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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Eating The Chicken That Lays The Golden Egg (1).

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Norman Goodman Misserial’s 

www.ghanareaders.com

‘ESCAPADES OF KWEKU ATTA, ESQ.,’-An African President 

“They say that they should be given an allowance for remaining neutral,” said Ralph Bonsu, Director of Communication, shifting uneasily in his chair.

“What? Neutrality allowance? What the hell is that?” burst out Kwaata, of Mpesaase, known to the world as His Excellency Nana Sir Obrempong Ewiasewura Kwaku Atta I, Esq., QB, SAG, OBE, KFC, the President of Ogyakrom, incredulously. “Neutrality allowance? What the hell is that?”

“They say that we politicians put them at risk and they need to be paid an allowance for remaining neutral,” Ralph explained patiently.

“Neutrality allowance?” The President was still incredulous.

The long-suffering Presidential Spokesperson went on patiently, “Yes. They say that we politicians are getting secret goodies. They say that there must be something ‘in there’, and since they are not taking some as civil servants, they too must be given allowances.”

His Excellency could not help but laugh at the absurdity of the demand.

“And that is why they are on strike? Neutrality Allowance? Where did this one too come from?” he wondered aloud.

“Only God knows,” Ralph Bonsu replied somberly.

The pair were in one of the grottos of the garden of the Presidential Complex. As far as the eye could see were greenery, trees, pools, and various exotic creatures such as peacocks and others were strolling scenically all over the place. It was clear that money had not been spared in putting together the five room edifice with adjourning outhouses for staff and security. Looking at it idly, the President thought that it was a pity that this was a donation from the government of India. He would have taken great pride in the place, if it had been constructed by a citizen of Ogyakrom with Ogyakromanian funds.

Talking about funds, His Excellency shook his head and thought about the perfidious nature of some Ogyakromanians. It was no secret that the treasury of Ogyakrom was in a fix. Over the past few years, he had embarked on an agenda of rapid development, necessitating borrowing on an unprecedented scale. Added to former loans contracted by previous governments, the interest payments were becoming a problem, and already, the Treasury was strapped for cash to meet current and medium term payments such as salaries and interest on loans.

Recently, university teachers had embarked on a year-long strike to demand unjustified salary increases and allowances. Those people, most of whom had never published a two page pamphlet in their academic work, had demanded to be paid research allowances, even though most of them taught with notes inherited from their predecessors fifty years ago and shamelessly plagiarized. No doubt, their predecessors plagiarized the material from even older masters, Kwaata thought cynically. After a year of holding up the university calendar, Kwaata had been forced to give in.

No sooner had lecturers gone back to the classroom, than the doctors laid down their tools over poor salary conditions. It did not matter, of course, that they were the best paid set of doctors in the entire region and second best paid in Africa. They went on strike, and given that hospitals in the Middle East, Europe and the United States were already head-hunting the Ogyakrom doctors, Kwaata had to give in. No sooner had the doctors picked up their stethoscopes, than the nurses also decided to get in on the pie. A few weeks of labour unrest in the health sector, and dozens of needless deaths later, the nurses relented with a ten percent salary jump. As soon as they went back to duty, the pharmacists and allied staff also decided that their time was due to get in on the action. 

And these were not the only strikes in the public sector. Various arms of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) had been demonstrating regularly, all leading to salary jumps. The Treasury was depleted with all manner of reckless and needless requests from labour, which was singularly unproductive to begin with.

And now this nonsense of a ‘Neutrality Allowance’. It was all too much. Too much.

Recently, the government had been forced to ram home a new and unpopular tax in the communications sector. It had been singularly painful, from a government that promised not to introduce new taxes, but whatever gains was hoped to be made with the new tax, looked as if it would be eroded by these unreasonable demands.

Kwaata began to think whether he should begin some strike bursting methods…

To Be Continued.

(The Daily Searchlight appears every day on the newsstands and is for sale 24 hours every day and all week on www.ghananewsstand.com. Visit www.ghananewsstand.com for a wide variety of newspapers published in Ghana and from across the world.)

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