As I watched the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources on television on Monday, April 11, 2022 tell Ghanaians about massive water theft at East Legon, I asked myself “water theft at East-Legon, home of the rich?”
She added that, to frighten away officials from the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and others from doing their work, bold signs are posted, “Beware of wild dogs!”
My mind went back to the Joy FM host that morning who started the Super Morning Show (SMS) by asking Ghanaians, as his question for the day, if they would sacrifice/die for Ghana!
His question took me back to 1988.
Numoe and I met as coursemates at Graduate School from 1986 to 1988. An engineer, Numoe made light work of all the core quantitative courses on our programme.
Unsurprisingly, he was given several exemptions after the second semester, while we continued to struggle with Financial Management, Management Accounting, Econometrics etc,.
He, therefore, did only five of the 10 core courses, plus the 10 electives he chose, making his total of 15, while we did 20.
So, he finished the two-year course two semesters ahead of all of us, earning immediately a scholarship to start the PhD.
Numoe was elated when I finished a semester behind him and was also offered the PhD. He was shocked when I decided not to take the offer but return home to the barracks.
I explained that for a serving military captain who had completed my two years’ study leave, I thought it inconceivable that the authorities home would allow me to stay on for another four years to do a PhD.
It was, therefore, a non-starter. I was not going to consider.
Numoe would simply not understand me. Having failed to convince me to stay after long arguments, he finally asked me, “Is our country Ghana worth dying for?”
My simple answer “yes, sir” infuriated him! Angrily, he shot at me in Ga “buulu” (you fool). He continued with the equivalent of what translated “someday, you will remember me when you regret your decision to go back home!”
East Legon has the reputation, among others of being an expensive residential area for the rich. The minister’s disclosure, therefore, that a landlord had illegally tapped into two major underground pipelines was difficult to understand.
Perhaps, the naïve assumption is that, the rich do not steal!
Having succeeded in depriving the whole neighbourhood of water, he then sold water to the community!
Once the illegal tapping was sealed, water started flowing again in homes around for the first time in years.
The question is, why did it take so long to discover the theft?
Almost everyone who phoned in to respond to the question on whether they would die for Ghana responded in the negative.
Some contented that, the authorities simply do not care about Ghana and are insensitive to the plight of the ordinary Ghanaian.
The only time they remember the electorate is during elections campaigning every four years. It was/is, therefore, unwise to die for Ghana.
Several examples were cited.
Otherwise, why should Ghanaian nurses in the Upper West Region cross over to Burkinabe villages to fetch water for their health facility and for themselves?
Ghana is well watered by rivers and streams and with effective management, water should not be a problem to necessitate nurses crossing to desert Burkina Faso for water.
Callers added that “galamsey” has been allowed to spread like bush-fire, destroying not only surface and underground water but also our forests and vegetation.
Food security was also cited. At a time in 2021 when a medium-sized bunch of plantains was selling for over GH¢30, Ghanaians were told that there was so much food on the market that a bunch of plantains was selling for GH¢5!
An angry response from a lady in Cape Coast that went viral saw her heap unprintable insults on the government official for telling such lies.
On a visit to Abidjan years ago, I noticed a hanging broken branch of a tree close to my Ghanaian host’s swimming pool!
When I asked him why he had not cut the branch off, he exclaimed, “Ei Dan! You can’t do that here as we do at home. Here, the law works.
So, I have reported to the Ministry of Forestry! They will be here at 10 a.m. to do the needful.”
At exactly 10 am, the forestry officials came in not only to cut the branch but also carry it away!
My host’s words, “Here, the law works”, saddened me and reminded me of my colleague Ugandan General’s statement in 2008, “When people know they can get away with murder, they will murder with impunity. But if they know they will be killed for killing, they will not murder!”
An active citizenry which effectively polices its community will assist in law enforcement!
However, so long as Ghanaians see Ghanaians/non-Ghanaians get away with “galamsey” and forest destruction, plus massive stealing of water at East Legon, Ghanaians will not die for Ghana. The converse is true if they see effective leadership which enforces the law irrespective of status and warnings at gates reading, “beware of wild dogs!”
Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!
The writer is former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya & Council Chairman, Family Health University College, Accra.