Duka Daya by Kwame Gyan

I think Mills is no different from Kufuor or Rawlings. These are the leaders I know. The rest I have only read in history books. Politicians, I have said before, are only different in so far as the names of their party’s differ. Some claim all kinds of fanciful and generally meaningless ideologies that they claim they believe in and practice but in reality you and I know they are all the same. Forget about the gibberish about some party been left-to-the-right or right-to-the-centre or right-of-the-left-of-the- middle-of-the-centre or whatever nonsense they may want to claim.

As far as I am concerned they are all a bunch of lying and thieving men and women who are foisting terms like ‘Honourable’ before their names even though their nothing but it. Oh yes there are a few decent ones who are out to truly serve and not be served. But they are in such a tiny minority that it feels they are not even there to begin with.

Now why is Mills no different from the rest of them? I could possible enlist lots of reasons but I will focus on the enlightened deceit that they all seem to practice so expertly. Forget about all the talk of him being religious and morally straight and all. Who says Rawlings and Kufuor did not go to church? Or that those two were so morally corrupt that they littered the world with countless babies or carried the basket of immorality on their heads right from Day One. Bill Clinton engaged in immorality in the White House but he is one of the best Presidents America ever had.

What’s My Problem? There have been countless instances where political parties in opposition have made ruling governments look like monsters when the inevitable business of increasing fuel prices come up. When members of the opposition are speaking to the issues of price hikes when it concerns fuel, it is as though all their knowledge in global economics and the politics of OPEC and others are temporarily put on ice in their brains. They then start to make spurious arguments that my deceased, illiterate grandparents will not make. For example I posted on my Facebook page on December 30 a GNA story first published on February 22, 2005. Parts of the story said “Professor John Evans Atta Mills, former Vice President on Tuesday said the ruling New Patriotic Party

(NPP) government should be called to order for its continued increases in petroleum prices without regard to its effect on the poor and the economy. He said, if the NPP was not called to order the suffering of the people would lead to social explosion, which would affect governance. Responsible governments world-wide subsidize the cost of social goods with a view to protecting the poor, the disadvantaged and the marginalized”.

This argument was made by no mean a person than the head of Ghana’s Economic Management Team and a Vice President of Ghana between 1996 and 2000. He certainly ought to have known that when it comes to increasing fuel prices the onus does not entirely lie with the government. Then NPP Presidential candidate JA Kufuor was famously seen displaying a gallon and shouting hoarse about how costly it was. You want to take it easy on the gentle giant. After all he had not been in government before as of the time. Mills again promised all of us that when he assumes office in January 2009 he will reduce fuel prices to 2 cedis per gallon I think. It is that obvious lie which he told knowing well he could not say what he had said he will do which makes me upset and uncomfortable when I hear people speak as though Mills were the best thing that ever happened to Ghana. He is not. Our Hausa folks will say ‘duga daya’, all the same.

I have not read economics before but I do know that merely because we produce oil does not mean our governments have the liberty to set fuel prices any how they like. The world market plays a key role in this. Yes what the government can do is to control how much tax they put on these products and which subsidies they feel they can take off to make life a wee bit comfortable and be like the responsible governments across the world whom Mills say ‘subsidize the cost of social goods with a view to protecting the poor, the disadvantaged and the marginalized’. Again, we all know that Ghana is an excessive loan-taking country and all the loans we take have conditions attached to them, some very stringent. So when our politicians talk as though they and our Ghana are Lords onto ourselves I find it pitiable. Folks we have been independent some 54 or so years ago but as long as our leaders globe-trot to meet all kinds of donors, they will be given conditions some of which basically will mean losing a bit of our much cherished independence albeit temporarily. My understanding is that the IMF twisted government’s arms to remove some subsidies, and of course government had to yield although government’s dysfunctional communications machinery will make you believe otherwise.

From what I understand, even though petroleum prices have by law being deregulated in Ghana our governments, NPP and NDC all together, have not had the guts to fully act on it because they don’t want to lose votes. I think sometimes we as a people allow these politicians to make us look like fools. I can imagine the huge cheer which will greet Nana Addo if he addresses a rally and yells in his British English “People of Ghana are you able to buy kerosene for your lanterns? Are you not paying too much for trotro to work? So if the NDC cares for you and I why don’t they reduce fuel prices”!

The sickening part is that we have supposedly smart, intelligent and educated young men and women who will throw all common sense to the dogs and seek to defend what their parties do. They seem to forget; or rather they think we are all a bunch of gullible fools who will not remember when their tunes change once their political fortunes reverse. The very simple lesson about fuel hikes which politicians should learn and indeed take to guide their utterances is simple: when it comes to petroleum issues, please DO NOT in the name of God politicize it! No do not politicize it because you do not control oil prices. Do not promise as a heaven when you know you simply cannot deliver it. As a colleague once said, if you want to make a promise, “make promises over things you have a certainty that you control or can control but not what you don’t. C’est simple!” But do they ever learn?

I do not think the majority of Ghanaians are fools. No we are not. The fact that we are nice and cheerful and forgiving does not mean that politicians should come and take us for a ride as and when it pleases them. Simple lesson for Ghanaians to learn: take everything Mills, Nana Addo and the rest of them tell you with a pinch of insult especially when they don’t say how they can achieve all that they say!

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