Tuesday, May 31, 2016

MR. PRESIDENT, WHY MUST I VOTE? WHERE IS MY SHARE OF THE NATIONAL CAKE?

Mr President, for the past couple of weeks, my taps have seen no running water.  For a mother, that can be described as a nightmare. Water is supposed to be the cheapest, and most easily or readily accessible commodity; so they claim. In our part of the world, this is an illusion. Availability of water, and its accessibility, is only through floods.  Inconsistency in supply of water is a major concern.  This is a problem confronting several people in this country, and currently, on a frequency, in Sekondi-Takoradi.  My tap flows twice a month, one, of which has assuredly, been programmed to be a day before the water bill is sent.
Like the few optimist, the recent improvement in power supply could be described as a glimpse of hope. Sadly however, we can attest to the fact that this hope has vanquished; a phenomenon associated with development in this country! A virtual development! That nothing is permanent.
These are but the genesis of my lamentations, Mr. President, and have led me to question the reason, if any, why I should vote in any form of political elections in this country.
For someone living in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis, and on a more personal level, I am yet to identify how the exercise of my electoral rights has been beneficial to me, since that has always been the theme of our elections: ‘Consider your living conditions, and vote right.’ Very well then Mr. President, considering my current living conditions, I see no need in exercising this right. I rather see it as a complete waste of time and energy that I leave home, travel perhaps, join a long queue, to vote for no reason.
I know that some people might argue that it’s for the public good; the national interest but again, the argument is, who makes up the public? I constitute the public. Why then must I vote for a system that will fail me?
Mr. President, for someone living within the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis, I am yet to catch a glimpse of my so-called fair share of the national cake. Where is my national cake Mr. President?
I work in a highly privatized sector. I do not enjoy any form of health capitation. I pay for healthcare outright. In terms of transportation, there is nothing to talk about. My routes have remained the same, and have seen no change or upgrade; I pry the very same roads that have existed for years.  When it comes to our public transportation, we are all aware of the consequence of the frequent hikes in fuel prices; automatic adjustment. Someone might argue that the hinterlands have received good feeder roads, the benefit thereof would be in terms of food supply but again, I have seen no boost in food production, nor enjoyed any resultant decrease in their prices thereof. I am spending more and more on food! Why then must I vote?
I am an ordinary Ghanaian, Mr. President, and my problems are ordinary. They are mundane issues and challenges, confronting most of us in this precious country of ours. Why then must we continue voting, if things will forever remain the same? Where is my fair share of the national cake?
As citizens, our needs vary, just as our reasons or individual motivation to vote might dictate. What then becomes a person’s motivation to vote, if none exists?
I need access to potable and regular supply of water. I believe it is under false pretenses, and rather criminal, that I do not have access to water supply, and yet receive water bills on a regular basis, in a timely manner, and most importantly, at a constant rate! My water does not flow, and yet, my consumption remains the same as when it did! I buy electricity, and yet denied usage; the dumsor phenomenon still persists! Where i s my share of the national cake?
I have a resolution for this upcoming election; that I receive my fair share of the national cake. I know some people might not share my sentiments, but I believe the ordinary citizen would be the judge. Others might be reaping or enjoying their so-called fair share of the national cake in the form of misappropriations, fraud, theft, corruption, houses, cars, foodstuffs, paid vacations, jobs, to mention but a few. For these, my complaint will sound whimsical, but that is my reality.
For the willing and able men and women roaming our streets in dire need of employment, for the children roaming the streets in our towns and villages due to unavailability of educational infrastructure, for the thousands of lives that are lost each day due to poor healthcare delivery, for the thousand more who go hungry and homeless on our streets, for all the lost dreams, and for the lives lost, this is our plea.  We are waiting on our fair share of the national cake.
For a fact Mr. President, I am waiting on my fair share of the national cake.

Anna Esi Hanson (nnhanson2@yahoo.com; esociocomm.blogspot.com)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

OUR NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION ; A One Week Affair....

Like most years, and for most of us, the years past have all been virtually the same, except for the fact that we grow in age and draw closer to the end. We grow grey hairs, but do not reflect it; wisdom fails us. Our attitudes and behaviors remain the same. In actual fact, it gets worse! The thieves devise new strategies-petty thieves turn to armed-robbers, the poor gets poorer, diseases thrive, unsavory sanitary conditions worsen, lawlessness increase, the lazy gets lazier, children get rudder, corruption increasingly becomes a virtue!

Yes, for most of us, our new year's resolution lasts only a week; the first week of the year. Positive change seems almost impossible! And so with each passing year, things only worsen around us. Lands are fast being eaten up by filth, our water bodies are becoming more polluted, our drains are continually being choked, the potholes on our roads are turning into manholes, buildings are becoming death traps, unemployment rates spinning out of control, law and order being overtaken by crime, our noble religious and clergy, fast turning into confident tricksters, to mention but a few! We are fast loosing our virtues!!! Corruption reigns! We are failing ourselves by failing to learn from the past; from our own mistakes, and most importantly, that of others!

Ghanaians keep complaining about the hardships we are all facing, but we keep repeating our mistakes. That is how we live our lives each year; without learning.

This is a new year, and as expected, we have made various resolutions. We will all be amazed if a revelation is made on the kind of New Year's resolutions that have been made; theft and armed-robbery, murder, drugs, embezzlement and misappropriation, bribery and corruption,lies, rape, prostitution, gossiping,,to mention but a few. Such are people's dreams and aspirations for the new year. Yes, people are already neck-deep in these.

Each year, our mundane bipartisan politics fails us, and yet, each year, the cycle continues. How long will we fail ourselves as a country? 

When will we ever remain true to ourselves, and our resolutions? What kind of resolution did you make this time? How realistic is it? How positive is it? What impact can it bring to you and those around you?

As a country, and as a people, we are beset with so many problems. What have you done to make things better? What is your contribution to this nation?

What is your resolve for the new year? Do you have any goals or plans for yourself? The year is young, with several possibilities. We must strive to make things better. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

THE GHANAIAN BLAME-GAME


These days when I ponder over events in this nation, I am at a loss. For a while now, I have not been able to bring myself to putting my thoughts on paper because I am filled with disappointment.

I am disappointed at a country, which seems to be spinning, with no purpose.  I am disappointed at a country, in which leadership is clueless as to how to manage its affairs. I am disappointed at a country, which is in crises, and yet, citizens seem only interested in mere talks and politics. I am most of all disappointed at a country, which seems to have all the God-given resources any nation can ever wish for, in terms of natural and human resources, and yet prefers to wallow in poverty!

On our airwaves, it is one discussion, after the other. The battle of words! The battle of grammar! The battle of insults! The battle of political parties! I guess our various radio stations seem not to have anything else to offer. They rather prefer to fuel anger and insults!

Can this nation, for once, put aside political differences, in finding lasting solutions, to our predicaments?
Each year in this country, comes the usual floods, and the associated loss of lives and property. Again it has happened; several people have perished and again, the debates have begun. The usual blame game is on-going. As always, everyone is screaming: It is the government! Really? 

What about us? What about you and I? Will we ever take responsibility for our role, no matter how ‘little’ it may seem? Tell me: how do you expect others to take responsibility, when you are unwilling to accept yours? How do you blame a few people for a disaster of such magnitude? How do we blame others for our poor sanitation practices? Our poor personal, and environmental hygiene? We know ourselves and what we do! Remember the day you threw that ice-cream plastic on the street? Remember when you disposed that plastic into that gutter? Remember when you carried your domestic waste and dumped it carelessly in your neighbourhood that night? Remember when you defecated into that plastic bag and threw it into the gutter in your neighbourhood?

Of course, there are the usual talks of the incompetence of our sanitation agencies and other governmental institutions but guess what? They are all being manned by GHANAIANS! Yes, by you and I! As always, people are being paid for doing nothing! Our waste collection companies keep failing us, just as we continue littering. All around us is the stench from our choked gutters and drains, containing all sorts of human waste! Is it then surprising that each year we experience these floods? Mother Nature will send it back to us! Shedding the blame on a few minority, would never solve this problem! I have seen several cases of people throwing rubbish right in front of rubbish containers! It is our attitude! Blame no one but yourself! People have lost their lives! This is a wake-up call to us all!

What about our power crisis?

Over the past decades, how many power projects has this nation embarked on? Talk about the Akosombo dam, Bui dam, the numerous thermal plants in Tema and Takoradi, those constructed by private entities, to mention but a few. What are the states of these facilities? Why is it that in this country, a new project leads to the destruction or abandonment of the existing? Whenever a new road is constructed, the existing ones get destroyed. The same exists with our drains; as soon as it is constructed, we immediately fill it with garbage!
Is it then necessary to construct new facilities, if we cannot even manage the existing ones? And yet, we prefer to politicize every issue!

On our airwaves, we keep hearing all sorts of talks and accusations of gross mismanagement of national assets or resources. Rather interestingly however, we fail to focus on the true culprits.  Which people are in charge of our national resources or assets? THE GHANAIAN! Yes, the Ghanaian.

What are our priorities? This is a country in which local chief executives, would rather invest in extravagant lifestyles and expensive vehicles, rather than pump money into maintenance of facilities and other relevant operational costs in their institutions! We are crippling this nation!  What is the state of our national assets? Our hospitals and clinics? Our schools? Our national enterprises? Institutions?  Infrastructure? Plant and Equipment? Vehicles? National projects? The list is endless! As a country, what has been our maintenance culture? It is a Ghanaian attitude! And yet, we prefer to mask the truth with politics. No one dares speak the truth.

Until Ghanaians learn to be responsible and held accountable, no government can make our lives better. The collapse or failure of various national enterprises and policies, is as a result of our own doing.  We keep talking about enforcing our laws but the real question is: Who is competent enough or capable of enforcing these laws? The numerous task forces that have been commissioned in this nation have all turned into institutions of bribery and corruption. Talk about the city council guys who go parading themselves in uniforms, only to exploit people! Talk about our gallant law officers usually at our checkpoints and along our various roads. It is all about bribery for any offenders.  So then, how do we enforce our so-called rules and regulations?

From all indications, the Ghanaian cannot manage his own affairs!

We need honest people to steer the affairs of this nation. From my window, these beautiful ones, are not yet born. All I see are thousands of power-hungry, power-thirsty, and power-drunken individuals, who would do anything for power. I am yet to see a government, which can actually solve the problems confronting this nation. I am yet to encounter Ghanaians, who would do their best, to see this nation prosper. There are a few good nuts, but the rest are cancerous.

I am tired of listening to several theoretical solutions, axioms, or postulates whenever solutions are being sought to the country’s challenges. Ghana needs practicality.


Anna Esi Hanson (nnhanson2@yahoo.com; esociocomm.blogspot.com) 

Monday, February 9, 2015

IS GHANA SERIOUS?




“Dear Doc, this is something small for your hard work. It is not a bribe. Take it and relax. In Ghana, everybody ‘chops’ from his work side.”

That was a note attached to a check, issued by a medical superintendent, as a bribe, intended for the director of the NHIA clinical audit team, during an audit at the Essikado District Hospital in the Western region. Dr. Ametewee had defrauded the NHIA to a sum of GHS 415,000.00!
In barely a month, Ghana would be fifty eight solid years since independence. As a country, guess what? We keep waking to more disappointments. Currently, it is the reign of arson. It as though Ghana just discovered another use of fire!

It was quite disappointing when we all awoke to the so-called fire outbreak at the Tema central medical stores. Imagine all the medical supplies supposed to be harboured by this structure, and yet, somehow, it got razed. 

Again, let us talk about the fire outbreak at the Tamale Teaching Hospital laboratory store, not forgetting the fire outbreak at the ECG warehouse. How many millions of cedi was lost?

Can we forget the incidence of fraud at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital pharmacy?

Let us not forget the ghost names saga, within the National Service Scheme. 22,612 ghost names! Do you know that this country loses about GHS 94,970,400 each year to undeserved allowances due to these ghost names?

And this is being perpetrated by ordinary Ghanaians! It would be quite interesting to know the total amount of money this nation has lost, in just these above mentioned incidents. And what has been the punishment for such wicked people? 

Can you imagine the sums of state-owned cash that disappear in similar or diverse ways on a daily basis through our ports and harbours, borders, checkpoints, offices, both governmental and non-governmental, to mention a few? The real thieves live with us, and yet we all so readily arrest and tag others as thieves!
These thieves are our grandfathers and grandmothers, fathers and mothers, uncles and aunties, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, husbands and wives, in-laws, friends and acquaintances, colleagues, church members, church leaders, social or political leaders, or even neighbours. They are family! Anyone who takes what belongs to others without the knowledge or permission of the owner is a thief! 

Talk about the ordinary city guards positioned within our central business districts, for only God knows what. These so-called city guards parade around like vultures, looking out to prey. What are their roles? Must this country continue paying people for no work done? We clothe them in uniform, only for them to extort us! Are we serious?

As always, our gallant policemen and policewomen cannot be ruled out. Visit the various police check points, and you will never be disappointed. The numerous pockets on their uniforms are serving other purposes. At one of these checkpoints quite recently, it was an interesting sight as I watched one police officer, move to a shed, and immediately, started emptying the contents of his day’s labour. Your guess is as good as mine. Are we serious?

Whenever we think of corruption, everyone quickly looks up our political ladder. We only consider politicians to be corrupt. But guess what? Corruption in this nation is most rotten, towards the base! Those at the bottom of the hierarchy are more corrupt. We parade ourselves as middle or even low income earners, either as ordinary government or private workers, until we get caught and make news headlines. And yet, we would only too readily point accusing fingers at our leaders. Are we serious?

Would Ghana ever solve this problem of corruption? In the new Ghana, arson has become the cover-up for embezzlement! Ghanaians are now setting fire to government properties as a cover to their crimes; the gross embezzlements, stealing, misappropriations, to mention but a few. Is Ghana serious? 

This is the question we should be asking ourselves each day. Clearly, not all Ghanaians are corrupt, but again, majority is corrupt, and majority is being corrupted daily. The monies being lost are monies taken from the ordinary tax-payer. How then, and for how long, must we sit and watch as these monies keep getting wasted? What happens to those who get nabbed by the law? More stringent measures must be sought and enforced!

Quite recently, Pope Francis I, in his address to some catholic religious said, “We are all sinners, but not all are corrupt. Sinners are to be accepted, but not the corrupt.”
 
By inference, we sin because we are weak, but WE ARE CORRUPT BECAUSE WE ARE WICKED. CORRUPTION IS EVIL! The one who offers a bribe, and the one who receives this bribe, are both culpable! 

Anna Esi Hanson (nnhanson2@yahoo.com

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Typical Same Old Ghana




Whenever relations and friends return home from abroad, there are all kinds of expectations; expectations of a different or a better Ghana, where everything is much different from what they knew of in the old Ghana, expectations of more jobs, expectation of new businesses, expectations of a drastic improvement in living conditions of people, expectations of improved delivery of goods and services.

They expect to see improved roads; of wider and high classes of roads. They expect that access to basic utilities and social amenities have seen a dramatic improvement. They expect to see good schools, and improvement in educational infrastructure. In terms of healthcare, they expect ultramodern hospitals, specialized healthcare, and an increase in facilities.

Generally however, people go home to disappointment! Yes, a decorated monkey, is still a monkey. After gliding through the beautiful principal streets from the airport, through the beautiful buildings budding within the airport city and its immediate environs, the reality begins to sink in. As one moves further and further away from the capital, everything seems to be the same.

I bet a lot of people return to their localities, and still find traces of the landmarks of their childhood love scenes, still in place. Yes, “Kwame loves Adjoa,” “Zagidibogidi was here some,” “No condition is permanent,” to mention but a few, are all writings on the wall, from the past, which can still be found on the walls of our old schools, public latrines, community centers, the old tree in the village square, to mention but  few. Everything is still the same.

It is again more disappointing, when on a simple tour around the town, we discover that the old schools, clinics, churches, to mention but a few, are in the exact state that they were, several years ago, when we left the village. Yes, the old carpentry shop is still under the same tree, this time, the tree has lost it leaves. The younger men of then, now old, sit under the old trees, as they drink to their disappointments, and lost dreams, for the women, several disappointed marriages, with children, uncared for.

At the backyard of the old village school however, close to the schools playground, a huge dump yard has emerged! As you stand and watch the children playing in the filth, all you can do is shake your head in disappointment. The few gutters that are still under construction, are already choked with rubbish. Construction on a few buildings, supposed to serve as a new community center, library, and a bigger clinic, has long since been abandoned. These buildings have already become a den for school dropouts and runaways, drug peddlers, and a local brothel. It almost seems as if every young girl has a protruding belly.

For you, this might seem like a scene from a novel, but in our various communities, cities, towns, and villages, these are the realities.

Growth and development in this country, can only be seen in our major cities, notably, the capital, and its immediate environs. These growths however, are all virtual. Ghana is the same as it was over 50 years ago, and perhaps, even worse.

We keep doing things in the same way! Do Ghanaians never get tired or bored with repetition? Are Ghanaians not tired of doing things in the exact same way? Why must we make ourselves so predictable? Our general attitude, remains the same!

Ghana has seen several milestones, and yet, access to potable water is a problem. This is even worse in our capital! Our power production and distribution, has gone worse! Our educational system is in a trying state at the moment. One strike, after the other! Our local businesses are facing hardships notably with the supply of raw materials. Our trade laws are not favouring the operations of our local businesses. Our currency, is in a freefall, and our economy, in shambles.

Oh yes, this nation has seen a dramatic increase in the turnout of students from our various educational institutions, and yet, most cannot find decent jobs. Oh yes, this nation has seen a dramatic increase in healthcare infrastructure, and yet, the quality of healthcare still remains the same.

For a country with a population of over 24 million people, how many have had access to basic education? How many have access to basic utilities and amenities? How many can actually afford basic healthcare? What about good housing? What is our poverty ratio? What is our unemployment rate?

What are the elements of a truly developing nation? What are the elements of a truly developing economy? How do we call a nation, a developing one, when everything is still the same? Does a monkey become something else, after being decorated? Does a pig change identity, after wearing a lipstick or a suit?

Anna Esi Hanson (nnhanson2@yahoo.com); esociocomm.blogspot.com

Saturday, November 8, 2014

THE COUNTRY OF UNPROFESSIONALISM




I was in my office one afternoon when a senior engineer approached me right after he returned from town. Apparently, on his way into town earlier that morning, he had witnessed a police officer, carelessly dispose off rubbish directly onto the roadside from a patrol vehicle. It was more shocking when shortly after this shameful act, this same patrol vehicle, stopped a cargo vehicle in order to carry out the usual extortion business. 

For law enforcement officers to perpetuate this kind of behavior, is highly inexcusable! But that is the Ghana I know! Our law enforcers, readily, and openly break our laws each day! They are still at it! At our various police barriers and checkpoints! For police officers in Ghana, every day is a Sunday; they always have their collection bowls with them! That is the mark of a country of unprofessionalism! What really, is the police administration doing to end this shameful behavior, once and for all? 

Each day we keep hearing people complain about the unavailability of jobs, and yet all around me, I keep encountering a general disregard for work ethics, and workers, who seem to take their jobs for granted!
I once had to employ the services of a welder, and indeed, it was a frustrating ordeal, when I personally had to leave my job, just to drive into town to supervise this welder, in order to get a job he had already been paid, completed. A job that could have taken barely a week, took two months! Again, I employed the services of a carpenter, who virtually had to be chased around to get things done; from my numerous phone calls, to several visits. It was one deadline, after another! When it comes to the dressmakers, this same trend exists! The same goes for masons, electricians, painters, to mention but a few. Within our so-called more formal or corporate environments, the trend persists! From utilities, to service providers, the disappointments, continues! Unprofessionalism, all the way! And yet, we keep complaining!

In Ghana, anything and everything is possible! Goods are being smuggled into this country, unaccounted for! Our markets are open to anything! Standards are not being adhered to! Offices sit empty after weekends! Offices sit abandoned due to power outages! Teachers, instead of teaching, rather prefer to turn students into traders or hawkers, farmhands, house helps, to mention but a few. Government institutions, become offices to private operations! Goods, meant as donations, end up being sold! Government hospitals become backdoors to private hospitals! Law enforcement, turns to extortion! When it comes to roads and infrastructure, it is about shoddy works! There also is the misappropriations, and diversion of funds! Today in Ghana, it is the reign of judgment debts! Heightened unprofessionalism!

At the moment, all are complaining about how the government traveled all the way to china, in order to purchase ordinary furniture for our own parliament; our very own decision making body! That is the irony of the day! And yet, on this occasion, I feel no empathy for our local artisans or businesses. What I feel, is apathy! 

Hand out a contract to a local company, and you will be amazed at the outcome! From the poor delivery or standards, to several missed deadlines! Let us examine the trend of contract administration and execution in this country. I have witnessed the level of professionalism, usually exhibited by foreign firms on projects, compared to our indigenes. The difference can be spotted miles away!

Examine our political atmosphere, and again, this trend exists! Politicians do as they please, without any accountability! With complete disregard for the rules of this nation! With complete disregard for the codes and ethics they swore to! 

In the wake of the recent parliament house refurbishment, and the subsequent Chinese purchases, one thing becomes clear, we do not have faith in our own! We seem to have all kinds of professionals, and yet, this country continues to recruit foreign professionals, for projects that could very well be handled by Ghanaians! We prefer expatriates more! An attestation to the fact that the Ghanaian cannot manage his own affairs! Of course, the IMF is managing our finances too!

If today we are complaining and beating our chest for the fact that our leaders saw it prudent to import furniture, which could have very well been manufactured locally, we must bow down our heads in shame! This is a glowing tribute to our level of unprofessionalism in this country.

What time do you report to work each day? At what time do you leave your workplace? Are you able to meet your deadlines? Are you able to deliver as requested, or as promised, and at what standard? How do you treat your clients? How do you treat your workers? How do you perceive your job?
Professionalism is not just a word; it is a behavior! It is an attitude! It should become our way of life!

Anna Esi Hanson (nnhanson2@yahoo.com); esociocomm.blogspot.com