MANASSEH’S FOLDER: Kwabena Donkor’s truth, Bawumiah’s ‘lies’ and Mahama’s Viagra

President Mahama is hoping to be re-elected for a second term mandate in 2016
President Mahama is hoping to be re-elected for a second term mandate in 2016

They have always called Dr. Mahamudu Bawumiah a liar. The running mate of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) does not speak without getting ministers of state and government communicators busy in their vain attempts to discredit him. Sometimes President John Dramani Mahama replies him.

Time, however, often vindicates Dr. Bawumiah, the economist and former deputy governor of Ghana’s Central Bank. When he started warning us about the mismanagement of our economy, government officials called him a liar. Like a well-rehearsed sunday school memory verse, they told us about their “prudent” economic management and that our economy was very “resilient.” They forgot that Jesus Christ said over 2000 years ago that a healthy man does not need a physician.

It turned out not to be so. The economy was in coma. We had to run to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout and fiscal discipline (I’m not sure if it’s fiscal discipline we went for. I remember it is something about policy credibility). Today when people complain of unpaid salaries, stalled projects and other important capital expenditure that have not been attended to, they are reminded of IMF conditionalities that do not permit government to overspend or do other such things. In all of this they forget to apologise to Dr. Bawumiah.

On March 24, 2015, Dr. Bawumiah delivered a lecture at the Central University College titled, “The IMF Bailout: Will The Anchor Hold?” Some young men and women who cannot define economics or manage a pure water joint tore him into shreds. In March 2014, he had delivered a similar lecture on “Restoring the value of the cedi.” The downpour of criticisms laced with insults expectantly fell from all angles.

I remember Mahama Ayariga wondering why Joy FM decided to air the programme live and asked if any such lecture by the government or a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) would be given the same prominence. Indeed, it was not long when their own man got the opportunity. It was Prof. Kwesi Botchwey, Ghana’s longest serving finance minister. On June 3, 2014, Dr Botchwey spoke on the same platform Dr. Bawumiah had spoken. To the disappointment of the devotees of his party, he endorsed what Dr. Bawumiah had said. ‘I offer no rebuttals. I do agree with much of what he said,” he told his audience.

Dr. Bawumiah also spoke about the power crisis and was widely condemned by government communicators for peddling falsehood. When he delivered that lecture in March, he made it clear why the nation was suffering a power crisis. Hear him:

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“Mr. Chairman, the untold story about the erratic gas supply from Nigeria is that Ghana owes Nigeria Gas US$100 million. Nigeria Gas is therefore dragging its feet with regards to the supply of Gas while this amount is unpaid. Ultimately, the dumsor problem is more of a financial problem than a technical one.”

Again, he was called names and had insults hurled at him from various angles. There were official and unofficial responses. Seven months later, President Mahama sent a delegation of beggars to Nigeria with a bagful of knee pads to go and beg Nigeria Gas and the West Africa Gas Pipeline Company Limited. The two companies had given Ghana a 24-hour ultimatum to pay our debt or have gas supply to us cut. That would have dealt a monumental blow to our already deplorable power situation. The gas suppliers had indicated that several meetings and interventions by government officials, including President Mahama, had not yielded any results, and that all they wanted was their money. The “high powered delegation” was not on a negotiating mission. They were on a begging mission. Simple!

So had Dr. Bawumiah lied?

Dr. Mahamudu Bawumiah said in March this year that the power crisis was a money problem. Time has vindicated him.
Dr. Mahamudu Bawumiah said in March this year that the power crisis was a money problem. Time has vindicated him.

I have a feeling that if our government had listened to people like Dr. Bawumiah and Prof. Kwesi Botchwey, and disciplined itself against reckless spending and corruption, there would not have been the need to run to the IMF.

The recent turn of events in our economy and begging mission to Nigeria is like a group of children in a compound house whose greed killed their mother. When co-tenants of the house sensed danger, the children lied that their mother was asleep. With time, however, the stench of the dead body exposed them. If the economy was resilient why did we go to the IMF? If our energy crisis was not a money problem, why did we send a delegation of knee-padded beggars to Nigeria? Why?

Anyway, that did not stop President Mahama from hitting his chest and telling party supporters on his recent tours that he had promised to end the power crisis and he would do it.

His power Minister, Dr. Kwabena Donkor infuriated some people when he retorted last Tuesday in an interview with a Kumasi-based radio station, ASH FM. He was asked when the power crisis would be over since the president and his appointees had been saying it would be over soon. His reply was, “If President Mahama says dumsor will be over very soon, why don’t you ask him? Am I his spokesman?”

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I was surprised when people felt offended and took Dr. Kwabena Donkor on. The man was only being truthful. He had no idea. His answers to some other questions in that interview even showed that he did not have a full idea of the impending danger from Nigeria. But do we blame him?

He was his somewhere when the President called him to come and head a new ministry that was an after-thought of the administration. In November 2014, President Mahama created the ministry of power and placed Dr. Kwabena Donkor there. The creation of the Ministry of Power meant more expenditure on the minister’s cars, salary and allowances for him and his staff etc. We were not told how the separation of the Ministry of Power from the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum was going to solve the problem. We were not told that the government had voted enough money to turn around the power sector. We were only given a minister.

If that minister therefore says we should go and ask Mahama when the power crisis or “dumsor” would end, I think he is only being very truthful. Only his boss can tell us.

Dr. Kwabena Donkor has promised to resign by the end of 2015 if the energy crisis is not solved.
Power Minister, Dr. Kwabena Donkor, has promised to resign by the end of 2015 if the energy crisis is not solved.

I have come to liken our president’s window-dressing of our nation’s challenges to a man who erected a curved pole and, upon looking at the shadow of the pole, he realized that it had the same crooked shape of the original pole. In order to get it straight he decided to straighten the shadow, instead of the pole. That is a genius of a president we have.

We have not heard much about what transpired in the meeting our delegation of beggars had with the gas authorities in Nigeria. We were only told Ghana had paid $10million of the over $180million we owed the gas companies in Nigeria. The companies have suspended their decision to cut gas supply.

While defending Dr. Kwabena Donkor’s outbursts, President Mahama told party supporters in the Eastern Region on Saturday that he would end the dumsor problem by the end of this year. That is not new. He started promising to end it in 2012. At the Presidential Debate by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) prior to the 2012 elections, President Mahama said:

“I have said that, as President, by the end of the first year of my term in office, load shedding will be a thing of the past.”

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One thing about propaganda is that it can win an election, but it cannot govern. The President is almost completing his third year, and the crisis he was talking about in 2012 has worsened. But I think we can believe him now because he is expecting the emergency power barges from Turkey.

It is important to note that this is not a permanent solution to our power crisis. If the power barges were the solution, we wouldn’t be enduring the current hardship because the President John Agyekum Kufuor administration also imported power barges. But they are important. They are enough to make us forget our woes by the next election, which is the President’s priority now.

Ghanaians have endured the erratic power crisis for three years and demonstrated against it. But will they remember the crisis and its effect in election 2012?
Ghanaians have endured the erratic power crisis for three years and demonstrated against it. But will they remember the crisis and its effect in election 2012?

For three years, we endured the crisis. For three years, we lost jobs. Businesses folded up. In the fourth year, the election year, we have light.

“I told you I would fix the dumsor problem and I have done it,” he would tell a packed rally amidst loud cheers. “As I speak today, we have light 24/7” more cheers. It is enough to win him another term.

I liken the president’s supposed solution to the power crisis to a man who boasted about his sexual prowess and got a beautiful woman to marry. It was in the marriage that the woman discovered that he could not perform. After one assurance of a better show tomorrow after another, the woman was one day so frustrated that while he was mounting, she told him, “I am about to sleep. When you are done, wake me up to wear my pantie.”

It continued to a point the woman could not take it any longer and therefore gave a four-month ultimatum that the man should fix his problem or that would have consequences for the marriage. For his solution, the man decided to import Viagra from Turkey. The potent herbs arrived in the fourth month. After months of denial, the woman enjoyed good sex and felt satisfied. She forgot about all the agony she had endured.

But one thing worried her. She knew the power that had made her husband a real man was not a permanent solution to his weakness.

If you were the woman, what would you do?

Well, I cannot guess for you. But I can bet my two precious balls on the fact that the average Ghanaian voter will forget about the hardships for the past three years and the impermanence of our solution. That is the reason our politicians take us for granted. This reminds me of what a very important Ghanaian said three centuries ago.

He said, “Ghanaians have a very short memory.” The owner of these words was and still is the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama.

How right he was!

The writer, Manasseh Azure Awuni, is a senior broadcast journalist with Joy 99.7FM. His email address is azureachebe2@yahoo.com 

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