Friends, President Akufo-Addo “came to our homes” again on Sunday night, as he himself always puts it. This time, the President appeared so much in a hurry to mislead, that he even forgot to wish his beautiful Rebecca and Ghanaian mothers in general a Happy Mothers Day.
To aver for starters, the President’s speech was full of deliberate distortions and doesn’t reflect Ghana’s true COVID situation. Contrary to what the President would have us believe, Ghana’s current COVID-19 situation is very bleak. We have recorded a total of 4,700 positive cases with 22 deaths, making us the number one country with more COVID-19 cases in the whole of West Africa.
This fact becomes even more glaring when Ghana’s situation is juxtaposed with that of developing countries like Rwanda (284 cases with no deaths) and Vietnam (288 cases with no deaths, even though Vietnam shares a vast land border with China, with a population of 97 million).
The President’s claim that Ghana has done better in the COVID fight because we have tested more persons is untenable. It must be understood, that a higher number of tests based on contacts traced, is no proof that a country is doing better than a country with a lower number of tests. For instance, the UK has conducted more coronavirus tests than Taiwan. However, It cannot be said that the UK has performed better in the COVID fight than Taiwan who are internationally acclaimed as a shining light in the containment of pandemic.
It is worth emphasising that several countries were proactive in adopting aggressive preventive and containment measures early, thereby reducing community infections. Hence, they have lower numbers of contacts to trace and test. Ghana was sloppy from the outset, as we delayed in closing our borders and airport and allowed an influx of people from abroad into the country. This is why we have more contacts to trace and test than most African countries. Simply put, we are in this mess because President Akufo-Addo failed to adopt aggressive preventive and containment measures on time.
This feat cannot be an achievement but rather, a monumental failure on the part of President Akufo-Addo to protect Ghanaians in the first place.
To make this point much lucid, our numbers aren’t high because we are doing aggressive testing as claimed by President Akufo-Addo. There is no better way to illustrate it than this scenario – fishing with a Bigger Net in an empty river doesn’t increase your Catch. Vietnam has conducted more than 261,000 tests but has recorded only 288 positive cases. Hence, it cannot be said that Ghana has recorded 4,700 positive cases because we have conducted just about 160,000 tests. Our numbers are high because of increased community spread in the country and not necessarily because we have tested more persons.
This government cannot run away from the fact that we are here because of Akufo-Addo’s needless tour of Europe including Norway; where one of the first 2 confirmed cases came from. The President’s failure to release GHS35 million to bolster our preparation and response plan as was recommended by the WHO right from the outset, and his subsequent foot-dragging delays in closing our borders constitute a punishable failure.
Secondly, the trajectory of our positive cases within the last week shows that government’s claim to the effect that we were near our peak, is a blatant falsehood, and the contravention of same by other astute health experts has only further deepened the dishonesty of the Akufo-Addo government in handling this COVID-19 situation.
Friends, our alarmingly increasing positive case count, particularly community infections, in the last one week, shows that our situation is rather worsening and government must be honest about that. Claims by Akufo-Addo and his government that the WHO has applauded Ghana’s efforts in managing the COVID-19 crises is not factual, as no such evidence exists on the WHO’s website or anywhere. We challenge government to buttress this claim with verifiable evidence. In any case, the reality on the ground bears out this claim as a spurious one.
Again, the sheer inconsistency in communicating our case situation by government, does little to aid the integrity of this whole process, which many have questioned. For instance President Akufo-Addo said in his address yesterday that All 533 workers who tested positive for COVID-19 at a fish processing facility in Tema were infected by one person, and further claimed that the 921 new cases which took the case count to 4,012 were from backlogs dating as far back as April 26, 2020.
However, Prof. Ampofo of Noguchi (the President’s own relative) made it clear on Tuesday, May 5, 2020 that they had cleared all test backlogs with the only backlog being 1,982 samples at KCCR to be cleared by Thursday, May 7. Question is, between President Akufo-Addo and Prof. Ampofo, who is telling the truth and who should Ghanaians believe?
Finally, and most perfidious, is President Akufo-Addo’s claim that those criticizing his shambolic handling of COVID-19 are doing so for political survival. This claim is most unfortunate and speaks to his crass intolerance for dissent.
If I may ask, was he not the same person who called for an all- hands on deck approach to Ghana’s COVID fight? Or was he expecting all of us to line up and sing his praises when he did so?
Contrary to Akufo-Addo’s paranoid disposition to criticism, the facts show that President Mahama and the NDC have been very supportive and responsible in Ghana’s fight against the pandemic. The NDC’s Technical COVID Response Team has presented two documents on alternative solutions to government. And President Mahama continues to provide invaluable support and suggestions for our collective fight against the pandemic. He has distributed PPEs (close to 1000 PPE so far) to health workers in hospitals across the country and food to thousands of deprived households to help the COVID fight. What else does Akufo-Addo expect from the opposition?
How many opposition leaders in the world have done this to support the governments of their countries? And when will President Akufo-Addo rise above petty partisanship and commend John Mahama for his unparalleled contributions to Ghana’s COVID fight like President Buhari of Nigeria commended APC’s Atiku?
If we may ask, can same exemplary conduct be said of Akufo-Addo during the Ebola crises? Has he forgotten how he fiercely criticized the Mahama government and in some cases, engaged in shameful doomsaying on Ebola? Has he forgotten how he formed a shadow cabinet while in opposition? Was he seeking political survival or relevance then?
More importantly, beyond the empty rhetorics, President Akufo-Addo failed to address the critical challenges confronting Ghana’s COVID-19 fight in his latest address. Ghana’s COVID-19 testing regime still remains very slow and inefficient. Tests are still based solely on contact tracing. When will we begin mass testing to comprehensively check community infections and ascertain our true rate of infection?
Public education is still poor. With the NCCE starved of needed funds and a promise to provide them with just face masks, we can only pray and hope for good public conduct.
Non-availability of PPE for our health professionals still remains a huge challenge. Over 20 doctors and nurses have been infected by the virus so far, amidst loud complaints from the GMA and health professionals about the lack of basic protective gear. Yet, President Akufo-Addo has found it expedient to resource the Jean Mensah-led EC to procure PPE for EC officials for the purposes of the needless new voters.
On yet another grandiose, “419”, recycled promise to build 94 hospitals in one (1) year, the least said about it the better. This President has failed to fulfill the one district, one hospital promise he made to Ghanaians in the run-up to the 2016 general elections, found on Page 34, paragraph (g) of NPP’s 2016 manifesto. That promise has not crystallized into a single hospital in almost four years of this government despite the fact that they have had access to over GHS260 billion in total resources since 2017.
President Akufo-Addo will do his reputation some good by first completing the hundreds of abandoned Mahama health infrastructure projects across the country, before he decides to waste the tax payers money on fraudulent sod-cuttings for votes. Ghanaians will not be hoodwinked by his deceptive “Agenda 88” and for that matter any of his corny deceptions again.
One thing President Akufo-Addo must understand is that the 2020 elections will not just be about promises but also a comparison of records. What the Ghanaian people want to see is action, not words.
Mr. President, wake up and work!
SAMMY GYAMFI Esq.