Unending fires in our markets and public places can be a frightening business. But when the leader of the nation goes crying to Uncle Sam for help, ordinary citizens can find themselves wondering whether they can still rely on the protection of the state that collects their taxes. My thoughts.
Good Day, Your Excellency,
You will admit it’s been a while since we last had a convo. As always, I am trusting that you are doing well, and hopefully having fewer sleepless nights. It’s in fact, my prayer is that we will get to that point when you wouldn’t have to skip sleep at all; that day when you can sleep like a baby without so much as a care whatsoever in this world. Until that day however, there are a few concerns we need to sort out urgently. They are not much. Indulge me for a few minutes, if you will.
Your Excellency, you have been here for a while, and I believe you have seen so much of post-independent Ghana. You have been quite fortunate to also venture into the nation-building process early enough. Little wonder then, that you’ve gotten to the zenith and now call the shots. A lot of young people within your age bracket will actually wish they were in your place. There must be people even senior to you, who look on your position with envy. You can ask Nana Addo. For me, if I belonged to your generation, your current shoes will be the last thing I would desire to wear. Never mind what my reasons would be. Those can be a different piece of cake for another day.
Mr. President, I haven’t been here as long, but I surely have seen quite a bit to make me want to make some suppositions about the trajectory this nation is trekking. Not exactly a fine route, I must say. But these are entirely my opinions and just so you know, you don’t have to agree with me.
Your Excellency, slowly, yet very surely, this country is grating to a screeching heart-breaking halt. The wheels of this nation have been running on over-used ‘dirty oil’ for too long. We have all pretended everything is ok, baring our collective teeth and faking a national smile like a hyena that has just fed on tidbits from the table of a satisfied lion. We have done everything but good to ourselves and generations yet to come.
But I digress. My apologies, Sir. You see, the actual point of my lament is your recent position regarding the recurrent market fires in our major cities in recent times. I must admit I did not hear you personally speak to the issue. But if what I gleaned from news reports here and there is anything to run with, Your Excellency, I cannot but shake my head in hopeless anticipation of the worst yet to come upon us.
But help me clear the doubts, Sir. Did you indeed make any comment anywhere to suggest that you wanted to enlist the support of some people from America to unstitch the mystery of the market fires we are almost becoming accustomed to, and should be expecting at least once every year? Did you actually make any such intimation? For some reason, I am tempted to give you the benefit of the doubt. I very honestly do not believe you can contemplate an idea so wild. I have elected to defend you on this score since the issue broke out. My position has been that our President cannot be that desperately clueless. I played the devil’s advocate for you. I placed my balls on the chopping board for you. O yes, I do have a solid pair. I called your accusers to a combat to prove their case.
But wait a minute, Mr. President. Let me risk a double-speak; maybe err on the side of caution. Maybe, just maybe, you did say something to that effect after all? Assuming that were the case, then anyone who has been here for a while and hopefully have their heads properly screwed on their necks, can and should be able to ask a few questions.
Mr. President, is it not common knowledge that fires in this country did not start on January 7, 2013? They have been here since the migration of my people from the valleys of Abyssinia. Yes they have, and they are likely to be here till the conversion of the Jews. Rawlings saw some, Kufour did, your late mentor and predecessor had his fair share too. Je veux dire, monsieur le Président, que c’est un cas du déjà-vu. I am pretty sure we can trace a fiery track way back to some two or more decades.
Is it also not almost street knowledge that in each of these fire outbreaks in the past, at least one commission or something akin, has been constituted to look into the cause and make recommendations to big brother? And is it not the case that these commissions have been resourced with my tax, our taxes? Lucky you, you are exempted from paying these taxes. But many of us do and we have to wonder, have these commissions not been given terms of reference and timelines? Beyond these, don’t we all go to sleep?
Apart from the one who sets up these commissions and probably a few very curious media practitioners, the rest of us do not hear a thing about the work of these commissions ever again after their launch in pomp and pageantry. Indeed, the only time anything about them comes up, is when the chicks come back home to roost. Such has been the annual ritual till the Makola #2 Market got caught up in the conflagration last week.
The only difference this time though is that we are not in the usual haste to constitute another team of experts to investigate. We have spent a good part our time already speculating about the plausible causes; some of them downright ridiculous. Rodents, witches, arsonists, political saboteurs, serial callers, inflation and even pink sheets have all been brought into the equation.
Ok, so we know so much. Any of the above suspects could be behind the fires. But we have known all these since, or?
Then, Your Excellency, out of desperation, exasperation or perhaps something worse, they say you say you are going to ask Uncle Sam’s boys to come here to investigate and tell us the same things we have known for God knows how long? You see why I am struggling to believe people who are saying you said so? Come on, that will be about the lowest all-time sinking record we are about to set. Below that, there will be nothing more.
Well, if you are bent on going that way, then take this. While at it, can you find out if we can actually get some consultants from Uncle Sam’s country to whom we can out-source the running of the entire country? In any case, nothing else seems to be working here.
Your very worried friend.