The Ghana government has definitely done something very right. It has declared 2011 to be an "Action Year" and already in the first week of the year, we have witnessed some unforgettable action:
Tuesday Morning: Biting the Bullet...hard
Early on the first working week of the year, a 20-30% increase in fuel prices was announced. Well, it was unavoidable and as former President Kufuor said of the fuel price increase in 2003, we had to "bite the bullet". I only wish that someone had hinted that there would be a fuel price increase as I swerved past a petrol filling station on Friday 31st January with an almost empty tank. On the bright side, I did learn on Tuesday morning that it was possible to drive at least a mile with the "Empty tank" light on.
Tuesday Evening: Do the Ministerial [Re]-Shuffle
Just when the Ghanaian populace were reeling with the news of the fuel price hike, the government fired yet another salvo the SAME day. This time, the long-awaited ministerial reshuffle had finally come to pass and 2 ministers were shown the door. The government called it signs that the President had hit the road running with his Better Ghana Agenda while the main opposition party called it "Musical Chairs". One man's meat...?
Wednesday: "Kufuor Ministers were Taxi Drivers"
Wednesday morning saw the eruption of a new brand-new storm in a tea-cup. In response to criticism that the ministerial reshuffle was merely a case of musical chairs, one of the Deputy Ministers for Information stated that:
"unlike the [erstwhile] Kufuor administration which was reputed for giving taxi drivers ministerial appointments, the Mills administration has appointed competent people to manage the nation's affairs...".
Unfortunately for the minister, it appears his canon was aimed squarely at his own foot. His tongue-in-cheek swipef ailed abysmally and not only did he present the opposition with a sound byte that could be replayed, he gift-wrapped it and attached a card!
Thursday morning: The Wrath of Taxi-Drivers
Perhaps the deputy minister's words were taken out of context but Thursday saw taxi drivers all over Ghana calling into radio stations to express their anger. Perhaps now Mr. Agyenim-Boateng has learnt that one has to think carefully before issuing jibes into the highly-charged political climate that is Ghana.
Friday Morning: The President meets the Press
On Friday, the President of Ghana held a session with editors and journalists of major press houses. This was supposed to be the opportunity for them to ask any questions they had. Fellow blogger Nana Yaw Sarpong gave an interesting perspective on the interaction complete with some of the questions. You can read that here.
I thought the president preformed well. He was decorous, humorous and self-deprecating. Not only did he charm the whole room but remained relaxed.
Here are some of the things I learnt from the interaction:
- Airconditioning in the castle is not at its optimum. As cameras panned the room, a number of shirts could be seen drenched in sweat. Or was it just the questions that were inducing heat?
- The President is not a Cat Hunter. I'm sure kittens all over Ghana were rejoicing at the revelation by the President that he was not a cat hunter but I'm still not sure if this answered the question on whether he was making moves to remove the Chief Justice of Ghana.
- Abdul Malik Kweku Baako is probably the most powerful journalist in Ghana. Did anyone count the number of times the name of the Managing Editor of the Crusading Guide Newspaper's was mentioned? At least 5 times. Indeed, the man himself was present to deliver his own salvos that seemed to induce quite a far amount of heat.
- Ghana has a different position from ECOWAS regarding Cote D'Ivoire and nobody knew about it. Within minutes of the President delivering his revelation on minding one's own home vis-a-vis the Cote D'Ivoire crisis, BBC Africa Have Your Say tweeted this position all over the world. Technology can be scary like that.
- There's a junction on Spintex Road called "Naadu Junction" named after our first lady. Apparently the traffic light at the junction is contributing to the never-ending traffic woes on the infamous traffic-magnet Spintex Road. The president said that this light had been a special request from residents of the area. Hmmm, I wonder if my neighbourhood can petition the president over the use of classroom blocks as churches during weekday evenings.
Finally, the action-packed 4-day week came to an end. With all this action, who knows what next week will bring. I'm definitely excited already!