A massive crowd of protestors in Kumasi yesterday. INSET: Others carrying a symbolic coffin
Thousands of people clad in red and black yesterday poured onto the streets of Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital, to protest against government?s poor handling of the country?s economy which has resulted in high inflation, depreciation of the cedi and frequent power outages, among other burning issues.
The massive demonstration, which gave the police a very tough time, was dubbed ?Ashanti Spring? by some analysts and it is expected to be replicated throughout the country in a move to make the Mahama administration unpopular.
The protesters, some of who were political activists and supporters of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), called for the resignation of President John Dramani Mahama on account of his inability to steer the affairs of the state.
Some of the colossal protesters carried placards with inscriptions that touched on social justice and accused the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of corruption and thievery.
Among the inscriptions were, ?Mahama can?t manage Ghana? ?Mahama is presiding over corruption,? ?Mahama should step down,? ?No more Promises JM?, ?Ashanti is Mourning?, We Need Light,? ?Businesses are collapsing?, Capitation is killing?, ?Where is our cash?? ?Ghana is broke? and ?Ghanaians are not slaves.?
A symbolic coffin was carried by some of the demonstrators which according to them, indicated that Mahama was going to be buried.
They lambasted President Mahama and his government for mismanaging the country and thereby increasing the hardship of the people.
The protest march initially had the current erratic power supply as its main focus, but an array of economic issues, including the exorbitant foodstuffs and fuel prices as well as the declining educational standard were added.
Marching through the principal streets, the demonstrators, on reaching the Central Business District of the city, harped on the frustration women traders at the Central Market and Adum were facing because of poor daily sales and the growing gap between the rich and the poor.
Ghana?s recent economic woes have been blamed on fiscal and monetary indiscipline on the part of the NDC government, with the debt stock ballooning from $9,303.7 million to $22,737 million as at the end of August, 2013.
Out of this, total external debt amounted to $10,167 million ?44.72 per cent ? and domestic debt was $12,569.83 million, representing 55.28 per cent of the debt stock, according to the Public Debt Report by the Ministry of Finance.
The debt profile is now hovering around $25 billion.
The demonstrators accused the President of naked corruption, misapplication of state funds and unnecessary borrowing ?that is used to finance unproductive ventures.?
They also said the government had failed to deliver on promises to alleviate poverty and make Ghanaians better off.
Mr. Mahama took office two-and-a-half years ago, promising a continuation of the ?Better Ghana Agenda? initiated by his mentor, the late President John Atta Mills.
Still touching on corruption, the MP for Manhyia South, Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh aka Napo, underscored, ?Mahama is wasting the meagre resources of the country.?
He told DAILY GUIDE that the number one problem of Ghana is corruption, and asked, ?If you? (referring to President Mahama) ?are given $1 billion to develop the economy and $950 million of it goes into corruption, then how can you develop the nation??
He said the current challenges of the country were purely about mismanagement and corrupt administration, noting that the government is so corrupt that funds meant for the NHIS and the School Feeding Programme had been utilised for something else.
?His government had also promised to cover the costs of school uniforms, increase access to Senior High School education, a measure which would have helped the country?s poorest,? Bernard Antwi-Boasiako, Ashanti Regional NPP Chairman, stated while addressing the crowd.
According to him, Ghanaians had been left in a state of despondency with no light ahead of the tunnel. He asserted that the citizens? best bet is the NPP that could turn things around if given the mandate to rule in the 2016 elections.
The party?s First National Vice-Chairman, Freddie Blay, said the NPP would not allow the country to go down the drain, and thanked the people for their strong will and commitment to the cause of the party.
He disclosed that the ?Ya Ye Den? demonstration had set the tone for more of such protestations to put pressure on the government to do the right thing for Ghanaians after its failed promises.
The Minority Leader in Parliament, Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, said Ghanaians were angry at the Mahama administration for their hardships, asserting that the party in government had set the progress of the nation anti-clockwise.
According to him, economic indicators pointed to a gloomy picture for the country with 5.8 percent growth rate, a figure he noted had been disputed by the World Bank.
Mr. Mensah-Bonsu stated that despite the huge borrowing, government was unable to redeem itself for the statutory payments it was obliged to honour, and added that payment to the GETFund and the District Assembly Common Fund were all in arrears for almost one year.
Movement For Change
Sammy Awuku, National Youth Organiser of the NPP, disclosed that the demonstration was the beginning of a ?movement for change? in the country.
?We want changes in the way we live. They should bring back our economy; it would not be a business as usual for the John Mahama administration, and I can assure you that this is going to be replicated across the country,? he stated.
To him, the NDC government had taken the youth of this country for a ride, and had therefore decided to come out in their numbers to demonstrate their disapproval.
Other speakers such as Fredrick Fredua Anto, 3rd National Vice Chairperson; Isaac Asiamah, MP for Atwima Mponua; Maxwell Kofi Jumah, former MP for Asokwa and Isaac Osei, MP for Subin, addressed the mammoth crowd as they cheered the speakers on.
From Ernest Kofi Adu, Kumasi