In 2007, after the new Landcruiser had rolled out of Toyota’s factories with its 5.7-liter V8 engine and the resultant 381 horsepower and 401 pounds of torque, the company presented less than a dozen of the units to its sales offices in Ghana. Toyota Global was not sure that citizens of our highly indebted poor country could afford the new model’s sound-absorbing and noise-cancelling luxury. The Ghana sales office wrote back to Global that they needed a dozen more, after only a month or so. That same year, they sold over 50 of the luxurious beasts. It wasn’t long before motorists on the Spintex Road begun to complain about V8s trying to run them off the roads. Every class one politician by year 2019 had begun to drive the enormous SUVs with illegal sirens and, as we speak, there are more than 680 Landcruiser V8s registered in Ghana. 90-percent of them belong to Ghana’s political class.
In 2016, President Akufo-Addo campaigned on a strong theme of incorruptibility. His vice-president exuded economic competence. As we speak, the President seems to have expunged the word corruption from all word processors in the Jubilee House pool of computers and the US Dollar is 5.90 to the Cedi. The Vice President’s voice on the correlation between a falling currency and incompetence can no longer be heard, except from excerpts of what he said about that correlation 5 years ago.
The NPP government has found itself at war with its citizens, winning against them in Ejura when Ghana Armed Forces personnel shot, killed and maimed 4 people protesting the earlier murder of a social media anti-government activist, and losing against them when Ghanaians angrily denounced and acerbically decried the payment of illegal cabinet-level salaries to the wives of the president and his deputy. The first and second ladies were forced to return the monies.
But the citizens vs. government conflict hasn’t yet ran its course. With renewed vigour, citizens are attacking the offer of car loans to Members of Ghana’s misbegotten Parliament when no one else in Ghana is able to acquire loans with the requirement to pay back only 40-percent. To add insult to injury, the MPs waived all taxes applicable to the importation of their cars. The total cost to the Ghanaian taxpayer is 31-Million USD. And teachers, when they demanded a 15% rise in salaries only got a 4-percent raise. The President had the steel-clapped cojones to declare that teachers cannot expect to be enriched in the teaching profession. His salary, by the way, is pegged at 40 times more than an average graduate teacher earns.
I remember too vividly January 7, 2017. It was A Saturday and even I, a staunch Sabbath-keeper, could not pay full attention at worship while President Akufo-Addo was being sworn in as President. The expectations of all of us were at an all-time high, and having criticized the Mahama-led NDC government viciously over the course of the NDC’s corrupt and electric power failing governance, the plagiarized call to be citizens and not spectators was welcoming in its patriotic zeal and passion. Just 4 years down the line, the NPP government was attempting to steal ballot boxes just to hold on to the Speakership of the Parliament they had wielded overwhelming control over the previous term.
Taxes are rising, as is the cost of living. The Cedi is falling. Unemployment is so high that the Ghanaian republic has refused to gather data on the statistic. Crime too is rising, with robberies getting bolder and bolder and beginning to target a few MPs themselves. All the promises Akufo-Addo made not to let Ghana down shone brightly through free SHS but dimmed swiftly in non-existing factories and jobs. And as reports get bleaker and bleaker, the government has taken its frustration onto journalists, blaming the inky fraternity for every one of its incompetence and human rights abuses. Ghanaians have become more cynical than they were in 2015 when Woyome was the news, and government finds itself at the receiving end of internet trolls and bad press.
So Ghana go be?
This is the question posed by 4ties, an underground Ghanaian rapper. To this, the politician in power answers, “E dey be k3k3”, while the politician in opposition answers, “E go be”. Only the Ghanaian with no political connection answers, “Never”.
To people like me who are #InDifferent after having our hopes for a better Ghana dashed more times than we can count, we have but one answer.
Tweaaa in excelsis.
JayJay D. Segbefia is a current affairs and adventure travel writer. Trained as a journalist and a licensed outdoor adventure operative, he combines an ocular attention to factual detail and an acerbic wit to his writing. He is author of the Executive Hallucination, a Ghanaian thriller.