Throwing Political Tantrums

#6.  Mismatched priorities?

 

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Wait a minute.

Is President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo trying to tell me that:

In the country where children still attend school under trees,

In a country that has an outdoor defecation ranking second to South Sudan,

In a country where malaria is the leading killer of children under five,

In a country where trained nurses are still struggling to be posted and/or paid after their courses,

In a country where a report showed that over 3,000 women  died from pregnancy related causes in 2013,

In a country where diseases like cholera (or simply ‘poo in mouth’) can break out and result in the deaths of citizens,

In a country where the desperately dangerous mix of extreme poverty and greed has led many parents to sell their children,

And where, just last week, 6 children of the Breman Jamra KG Methodist School in the Central region died after their dilapidated classroom block fell on them,

This is the country that is hosting a 60th birthday bash in March that will cost Ghc20 million or $5 million.

It doesn’t matter that the money is not coming from the tax payers purse.

Mr. President, you need to come again.

 

Throwing Political Tantrums

#5. When the blood of the innocent cries out

Is there anything worse than the heartrending cry of a mother mourning her six year old child?

Is there anything worse than that sinking feeling in your gut that says ‘It could have been worse?’

Is there anything more depressing than the knowledge that the lives of the most vulnerable group in Ghanaian society is perhaps not worth the time or effort of the authorities in charge?

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Think I’m joking? Look around you – what kind of schools do the majority of children attend in Ghana? And don’t use the plethora of private schools in the region capitals as your yardstick.

For the vast majority of Ghanaian children, the public school system is their only solution. And the state of these schools leaves one wondering what kind of adults we are training in this country.

School feeding capitation grant held up in the three northern regions…

Schools without the basic logistics….

Teachers who go months or years without being paid or without being paid their due….

Teachers overwhelmed with large numbers and small classrooms….

Schools with poor infrastructure…..

Schools that our leaders, who profess to be men and women of the people, would never send their children to.

And the heartbreaking part? There are structures in place to ensure that no child goes to school in a dangerously dilapidated building but are they funded sufficiently?

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There are conventions and laws that promote the education of young minds in safe structures with the required tools but are these implemented aggressively?

Ghana is a country that has a lot of impressive legislature but our problem has always been the lack of willpower to look beyond political lines and actually do the damn work.

Not stressed and pushed to breaking point to write BECE and WASSCE exams – but actually trained and equipped to use their brains and creativity to improve their livelihoods.

Every country that has advanced and has impressive GDP statistics has put their money where their mouth is and invested heavily in education.  They establish the structures, they ensure the infrastructure, they train the teachers and they supply the logistics. None of those countries has a perfect record but the logic is this – children are the future and if you want to succeed as a nation, you need to train and shape the burgeoning talent of this demographic.

Investing in children is one that echoes through generations and if you are in doubt, take a look at Cuba which has the highest literacy rate in the world and whose doctors are always called upon to bail us out when the doctors here go on strike.

It’s physically impossible for all of us to live in Accra or any of the regional capitals but that doesn’t mean that the quality of education should decrease the further one is from a metropolitan area.

We can’t all afford to send our children to posh schools but that doesn’t mean that the quality of education should dip just because one attends a public or ‘syto’ school.

And there’s another thing we can’t afford; we can’t afford to have our children attend schools under trees and we can no longer sit back and watch them attend schools that could collapse at any moment.

If we have the funds to put up a vice presidential home and office for almost $14 million, we can easily pump in $14 million into basic school infrastructure.

Six pupils of the Breman Jamra KG Methodist school in the Asikuma Odoben Brakwa district in the Central region  died last week when their classroom collapsed on them.

If this is not a call for action to improve the education sector, then I don’t know what is.

Or…..are we going to talk about it for a while then let their memories fade?

Are we going to let their deaths be in vain?

 

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Acknowledgement:

Pictures courtesy myjoyonline.com and Buzz Ghana news

 

Throwing Political Tantrums

#3. God is a Ghanaian…….and other stories we comfort ourselves with when things get really bad

Accra is a lovely city – I like the ramshackle mix of old and new, wealth and poverty, development and dilapidated. I’m not fond of the sky scrapers and towers of cement and glass that are springing up  because many of them lack basic aesthetic beauty. And there are not enough trees in this city to balance out this hi-tech ugliness. Dr. Adomako of the Institute of African Studies, UG, Legon once said Accra is schizophrenic and over the past couple of years, the reality of this statement has hit me over the head time and again.

That hit is especially hard when it rains. Everyone loves the rains that come pelting down with no regard for anybody or anything. Accra rain is tempestuous; we get so little of it compared to other regions that when it falls it makes sure it gives us all of the good stuff. (I have heard rumours of gods who hold the rain but I can’t confirm that …so….)

And that’s fine and dandy with me. Except that when it rains for even 20 minutes in this city, the raging chaos afterwards exposes the ineptitude of every city official.

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There is such a clear lack of coordination between the Accra city authorities that it would would have been  be hilarious if it wasn’t so painful to watch the results. The meteo agency know that climate change is becoming a pressing issue, urban planning knows that the number of residents outstrips the number of housing structures, water and sanitation knows that plumbing and regular water supply is still a dilemma, ECG knows that underground cables are the way to go, parks and gardens knows that Accra is fast becoming a concrete jungle and if not balanced with enough vegetation, we should expect more chaotic results after heavy rains, and civil engineers know that the antiquated logic behind the drainage systems in this city needs to be done away with quickly, and most importantly, the urban sanitation department knows that all will be for naught if Accra’s over 4,000 tonnes per day  trash problem is not  effectively dealt with.

But have they ever come together to see how they can put their collective intelligence together to make a difference?

Not only that – the rate at which people set up kiosks, shops and containers without basic foundations is alarming. It’s not a sign of a booming SME sector; it’s a sign that AMA isn’t doing its work properly. (But then again, how can it? Their boss – Mayor Oko Vanderpuije – went to stand for MP during his tenure as mayor and then won. The man who did not do his work effectively enough to prevent the death of hundreds during the June 3 disaster is now an MP. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry)

Last night’s rainstorm whipped off a section of the main chamber of parliament; the ferocious winds blew down billboards and pushed kiosks into the street; and the fierce rain caused several parts of Accra to flood.

Apart from parliament’s roof being ripped off and a section with a leaking roof dripping into the chamber….none of the above mentioned events are really news. The only catch this time is that no one drowned.

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And when the sun shone bright and fierce and dried up the city as if nothing happened the night before, the heaps of garbage on the streets made me wonder how we had (once again) narrowly avoided a cholera epidemic of epic proportions. Accra is filthy and no one knows who the hell is responsible for keeping it neat.

And I ask  – why is there no recycling system in place like the ones the Ministers see when they travel abroad? You go to a supermarket, put your plastic bottles or glasses bottles in the machines and after depositing it, you get a cash equivalent. (well at least that’s how it works in Norway) It’s not rocket science; after watching a lake full of plastic bottles alongside the road leading to the Teshie Nungua estates I asked myself two questions : why we are so unkind to the environment and when am I going to buy a recycling machine franchise so I could make a fortune from all this trash?

Sigh.

God must be at least 25% Ghanaian to put up with all our crap.

Throwing Political Tantrums

#4. Guess what? Discretion is STILL the better part of valour

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It’s been five days since the appointment’s committee bribery scandal broke and my mind is still reeling with questions that I wish Mahama Ayariga would answer.

Dear Sir,

So you went on Radio Gold and alleged that Boakye Agyarko channeled Ghc3,000 to each member of the committee through the chairman and the  minority chief whip. And you didn’t have a shred of evidence. Just your word against the other alleged players. And you thought that would work? Seriously?

Let me dwell on the evidence bit a bit longer – not a picture? Not even a voice note? Not…any damn thing? In this day and age? Come onnnnn.

And now that the Chairman of the committee  has denied the claims…and Boakye Agyarko is two steps away from suing you……..and your own Minority Chief Whip Alhaji  Muntaka Mubarak  swore by Allah that he hadn’t gave you or any other member a dime – what’s your next step?

Oh yeah, you and two others (Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Alhaji Suhuyini) have signed a petition requesting the Speaker of parliament to initiate an enquiry into this issue. Mr. Ablakwa has come out to state that NPP members on the panel are also implicated. But he declined mentioning names? Mmmmmhmmm?

What are you afraid of?! You can’t just drop that tasty tit-bit then stroll away smirking.

And furthermore, now that you have thrown this cat among the pigeons (and the cat is toothless so all it’s currently doing is cuddling on the table), what happens to your political career? Now the theory circulating is that you are part of a faction that is hell-bent on destroying the presidential ambitions of Minority leader in parliament Haruna Iddrisu. (If that’s the case, good luck. You’re going to need it. They don’t call Haruna ‘The Chosen One’ in some circles for nothing.)

Now that ACEP and CHRAJ and the GII have all come out to say they support an investigation – how on earth do you provide the hard core evidence that money changed hands….and was then rejected…and came from Boakye Agyarko?

With all due respect Sir – before you went to Radio Gold to drop this bomb, did you think through how this will all pan out?

Cos from where I sit it’s starting to look like the end of this scandal works out very badly for your political career. But then again, this is Ghana and we excel at politics of equalization and other spheres of pettiness so, I could be wrong.  You could walk out of this smiling through the suspiciously smelling brown stuff dripping all over the place.

After all, it’s only been five days right?