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Must The Poor Always Perish From Governmental Negligence?
 
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06-Feb-2017  
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Kobby Gomez
 
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It makes no sense where our national priorities lie. Over the weekend, I saw my colleague Kojo Ansah Sasraku post photos of kindergartens in the Akyem area in the Eastern region, where the President hails from. I lost it. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we treat ourselves so shabbily?

Discussions in the media over the huge sum of money allocated to finish a home for Vice Presidents, further firms up my conviction that the political class only focuses on its comfort. The discourse is also somewhat silent on why a new abode is being woven for the second gentleman. The immediate past President has failed to surrender the state property he occupied as Vice President. Simple!

All the tales being told don't make sense to me. If former President Mahama moved as happened with Barrack and Michelle Obama after the swearing in of Donald Trump, this conversation would be unnecessary. We have been silent on the reason the sitting President obliged the request of his predecessor. It was certainly not an act of goodwill. If it was, why does his Vice President now lament over an abode?

Many of us celebrate great Ghanaians wherever they find themselves, but there's very little attention paid to the progress of young ones. Unfortunately for these young ones, they have no say in how they come into this world, which sane or otherwise semen bore them, or which community they grow up in. Once there's conception, if the woman is lucky, she delivers safely and presto, there's a change in our national statistics.

Depending on the circumstances of the parents, some may even be abandoned at the refuse dump to perish. The only salvation is if someone chances on the toddler and is touched to notify others. There is however a significant number that will have family support. Grandparents will be thrilled with their new addition and proudly share the news with the world. They straight away have homes and other properties ascribed to their names.

For many of other kids in Ghana, irresponsible men just planted their semen like stones and don't expect any output. Woe betides the women if they dared raise the subject of pregnancy. They will either drink concoctions made from broken bottles or visit quacks for a quick procedure to terminate the fetus. These happen everyday. But if luck smiles on the fetuses and they are born, the next two decades are not just full of drama but also pain and anguish.

Then, when they are ready to go to school, where the state needs to prepare them for its own future, they end up in death traps.

News of the loss of lives of some eight kids due to the collapse of a wall while in school, isn't just senseless but also shows how recklessly the state, through its agencies, attends to its constitutional duty of care.

As indicated above, Kojo Ansah's post of the state of Akyem Agyapomaa Methodist Primary School and KG, must prick our collective consciousness. These do not qualify as the abode for even swine, but that's where the future leaders of Akyem Agyapomaa are being nurtured. Who is the chief of the area? Who is the Reverend Minister of the Church? Who is the Assembly Member of the Electoral Area? Who is the Head Teacher? Who is the Circuit Supervisor? Who is the District Director of Education and who is the MP?

It would be interesting to read their tales on the state of the school and past efforts to fix the collapsing school blocks. It's obvious these schools have trained many who may be in influential positions, home and abroad, who can support the current school head. But the ultimate responsibility rests with government, which receives our taxes and guards our collective destiny.

Not long ago, green books were published to show how many "trees under schools" were eliminated. But how about school blocks like the Akyem Agyapomaa Methodist Basic schools of this world? What are the plans to safeguard the rest of the children, whose parents can't afford the (Ghana, Lincoln, etc) International Schools of this world?

If the perished kids, may their souls rest in absolute peace, were from the political or economic class, the legal tussles that would ensue will go on for years. But as it turned out, the state bore the cost of their burials; the head teacher even didn't show up at the burial service and we are back to normal. How cruel? Kids just die due to the collapse of a school wall. It can happen to your kids and mine as well.

The only way to prevent this from happening, is for institutions of state to function well and for central government to put its money where its mouth is. There should have been a presidential fiat to identify all schools in poor shape and begin a process of safeguarding the future generations, who are left with no choice but to train their minds in death traps, serving as schools. If the schools are private, the appropriate legislation must me enforced to get management to face the law.

A trip outside the prestigious parts of the capital, reveals how poorly we are developing this nation's future minds. From the teacher trainee, through parentage to government's provision of the basics for teaching and learning and the teachers training our kids. No wonder despite engaging trained teachers in the public schools exclusively, the pass marks remain dismal.

Despite the terrible state of our basic schools, here we are: the battles are raging in the media over luxury vehicles that have either been sold or stolen. Ghana's budget on vehicle purchases must be interrogated. But as usual, the media gurus will run to the defense of the politicians. Is that how they also get to live in vulgar opulence?

The battles fought in this country's media are often about who is getting what? To the disadvantage of the multitude, who have no control over their own lives. They survive as drawers of water, for the basics of this world. We can't continue to live that way.

Lest we forget, the current government campaigned on competent governance and people-centeredness, but so far, I'm yet to see any shift from the business as usual in government. There haven't been any policy statements that give direction to the new Ghana we voted for. How these kids just perished away isn't the way to go under this new Ghana. This new Ghana must exude confidence in the children of Opanyin Kwesi Kortoh, who is a peasant farmer but has five kids in Fankyenkor Basic School.

It must not take a big man or woman's child to perish before the state intervenes in the poor state of school blocks. Ghana voted for change last December because it wasn't pleased with the status quo. It demands that government and governance inure to the benefit of those at the base of the political ladder. If leadership deludes itself into thinking that there's any other magic to cling to power other than serving the interests of the people from whom power emanates, it should watch Mahama's concession speech again.
A word to the wise!
 
 
 
Source: Kobby Gomez/ email: kobbygomez@gmail.com
 
 

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