Hm. This week has been tough.
It all started with the global network premier of the first ever Joy News Special Assignment, a Documentary by Seth Kwame Boateng called Next To Die. It’s the shocking revelation of daily death at the KATH Maternity unit, where, on a good day, four babies die due to overcrowding.
The situation is bad. There are only eight beds in the entire maternity unit. Just eight. Bear in mind, this is the second largest referral hospital in the country, taking referrals from up to 8 out of Ghana’s 10 regions. There are only two surgical theatres, which means if there are three mothers in need of emergency surgery, one is likely to either die, lose her baby, or both, just because she has to wait. Almost a hundred mothers die in this unit every year, often while waiting to be attended to. This has gone on for at least ten years. There simply isn’t a more deadly case of overcrowding anywhere.
Meanwhile, a solution has been sitting right under everyone’s noses for 43 years! A 1000-bed maternity block was started by General Acheampong in 1974, and somehow, no government since then has been able to complete it.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Super Morning Show was broadcast live from KATH, and the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service promised Ghanaians that this government would complete it by the end of their first term. The contractors suggested that it could be done in 2 years, and the government committed to that timetable. But not before they attempted to blame the previous government for doing even less than they did under Kufuor to complete the block.
This attempt to politicize the issue shocked many people. Babies are dying as we speak because all governments for the past 43 years have failed, but all this man was interested in was which government had failed more than the other. Who cares about that? Will the four mothers who won’t get to take their babies home after nine months of toil care which government failed them more? Will the baby who is having his oxygen mask pulled off his face by one of the three surplus babies in his overcrowded incubator care two hoots about which government failed more than the other? Honestly, I wonder sometimes about the people we choose to lead us. Nobody has managed to finish this block for 43 years. And more babies will die today. Let’s cut the sanctimonious nonsense and FIXTHISNOW.
The other big story this week is the President’s nomination of 4 more ministers of state and 50 deputy ministers, swelling up the size of our government to 110 ministers. Some ministries – like the newly re-formed ministry of Information - have been assigned, three deputies. Naturally, this has brought him up for a lot of criticism by Ghanaians – many of them NPP supporters and sympathisers. Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid drew the unpleasant job of attempting to justify this to a nation of citizens – not spectators. He did not do well. At some point, he suggested that the reason for the President’s buffet of nominations is because the civil service can’t do the job.
Can you imagine that? So the President is seeking to replace the entire civil service with ministers?Seriously, what do these people take us for? I don’t know about you, but nothing gets my goat more than when public servants treat the public as if we are stupid. The previous government did it and were voted out. This government appears to be opting for that same route out of office.
The President’s actions are very difficult to explain. Each of these 110 appointees is entitled to a V8, free fuel, all kinds of allowances including entertainment allowance and that godforsaken sitting allowance, a cook, a driver, a bodyguard, a day watchman, a night watchman, a secretary and all manner of people and perks just to make them feel “honourable”. Meanwhile, the whole country has less than 200 ambulances.
This is the same President who came to beg us all to vote for him. And when I say beg, I mean exactly that. His campaign manager, Peter McManu made a point of stressing that as for them, they are humble and they want to serve, so they are willing to come and beg each and every Ghanaian for their vote. So you begged, and Ghana chose you instead of the alternative that you referred to as corrupt and incompetent. Now you come along and start assigning three deputies to a minister. How can you claim to be a government of competent people if your Information Minister can’t do his job without three deputies? Three?
The thing that I don’t yet understand is that, as at last week Wednesday, my sources in government tell me that there were only about thirty deputy ministerial nominees on the President’s list. By this Monday, 30 had become 50. What changed? President Akufo-Addo, Ghanaians are not stupid. We are discerning enough to know that corruption is not only about stealing money from the consolidated fund to go and buy filling stations at Mallam or hotels in Dubai. We also know it includes using public funds to do favours for your friends.
You have dreamt of being President since childhood. Now, you are here in Flagstaff House os3 Jubilee House os3 abadzebadze. Don’t think your work here is now done. Your work here has just begun. And you said you could do it more efficiently than anyone else. That’s why you begged us to give you a chance. Well here’s your chance, Mr President. Do it. Efficiently. With as few of our scarce resources as possible. You say you are competent? Prove it. Do more with less.
My name is KojoYankson, and it’s been a week of Death and Deputies.
Good Morning, GHANAFO!