At the Flagstaff House [the seat of government], in the Greater Accra region, the President invited journalists to come listen to him tell Ghanaians what he has achieved so far after six months in office.
On Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at exactly 12:30pm, the President’s guests were seated; so was the larger populace, outside the Flagstaff House, either glued to their television or radio sets waiting to hear the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces speak.
Touching on almost all sectors of the economy, President Akufo-Addo touted his government’s achievements. He noted he has restored the teachers and nursing trainees’ allowances which will take effect at the beginning of the 2017/18 academic year.
One thing that got me admiring His Excellency was his frankness on issues. Questions posed to him that were beyond his wits, he directed to his Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, and others.
On security, the President was spot on as he admitted that incidents of the Delta Forces and Invisible Forces (vigilante groups within the New Patriotic Party) have brought the government into disrepute.
Social media was flooded with score cards on who asked the most intelligent question as journalists took turns to do so.
For instance, Citi FM’s Bernard Avle, Joy FM’s Evans Mensah and Ghana Broadcasting Corporation’s Abdul Hayi Momeen were highly praised. On the flip side, Abusua FM’s Kwame Adinkra was not spared the rod of ridicule. Social media commentators have described his question to the President on road infrastructure in Kumasi (Ashanti region) as that of a typical serial caller on radio.
Personally, I think Kwame Adinkra was too bias in his question. He implicitly implied that the former President, John Dramani Mahama’s administration did nothing for Kumasi.
As if his politically bias question wasn’t enough, he went about needlessly praising the President on how nice the African print he wore was. For Heaven’s sake, this is the president of the nation and no one expects him wear tattered shirts!!!
I was not present at President Akufo-Addo’s media encounter so I did not get the opportunity to ask my question. However, if I did, I know by now social media would have still been discussing me. Yes!
I would have been the talk of town. I would have, however, pardoned whoever would call me stupid or insane. Why? This is because I would have asked the simplest of questions.
“Hello Mr. President. My name is Solomon Mensah and I work with Media General (specifically 3FM and TV3). Could you please tell us the last time you passed through the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Interchange, Kanesehie, Lapaz, Madina and other suburbs of the capital city?”
Having asked this, I would add, “If you have had a pass through these suburbs of Accra since coming into office, did you [with all due respect] see the filth engulfing the city of Accra? Would you say the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources you created has been of help so far? Thank you.”
Until recently that All Nations University students in the Eastern region launched a satellite into space, what pertains beyond the clouds has not really been our concern. One of our major concerns, however, has been how to battle filth.
Sadly, all the measures the Mahama administration put in place to deal with this canker did not work because they were themselves problems. Talk of the National Sanitation Day where we are indirectly told to fill the gutters with rubbish and go back to clean it at the beginning of every new month. Sickening!
When President Akufo-Addo created the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, I thought our problems were going to be dealt with. Six months on, I will score the ministry a lousy 1 out of 10. They have basically done nothing substantial to improve upon our sanitation!
The biggest mistake past and present governments have made is to entrust the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to spearhead the agenda of cleaning Accra. I have said on many occasions that the AMA is more incompetent than the word itself. In fact, I strongly believe that apart from the responsibility of drivers at the AMA, almost all the other roles could be played by class one pupils.
Recently, the AMA issued a statement threatening to exhume dead bodies buried illegally. Even inmates of Pantang Hospital will not consider this as the best solution to curb illegal burial in Accra.
Perhaps, officials of the AMA must be sent to Sunyani, the capital of the Brong Ahafo region, on a study tour to learn how effective and efficient things are done there. To the best of my knowledge there is no way one can bury their dead at any cemetery in Sunyani without approval from authorities. Why? There are security men at the gates of the cemeteries!
Mr. President, my colleagues asked about the number of jobs you have created and whether you have been tamed. They were all good questions. I am much concerned about the basic things that require no certificate but common sense to handle― sanitation. If you really have your promise of seeing Accra become a clean city at heart, please, let the AMA stay away from this.
The traders, for instance, who were recently ejected from the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Interchange are happily back to their business there. Circle, despite the facelift, has become dirtier than before.
Mr. President, can you enforce a by-law that will get people who litter indiscriminately pay a fine? Can you let people be responsible for their irresponsible behaviour?
Mr. President, in this 21st century, it is a total shame that malaria is still among the topmost diseases tormenting Ghanaians. It is a shame we still battle cholera and other filth-related diseases.
If the war on galamsey is yielding results, can we launch a similar war on sanitation in this country? A healthy nation is wealthy nation. Everything starts with good health. When we have good health, we can effectively talk about all other issues, I believe.
By Solomon Mensah
The writer is a broadcast journalist with 3FM 92.7. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect 3FM’s editorial policy.