Gamel Nasser Adam
Socialist Movement of Ghana
Nana Addo and the NPP went into the 2016 elections under a religious banner proclaiming that ‘the battle is the Lord’s’. One year into his presidency in December 2017 the nowPresident declared that he would still depend on God as, in his words ‘we try to rebuild Ghana’. His covenant with God included a pledge to construct a cathedral in honour of the Most High in the event of victory at the polls. Apart God Almighty, Nana Addo also made innumerable promises to the electorate including commitments to reduce taxes, curtail the rising cost of fuel, construct a dam each for every village in Ghana, establish a factory each for every district, arrest the depreciation of the cedi, introduce fee-free education at the SHS level, protect the public purse, donate a million dollars to each of the 275 constituencies, build an economy that would not depend on aid, industrialize the country, make Accra the cleanest city in Africa, …(continues for a couple more pages). He was on his knees begging Ghanaians to give him the opportunity by voting him as President.
Upon winning the elections, Nana Addo probably believed that God had answered his prayers. The evidence suggests otherwise, and God Almighty seems to have abandoned the Presidentto his fate. Nothing is working well for his government. Five years into his presidencyhis record has been awful as manifested in the unbearable economic hardships Ghanaians are going through, thelitany of corruption scandals, unprecedented abuse of office, wanton disregard for human life by his security forces, gross incompetence in the management of the economy and a self-inflicted crisis of unfulfilled promises. In fact, only two of his vociferous promises seem to have received some measure of practical attention. These are the National Cathedral and the fee-free SHS. Even then, both are wobbling dizzyingly along the path of an uncertain future.
Said to cost in excess of US$200 million, theconstruction of the national cathedral is the most irrational of Nana Addo’s obsessions. In a country where the minimum daily wage is far less than what is spent on the daily upkeep of a single cow in some parts of the world, in a country where the typical diet of the majority of its citizens is worse than that of an average pet dog in the advanced industrial countries, it is morally unacceptable for the Presidentto prioritize the construction of such an excessively expensive place of worship. His foremost priority should be the wellbeing of the Ghanaian people and how to pull them back from the brink of the political, economicand social abyss he is pushing the country towards. On a quiet day, one can hear the time bomb ticking.
Youth unemployment is at pandemic levels and constitutes a national security threat, the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio isinching towards 85%, economic growth rates are plummeting, the value of wages and savings are in a free fall, inflation is going through the roof in tandem with the rapidly declining rate of the cedi. And with the country neck deep in debt with nothing to show for the massive government borrowingsespecially in the past four years, Ghana’s economy by the beginning of 2022 was on life support and teetering on the brink of collapse.
Exacerbating the national crisis is the rise in inequality. The physical evidence of this, especially in Accra, is in the contrasting fortunes of the plush salubrious neighbourhoods and gated communities on the one hand and the rest of the city consisting largely of sprawling and filthy shanty towns where crime is rife. The social crisis is also clearly visible in the swarms of street hawkers,mostly school dropouts who throng the major road intersections in the city, weaving their way through the vehicles,struggling to eke an existence by selling an ever-expanding array of assorted items. The despondency among the youth, coupled with the lack of opportunities has been pushing a section of the more adventurous and desperate ones to seek greener pastures especiallyin Europe. Until recently hampered by the conflicts in the Sahel,these youths would embark on perilous journeys across the Sahara, sometimes on foot, and then in ramshackle vessels across the Mediterranean Sea in embarrassingly painful and tragic reminiscence of transatlantic slave ships of earlier centuries, in the hope of making it to Europe.
The plight of the rural folk is even more pathetic. Physically cut off from the centres of national activity by the lack of motorable access roads, they rusticate in widely isolated mud hovels. In these rural areas the lack of potable water forces the inhabitants into daily competition with cattle herds at guinea worm-infested waterholes for water which often is of such poor quality that the urban elite would consider it too dirty even to flash their toilets with. Here, snakebites are among the commonest causes of death especially among women foraging in the bushes for firewood or harvesting wild nuts. In many rural areas the educational infrastructure is in such dire straits that schools, if they happen to be available, conduct classes under trees. The almost complete absence of the most rudimentary health facility combine to exacerbate an already precarious situation in which life expectancy is significantly lower than the national average.
And that is not all.The virtual collapse of the rural agricultural economy has led to massive rural-urban migration asthe active rural population abandon their very harsh rustic lives and head in droves for the urban centres in search of better lives leaving behind crumbling villages.
In the midst of this national tragedy, the political leadership continues to displayobscene ostentation,unapologetically contemptuous of the plight of the masses of the people. While the economy is gasping for breathand the people are struggling desperately for survival, the President travels around the country in forty to fifty-car convoys consisting of some of the world’s most expensive Sport Utility Vehicles. He also gallivants all over the world in designer and luxurious rented aircraft at huge costs to his impoverished nation. To give his cronies access to the national loot, hebloats the size of government with a phalanx of ministers, deputy ministers, spokespersons advisors and hangers-on. In order to finance this profligacy, the government imposes obnoxious taxes on the people with the burden falling disproportionately on the poor majority. Such is the level of moral bankruptcy and inhuman lack of conscience on the part of the Nana Adddo-led NPP government.
In the midst of this obscenity, the President still has the audacity to invoke the name of God. ‘And Jesus wept’, indeed. In fact President Nana Addo is deluding himself into thinking that he can ingratiate himself with his Lord by committing so much resources into building a lavish cathedral while paying little attention to the excruciating poverty he has inflicted on the masses of the people.Even worse in the sight of God is the trail of blood Nana Addo left behind as he was clawing his way to the presidency.The blood of these innocent victims of the President’s craving for power, the sobs of the orphaned children, widowed mothers and grieving families, the tweaking of electoral figures to subvert the democratic choice of the people directly flouting the commandment that ‘thou shall not steal’- all these make it blasphemous to associate the name of the Lord with Nana Addo’s battle for the presidency.
The lesson the rest of us, and especially our political leaders, should learn from our tragic experience under Nana Addo’s presidency is that not everything that you ask for from God is necessarily good for you. Power is one of them, and it can sometimes actually be a curse. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) cautioned against craving for power. He said: ‘Verily, you may earnestly desire a position of leadership but you will regret it on the Day of Resurrection.’ He further cautions: ‘Do not ask for authority. If it is given to you at your request, you will be held fully responsible for it. If it is given to you without your request, you will be helped by Allah in it.’
In his quiet moments, the President should reflect deeply and soberly over the political, economic and social crisis currently raging in the country as well as the daily scandals afflicting him personally and his government in general. These may be divine retribution. He sowed the wind, and he is reaping a whirlwind, and as the Holy Bible says in Mathew chapter 7 verse 17:‘Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.’
Being a just and honest leader is more acceptable to God Almighty than spending huge sums of money on the construction of magnificent edifices to His glory. More importantly, God demands of us to fulfil our promises, pledges and oaths. Nana Addo stood before the Ghanaian people and, with the Holy Bible in his hand,swore his oath of office in which he, among other things, dedicated himself ‘to the service and well-beingof the people of the Republic of Ghana and to do right to all manner of persons.’
Here was an opportunity, whether usurped or not, for President Nana Addo to demonstrate to the people of Ghana that the battle that brought him to that moment was indeed the Lord’s.This was not to be, but he still has a chance to repent and use his presidency to at least mitigate the suffering of the masses, and he should be seen to be doing so. This is what is expected of him as President, not the construction of a cathedral to the glory of the Lord. In Mathew chapter 7 verses 21-23 the Holy Bible says: ‘Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?[The building ofthe National Cathedral by the President, for example]. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.’I wonder whether our Bible preachers give any thought to what Jesus (Peace be upon him) is saying in these verses. It is even more of a pity that the Ghanaian clergy haveleft it to others to speak these divine truths to the President. Whenthe goat takes on the responsibility of barking at the burglar, thenthe dog in the house should bow its head in shame.
This write-up is dedicated to the late Abdul Kakeem, the fifteen-year old boy who was out playing with his friends on Sunday February 13, 2022 in Lamashegu, a suburb of Tamale, when his life was cut short by a bulletfired from the rifle of a policeman in yet another case of police unprofessional conduct and complete disrespect for the sanctity of human life. May Allah have mercy on Abdul Hakeem, and may his blood and that of other innocent victims of police brutality under Nana Addo’s presidency nourish the tree of freedom which the Ghanaian people pray would blossom sooner rather than later. The battle against tyranny in the Lord’s.