Remember ?What About The Goaso Road?? The younger generation was born too late to remember this statement. It happened in 1963 when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was in power. The chiefs and people of Goaso in the Brong Ahafo Region were celebrating their Yam Festival and among the dignitaries invited was the then Member of Parliament of the area. Delivering his speech to mark the occasion, the then Goaso Omanhene charged the MP to go to Parliament and raise the issue of the deplorable state of the roads of Goaso because they could not get their farm produce to the big cities to sell due to the bad nature of the roads.
When it reached the turn of the MP to speak he promised the chiefs and people of Goaso that if even he failed to catch the eyes of the Speaker of Parliament he would stand up on point of order to draw the attention of parliament to the state of the Goaso roads. On that fateful day at the Parliament house when the house was fully packed the Goaso MP was seen dozing off and eventually went into a deep sleep and snoring loudly. When the house rose to go on recess, the Goaso MP woke up and seeing all the MPs walking out of the house he shouted on top of his voice : ?Mister Speaker, what about the Goaso Road?? There was laughter everywhere.
In the run-up to the 2008 general elections, the most juicy campaign promise given by the NDC was the issue of one-time premium of the NHIS. Speaking on ASTA FM, a private radio station at Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region, the then running mate to the late Professor Atta Mills, Mr. John Dramani Mahama told listeners that the one-time premium was highly feasible because a little increase in VAT payment could be used to pay for the premium of registered NHIS members. He said the Kufour administration should not pride itself of introducing the NHIS because people pay before they could receive medical treatment. He said it is prudent and convenient for contributors to pay once in their lifetime in order to avoid a situation where some can pay in a particular year while others find it difficult to pay. Listeners really believed in the man because as a communicator he was able to carry the listeners with him.
Fortunately for Ghanaians, the NDC wrote in their manifesto that when voted into power they will make sure the one-time premium becomes a reality. Because it was a manifesto promise, the good people of Ghana believed that it will come to pass. In 2008 just a little over 40% of Ghanaians had registered with the NHIS and so majority of Ghanaians who could not register felt the promise, if honoured could give them the opportunity to join and benefit from the scheme and so they voted for the NDC. It was the biggest mistake Ghanaian voters ever made. It turned out to be a hoax meant to throw dust into the eyes of poor Ghanaian voters.
It has been five years after that campaign promise was made to the good people of Ghana and so permit me to ask, ?Mr. President, what about the one-time premium you promised Ghanaians?? You see, the rituals of presidential contrition are fixed and formal: confess the sin, express regret, make amends and if necessary perform a ?human sacrifice?, preferably, on a fairly high-ranking human. Presidents all over the world hire and fire his or her ministers. If there is a Minister of Health who cannot sit down with technocrats to see how to make a campaign promise realistic, such a minister should be fired outright. When the President, out of desperation, told us that we were short-sighted and that Ghanaians talk too much and easily forget things, me, my wife and two children who were watching the television gave him a standing ovation. The man was perfectly right. That is why any politician could lie his way to power and still seek for power, come another four years. If the President thinks all Ghanaians are short-sighted and easily forget thinks he should think again because some of us are walking encyclopaedia and can easily travel down memory lanes.
A good President needs a big comfort zone. He should be able to treat his enemies as opportunities, appear authentic in joy and in grief, stay cool under the hot lights and above all tell his people the truth about the state of the economy. But humility does not come naturally to those who decide they are qualified to run the free world. The truth is that President Mahama is not a good President at all. The President has never surrounded himself with people who have deep experience in managing government, who really know how to make it work, that is why the likes of Alban Bagbin is angry about what is going in the John Mahama administration. In fact, John Mahama knows nothing about how to use the system to get things done. The man is simply incompetent, dithering and weak as far as the management of the economy is concerned. As the Chairman of the Economic Management team for three years when he was the Vice President, he should have by now known the nitty-gritty of economic management. I must admit that the President is a good communicator but communication is just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to governing a nation. Communication, laced with propaganda makes a caricature of a president.
Anytime the President tried to defend his administration, he acted like a disappointed fan in a bad bleacher seat watching his presidency be pummelled from afar. It is not only his moral obligation to deliver the one-time premium promise but an absolute political necessity. Nothing else is going to be feasible until he rights the ship. It is just as simple as that. The President must be told that there is a policy and there is politics. Defending the indefensible and using propaganda as a tool in governance will not help him and the country as a whole. The fierce backlash that he has been subjected to is great lesson that he needs to learn. President Mahama has to reverse course, even if backpedalling is likely to cause further fumbles down the field. He can pick up the pieces and start again on a good foot.
How can a president appear confident and incompetent at the same time? I sincerely think it is important that we have a president who understands that you have to run the government as a manager but not a wishful thinker who goes from church to church giving thanks to God. Who in his rightful frame of mind do not know that God is great and we need to thank him for small mercies? The sages say God helps those who help themselves. This is a man who was elected to power on a slogan of Better Ghana Agenda but he ended up presiding over a comedy of dysfunction. The other day the President told us that he had just put the car on first gear but the truth is that if the car that has been put on first gear had been an airplane, it would have crushed at takeoff when the throttle was pulled. He partnered the late President Mills to rule the country for three years and later became a transitional president for another year and a year after being retained in power, the man is telling us that the car has just been put on first gear. Funny man!! Excuse me while I flick off the ash from my Havana Cigar. Wishing all of you a belated uncertain, fruitless and painful new year!!!
By Eric Bawah