannot be found helpless in providing security for its security officials, less the ordinary citizen who had received no training in security issues. This must be looked at, and measures instituted to immediately protect the lives and properties of individuals within the territories of Ghana.
One issue that had remained on the lips of many Ghanaians is the issue of the $2.2 million Bond issued by the Finance Minister which many financial analysts described as haven been shrouded in secrecy and characterised by insider trading. The president ought to have taken keen interest in this matter and to express his position on the matter to allay the fears of many, especially that there are plans in the pipeline to float more bonds in the coming months. Could it be a deliberate attempt to keep the matter off public debate, an issue of ‘once not discussed, it will go off the minds of the people’? We must be mindful as a people.
One major scandal that hit the Akufo-Addo, Bawumia administration was the Boakye Agyarko bride saga. Boakye Agyarko was accused of bribery to enable Parliament pass him when his approval was placed on hold. Since this issue broke out, the president appeared to not have heard it. A man who is committed to fighting corruption cannot be seen to be staying off making comments on corrupt cases that are emerging under his own government. That does not show commitment to the fight. Or, can Ghanaians believe that he is waiting for the institution of the Special Prosecutor to deal with such issues?
And then, Dr. Bawumia entered the platform to address questions on the debt being accumulated over the past few months when not-too-long-ago in opposition, they basterdised borrowing and classified it as a lazy man’s approach to dealing with issues.
To complicate issues further, the supposed economics guru added another weird analogy that defeats common sense. He stated that even though the government had borrowed and will borrow in the coming months, Ghana’s debt stock has not gone up. I am at a loss the economic theory that presents such a logic.
As a matter of record, Ghanaians must hold their politicians accountable for statements made in opposition when they have the chance to govern. It simply presents a cunning political employ, when individuals seeking political power would condemn what those in government are doing and win political power to do worse.
In all of these, until citizens rise to speak, and to prove their abhorrence to such political deceits, the phenomenon would be cyclical paving way for ways and means in political contests, leaving the citizens as the most to be affected by the results of political deceits.
It is incumbent on opinion leaders to rise and lead the fight against double standards. Until they speak, society shall continue to deteriorate, leaving no future for their generations yet to come.