Thursday, July 10, 2014

Occupy FlagStaff House protest must be signal to all political parties

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

The significantly historical protest of July 1 2014, called #OccupyFlagstaffouse should be a signal to all political parties in Ghana. 

The die is cast and Ghanaians won’t sit down and watch a motley collection of people come together to form political parties, ride on the back of the Constitution, mislead Ghanaians, get citizens to vote them into office, and then they spend time taking care of themselves and paying eternal debts to their cronies and sponsors.

Since Ghana adopted Constitutional democracy, the conducts of politicians before and during electioneering campaigns have been consistently inconsistent with their conducts as soon as they are elected into office. They become tin gods and only seek to fill their bellies. It becomes like they said in Kenya ‘time to eat’.

The fact that the Ghanaians who joined the protest in the face of vulgar police intimidation and the outpouring of rains shows a people now determined to strongly tell political office holders that occupying political office is a responsibility and not a favour. Political office holders in this country live in free housing, have luxurious cars at their disposal, draw free fuel and have police escorts protecting them at the expense of the people and yet they are unable to address the economic realities of the times. They now call these issues ‘challenges’ as if to say they are unavoidable and therefore, can’t be resolved. 

Most Ghanaians are simply appalled by what has become the standard of public service in this country – which is simply talking, while they enrich themselves under very strange circumstances. 

As they do, most ministers of state spend a large amount of the time at their disposal talking on every available air time in the country, and often repeating themselves sick, without any substance. What is worse, they are lying and spewing inconsistencies as if Ghanaians are undiscerning. 

Ministers of state are falling over each other to be noticed -  and they do that by seizing every opportunity to talk, as if that’s what they have been appointed to do. It’s mindboggling to consider the amount of time these public officials spend talking instead of doing the actual work they have been appointed to do and are being paid for, with all the luxurious pecks that come with it including traveling First and Business Class.

Notwithstanding the fact that the evidences of their ineptitude and non-performance are becoming legendary, they are paying hirelings to do hatchet jobs for them by maligning decent citizens.

You contested an election and won, now you must work. All the ‘challenges’ are yours to deal with, that’s what you are in public office for. Stop acknowledging and telling us about the ‘challenges’, the depreciating cedi, the irrational foreign exchange directives, the high inflation rate, talking of rising inflation I remember when ‘single digit’ inflation was sung hoarse into our ears as if it was such a great achievement of government. Now it’s rising and it is ‘challenges’. Only yesterday, the Central Bank which approved the withdrawal of millions of dollars which was sent to Brazil in a manner one can simply describe as irresponsible and objectionable increased the interest rate to 18%! Is the government taking responsibility for that? As it did when it was falling?

That period is over, when Ghanaians mostly sat back and threw their hands up in desperation, now they are willing to hold public office holders to account, and this won’t change, no matter which political party or politician is in power. 

I have never gone on a protest in my life, not even when I was a student at the University of Ghana at a time when the ‘MOBROWA STRUGGLE’ was launched to protest increase in tuition fees. But I feel proud and gratified that I joined this protest! I will forever feel I had paid my dues to the country and my conscience for joining the hundreds of Ghanaians out in the rains who were also confronted with the glaring possibilities of state sanctioned police brutality. While the conduct of the police was generally professional, there were some isolated cases of attempts by some officers to provoke protestors so they could possibly use the occasion to be violent against them, but as good reason prevailed, the protestors did not fall for the trick.

It was the only time I wasn’t at a protest as a reporter. I was there as a protestor demanding responsible governance – it is one of the many apart from my writings and journalism that I could give to a great country, that has been brought down to her knees and made into a laughing stock by people into whose hands we have entrusted our destinies.

And let the other political parties take note that it won’t be different no matter who is in power, the downward trend the country has been going must come to a halt at some point, and we the people will demand that through all constitutionally guaranteed means.

Get to work, deal with the ‘challenges’ that’s what you are elected and appointed for. We demand accountable, responsible governance, enough of the propaganda and communist inferior tactics!

Let those who can read, understand the signs of the times.

#OccupyFlagStaffHouse #RedFriday 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Middle class Ghanaians move from Facebook to streets to protest bad governance

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

Today July 1, 2014 is Republic Day. On this day history was made as elite Ghanaians moved the discussions, debates, complaints about poor governance and corruption from social media networks Facebook and Twitter onto the streets of Accra.

Hundreds of middle class citizens most of them lawyers, engineers, architects, apps developers, journalists, university professors and consultants in various fields, some of them Ivy League educated and CEOs gathered at the Afua Sutherland Children’s Park as early as 6:00am to start the protest organized by the Concerned Ghanaians for Responsible Governance (CGRG).

Notwithstanding the peaceful nature of the protest, a heavy contingent of police was deployed to stop the protestors from marching to the Flag Staff House to present a petition to the president, and that was after the protestors and the police had agreed that 50 protestors would be allowed to march to the Flag Staff House to make the presentation. The police reneged and circumvented the deal. They formed a ring around the protestors and prevented them from moving beyond the environs of the Park.

The protestors decided to disperse and go to the Afrikiko Restaurant near the French Embassy, but the police didn’t allow them, the police cut off the protestors forcing the group to converge in smaller groups at various areas around TV3, the Ako Adjei overpass and surrounding areas. The police didn’t allow any more protestors to join the rest in these areas as they sealed all connecting routes. Some protestors reported being molested and beaten by police.

It rained for a few minutes during the protest, but protestors stayed in the rains chanting and singing patriotic songs including the national anthem.

This is the first time a non-partisan protest has been held against the conduct of a government in Ghana by the middle class most of whom have better and bigger opportunities both within and outside the country, hopefully this sends a signal to the government which has made scandals its daily offerings of its brand of governance.