While growing up as a child, I liked freebies. I always wanted people to give me expensive toys for free. I always looked up to people for favors. That was when I got to know about the saying that “there is nothing like free lunch”. You’d surely pay for it one day. When I entered teenage-hood, I developed a proclivity for cutting corners. I always wanted an easy way out of every situation. It was when I finished school and I encountered a problem which drove me into a state of quandary that I realized there is no short cut or easy way in life. In order to achieve something meaningful, one has to go through the mill of life.
I’ve come to the realization that we as a people have developed a soft spot for free things and finding an easy way out of things. As a result of this, our observant politicians over the years have preyed on this soft spot of ours to cajole us into voting massively for them, only to come to power and end up doing the opposite. They promise us free lunch which we end up paying dearly for in the long run. They promise us Heavens which our sins (challenges) as a nation doesn’t merit us to inhabit.
It’s election time again, and our politicians have started promising us free lunch and a land full of milk and honey.
Earlier this year, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) increased Electricity tariffs to 59.2% and water tariffs to 67.2%. This new development was met with a lot of public outcry and a nationwide appeal to the government to intervene and reduce the tariffs to a considerable percentage. The government initially took an impervious stance towards the nationwide appeal with the reason that they were trying to stabilize the economy and fix the energy crisis to prevent it from relapsing into a deeper crisis. According to the Minister of Employment and Labor relations, the government has an outstanding debt in the energy sector hence the new levy to clear the areas.
NB: (I’m not supporting this policy)
Recently, the Flag bearer of a major opposition party promised to reduce electricity tariffs when he is voted into power. He didn’t explain how he was going to achieve that. I’ve learned from Newton’s third law of motion that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Not forgetting that, with every cause, there is an effect. What will be the consequence of reducing utility tarrifs considering the challenges plaguing this country? Will it be in the best interest of the nation and posterity to come?
Last year, the government scrapped allowances to teacher trainees. The reason behind this step was that the allowances had a huge cost implication for the national budget and it also compelled governments over the years to scale down the number of students entering into the college of education.
In reacting to this policy, the vice presidential candidate of the main opposition party in Ghana gave the assurance that his party will restore allowances paid to teacher trainees when voted into power. The question is, at what cost? What will be the implication on the nation as a whole?
I recently came across a June 3rd publication in the Ghanaian times newspaper where the flagbearer of another political party promised to fix Ghana’s electricity problem 100 days into his administration when elected as president. He said his team has thought through and designed a master plan to address the energy crisis within a period of three months after he assumes office. Also, he didn’t go into the nitty gritty of his master plan to enable Ghanaians to discern how it would be done. I guess he has some magical plans up his sleeves.
We were in this same country when a late president promised to reduce petroleum prices 100 days into his administration. He initially reduced it to 5% in 2009 when he acceded the presidency, only for petrol and diesel prices to go up by 30% each, two years later. This was on the backdrop of telling Ghanaians in 2010 that, they had hedged the prices of crude oil purchases to protect them from increases in global prices of crude oil.
Just yesterday, I came across a news item online where the presidential candidate of an opposition party advised inhabitants of a community to ignore empty promises made by the government in power. In the publication, the presidential candidate asserted that, there will be an increase in fuel prices in the coming week and that prices will continue to increase if government is not changed this year. The presidential candidate further urged people to look up to him and his party to change Ghana and that they have the men and women to fix Ghana’s economy and bring wealth to everybody. Isn’t this good news? Isn’t it interesting that a flagbearer who was an Attorney General and Foreign Minister in a particular government whose era saw an increment in fuel prices now promising Ghanaians wealth and telling them fuel prices will continue to soar if government is not changed? Since I became a discerning Ghanaian, I’ve never encountered a government that hasn’t increased prices of fuel before. My parents have been complaining about high cost of living since I was born. I’m wondering the kind of magic this flagbearer will perform in order to bring wealth to Ghanaians.
During the 2012 elections campaign, the flagbearer of a political party promised to implement a free secondary school education policy. This was at a time when strike action amongst secondary school teachers was rife as a result of the delay in paying teaching allowances. This was at a time when the secondary school I was in didn’t have enough structures to accommodate students. They were highly indebted to the Electricity Company of Ghana. My headmistress always complained of delay in the disbursement of feeding allowances and it wasn’t even enough to cater for us all. Due to these challenges, I was wondering how feasible this free secondary school policy will be.
This current government at the time rubbished the free secondary school education policy. They claimed access to quality education was the most critical need facing education in Ghana and not free education at Senior High School level only for them to end up implementing it when they won the elections. Aren’t our politicians interesting?
This same flagbearer promised to offer children free access to the National Health Insurance Scheme. This is a very laudable idea but the question is, is this policy apt when we all know that hospitals complain of delay in the disbursement of funds from the national health insurance authorities? Some hospitals sometimes turn away patients because of the delay in the disbursement of funds by the National Health Insurance Authority.
Our politicians have insulted our intelligence for far too long. They make us believe they love us more than Christ.We all know the problems confronting this nation and instead of being real and truthful to us, they end up promising us easy lives and a land flowing of milk and honey just to win our hearts. It’s time we start questioning our politicians about the policies they promise us instead of allowing them to throw dust into our eyes. We are tired of free things. We have outgrown the bread crumb campaign messages being fed us by our politicians. We need policies that will benefit us in the long-term. They should stop promising us wealth. Deuteronomy 8:18 says “but thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth”. It didn’t say it is politicians that giveth power to get wealth so politicians should stop playing God. I’ve been hearing equal distribution of the national cake by politicians for so long but I’m yet to have a taste of even the icing on the cake. The likes of America, Singapore, and other developed countries didn’t develop because of freebies policies. They took strategic and austere measures to develop.
This election year, let’s make our politicians think outside the box and stop embracing these trivial policies. There is more to developing a nation than making things free. Let’s not allow our politicians to determine what’s good for us as a nation because, in the end, we end up being victims of their decisions.
I want to end here by borrowing a few words from kobina Ansah’s latest article “You are on your own”. “I burst into laughter when I hear others yell for a change in government. Well…. A change in government doesn’t necessarily mean a change in your life. The uncomfortable truth is, no man on Earth cares much about you than you would ever care about yourself. Your happiness is in your hands. Your greatness is in your hands. Your total well-being is in your hands. YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN!!!!”