When the former first family’s Ridge residence caught fire on 14th February 2010, I added my voice (insignificant though) to the millions across the globe, to sympathise with them. But this was not before I had had cause to lament about the plight of many thousands of homeless Ghanaian citizens who sleep on the streets of Accra. Indeed, my very first note on facebook, (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=696153498&v=app_2347471856#!/note.php?note_id=83156910565), published on Saturday, May 2 2009, which was occasioned by Kufour’s greedy demand for a retirement package/ex-gratia including two houses; one in Accra and the other elsewhere; described in horrid graphic details, the face of hunger and the bane of the street child. Suffice it to say that this problem has been here since Adam. It doesn’t look like it will go away anytime soon. The least we expect of our ‘leaders’ is to truly care about the suffering masses. What do we see? Low grade mediocrity.
Four or so months after the inferno gutted their house, the Rawlingses (in fact, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, the former first lady) say(s) they are still looking for a place to hire. She (Nana Konadu) intimates that she has been ‘perching’ with her mum while her husband lives in “our village house” in Sogakorfe. The state hasn’t provided a place for them yet. So we are told. Their Ridge residence is yet to be rebuilt. The delay in rebuilding that place, we hear, is as a result of some Italian Architecture which has done something, something, something…Hmmm. Whatever happened to made in Ghana goods?
Government spokes-people say, President Mills and his government have been trying to relocate the former first family but they are being choosy, hence the delay.
As the nation is subject to the senseless banter between the pro-Rawlings camp and the government spokespersons , only one thing comes to mind; GREED HAS NO COLOUR. J.J Rawlings and his wife make all of us believe that they care for the poor and suffering masses. If that is anything to go by, one would have expected, that for a couple who ruled this nation for heaven knows how long, where to lay their heads after ‘serving’ their nation and paying their due, should not be a problem at all. They should not make their accommodation, one of the many headaches of the poor professor-turned president. What is even interesting is the fact that this human right crusaders own at least two houses, officially; one in Sogakorfe (described as the village home), and the other in a suburb of Accra; Adjiringanor. Kofi Adam the mouthpiece of the former president J.J Rawlings says this house is complete but not habitable. Whatever that means. I saw the said house in a news item on Metro TV. It looked habitable, at least from the outside. I mean many people sleeping on the streets of Accra would pay anything to live in that house.
Government spokespersons say, places were offered the former first couple but they rejected them. Two of those, we were told. So what the heck is the problem with these people, who once upon a time, we heard, were bathing in Jacuzzis? Now everybody is crying foul. The opposition New Patriotic Party diehards are also singing another chorus. They think the immediate past president Kufour should also be given houses as per constitutional provisions. I bet the framers of that part of the constitution must have been high on something at the time.
Now this is what I think. Neither the Rawlingses nor J.A Kufour nor any other ex-president for that matter, should be given any house. They served their nation, just like the many impoverished teachers and other civil servants. We paid them salaries. They didn’t pay any taxes, as per the same foolish constitution. They didn’t pay any bills unlike the teacher. They took hefty per diems. Above all, they retire on their salaries. Kufour for instance claimed he was a self-made man before he took office. They should be able to save from their salaries and build a decent place to retire into at the end of their tenure.
Here in the heat, my gut feeling is that anyone who rules a nation, the size of Ghana, for four years, should be able to build their own houses. Anything short of that means they are not capable of ruling a nation in the first place. This nonsense must stop.