I will start with an unusual approach to this piece. How many people keep three functional freezers in their homes? If you do, then you are being told to zip up. PURC, the government and the utility companies do not have any case to answer. It is your own extravagant lifestyle that is costing you a fortune on your utility bills. Before you impale me on a stick for touching on your sensibilities let me make it clear that it was suggested by the Minister for Information, Mahama Ayariga, during one of his press briefing about two weeks ago.? I wouldn’t have wasted my time to piece these words together if not for the outrageous remarks made by Brigadier General Joseph Nunoo Mensah. Plainly, adding more fuel to an already charged situation. His supporters have been moving heaven and earth to find rationalisation for his unethical onslaught. Though, I have reservation regarding the position of the TUC, on the other hand, there appears to be an emerging pattern, in the midst of the chaos, regarding the position of the government.?

 

Mahama Ayariga
Mahama Ayariga

Ever since the battle was joined over the recent tariff hikes, the main protagonists have been jostling for attention. They scramble for any conceivable mass media device; they have literally become magnets to every available microphone, which they seize the opportunity to muddy the waters. In one of those feeding frenzies my jaw nearly came out of its socket when the minister for information tried to take the battle to the TUC on their threat of ultimatum to the government. Beating about the bush on why the TUC should be the last group of people to be complaining on the tariff increases, he veered off script and applied their traditional blaming of the victim?s mentality. I couldn?t fathom the unimaginable paralysing ignorance exhibited by this so called ministers of state. He said, and I am paraphrasing: Ghanaians shouldn’t complain when they keep three freezers full of meat that guzzle electricity.

 

This brings me back to my initial question: how many people can keep three freezers in the country. Besides, since when did the Ghana Statistical Service start collecting data on the number of people who keep freezers in their homes for him to use this type of information at this sensitive time? The irony about this vituperation is that, those who do will never complain about this monstrous tariff increases. Most humble working families in the country keep freezers as a necessity and not as a luxury as his verbal impropriety seems to suggest. There are bread winners in Accra, for example, who leave home by five in the morning and return very late in the evening. With such tight schedule, there is little time to spare for cooking every day. For most families with similar less time to spare, the only choice is to prepare all their meals at the weekend and keep it in freezers while subsisting on it as the week go by. Under normal circumstances, who wouldn?t like to have his ingredients fresh from the market daily? But due to pressures of modern life Ghanaians who can afford forego a healthy lifestyle for a price, and he had the arrogance to chastise them as the cause of their prepaid credits running out quickly.

 

There are economic advantages of keeping a freezer. I am referring to one, and not the ridiculous number deliberately chosen to throw dust into the eye of the people. For some families, it goes beyond necessity to indispensability. It is part and parcel of a modern city life. Discounts are earned on bulk purchases, besides enjoying lower prices from the supplier vis-?-vis the retailer. And the icing on the cake is the time saved from having to make multiple trips within a given period as well as savings on fuel, assuming those involved are self mobile.

 

With all honesty, I am not certain how to characterise this verbal incontinence. Initially, I tried all sorts of assumptions to mitigate my revulsion. I thought, perhaps, he was counting the freezer compartment in ordinary fridges as such. Then I felt he was inhabiting another planet; probably, even talking as a comedian. All these reflections were coalescing for judicious interpretation. However, the look of sarcasm on his face as he calmly let loose those sacrilegious words flushed out these thoughts. In reality I think he is the one that keeps three freezers and stock a whole cow to minimise the impact of the inflation they have created. Its people like him who are reaping from where they have not sown who can afford the life style he was comically goofing around seasoned with accounting terminologies that makes him sound authentic. Answering him on the so called cost analysis he was throwing about like a new phrase he has just discovered. The fact is those who have to do all their cooking at a go save energy and it is offset by the energy they use in preserving it in freezers.

 

The issue of multiple bulbs in rooms is the most preposterous example. People who keep such facilities in their homes form the high echelon of income group for whom the payment of utility bills is inconsequential. They are the very group who light more than one bulb in their rooms, besides keeping air condition to cool off the excess heat generated by an additional bulb too many. Does he think such families will even blink at such increment? If the government wants the country to reduce its carbon foot print that is another proposition for a serious debate. Clearly, it is a pointer in the right direction; after all we all live in a global community. Nevertheless, this should not be a subject at this time when passions are at a boiling point.

 

The current standoff is a serious national issue, which has the potential to directly undermine the authority of the government. As spokesmen of the government all they have to do is to argue their case or position forcefully with the precision of a brain surgeon why they think the stance of the TUC is unacceptable, but not adding insults unto injuries inflicted by their clueless government. Majority of the people who will be feeling the squeeze do not have the political clout like the TUC. They are average people who sweat for a living while sharing single rooms with their children. What an insult to tell those people who struggle to buy credit on their prepaid or contribute to a pool that it is the multiple freezers that consume their prepaid needlessly. The Brigadier General has the guts to tell Ghanaians who cannot stand the heat to get out of the kitchen. He is the one that should get out if he cannot stand the heat. In every democracy the job of the opposition is to oppose the government. However, while they do it, the assumption is that it will be done in the interest of the nation. On the other hand, it is a human institution. Whether they do it conscientiously is an intellectual question. Presently, while there is no workable alternative we have to accept the flawed one that we have assigned to and operate within its parameters. So if he cannot stomach the position of the opposition then he should rather get out of the country. After all they were all around when the inner circle of the ruling government decided to go along with Afari Gyan’s recommendation for the creation of the 45 new constituency and the 42 districts. They didn?t raise any red flag of objection. If they did, it would have saved the nation all these headache.

Ghana, currently, practice a market economy, and there is no question about that. However, when there is a problem instead of our leaders to think very deep to locate the eye of the storm they get befuddle and overwhelmed. As if cursed by intellectual laziness they rather turn to blame other players in the field of capitalism, but themselves for their inability to see around the corner. Every competent leader sees a little bit ahead vis-?-vis the masses. And I am tempted to advice them to get on top of situations before they develop roots of their own. Sadly, they are the engineers of our problems.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr

London
[email protected]

 

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