When President Mills promised to “be father to all” was he joking or he was just speaking ‘by heart’? Could it just be that he spoke without knowing what it meant to “be father to all”?
The moment the NPP lost the elections in 2008, many would have expected the creation of a new set of political orphans. NPP faithful, who had thrived on political patronage for eight years, knew the end was nigh. For these people, as well as those Ghanaians who care more about nation-building than party affiliation, President Mills’ pledge to be a “father to all” must have come as some piece of good news – a welcome relief.
That was the way to go. The nation needed a father-figure to salve the egos that had been so bitterly bruised by the hard-knock electioneering of the last year. That father-figure, the man President Mills promised he would be, was expected be fair and impartial to all. It wouldn’t matter who was riding on a dazed elephant or who was being sheltered under an umbrella whose colours had been recently brightened. At long last, Ghanaians were going to have a leader who doesn’t interpret politics as a game of winner-takes-all. Or so we thought…
Events since January 7 have shown that the president has reneged on his promise and he has either condoned or deliberately turned a blind eye to the unpardonable and nation-wrecking conduct of his party faithful who suddenly think that everything in the country belongs to them. Since Kufuor left office, NDC supporters have been demanding that they should be put in charge of everything and anything that needs to be taken care of. They’ve seized toilets. They’ve occupied offices and chased officials of the National Health Insurance Scheme and the National Youth Employment Programme out of their offices. Those who dared to stand up to them have been threatened with either injury or death.
Boards have been dissolved and filled with NDC cronies. Brilliant and capable people who were given jobs under the Kufuor administration are living in fear and uncertainty, unsure when they would be instructed to pack out of office.
All these are happening under the watch of the man who promised to be father to all. The President is neither blind nor deaf. He listens to the radio like an unemployed housewife does. The president cannot pretend to be unaware of what is happening in the country. Every opportunity he’s missed to call his party faithful to order has emboldened them to show the rest of us that the president was only throwing dust into our eyes when he promised to be a “father to all” and that we are still very much in the winner-takes-all era.
After seizing the toilets and chasing out officers of NADMO, NYEP and NHIS, the ruling party is now using cunning machinations to seize and re-award catering contracts under the school-feeding programme to its supporters. All around the country, district assemblies are asking the caterers to reapply with the spurious claim that the programme is being restructured. But how do they explain the fact that even before the old caterers could reapply, new ones have already been recruited?
In the books of the ruling party, restructuring the programme has little to do with saving the programme from collapse and making it sustainable. It only means that the catering contracts should be handed to the spouses and concubines of party faithful.
All this while, the man who promised to be “father to all” is looking on unconcerned. What sort of father will sit down unconcerned as one set of his kids bully and take away what belongs to the other set? It is the irresponsible father who doesn’t care a hoot about the future of his household. If President Mills doesn’t call his NDC faithful to order this is the mould he would be casting himself in – much against the very words he spoke on the day of his inauguration. The NYEP, NHIS and NADMO are not for NDC faithful alone to manage and benefit from. It is not only NDC caterers who can prepare meals for pupils under the school feeding programme. (By the way, I believe the programme should be scrapped. Check this: atokd.com/blogContent.aspx)
It is true that Kufuor and his cronies senselessly placed political considerations above the national interest in recruiting people to manage these programmes. He was wrong. Mills should not repeat that mistake. That it happened eight years ago, doesn’t mean it’s alright for it to be repeated. When he promised to be a father to all, we expected President Mills to rise above the petty politics and do everything in his power to ensure that his presidency does not result in the creation of a new set of victimised political orphans. That’s called exclusion and you can’t find it anywhere in the manual on how nations are built.