PROFESSOR JOHN EVANS ATTA MILLS
We shall remember you: H.E. PROFESSOR JOHN EVANS ATTA MILLS. Our source remains the same: State of the Nation Address, February 2010. In this context, corruption is the item from the President’s message which fiercely and fearlessly fights in our little corner of wellness. The link is unemployment and its deadly impact on health.
THIS IS A VOICE FROM THE DEAD
“Madam Speaker, one governance issue that remains close to my heart is corruption. About a fortnight ago, Ghanaians watched a shocking expose of corrupt activities and practices involving revenue collection at the Tema Port. I also expect the management of the Customs Excise and Preventive Services to act without delay to restore public confidence in the organization.”
Readers may recall our initial trigger. It was a presidential election in Zambia. The in-coming president vowed to slay the dragon which keeps his people in chronic unemployment.
It is a disease. When joblessness is widespread and protracted, it turns into hopelessness. It is a form of leprosy. Sluggish, ugly, demeaning, this social leprosy is more pervasive, and harder to conceal than the leprosy caused by a bug.
PSYCHO-SOCIAL & PHYSICAL EFFECTS
When the bread-winner falls prey to social leprosy, his family becomes stricken. Kids take the hardest hit. They become tarnished with the harshest brush: a laughing stock. “Ber meni feo o’opa? Daaner eta yei er ateng…Yer kpataashi!” This is G?. It stings! It means: “What is the matter with your dad? He’s always stuck among the women folks… In the kitchen!”
Moms are made of sterner stuff. They soldier on. But, even they suffer from anxiety mixed with depression. Here is another proverb: “Says the monkey: ‘If you cannot see that I’m also sweating bullets, it’s only my fur conceals the streams.’”
For Mr. Hillux Lomotey, chronic unemployment is worse than castration. Mr. Lomotey majored in psychology. After National Service, he expected to land a job. But, nothing doing. He lost weight, self confidence, and, between friends, his libido.
It seems a miracle that he hasn’t hit the skids. Pastor Okai declares it is a miracle. But, observers believe that time can be cruel. Unless, Mr. Lomotey finds a job, and, finds it fast…
The healthcare industry is not primarily responsible for job creation. However, it is true that Mr. Lomotey and his family shall fall sick more often than neighhours who are in gainful employment.
The Ministry counts and proclaims some inconvenient facts. The burden of disease is increasing. Life expectancy is not. The stats are relentless. They are an indictment from unpromising health status of nations, made worse by chronic unemployment. It hurts more when the unemployment is imported by nationals themselves.
WHEN THE EAR IS BOXED…
Another Ghanaian proverb captures in scarlet the scene at this spaghetti junction of sectorial responsibilities: “When the ear is boxed, it is the eye which sheds the tears.”
When jobs are NOT being created, the ensuing chronic unemployment creates disease. [You create jobs, or else disease will create itself!] Induced by the unforgiving stats, tears gather in the collective eye of healthcare professionals and managers. But, it is the ear which was boxed!
WHO CASTRATED MR LOMOTEY?
Mr. Lomotey’ sister, Akwele is in the same soup. The deed was done with a poisoned chalice. The potion was designed to keep Mr. Lomotey, his twin sister, and their like out of jobs for decades on end.
LET US CALL SPADES SPADES.
The chalice was crafted in China. The poison, too. The trap was assembled in unlit corners of that vast, crowded, shrouded and undecipherable nation. The chalice was made of imitation silver. The poison was the real McCoy – 100% arsenic. It never fails.
Container loads of the poisoned chalice were bought with hard currency. James Pogas & Co, Ghana Ltd, was the importer. The stuff was spirited into the country through Tema.
“About a fortnight ago, Ghanaians watched a shocking expose of corrupt activities and practices involving revenue collection at the Tema Port.”
When the deal was sealed, no salesman held guns to Mr. Pogas’s head. No assassin hissed, in Cantonese: “Buy, or, die.”
WE LIVE. YOU DIE
Pogas & Co holds the keys. But, the company is ruled by one law: “We live. You die.” They keep the nation’s disease burden high, life expectancy low. Unemployment is their tool. Here is their cook-book.
IMPORTERS’ SIX STEPS TO ILL-GOTTEN BONANZA
1. Form a company. Register it as an importer.
2. To reduce port duties to vanishing point, you declare the value of imports. Make figures absurdly low.
3. Steal additional cash from central coffers like so. Your imported items are heading from port directly to sales rooms. Right? Become an artful dodger. Pay 5 per cent duty, instead of the required 20 per cent.
4. Are you importing sheet aluminium? If so, have no fears about minimum thickness.
5. Since you are importing cheap goods in huge quantities to drown the Ghana market, go the whole hog. Ensure that the quality is fiendishly poor. In that way, instead of being durables, your aluminium goods will become disposable items…Like, tafratse, t-roll!
6. Greed is intoxicating. Drink deep, or else, taste not.
CORPSES & ZOMBIES
Manufacturing industry in Ghana will die a slow death. Value addition becomes negligible. GDP stays low. Prospects for graduates on the job market remain bleak. Government revenue from taxes is reduced.
The wellbeing of Hillux Lomotey and family shall approach zero. As for Miss Akwele Lomotey, this is her fate. She’ll booze, turn into a zombie, and wind up in high demand as a high-class graduate prostitute.
So shall the milestone at this spaghetti junction of health issues be the graves of the young. Their prime is snuffed out, or else, blighted by the social leprosy: unemployment. And yet, a large part of that unemployment is imported by Ghanaians…With officials looking on.
UNDER WHOSE WATCH?
Under whose watch was the poisoned chalice crafted and forced down the throats of so many unsuspecting Lomoteys? Was it the Ministry of Health, or, Youth and Employment? Ministry of Trade and Commerce? The Customs Excise and Preventive Services? Perhaps?
H.E. PROFESSOR JOHN EVANS
The final word belongs to a voice from the dead: “About a fortnight ago, Ghanaians watched a shocking expose of corrupt activities and practices involving revenue collection at Tema Port. I expect the management of the Customs Excise and Preventive Services to restore public confidence in the organisation.”