Dear Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo,
I am aware, today, you two are going to Kumasi to open the Mother and Baby Unit at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. The project is worth about 10 million cedis and not a pesewa of the funding came from the state purse. You took up the initiative of raising money and building the facility when Multimedia’s Seth Kwame Boateng highlighted the terrible conditions of pregnant women who go to the nation’s second biggest referral hospital to deliver their babies.
This is not the only thing you have done. Your foundation is on record to have funded the renovation of a clinic at Abamkrom in the Eastern Region. You also recently cut the sod at the Korle- Bu Teaching Hospital for the construction of a hostel to housemothers and their children undergoing treatment.
There are many other interventions you have made to help individuals, especially children and women in the area of healthcare, but some of your support staff have whispered to me that you prefer to be silent on many of the things you’re doing.
Your younger “sister”, Samira, also donated medical equipment worth $60,000 to the Tamale Teaching Hospital last year. She, through the Samira Empowerment and Humanitarian Project, has also made several interventions to schools and some individuals. In your interview with Joy News, you stated that Samira has been instrumental in this project.
Mrs. Samira Bawumia donates to the Tamale Teaching Hospital
While these interventions are undoubtedly helpful for numerous women and children, I have serious problems with the cost-intensive nature of the projects, which your foundation is undertaking, the timing of these interventions and the intended beneficiaries of your initiatives.
Let me begin with the timing of your projects, which I think your husband, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, also gets wrong.
Ghanaians gave him four years. He recently hinted his readiness to go another four years if his party gives him the nod to lead the NPP in the next election. This means he is targeting eight years. So if you have four years to govern a country, an African country, why do you rush “gidigidi” as if you are given one year to do that? Who is pursuing him? Doesn’t he know this is Africa? And doesn’t he know this is government business?
Why did he implement his grandest campaign promise, the free senior high school policy, and attempt many other inventions in the first year including this 10 million cedi project.
Auntie Becky, politically, this is not a good strategy. It is true that your husband promised free SHS, but he was not under any obligation to start it in the first year. He should have given excuses. He should have told us that the state coffers he inherited were drier than the savannah land in the harmattan season. Ghanaians would have believed him. He should have left us wondering if it is even possible to implement it. The president should have sprung a surprise in the third or final year of his reign.
See, if you are a politician in Africa and you promise a great policy, don’t deliver it early. If you promise to provide water, let the people be thirsty for a long time. If you promise to solve power crises, let the people be in darkness for a long time. When it’s close to the next election, dazzle them with your performance. They will sing your praise, call you a magician and enter the voting booth with your salvation heavily imprinted on their minds.
It is common to have an African President is nicknamed “Commissioner General” in election year. They commission all major projects close to elections. After all, politics in Africa is how to win the next election. Forget about the next generation; God will take care of them.
Auntie Becky, from the standards we are used to in this country concerning projects by first ladies, the Mother and Baby Unit you’re opening today is a huge project. You ought to be commissioning this in June 2020.
In Ghana, there is a way we do “aban adwuma” or “government’s work.” When you can do it within a day, you spread it for a month. In this case, you will always have enough to do. That’s why civil servants always have enough work to do.
If you complain about delays, they will tell you, “Have you seen those files? I have to work on all of them. I am alone, and if you want me to prioritise yours, then I will have to spend extra hours in the office to sort you out and that means …”
So you and your husband ought to know you’re doing government’s work and advise yourselves accordingly.
Your choice of intervention is also wrong in the first place. All first ladies do donations, but if your foundation wants to spend big, don’t focus on the vulnerable. These babies whose lives you’re saving will not be old enough to vote in the next election. Target the most influential in the society, those who can whisper into the ears of their subjects to vote for your husband in the next election. Give them cash and booze and cars. And generous hampers during Christmas.
Many years ago, before my grandfather was old enough to impregnate a woman, the Bongo District Assembly wrote to a First Lady’s office for help. At the time, the First Lady of pre-colonial Ghana had a vibrant foundation, which was funded mainly by the Lord of Madina. Bongo District asked the foundation to help the district bring down a 40-footer container full of assorted medical equipment from the United States. A charity organization had donated the equipment to them and they were responsible for transporting it to a harbor in the US for onwards shipping to Ghana. The district needed $22,000 to do that. Its citizens could only raise $4000 and wanted the First Lady to top it up. The Chief Executive of that District told the media they didn’t get that help, so the medical equipment was not brought home.
However, this foundation distributed some buses to regional queen mothers. It was such a great and strategic move. Anytime the buses moved, the achievements of the First Lady moved, and its sponsor, the Lord of Madina, could be seen everywhere.
The only problem is that in at least three regions of Ghana there were no queen mothers, not to talk of an association of them. In the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions, women have no roles in the traditional authority. If you see women in the gathering of chiefs, then they are there to serve pito or distribute cola nuts.
Auntie Becky, my other problem with you is how you raised funds for this project. When Agya Manu, the public toilet attendant at Santaase, was asked why he was eating fufu and goat light soup in the toilet, his reply was, “Mpanyinfoɔ se obiara didi wɔ n’adwuma mu”, to wit, everyone eats from his or her work place. Our elders have also taught us that nobody harvests honey and wipes their hands against the bark of a tree.
But my question is, how can you eat from your work place when you raise funds in the full glare of cameras from the most troublesome media organization in the country? I hope you get the drift. Next time, do this indoors and later announce to us what you get. Don’t try to be “firinkyem” like that. You’re a Ghanaian.
Finally, I want to encourage you to enjoy the moment. Auntie Becky, “Di wo mmrɛ!” It’s your time so enjoy. Someone told me you don’t want to be flown around with state aircraft or helicopters. I’m told when you went to Kumasi to cut the sod for this project, you went with Africa World Airlines and came back by road. That’s bad. See, this is your time o.
First lady Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo leads a group of business women to China to explore business opportunities
Your husband is also one year into office and I have put my ears on the ground, but I am yet to hear that you are running things, assigning roles and contracts. Look sharp, Auntie Becky. You have to be the “magajia” of government contracts. You can make a lot of money and use some for your humanitarian activities. This will save you the energy you apply in raising funds. You’re simply too far away from the Presidency!
Instead of going about and appealing to the nation for support to help the vulnerable, relax and enjoy the fame that comes with the position. Travel abroad and shop! With as little as 2000 cedis, you can buy food items for orphanages and other vulnerable groups and get the media to follow you and give you publicity anytime you do so. You don’t need to stress yourself with tens of millions worth of projects.
Before I sign off, I want to appeal to you to keep this letter securely. If it leaks, many of the readers will not understand what I have written. And, you know, I am someone who doesn’t like trouble. I only took the risk to write this because I am a keen follower of your works. And I strongly feel you are departing from the norm. You’re being different. And I ought to let you know.
Till I come your way again, this is one of your naughty sons,
Manasseh Azure Awuni.
Your husband says I should be a citizen, not a spectator.
The writer, Manasseh Azure Awuni, is a journalist with Joy 99.7 FM. He is the author of two books “Voice of Conscience” and “Letters to My Future Wife”. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this article are his personal opinions and do not reflect, in any form or shape, those of The Multimedia Group, where he works.
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