The title of this piece is a common English expression that describes one’s physical state after tasting too much of the fruits of the Lord Jesus’ inaugural miracle in joyous celebration. (And before any Pastor tells me the fruits were non-alcohol, I want to state firmly and categorically that I have been to many a Jewish wedding, and do not share their assertion.)
Ghana has had a lot to celebrate in the last month. We kicked off with the conduct of a very orderly General Election which confounded all, the frightening predictions of the Doomsday Predictors, both Peace Mongers & Pastoral. The outcome was cause for both wide celebration and gnashing of teeth. Whichever one it was, it led to a very copious consumption of the fruit of the inaugural miracle; according to my “Spot” -owning pal.
Hardly had we recovered from our “tired & emotional” state and the sharp pains of the inevitable headaches, when Christmas came upon us. Every Ghanaian living everywhere knows that “Bronya” is the real McCoy, the moth of all celebrations. This year’s was especially sweet as the retailers gave us all handsome presents with substantial reductions in the prices of the goodies we needed to “chop” Christmas. I am too sure that the sellers of “inaugural fruit” were so charitable with price reductions. Nevertheless, there was considerable uptake of the “inaugural fruit”, made possible by the savings from reductions in the prices of “akoko”, “pioneer biscuit”, perfumed rice, etc.,
The mother of all celebrations was the inauguration of the 5th President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo on January 07 2017. The parties were several, long and full of quaffing of the “inaugural fruit”. And it was right and fitting that a good time was had by most, if not all Ghanaians, that CHANGE HAD COME and Happy Days were on the horizon, if not here again already. Going by the localized interpretation of Newton’s third law that “Input begets Output”, the post celebration pains, headaches and attendant dehydration were more intense, sustained and not just on account of taking in too much of the “inaugural miracle fruits”
President Akufo Addo (I will get used to the transition from “Addo D”) delivered a very inspiring inaugural speech, which made me and everyone else who heard it “very proud to be a Ghanaian”, whether they hold the passport or not. Alas hardly had we imbibed the promise of the new and exciting dawn of a new Ghana with responsible citizens “mucking in “instead of sitting on the fence “carping”, when the ‘s**t literally hit the fan” with worrying revelations about unattributed portions of the speech. Note, I do not use “plagiarism” for the simple reason that we are dealing with a few passages of an otherwise well-constructed and visionary ‘call to arms’ to all Ghanaians to pull our country up by the local equivalent of bootstraps.
After, the acting Director of Communications at the “Golden Jubilee House” (first manifestation of Change) quickly put up the proverbial “it’s a fair cop, Gov” apology post on Facebook (not the most appropriate medium), the matter should have and could have ended there, and we could have all moved on to better digestion of His Excellency’s message. Unfortunately, the matter was not put to rest because too many “toono” “gaping sycophants’ started producing contorted academic thesis on copyright laws and even going to the extent to suggest that no infractions had occurred. That was as stupid as it was unmeritorious.
Let’s get one thing straight from the word go. The Opposition NDC is in an automatic payback mode. It has hit the ground running and will operate on the well-worn principle that “The business of the Opposition is to oppose everything and offer no solutions”. By getting the mandate of the people of Ghana on 7 December 2016 President Akufo-Addo and his party shifted from the “Problem Articulators mode to SOLUTION DELIVERERS. It does not have the luxury to engage in responding to every provocation from the NDC or encouraging their supporters to offer a “Pavlovian” (knee jerk”) response. I would have thought we would have learnt from the many Fasts and Thanksgiving services that there is only one infallible being, and we mere humans will continue to make mistakes, and just get used to the idea that we must apologise and ask for forgiveness, learn the appropriate lessons for the future, no matter how lofty our position is.
The second piercing and persistent headache has been the saga of the resettlement of ex-President John Dramani Mahama. It is an episode in which none of the players comes out smelling of roses: not Ex-Presidents Kufuor and Mahama; not President Akufo-Addo; not the Transition Teams: and last but not least, not the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana. I leave out Otumfuo for the simple reason that his involvement, if any, was engineered by actors who were very familiar with the laws of the Republic of Ghana, and should have ensured whatever intervention they sought from His Majesty was firmly grounded in the laws of Ghana.
Parliament was wrong in first accepting and then overriding the recommendation on accommodation arrangements by the Committee the President set up to review Article 71 end of service benefits. Be that as it may Ex-President Mahama was clearly wrong in seeking to perpetuate the misdemeanor of appropriating the official residence of the Vice President of Ghana, when he became the President of Ghana. If he had moved into the expensively refurbished Presidential Residency at the then Flagstaff (now Jubilee) House, all the subsequent cacophony will have been avoided. Ex-President Kuffuor’s interjection was unnecessary as it was unhelpful. The position advanced by his Spokesman is not found in our law. As far as I can surmise, Parliament approved the allocation of a house, NOT a specific house or a choice in the house.
Most troubling has been the shifting and contradictory position of Government. Clearly it appears it has had to back away from “smoke room” agreements which are not lawful and more importantly perceived by the people of Ghana as unfair, excessively wasteful and laying precedents that would be unsustainable going forward in the future. In withdrawing from this sordid episode, former President Mahama has hinted at agreements precedent to the issuance of the formal announcement by the former Chief of Staff. I believe it is incumbent, nay imperative, for the government to confirm or deny the claims impugned by the Ex-President, not least for the sake of removing the obvious embarrassment to Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, who does not need this distraction at this most difficult time for him.
Last but not least is the issue of takeovers of state structure and properties. Yes, the IGP and the Police must be up and doing without giving excuses. Up and doing needs more than asking for a Plan to be drawn up when swift and decisive restoration of law & order is what is needed NOW. But the Police need the clear support of Government to do its job. So far this has not been forthcoming, a very worrying turn of events. For me, it is not good enough to point to the pleadings of party leaders as sufficient. Indeed, the reported comments and posture of the g. National Chairman of the NPP, Freddie Blay has been disappointed in the least, and damn right irresponsible at best. There is a clear distinction between Party, which is necessarily partisan, and Government, which must see itself as acting on behalf of ALL the People of Ghana. The sooner the transition from the former to the latter is completed, the better it will be for President Akufo-Addo & his avowed commitment to the “Rule of Law”, and to the benefit of every Ghanaian living everywhere, who voted for CHANGE OR CONTINUITY.
We have enjoyed a wonderful season of celebrations. However, it’s now time to take some pain killers, douse loads of water on ourselves to cure our harmattan compounded dehydration and sober up quickly to tackle the many onerous tasks ahead. President Akufo seems to have sobered up already. He has set the record for the quickest nomination of Ministers in the 4th Republic of Ghana. This means that Ghana will have a full functioning Government by the end of January, very impressive when put against the 3-4-month period of all previous Governments.
It’s time for everyone else to clear their heads and wake up to the challenges of the Citizen-led renewal of our Country emboldened by the “Proud to be Ghanaian “Spirit.
From Dr Charles Yves Wereko-Brobby
The writer is the Chief Policy Analyst of the Ghana Institute for Public Policy Options (GIPPO)