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Ameri Christmas; Dum–So New Year   
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Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone.

Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetuous old sinner! External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warn, no wintry weather chill him.

No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty.

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks,

“My dear Scrooge, how are you. When will you come to see me?”

No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o’clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge.

Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, ‘No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master.’

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

ACCUSE ME NOT of plagiarizing. I did not evoke nor convoke the topic for this week’s article. And if I do not acknowledge the author, then may I stand so accused; But I do not know the source, so if this was a book or a serious research work, I would write at the Reference Column, ‘Ameri Christmas: source unknown: a dry celebration of Christmas by indigent Ghanaians, encircled by wanton dissipation of government funds and corruption by government appointees.’ As for the expression, ‘dum-so’, we have lived with it for so many years, I could write, ‘Source – Ghanaianism: orig. three years ago (2012): a local phenomenon by which electricity fluctuates so frequently and distribution is so erratic that industries collapse, workers are, therefore, sacked and there is general despondency among the affected persons, as there is more ‘dum’ than ‘so’.

You may not understand why Ameri has now gained such popularity – or is it notoriety – in our country now. The country was in dire need of power, Akosombo, Bui, Asogli, others, notwithstanding. So the Minister of Power contracts the Africa and Middle East Resources Investment Group (the AMERI Group) to sub-contract Metka to get Karpower barge for us from Turkey. The barge arrives at the beginning of December, 2015, early enough for the Power Minister to ‘sub-fix’ the electricity problem which President Dramani Mahama himself had promised to fix. On assumption of office, Honourable Kwabena Donkor had sworn by all the rivers of Ghana that if he failed to solve the electricity problem by the end of the year (December), he would resign. We are yet to know if he has drafted his handover notes.

It took Norwegian columnist Amund Bakke Foss of a tabloid Newspaper called Verdens Gang (VG), to blow the ‘whistle’ on the deal, revealing that a barge which could be obtained for around US$ 220m was negotiated for us to pay around US$ 510m by the end of the ‘emergency’ period of five years. An emergency period of five years! It was alleged in the newspaper that Umar Farooq Zahoo, a Pakistan-born Norwegian Executive Director associated with the deal is wanted by the Norwegian Police and Interpol for organized crime and money laundering. And people of those parts can be serious, you can bet.

The Ameri Group has decided to set the records straight. They say: “Mr. Umar Farooq who served as CEO of Ameri Group until August 2015 was never a shareholder nor a partner in the company. Mr. Farooq resigned as CEO in order to pursue other bigger business opportunities.”(Bigger than the one involving Ghana!).

The Ameri Group Company adds: “An article published by a tabloid newspaper called VG from Norway made slanderous accusations regarding the emergency power project agreement executed between Ameri Group and the Government of Ghana. Ameri Group stands by its agreements with the Government of Ghana and believes that we have assembled a world class team of developers to accomplish the job on time and on budget….. ”

The Company continues: “(The Norwegian newspaper) targets Mr. Farooq not only wrongly portraying him as the owner of the company, but also tries to malign his character. Moreover, it states that Mr. Farooq attempted to swindle the Government of Ghana through this transaction by inflating the price of the contract……. agreed upon by the Ministry of Power and thereafter, ratified by the Ghana Parliament with full pricing transparency.” We are at the crossroads – to saddle the future generation with a huge debt or risk paying judgment debt by abrogating the contract!

Then came the news that the re-branding of the imported omnibuses had been done at a cost of GH¢ 31,000 per bus. I have seen the buses parked in front of the State House in Accra. The pictures of Kwame Nkrumah, Professor Busia, Mr. Akufo Addo, Flight Lieutenant J.J. Rawlings, Dr. Hilla Limann, Mr. John Agyekum Kuffour and Professor Atta Mills are in black and white; that of President John Dramani Mahama is in colour. The earlier persons were born before Independence (1957) at a time when colour picture was not available in this country. John Mahama was born after independence, and in his youth, colour pictures proliferated. Some people think that the political symbolism is rather too obvious: an opportunity for John Mahama to advertise himself for the 2016 presidential elections, ahead of his competitors, including Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo, Dr. Edward Mahama, Odike, Akua Donkor, Gyataba and others who are yet to pop up.

To say that the launching of the book: “Accounting to the People” by President Mahama last week was an “exercise in mediocrity” is to re-echo the prophetic words President Mahama (then a Member of Parliament) used when he charged the NPP not to praise themselves for building roads, hospitals, schools, providing  water, electricity since every government does these. It is simply an “exercise in mediocrity” for any government to praise itself.

But President Mahama who a few years back had criticized other people for touting their achievements, launched the book which chronicles the achievements of the NDC. The “Green Book” mentions education, expansion of housing infrastructure, water supply, roads, petroleum and energy. The question people are asking include: “Did the President use his own money to finance the projects?” That would have been very patriotic.

Sometimes some people wish they could get the opportunity to say very nice things about this government of the NDC, by the NDC and for the NDC – to show their un-biased nature, but wherever they turn, they are confronted with issues of corruption on a very massive scale. SADA, GYEEDA, Woyome… any conceivable project is tinged with corruption, such that the proverbial “create-loot-and-share-tag” adhesively fits out.

One would have thought that the arrival of the Karpower from Turkey would have solved all our power-problems, but no. We have to accommodate ‘dum-so’ for as long as one could imagine. What could be running in the minds of the sacked judges and magistrates as we enter the Yuletide? Loss of prestige, loss of financial strength, loss of companionship – because of some people’s trickery and lack of morality. Meanwhile, Anas Aremeyaw Anas and Co will enjoy their Christmas in fame and recognition, while these wretched judges get walloped by their families and friends. Let those at the top of the judicial set-up jubilate over or moan at the funereal decision taken to smother the light of some of their own. Someone said Nemesis will catch up with them, for not giving the justices the same justice they were expected to give in their courts.

The New Year 2016 portends to be gloomier, murkier and more nebulous. I am befuddled. There is no merriment in me to say: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee, Afenhyia Pa. Play me ‘Adee aye me’ not ‘Yekodi Buronya’ nor any Christmas Carol.

Africanus Owusu-Ansah

[email protected]
Source: Daily Guide

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