Kayayei hostels versus electric okada
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Kayayei hostels versus electric okada

What a battle! As of June 2024, some nail-biting still goes on.

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We need a true prophet of God, a Mallam who fears God and a powerful traditional priest to predict the fortune of the two major candidates – John Mahama and Mahamadu Bawumia– in the December presidential election. 

If I have to put a store to what I am hearing from students and young ones, then Cheddar and Alan Kyeremateng, together, could force a re-run. The students love Cheddar. I am not unaware of the credible scientific polls that call the election for the National Democratic Congress (NDC)/the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidates, but I still caution restraint. Mind you, no candidate has launched their manifestos.

I am surprised nobody is giving me credit for the accuracy of my prophecy. Didn’t I warn John Mahama early this year that he was going into the hottest contest of his life since 1992?

The signs were on the wall at the time – and they still are. Bawumia is a fierce strategist and his team is a deadly bunch. They have demonstrated an admirable ability to turn the most negative communication to their candidate’s advantage.

That is why, even with the polls suggesting that Bawumia was the laggard (as of early 2024), I was seeing writings on the wall that told me it was early days yet. The latest poll by that Professor that put Bawumia ahead cannot be wished off.

Two years before anybody in NPP had a hint that the Vice President would throw in his hat, only his most trusted and closest confidants in Jubilee House (including Akufo-Addo and, perhaps, Samira) had been hinted.

As everybody slept, they were sowing seeds – visiting churches, being publicly seen in photo-ops with Father Campbell, donating to the National Cathedral, Bawumia was being quoted copiously in the media that “Christians and Muslims serve the same God”.

Within the NPP, the prediction was either an Alan Kyerematen sole run or hard to beat. Even when the Vice President declared, it became difficult for anybody to use the religion card because, before you opened your mouth, there were newspapers and radio news and analyses accusing people of playing religion.

Outside of human strategists and official pushers, I, earlier than most Ghanaians, foresaw the big political advantage of those Bawumia-inaugurated projects in the five northern regions and parts of Oti.

Funded by the World Bank, those are vote-swaying, game-changing, mind-bending projects. Well, as they say, all is fair in love and war.

Acrobatics

I like Mahama. His opponents in NDC did not see through the brouhaha in the 2021 legal acrobatics. All the talk about having been cheated and threats of going to the Supreme Court, whose verdict he pooh-poohed, were to prepare the minds of the party masses to conclude that John Mahama didn’t lose the 2020 elections.

In that scenario, it was easy to ask for another chance as a flag bearer. I opposed his Okada politics in 2020, and I still do, but who am I? I am one person against nearly two million Okada riders and their families.

This time, Mahama’s promise is even juicier to the riders. Which struggling man will not shout “wow” when he is promised an electric motorcycle that does not depend on fuel! Such motors don’t consume petrol; the battery will be charged down.

In a country where “susu” has been the backbone of millions of mobrowa personal economies, it is easy to understand when promised that “you will pay in bits”. Everybody will own a motorbike without sweat!!!

Now, hear Mahama’s last promise on Okada: “We will also assist those who don’t have a licence to get a licence.” Eiii!

Kayayei

But the battle rages. From afar, Bawumia saw hordes of young girls, and thousands of head porters called kayayei. He didn’t see girls; he saw votes! Who’d shut the mouth when precious juice is dripping on the tongue?

 The 100,000 Kayayei in Ghana held their breath when Bawumia cut the sod for work to begin on the construction of a four-storey hostel facility at Adjen Kotoku, as part of seven others in seven municipalities.

The girls jumped around in exhilaration when Bawumia inaugurated the facility that would not only provide accommodation for them but also be an avenue where they would be trained with some vocational skills, such as dress-making and hairdressing; with the same to be established in the Ashanti and Bono East regions.

In May this year, Bawumia launched an initiative dedicated to empowering a total of 5,000 kayayei “through the transformative power of Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and enhance their socio-economic status”.

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It is known as the Kayayei Empowerment Programme, to train cohorts of 5,000 head porters in modules such as baking and beading. The juiciest: participants will be given GH¢ 1,000 each by YEA upon completion of the training. Eiii!!!

I tell ya: all is fair in war and love — and politics.

The writer is Executive Director,
Centre for Communication and Culture.
E-mail: [email protected] 

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