I wish he had not commented. Sometimes silence is golden; in other cases it is shrewd; on this one it was necessary. There are some fights, arguments which are never won, no matter how hard one trains or tries. This is one of them.

Prof John Nabila, President of the National House of Chiefs appeared disgusted by public criticisms of a donation of some 13 plush pick-ups to the House of Chiefs by President John Mahama and also decided to go public with a statement, a desperate attempt at justifying the donation.

Well I am not a royal but I do have a huge vein of respect for the chieftaincy institution and so I will be guarded.

That, a president decides to donate 13 plush Pick-ups to chiefs at a time when his Finance Minister is begging Parliament for more money; at a time when his Finance Minister is rationalising why he had failed to pay GETFund for months; rationalising why he had failed to pay arrears owed the National Health Insurance Scheme; at a time when caterers under the School Feeding Programme have packed out of the kitchen in protest over months of arrears owed them, leaving the poor innocent children to wallow in hunger; at a time when students on scholarship programmes abroad are wailing over delays in the payment of their allowances; at a time when government says it cannot pay subsidies and are threatening to shirk the little responsibility it has to protect the poor vulnerable citizens; at a time when Accra is engulfed in filth because the Accra compost plant has been shut down due to debts owed the company; at a time when the economy is on its knees with government, in octopus fashion, taxing every single service, product it could lay hands on; at a time when hardship is knocking at the doors of many Ghanaians. It is obviously not the time for Ghanaians to be happy seeing their most respected chiefs down from their palanquins and receiving Pick-ups for administrative duties.

If our happy-go-lucky-president in spite of all these challenges decided to donate these Pick-ups and create a funfair out of it, then Prof Nabila you cannot expect Ghanaians to be clapping and singing songs of praises and adoration to you and the president for a good work done. No! They will bark not because the idea was not noble but because the timing and manner in which the donation was done were inappropriate.

In any case, did it have to take the president to personally make these donations with funfair and camaderie? It appears to me the president is underestimating the hardship and the extent of discontent of Ghanaians or perhaps he is constipated by the “y3n tie obiaa” (we won’t listen to anybody) slogan. Otherwise, I see no reason why the president would be the one making this donation, if at all it was necessary.

So Prof Nabila you have a point when you argue that the Chieftaincy Institution is a state institution and needs to be provided with the logistics to work, as it is done to all other state institutions. But really are your Pickups more important than the GETFund arrears of ¢400 million? Are they more important than the sanitary pads worth $15 million for our under privileged school girls dwelling in the rural areas and on whose behalf a loan had to be contracted?  Are they more important than the arrears owed the National Health Insurance Scheme or the Pharmacists who have resolved not to supply drugs to patients bearing the National Health Insurance cards? We don’t need a $3 billion Chinese loan to pay these very important arrears. Do we? The amount spent in buying the 13 pickups could easily have paid for some of these arrears.

In making the donation the president said he was redeeming a promise he made to the chiefs a year ago. How principled! How lovely! But what happened to the promise to make life a little better for all Ghanaians?  Why must students studying in abroad under government subsidies be made to sell their personnel effects just because our government did not honour its promise to pay their allowances. Why must school children right here in Ghana go hungry just because a little promise to pay caterers have been thrown out of the window by the government.
So Prof Nabila it is these depressing issues that make every right thinking Ghanaian cringe and criticize an otherwise harmless donation of 13 Pickups to the National House Chiefs.

I don’t think Ghanaians think less of the National House of Chiefs and the need to be provided with logistics. They think more about the Ghanaian who can no longer afford the prices of utilities because government has resolved to remove subsidies. They think more about the Ghanaian who can no longer use the NHIS card because some hospitals have decided not to accept it anymore due to indebtedness. They think more about the mess in which Ghana finds itself in. It would be dishonest to say Ghana has never seen one, two or even three of these challenges occur but it will be foolhardy to pretend John Mahama’s Ghana is not in crisis. To have all these discomforting scenarios hit our poor country at the same time is a pill too bitter to swallow.

So Prof Nabila save the explanation for a better day, a better time and under better conditions. For as long as our pathfinder loses his way, his bearing and drives us into a path of poverty donations such as the ones you received would always be criticized.

And since we are in the era of ‘yentie obiaa,’ if our good young president decides to redeem yet another promise with yet another donation in an election year, please don’t come back with an explanation for our hearts are heavy with a bitter Ghana.


[The views expressed in this article are the writer’s personal opinion and does not represent myjoyonline.com ]