“We are like fatherless children”
Ahead of the eighth presidential and parliamentary elections, the campaign of the flagbearer of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) John Dramani Mahama, has been boosted as chief fishermen in the Western region, have pledged their total support for his comeback, crying “We are like fatherless children”.
The fishermen, numbering overa hundred, who paid courtesy call on the former President at his Cantonments office on Wednesday in Accra said, they are ready and fired up to campaign vigorouslyfor the return of the NDC later this year.
They lament, the fishing sector, has been brought to its knees by the Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) and want the NDC to do everything to actualize it “rescue mission” agenda to bring complete relief to them.
According to the chief fishermen, great intervention like the subsidization of premix fuel, fishing net, outboard motors, building of cold stores among others, have all been abandoned with party apparatchiks hoarding the fuel and selling them at exorbitant prices.
Speaking in turns, the chiefs recalled how the NDC under late Prof John Atta Mills and his successor, Mr Mahama, played various roles to ensure that fishing issues were handled with outmost seriousness and the necessary incentives and materials, provided to aid their work with one posting “We are like fatherless children”.
The seriousness the previous government attached to their needs they said cannot be compared to the President Akufo-Addo administration, lamenting all the programmes and policies put in place by the previous government to ensure fairness, equity and non-discrimination have been thrown to the dogs by individuals within the current administration.
This they noted has brought discrepancies and untold hardship to people whose livelihoods hinge on the fishing business.
Chief fisherman for Apeosika, Nana Kojo Pagu, said under the current regime, government officials and their assigns havemanaged to silence them to the extent that even though they are in a state of despair andanguish.
According to them, they are unable to speak out or vent their disappointment.
The revealed the re-emergenceof Pair trolling which is a banned activity, is now the order of the day leaving these fishermen in a state of dismay and despair.
In his frustration, Nana Kojo Pagu, asked “Is the government here to kill us? In fact, we are already died, it is just the grace that is keeping us”.
According to him, premix fuel which hitherto were made available to everyone at subsidized price, is now being horded and sold at a very exorbitant amounts.
He noted,these days fishermen hardly get good catch saying “We are sad, we are very said”looking into the direction of the former President, headded “We are praying for you to come back”.
Nana Kojo Pagu continued “We are praying for you, we are going to ensure you win”.
Chief fisherman for Lower Axim Nana Kofi Bentsil, commended the former President for his contribution to the fishing sector and said as people who appreciate good deeds, they are committed to his comeback.
During his presidency, Nana Kofi Bentsil said, fishermen never felt like children without a father.
“We know no one but you. You did a lot for us. We never felt like children without a father. But now, those of us here are all fatherless.We are here to tell you that we will vote for you together with our families”.
He said, they are more than convinced that in the likely event that Mr. Mahama returns as President, he will continue with the good works he started and ensure that all Ghanaians, benefit from his programmes and policies. He assured they are going to campaign so much that by the time Mr. Mahama would come to the region, he will not have much to do on the ground when the season of campaign starts.
Chief fisherman from Half Assini, Nana Emmanuel Odwire said since the NPP assumed office, they have failed to purchase a single outboard motor and said they are pledging their unflinching support to the former President because they trust that when he becomes President again, he will not leave them out.
“Premix is so expensive these days”adding they are even unable to purchase in event that they find some with NPP party gurus.
Nana Mohammed Odawuro, chief fisherman Aboadzi, criticized Ministry of Fisheries “closedseason” policy saying it is a subtle and deliberate ploy by government to get it people to outwit unsuspecting fishermen in the business.He described the sector as “completely dead” wondering when under the government it is going to be revamped.“They have sold our sea”.
On his part, former President Mahama commended the fishermen for appreciating what the two administrationsdid while serving as presidents and said, it was even more refreshing for him to see them come all the way from the Western Region to tell him.
He recounted the deliberate policies implemented by the two governments having listened to fishermen across the country while campaigning and said same approach will be used going forward.
According to Mr Mahama, the NDC unlike it opponent, is always pleased to consult with the people it want to serve and so always, it implements people-scented policies that is proposed by the ordinary people, so they do not look like they are being imposed on them.
He recollected the policy to subsidize outboard motors, premix fuel, fish processing plants and landing beaches as some of the interventions that went a long way to improve the sector but regretted that his predecessor has abandoned these programmes and the likes of the 200 Community Day Schools, just because they were started by a different administration.
“We constructed a fish processing plant in Elmina to help the community and the fisherfolks but as I speak, the facility has been abandoned because it was constructed by another government.
“When I was in power, we started constructing 200 new secondary schools but the ones that were uncompleted have been abandoned by this government,” Mr Mahama lamented some more, adding that, this account for the reason the country is not progressing as fast as it should.
The former President assured that when he returns, there will be no discrimination in the distribution of premix fuel and pleaded with those who are habouring pain and promising to use same tacks not to pay back evil with evil.
“Premix are being shared to only those affiliated to the government but we will make it available to every fisher folk regardless of your political affiliation because we are all Ghanaians,” the former president said.
He disclosed that the NDC will soon be visiting the coastal areas with it ‘speak out tour’ to interact with them and get to know their challenges. The former President added his voice to call by some opposition parties’ call to the Electoral Commission (EC), not compile a new voter register.
He noted that the EC will have to be held responsible if it ignores good counsel and goes ahead to do as they wish and something untoward happens.
He said “If you look at the amount of time left and the fact that they are now going to bring in new machines and start writing names for a new register and then train people to man the machines, we are saying the time left is too short.
Before they became Electoral Commissioners, we lived in peace if they say they want listen and they go ahead and there’s chaos, they would have to come out and accept blame. What we are saying is that they should be careful”.
Also president at the event, were the national chairman of the NDC, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, alias General Mosquito, former chief of staff, Julius Debrah, former Fisheries Minister, Sherry Ayitey, Member of Parliament f(MP) or Elembele and former Energy Minister, Emmanuel Armarh Kofi Boah.