At the beginning of the year, Ghanaians were informed that the Diamond-Anniversary Festivities marking the country’s reassertion of its sovereignty from British colonial rule would be celebrated throughout the year. I must therefore be right in my understanding in interpreting this to mean that the activities marking the celebration of Ghana@60 will continue until at least next January. I had also hoped that at least a monthly or even a weekly calendar of activities and/or festivities would be rolled out by the government. So far, I have not seen much on this front. Which was why I couldn’t stop myself from wondering what has been going on back home on the proverbial Ground Zero, when I came across an article captioned “Mahama Blew GHS 4 M on Ghana@59 March Past Alone – Commey” Classfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 2/13/17).
The article is accompanied by the portrait of good, old Mr. Lord Commey, my favorite no-nonsense operative of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP). As my regular readers may already be in the know, I am elated that finally Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo made it to the Flagstaff House. But, of course, merely making it into the Flagstaff House is one thing, while performing up to the expectations of the people who offered him and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia the mandate is another. Also, merely telling us that the entire celebration of Ghana@60 cost the Ghanaian taxpayer a measly $ 4 million, whereas President John Dramani Mahama’s celebration of the March-Past affair alone cost the country the exact same amount of money does not tell us much that is worthwhile and meaningful. We need to be exposed to the Full-Monty, as it were. The Akufo-Addo Era is also an era of accountability of the sort and kind that Chairman Jerry John Rawlings only pontifically and self-righteously preached out.
It is almost pointless to start any meaningful discussion about cost containment, when Lord Commey also poignantly and, perhaps, even shockingly tells us that “10 years ago” when President John Agyekum-Kufuor literally ruled the roost, “What I know is that over US $75 million was spent on Ghana@50. Under Nana Akufo-Addo’s government, 10 years on, only US $4 million is being spent, so strike out the difference and the balance. We have the mandate to be modest and also elegant.” We must also quickly point out that Lord Commey is a member of the committee in charge of preparations for the Ghana@60 celebrations.
Of course, it flabbergasts me that the Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party spent so lavishly on the Golden-Jubilee Anniversary Celebration of Ghana’s Independence. The temperature and the rhythm of complacency had begun to set in, obviously. But what ineradicably pains me to this day, is the decision by the Kufuor Presidency Team to rather have the Rawlings Posse turn our national political arena into an orgy of Galamsey-like economic mismanagement than fully and staunchly back the presidential-election campaign of Nana Akufo-Addo. Eight years on, Ghanaians still find ourselves where the socioeconomically and politically regressive Chairman Rawlings left us by the close of 2000. Indeed, I have some relatives, friends and colleagues who have told me that they will never forgive former President Kufuor for being so callous and insensitive as to let his personal grudge and need for revenge cloud his vision as a politician and a leader.
Well, my simple answer to such people is that I, personally, cannot afford such a luxury, because the comfort and well-being of too many Ghanaians depend on the ability of those of us staunch adherents, advocates and believers in the ideal and tenets of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo-inspired and Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party government to deliver.
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York