Accra goes agog with NPP’s “Wongbo” demo

by Kwabena Opong

Ghana’s biggest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party hit the streets of the nation’s capital February 18 with a massive demonstration against the ongoing energy crisis in some parts of Ghana. Led by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, the party’s flag bearer for the 2016 presidential elections accompanied by his running mate Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia and the party’s executives, the event took off early in the morning with participants arriving as early as 5:00 a.m. at a venue near the Kwame Nkrumah Circle (now under construction) from various parts of the city and the country. NPP leaders Alan Kyeremateng, John Addo Kufuor, K. T. Hammond, former deputy minister of energy, and several others also joined in the demonstration walking from Kwame Nkrumah Circle to the central business center of the city.
Also on hand to show solidarity with the NPP’s position were the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), the Peoples National Convention (PNC), and the National Democratic Party (NPD).

Also openly participating was Occupy Ghana whose leaders include Franklin Cudjoe of Imani Think Tank and Casely Hayford, an economist.
Together with the effects of the energy crisis, the demonstrators also called for a better management of the economy, condemned endemic corruption in government and the general depreciation of the socio-economic process in Ghana. These sentiments were made clear in the pickets carried by demonstrators that read among others: “Wow! What a John”; “Woyε bad President”, “Where is the oil money?”, “Hairdressers εdwuma εgu”, “John bεn nie?”, “εnka Mills mpo ye”, “Yabre ne dumsor”, “Drop that Mahama”, and “We need a leader; not a travel agent,” “Ghana now a debt colony under NDC”, “Take your better Ghana and bring back our normal Ghana”, “Businesses are collapsing”, “Take your dum and give us our sor”, “Mahama must go”, “Mahama, stop the empty travels”, “John bεkɔ; Nana bεba” among several others.
Also joining the demonstration were students from the Mantse Tackey Liberty Avenue cluster of schools located on the route mapped out for the event. The ministry of education led by Deputy Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa later queried the school authorities for allowing the students to join what he described as a politically explosive event that could have ended tragically for the children.

The demonstrations come at a time when 10 generators were being shipped to Sierra Leone on loan to that country’s electricity company. The ten were among 126 generators ordered into the country by the Kufuor administration in 2007 to assuage a similar energy crisis that the country faced at the time. The equipment described by the glib-mouthed Dr. Wereko Brobbey, former chief executive officer of the Volta River Authority (VRA) as toys had been lying idle for some time, because according to the VRA there was not enough money for diesel fuel for them.
At the moment in Ghana Greater Accra, Eastern, Western, Central and the Brong Ahafo Regions are subjected to a draconian rationing policyof 24 hours without electricity and 12 hours with electricity. The Volta and the three northern regions are exempted from the load shedding exercise. Reasons offered are that those regions not affected by the power rationing are small time consumers as against the industrialized and the highly populated south.
Some protesters carried with them refrigerators, electric fans, television sets and other appliances that have been destroyed by the erratic power supply.
The event was generally free of any form of violence but a deviation from the appointed route toward the Trades Union Congress (TUC) building area caused a little confusion which the police, instructed by Commisioner of Police Kudalor, ignored. NPP National Organizer John Boadu later explained that that might have arisen from the confusion that came from two conflicting judicial decisions that endorsed two different routes. Nana Addo and Dr. Bawumia were almost mobbed by onlookers and protesters who struggled to shake their hands during the march.
The demonstration ended at the central business district where Flag bearer Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo addressed the crowd now assessed as more than a million.
“Wongbo” is a Ga term that means we are dying, a sentiment shared by most Ghanaians, especially those in business and losing money in the ongoing energy crisis. Government and its spokespersons continue to talk about the efforts the government is making to find a solution. The NDC government has, however, not been able to articulate its immediate plans. The situation has persisted since 2012 and keeps worsening. Every facet of Ghanaian life, from industry to individual homes, has been affected. The general mismanagement of the economy, corruption in high places and other poor indices has recently been highlighted in an Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) survey. The spontaneity of the demonstration has indicated to the government and ruling party that its inaction and actions regarding the economy and particularly the energy situation in the country may not augur well for them in 2016. The NPP plans to engage Ghanaians in similar demonstrations in the regional capitals to put pressure on the government to pay more attention to the attendant issues emerging from its inaction in the energy sector.

Posted by on Mar 21 2015. Filed under top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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