COMMENTARY: Open Letter To President J.D. Mahama
BY: Kwesi Biney
Good day, His Excellency the President, it’s been a long time since we met and spoke, particularly since you became the number two man leading to your number one position of the land. Well it is not your fault, the gap between a number one man and a number 25millionth man like me is so long that by the time you deal with the long queue of people between you and I, maybe your tenure of office might have expired. Nonetheless, old friends are the best. I remember those days when we used to chat late in the night in your office as a Minister of Communication and sometimes in your home at Cantonments. Hahahaha, ooooo, how time flies and changes as well.
Ahaa, Mr. President, you see, I have decided to write this letter to you after noticing that the pressures of work on your head will not make it possible for us to meet as we used to and chat over mahogany bitters and pito, but it will also not be proper for me to sit down and hear people say so many bad bad bad bad things about you and your government. Oh yes, the things they say, aoo, they are not good at all, at all. You see, some say you yourself how you became President self mangana surrounds it. They are not too sure whether the old man died properly or somebody did something to him so you become the President. As for that one when I hear them I tell them ‘go wey you’ after all ‘all die be die’ whether he died naturally or he died unnaturally.
But Mr. President, don’t forget the Shakespearian concept that ‘unnatural deeds bleed unnatural troubles’, additionally, the last elections which brought you to office as the President was also challenged. Your main opponent went to court to challenge the validity of your election. The world watched keenly the legal tussles at the Supreme Court. At the end of it all, the Supreme Court dismissed the case of the petitioners and further sustained your declaration by the Electoral Commission which conducted the elections. Mr. President, even though the petitioners have accepted the verdict of the Supreme Court, the court of public opinion is of the view that the Supreme Court erred in law in dismissing the petitioners’ case.
The suspicions surrounding the decision arrived at by the Supreme Court is no different from the suspicions which surround the death of Prof. J.E.A Mills from whom you took over as President. Now, my worry number one is that even though you are the de jury President of this country, almost half of the population believe that you were not properly elected to the position you hold today, that is to say that you do not have the mandate of the majority of the people over whose lives you preside, that you are not the President de facto.
Mr. President, under normal circumstances, out of controversies, the best come to the society. I would have expected that you will do something good for this country in order to win the trust and confidence of even your bitterest opponents. As things move now, the situation in the country is fast deteriorating in a manner which will drown majority of the people in this country. In the first place when you were the Vice President of this country, the most scandalous dissipation of our national resources occurred which astounded all. I mean the Woyome case. Following from that, many more revelations of criminally prosecuted payments of monies to corporate bodies which do not deserve those payments had taken place.
Mr. President, to the point that the same Supreme Court which ‘wrongfully’ declared you President but was accepted by all has asked that some monies paid out to some rogues be taken back but you have done nothing about that. The last time I went to the Blue kiosk to replenish my mahogany bitters stock, some of the people were saying that you were a beneficiary of those payments otherwise you would have used your Presidential powers to freeze their assets to retrieve the monies. In fact, your silence on the matter is worrying so many people. The payments to CP and other such agencies at a time when you need every pesewa to engage in your service delivery function, the slow pace towards the GYEEDA crimes, the SADA mismanagement and allied quasi public organizations which had free expenditure spree without any benefit to the nation is very worrying.
Mr. President, apart from the financial haemorrhage the nation is going through under your leadership, almost all the public social services in this country are on the verge of total collapse because of poor funding. Education at all levels is at its worst state since Ghana came into being. Children fail and have no opportunity of trying again; those who pass very well cannot have admissions into the next levels. Even those who are blessed to gain admissions, their parents cannot afford to pay the school fees and the accompanying hostel fees.
Ghana has become a nation that takes care of its children through protocols, put differently, children of today need to know people in top places before they can be offered opportunities which they deserve on merit and by the fact that they are Ghanaians. The anguish written on the faces of our children with the potential to make great contributions to the future of this country are beyond description. The pressures and disappointments of parents whose children have done so well but are likely to waste away because of limited opportunities are better noticed than described. What kind of society are you managing? A policy of protocol dependent society which closes the doors to the poor and the unknown? And yours is a Social Democratic Party.
As you read this piece, basic schools have no chalk, registers and other basic things for teaching and learning. The Capitation Grant introduced by a Capitalist government of Kufuor is in arrears for God knows how many terms. After five years in office, this country has more debts than the combined debts of the 56 years of independence, and within the same period, we have more poor and deteriorating road network than the period since independence, Mr. President. There have been more labour agitations under your Presidency than any government that ever took charge of this country, why? Everyone admits that governments depend on taxes from its citizens to deliver the services they require. However it is not so much the volume of taxes the government collects that matters but the efficient prudent management of those resources.
Mr. President, the level of taxes in this country is worrying but more disturbing is the impunity with which your government is misusing those taxes to the detriment of the basic needs of the people. I remember on the death of the late President, you proudly said you were born in Ghana, that is to say, you were born after independence. The message I believe you were sending to Ghanaians was that you are a modern man and that you were going to do things in a modern way to help each citizen of this country. By that statement, Mr. President, you meant or insinuated that the Gold Coasters are archaic and have no ideas to move this country into the era of modernity.
I am afraid you have failed Ghanaians, that is to say all of us born after independence. Your era has been the most disappointing era, an era that is full of disappointment for majority of parents, an era of hopelessness for the youth with aspirations that can never be translated into practical achievements, an era when children have opportunities based on who holds whose hands to the door of opportunities rather than on merit, an era when dreams are shattered, an era where corruption has become virtue rather than vice. Oh yes an era that glorifies and gives honour to mediocrity instead of excellence.
Mr. President, my humble advice to you is that only few Ghanaians will have the chance through fair or foul means to become the President of this county even for a day. It is not how long you stay as the President of this country that matters; it is what you leave behind and how you will be remembered. If you do not take drastic measures to deal with the ills of this society and restore sanity and discipline in public life, this country will go down the drain, and with it your name. Unfortunately for you, since you pride yourself for having been born on ‘Ghana’, you still have a number of years ahead of you, ceteris paribus, and I bet you are likely to be remembered for the worst things that ever happened to this country. Is this what you will want to leave behind for your children apart from money? A word to the wise, this time is coming from the West.
I hope we meet one of these days to reminisce the old times. Yours sincerely, as I shoot two tots of my mahogany bitters.