Tuesday, October 26, 2010

MPs should pay for their own laptops

Two weeks following their return to parliament, Ghana’s MPs were handed out laptops by the Communication Ministry. The laptops handed out to the 230 parliamentarians fitted with moderns, according to Communication Minister Haruna Iddrisu, is to help the MPs do research to help in their work.

Mr. Iddrisu again justified his ministry’s decision by saying, “Parliament is such an important institution and if we are serious - in the 21st Century – we should be talking about e-Parliament, e-cabinet.” A lot of people disagreed with the decision to handout the gadgets for the MPs for free. I am one of them. But there are others like my friend and colleague blogger Kajsa(www.kajsaha.com) who disagrees with me. She thinks the MPs deserve the gadgets because it will help in their works and also push the boundary of accountability a bit.

But before I come to her I’ll like to first respond to Mr. Iddrisu’s explanation that the laptops will help the MPs undertake research exercise. I want him to come and tell the public which of his colleagues or even himself have been conducting research into any of their works, and how that has impacted in their work.

This bare face attempt to hand in laptops to himself and colleagues under very cloudy circumstances is not true. And in any case what kind of research is he going to conduct? Any potential person wanting to become an MP does so because of the money-and it has nothing to do with any serious parliamentary work-no wonder they fight during campaign periods. And the evidence(s) is not too difficult to find-the sale of Ghana Telecom, the accusation of a jet etc.

Now back to Kajsa’s argument. MPs like any other politician or citizen deserve to get their fingers tune on to the things of cyberspace else risk becoming insignificant. It is the trend over the world and they must follow the same trend. I agree with that. My point is that it should not be the state funding or paying for the laptops.

If the MPs want laptops to help them in their work they should pay for them. They collect hefty sums of money at the end of their term (and this is apart from the sitting allowances at committee levels, those collected from organisations and individuals before they even submit their petitions to the committee levels) as ex-gratia, for huffing and puffing in the house on partisan lines, at the detriment of the nation. At the close of parliament in 2008, each MP collected more than US$30,000 as ex-gratia. And this also excludes their car loans and the many per diems most of them receive on travel trips.

An MP is currently using a vehicle worth more than US$ 20,000, free accommodation and all the trappings that come with his office. It will therefore be politically incorrect for one to say they cannot afford laptops. They should get their own if truly they need them to undertake research.

Secondly, I find this excuse about constituents demanding accountability from the MPs pretty strange. Prior to standing for elections, the MPs themselves tell their constituents of their readiness to be open and transparent in their dealings.

They surely knew at the time that they did not have laptops and so I’m wondering how a new laptop in their hands will help constituents demand accountability from their MPs. How many of their constituents know how to use emails?

It is a fact that more than 60 percent of our rural communities, where most of these MPs come from, are not ICT savvy, so how do they demand accountability from their MPs via the email? A constituent who has no running water or has bad school structure does not need an email address to inform the MP(and its said people are asking them to do roads and build schools just because they promised such things on their campaign platforms, though theirs are to make laws).

The MP should be visiting the constituency every weekend to interact with their people and not sit in Accra and lavish in ‘profligate enjoyments’ with their own. After all what matter to the ordinary folks are how to address the bad road networks, energy supply and safe drinking water. Those are the essentials people want and which, unfortunately, the MPs are not talking about at all.

They’ll rather sit in parliament and see their constituents walk up to them begging for handouts; school fees, funeral donations, weddings etc-And they go through all because they promise them.

Some even find it frustrating going back to their constituents because of the poor nature of the roads- but are quick to pitch camp there during elections. Accountability for me will when they hold government accountable for every single bill or money spent, irrespective of their political affiliations.

I’m confident these laptops will end up either in the rooms of their girlfriends, kids or even wives. Or at best become a toy on which they watch their lousy movies.

There are serious crises in our education which require that we spend money to resolve that and if our priority is about getting laptops to save the parochial interest of the MPs, then God help us.

I rest my case!

Friday, October 22, 2010

What will make Rawlings happy?

Early this week when Mr. Rawlings released a statement accusing some members within his own party of spoiling his name, the question I heard a passenger I was traveling in a commercial vehicle (trotro) asked was: ‘What will make Rawlings happy? I did not pay much attention to the question until later in the day when I had furnished myself with the entire content of his statement that I began doing my own analysis.

Mr. Rawlings claimed, among other things, that the government under John Mills has failed to prosecute ‘corrupt’ officials of the New Patriotic Party. He said members of the party and Ghanaians are losing faith in the government as a result of that. He also revealed a rift between himself and President Mills, and admitted things have not been right with them at all. It is their own business to resolve.

I must say Jerry Rawlings was somebody I admired as a kid. He was the only face I knew on television back at the time. The first time I saw him in the flesh was in 1988 at a public rally. He was due to arrival at mid-day but even before the time, the whole lorry park where the meeting was to take place was packed. The crowd was huge and even though I managed to get to the place before 10am, I had to struggle to get a good place so I can see him.

I managed to secure a place on top of broken down truck and though I was crumbled by big guys in the crowd, I was still happy I might see him. Mr. Rawlings arrived hours later to a thunderous applause and shouts of his name. He was in military uniform. I must confess I still don’t recall exactly what he said at the time except that I clapped and yelled alongside those present.

But years on when I started picking up lessons in global politics on the streets, one of the books I read was ‘The Rawlings Factor’ by one Shellington. It chronicles some of the events of Mr. Rawlings during his time as a military leader; his successes and failures. It was a well written book with good language pattern.

I remember vividly how Rawlings exited power in 2000 when his party lost. Contrary to opinions he was not going to leave power especially when most African leaders have entrenched themselves in office, Mr. Rawlings left. He earned high praise in the process. But that was short lived. He started attacking the sitting government at the time. He accused them of everything; corruption, murder and lies.

His privileges were taken away from him-though I thought it was a rather stupid decision taken by John Kufour and his boys at the time. He continued his tirade on the government until they lost power in 2009. It was a devastating defeat that the entire NPP structure is still nursing.

So with the NDC in power most people thought Mr. Rawlings will be quiet and allow things to run, but he will. He turned his attention to the sitting government and its officials, accusing some of them of being ‘corrupt’ and ‘latter day saints’ who have just joined the party ranks to enjoy goodies.

He has kept the same line of insults and accusations he leveled against John Kufour on the NDC government. Together with his hatchment men, Mr. Rawlings has consistently launched a blistering attack on the president and his team. He even accused him of surrounding himself with ‘bastards.’ He used the most unfortunate language ‘who born dog’ to even describe them.

But what could be happening to Rawlings? That is one question most people like myself continue to ruminate over. The speculation is that he is desperately seeking control over the government for the gains of himself and family. His desperation to get officials of the past government prosecute has even been interpreted as politics of vengeance.

He thinks the current president should just arrest past officials of the government who misconducted themselves. I am for the prosecution of corrupt officials-obviously I can’t see how Wereko Brobbey and Kwadwo Mpiani can be allowed to go home and enjoy the loot from the Ghana@50 mess. But, like others, the wheel of justice grind slowly and the best all of us can do is to just hope and pray the right checks are done so these hoodlums are kept behind bars. But until that has taken place, Mr. Rawlings should just hold his fire. He should let the current president be.

It is rather bizarre and petty that his own wife will even be upset because a picture of the husband and President Mills who to be sharing a joke was published in newspapers. What kind of foolish thinking is this, Madam Konadu? Sometimes I don’t want to take to heart the many ranting of Kwaku Baako, who has a strong fixation towards Rawlings-but some of us are beginning to agree with most of the things he says about the Rawlings’; that they are seeking control so they can get whatever they want from government.

It is in the interest of Mr. Rawlings to make sure the NDC stays in power. At least if for nothing at all, he’ll get the goodies being splash on party officials. But if at this time and he does not even trust his own party members for addressing his so-called concerns, does he think the NPP will do that?

Mr. Rawlings should by now remember that he is an elder statesman and recently appointed African Union envoy to Somalia and should know how to behave. He is making himself pretty much irrelevant to the course of history in this country and losing the political plot

His irreverent attitude towards the institutions of state is not helping his own image at all. Mr. Rawlings should be grateful to Ghanaians for once- it was at the back of the many ordinary and impoverished Ghanaians that he managed to get ‘friends’ to pay for the tuition of his children abroad.

Today one of them is a medical doctor, another is a lawyer and until recently, the boy was working at the bank. Not many families who had supported him over the years are fortunate enough to even put their children through secondary school.
Most of them are still struggling to even come by a penny to help them get into ‘trotro’ from one destination to the other.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ghana MPs; wet dreams, failed grades and pay rise.

Wet dreamers calling themselves MPs want a pay rise. I thought it was a sick joke the first time I heard it; a kind of an ‘April Fools’ thing happening in October. But I was wrong. It was real. MPs want pay rise and this time around, they want 20 percent increase. I felt like weeping blood. These guys are not only crooks but incompetent and they want the average taxpayer to reward them for their mess.

The report said the MPs had threatened to go public with their grievances but had to be persuaded to halt their so-called ‘going public outbursts’ by deputy majority leader Rashid Pelpuo.

“It is no longer a big problem now, the Members of Parliament would easily recognize this effort, because before the next three days or before the end of this week I believe very strongly that a cheque will be ready and all of them would be happy smiling to the bank to clear what is due them for all these years, which has kept them earning far, far less below the standard of a Member of Parliament.”

Also, I find the claims made by Pelpuo to the effect that MPs salary is about US$D500 month pretty rubbish. Does he know how much a civil servant who has worked his ass of for decades earn in a month? That is stupid to say the least. How on earth can MPs who are on what they want us to believe is a meager salary drive around in four wheel drives, eat in the best restaurants, hire rooms for their concubines, as well as furnish that for them. I want Pelpuo and his brigade of MPs to come forward and tell Ghanaians such crap.

Again, the MPs claim to the effect that their salaries have not been paid for weeks is laughable. Do they know the pain civil servants go through in this country? Most of them have not been paid for months. There are some whose salaries are not even enough to get into a public transport for a month, and they are not even complaining. What rubbish! They can go to hell for all that Ghanaians care. After all the ex-gratia, car loans and allowances paid to them, these gluttons think we should pay for their idiotic pleasures’ sexing up prostitutes etc.

Their ridiculous demands for pay rise can’t be justified with any serious work. Do they expect us to reward them for their idiotic behavior in the so-called august house, where most of them throw punches at each other at the least provocation? Or they expect us to reward them for sleeping in parliament or the failed grades most of them got as per the ranking by African Watch magazine?

They are sick in the head. What has happened to the ex-gratia they took more than 13 months ago during the change of government? They should give us a break. If anyone really wants to know how useless those MPs are, then the answer lies in the grading system issued by the African Watch magazine on Monday 18th October, 2010. Majority of them got failed marks.

And did I hear that MP from Ada Sege in the Greater Accra Region Felix Abayatei complained bitterly about the results? His electoral fortunes are at stake. This was the same MP who denied the existence of child labour in his constituency. When such hoodlums are elected into parliament, only the creator knows the kind of decisions they’ll pass on our heads. He scored ‘F’ and instead of ruminating over it, he chose to open his stinky mouth issuing a threat to haul the publisher of the magazine before the so-called ‘privileges committee.’ What nonsense.

The country is at the moment grabbling with how to resolve the mess in the education system and all these stinky gluttons think about is their already bloated stomachs. Greed! Lecturers at the country’s tertiary institutions are on strike and rather than proposing ideas about how to resolve that, all these political tsetse- flies think about is their personnel welfare. Such attitude makes me appreciate the greed in that parliament house. No wonder heavy face, inept, sleepy and greedy former speaker of parliament, Ebenezer Sakyi Hughes, could stand on his two balls and ransack the entire furnish including the floor tiles at the time he was retiring.

The most foolish statements I often hear them make is this thing about ‘making sacrifices for the country. What sacrifice? Their level of greed is no different from an untrained dog whose insatiable appetite to grab almost anything leads him on a ‘grabbing spree,’ where he grabs with hands and feet so the next animal doesn’t get anything to feed on.

Then again you have these same MPs organized press conference and react to another callous statement made by a deputy tourism minister to the effect that somebody is coming from a village, and deserves to be enlightened.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Titus Glover!

I firmly believe New Patriotic Party’s Titus Glover needs to check in at the psychiatric hospital. Being in opposition has made him senile, so he talks by-heart. He talks as if he’s sitting on a chamber pot. I heard him last Tuesday evening on Oman Fm’s Boiling Point programme threatening war should his party lost the 2012 elections.

What utter foolishness. If he thinks war is a luxury then he should look at Liberia. I don’t know to tell the ugly spectacle of that country, once a beautiful land with great and amazing women. It was plunged on its knees by self- seeking politicians who believe either they get the power or the rest of the country sinks into the abyss.

Ranting like an unhappy dog, Titus said the 2012 elections will be war and his party, the NPP, will go all out to fight the ruling National Democratic Congress. While I acknowledge it is his right to battle the NDC in elections, I strongly believe this stinky language of ‘war mongering’ should not be coming from him.

He stupidly ignored the fact that declaring war in Ghana also means Nana Akufo-Addo, the NPP presidential candidate, cannot get the opportunity to rule. He has forgotten that nobody can govern a country on the slide: It will not happen. His desperation to get into power has nothing to do with efforts to provide quality social amenities to the citizens.

Titus’s party was in power for eight years and yet the young chaps at Tema Community one, Site Two continued to peddle drugs because they had no jobs. His home is across the street to that particular area so he saw the difficulties most of the young lads there were going through and yet did nothing about it. He did not care. It is therefore important for him to sit quietly and enjoy the fortunes he amassed for the eight. However, if the fuming and the ranting are because he was unable to loot anything, just like his contemporaries before they left power, then I’m sorry for him. I weep for him.

Politics is a contest of ideas and if he finds that difficult to handle, then it will be important for him to take a back seat and allow sound minded persons within the NPP to speak on radio. But this desperation for power which often lead him to make silly comments will not be tolerated at all. If he thinks he’ll call for war and then fly out his country, then he is lying to himself; that will not happen because the war will end soon as the fires from the war consume his wife, kids and himself. Ghana may have its own challenges but it is a lovely place to stay in. I’ll love this country to enjoy the peace and quietness so I can go out and enjoy my live band music, despite the economic challenges.

Therefore the call by Titus Glover that there will be war in the event the NPP loses elections is gibberish. I know his family very well: I went to school with his twin brothers (they are domiciled outside the country), stayed directly opposite a home with his late Uncle and also know some of his family members. They are well behaved and of sound mind. They are not war mongers just because the party they support is not in power, no. the issues for them are whether or not elected governments have been able to deliver on their policies.

Titus Glover is desperate to get back into power, which almost everyone understands. But he must do so with decorum. It is therefore important for him to speak issues instead of this cheap and idiotic threat of war if his party or candidate does not win the elections. The likes of him have no place in Ghanaian politics.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Toddlers at play

The sorry state of Ghanaian politics will not go away anytime soon-especially in our life time. The stupidity will always continue, irrespective of which of them is in power. The thing is they all behave like underage kids running after the Christmas Santa Clause for sweets. No wonder a change in government comes with the change in almost everything-including changes in the name of buildings, streets, and public toilets.

And talking about names, I got an usual call from a friend last Saturday night asking me if I had heard about the change of the name ‘Jubilee House’ back to its old name, ‘Flag Staff House. My answer was no and that such a thing will not happen, at least for my mind. I promised the friend I was going to call back to confirm or deny whatever she’s heard.

I forgot and when to bed. The following morning I woke up and on the morning news of Accra’s based JoyFM, the news presenter mentioned as part of his lead that the name ‘Jubilee House’ is now ‘Flag Staff’ House, as it used to be known before the egoistic John Kufour, for political pettiness, changed it. Jubilee or Flagstaff house is the name of the monstrous and needless presidential building which John Kufour spent the tax payer’s money to build for the comfort of his own.

Kwame Nkrumah used the place during the early days of Ghana’s Independence and that was how the first name came about. I was one of those who openly spoke against John Kufour’s ridiculous decision to change the name however, I thought the harm had been done and things should remain the way they are. Kufour’s intentions were clearly known; to obliterate Nkrumah’s name from history. Inasmuch as the decision to change the name was stupid, I find also the decision by the NDC government to reverse it crappy.
What on earth will the name do to the people of Ghana? Will that put forward on the table for the truck pusher who is taxed almost on daily basis? Those are the questions we should be asking those idiotic politicians.

The change presents a rather worrying picture for the NDC. President Mills just returned from what government says are two successful trips from both Japan and China and the benefits, we are being told, will soon show. I have heard billions of dollars and, hopefully, when the monies are used for which they have been promised, then we are solving some of the problems at hand. It is a single trip which, according to government sympathisers, is making the opposition elements piss in their pants. And rather than letting the success linger on and for the opposition to piss in their pants, what the NDC chaps have done is that they have shifted attention from the seemingly successful trip of the president to a rather mundane change in name.

And in a country where the media thrives on senseless controversy, the discussion will centre on the change of the name: I can guarantee that a whole week or even more will be spent by both parties to discuss the merits or demerits of the change and while they are at it, the essential things such as equitable distribution of clean water, provision of quality education and regular supply of energy to our people will be left alone.

Already the pettiness involved in the naming and renaming was played out by elements of the two parties: NDC and NPP. Kobby Acheampong, deputy minister of tourism said on Metro TV that the name is ‘meaningless.’ His explanation was that the initial name was more historical in outlook and it was needless for the previous government to change it.

Ursula Owusu, a lawyer and activist of the NPP said reverting back to the old name was just an attempt by the ruling government to erase the name of former president John Kufour.
“When you go to the US… do you see White House written anywhere?...and yet people know that is the White House, it is classy, it is descent …the building speaks for its self,” Ursula claimed.

“But look at what we’ve done, crude, very very crude; and this is the government that calls itself open, transparent and honest. …we go to sleep and wake up and this is plastered on the wall…where was the discussion, where was the preparation of the Ghanaian’s mind?" she asked.

in all of the petty discussion all that these political hoodlums are saying has nothing to do with how to improve the quality of life of the Ghanaian, how to ensure that pregnant mothers go to hospitals and they come back alive, how to ensure that children studying under trees are housed in proper classrooms.
No. That means nothing to them, rather their stomachs mean much more to them than anything.

God Bless Ghana.