Imagery is a very powerful tool for communication. A good communicator such as His Excellency John Dramani Mahama has surely employed it effectively in a critical moment of the delivery of the State of the Nation Address.
Before a polarised House of Parliament, he likened the slippages that constituted our economic challenges to the Uruguayan soccer player’s illegal use of the hand to thwart the Black Stars march to the semi-final of South Africa 2010. The emphasis here is that such unexpected blocks are temporary. President Mahama used soccer in his speech because he recognised that soccer was one of the few events on which all Ghanaians were quick to reach a consensus.
The President attributed the challenges that had dogged the management of Ghana’s economy to choice of certain wrong policy alternatives. Poor penalty kicking is certainly one of them and can be corrected if only the Stars will learn to take their kicks well.
Before the address, every Ghanaian interviewed by the media pointed out “dumsor” as what they expected the President to tackle in his speech. They also wanted him to address “the cedi that does not go far.” The condition of our roads was listed third, followed by the myriad of problems that had affected our living standards. In fact, the President did not disappoint us.
Launching off with the energy crisis, which is getting severer with the passage of time, he vowed to fix it, not dress it up. His plans for doing so were clear and doable, except that it sounded like an old song infused with new lyrics. For how many times had he not promised to banish the scourge of ‘dumsor’ only to find that those giving him the confidence had misled him? On this occasion, what the skeptics have asked is simply, “Mr President, where is the money to fund your long wish list?”
The anticipated International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package of some $940 million and the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) of about $1 billion are, no doubt, good start-up money. However, one should not get deluded. IMF and MCA will only disburse money upon Ghana fulfilling certain conditions, which include fiscal discipline for which the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, over the last six years, has proved very weak.
Overspending and serious leakages due to corruption and poor oversight has been Ghana’s bane. the European Union (EU), it should be remembered, have had Ghana’s “ear pulled severely” by declining to release grants. One is, therefore, right to ask if new breeds of politicians and economic managers have emerged in the interim to satisfy the rigour demanded in the IMF and the MCA conditionalities.
The plan for fixing the dumsor includes mini-and mega-infrastructural projects with timelines stretching past 2016 (which the President hinted to be his second term in office). Timeous release of funds so that project cash flow is not upset, causing suspension and abandonment of projects, is critical. This may not be assured if Ghana defaults on the conditionalities.
One important point that needs stressing is that in view of the IMF conditionalities -which are yet to be spelt out - the President’s wish list will necessarily be trimmed down. One, therefore, wonders why the State of the Nation’s Address has been given when no revised budget has been submitted for parliamentary approval. As it is, it is more than likely that many projects mentioned in the address will be axed and the would-be beneficiaries will feel presented with an “April Fool.”
All the same, the President’s resolve in fixing the energy crisis and all the other challenges of the address was palpable on his face and in his voice. He appeared a hound chasing a stubborn rat. He would grab this rodent by the neck and shake the life out of it. Then he would turn round with a triumphant gesture and shout to Ghanaians, “I told you!” He has told us indeed. This President will win Election 2016 based on how satisfactorily he has been able to end dumsor from our lives.
Nevertheless, Ghanaians have not learnt to win trophies by the route of penalty kicks since 1982. But with hope and perseverance, we shall overcome. Neither the hand nor the teeth of Suarez can work against us. Our own indiscipline can.
Source: Joe Frazier / [email protected]
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