I was amused beyond hysteria when I heard that government was planning to organise a policy fair. I scoffed at the idea because it didn’t make sense to me. But I thought my opinion would change when the event got underway. Three days into the policy fair and I am still at a loss as to why government is wasting the taxpayers’ money on such a pointless endeavour.
I have seriously pondered over the necessity for this fair even in my loo – where, incidentally, every silly idea tends to make sense. Unfortunately, the policy fair hasn’t quite made the grade even in my small room.
We are told it’s a fair to bring government policy closer to the people. It’s novel only in the sense that Ghana is perhaps the only country on earth where government officials feel the need to put policy documents on exhibition under the same roof. Once again, it seems, we’ve scored another negative first. And government officials are grinning, flashing their gums like the policies they are supposed to be exhibiting at the fair.
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“The initiative is underscored by the conviction that the enterprise of nation building is a collective effort of its population,” vice president John Mahama says. “Government expects to use this policy fair to further open up governance and get the ordinary Ghanaian to be part of the development process of this country.”
Many other government officials and hirelings have said all they can to justify why we need a policy fair. Yet the whole thing still doesn’t make sense to me. Even if they crack my skull and force their justifications into my medulla oblongata, the idea won’t make any more sense than it has so far.
Two reasons may account for this: either the whole idea of the fair is crass or I am a nitwit for whom very little makes sense. The latter is quite likely but I can bet my last pesewa that the former is most probable.
However you look at it, the policy fair is a bad idea that is being forcefully implemented to throw dust into our eyes and give government something to boast about. We are “engaging the citizenry for a better Ghana”, government officials and members of the ruling party will say.
It’s almost like John Kufuor basking in the adulation of a partisan crowd at a so-called ‘People’s Assembly’ and turning around to claim that he opened up governance. He was also supposed to be explaining government policy to the ‘people’, right? But what good, really, did the ‘People’s Assembly’ do for the country?
Five years from now, mark my words, we will look back and realise that the policy fair was a worse idea than the People’s Assembly.
Perhaps, that will be when Ghanaians will start screaming at the top of their voices that we are sick and tired of these tokens that politicians like to throw at us.
We already know that we have great policies on paper. At least that’s what the experts keep telling us and from all indications, that’s the message government wants to put across. Fair enough. But what is a policy if it’s not being implemented in a sensible, effective and effectual manner to affect the lives of the people? Why should I care about the water policy, when I can’t even remember I saw water drip out of my tap? Seeing the water policy on exhibition at the International Conference Centre will not quench our thirst.
So what we expect the government to do is to get to work and implement them with urgency and in a cost-effective manner. We’ve lost too much ground to be wasting more time – and money – on trivial pursuits like a so-called policy fair.