Last month, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo`s New Patriotic Party (NPP) government recorded its first baptism of workers demonstration in Kumasi. The staff of the Metro Mass Transit Limited (MMTL) staged a demonstration at the premises of the company to prevail on their Managing Director and all the management staff, as a matter of urgency to step down with immediate effect.
For the political observers, this early demonstration raises a lot of thematic issues on politico-national interest with regard to how certain individuals see politics and career in government as an opportunity to amass and accumulate wealth, live good like a king and “go to their somewhere.”
In the usually serene but briskly activity-filled spacious Kumasi stations of the MMTL, Mr. Bennet Aboagye`s heartfelt desire to seek his personnel comfort ruffled the feathers of the workers. The anger of the drivers and other workers in the MMTL lower management chain reached its uncontrollable apogee when it came to light that Mr. Aboagye, their MD in his quest to acquire a brand new car to satisfy his insatiable appetite as the “big government man” has requested for a purchase of a luxurious vehicle at the cost of US$108,000.
The workers` anger turned to frustration and betrayal by their management who had refused to grant them “small small pay rise” they have requested.
What was even shocking about the decision to buy Aboagye his expensive joyride, according to the workers, was that over 100 fleets of MMTL buses are broken down and required urgent maintenance but there are no funds to fix them.
Thus the triple conditions of anger, frustration and betrayal culminated in collective class grievance leading to the massive demonstration in Kumasi against Mr. Aboagye and his push-over MMTL management to step aside to allow the right brain to handle the affairs of the state transporter. It is not surprise that Dr. Anthony Yaw Baah, Secretary General of TUC expressed his solidarity with the aggrieved workers and stated that the demonstration was in the right direction.
At the national and management level, the decision to buy an expensive and comfortable vehicle for the MD within seven month that this government took over the reins of administration was very bad and ill-thought. The decision, as it was rightly re-echoed by the demonstrators to the MMTL Management and Mr. Aboagye, is not only an affront to the sensibility of staff but the President of the country. It makes the sitting president looks like someone who just issues out political rhetoric, a bundle of contradiction and quite indecisive.
This is because the president has in a letter dated 21 March 2017, and written by the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, broadcasted to the entire world that he “Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo has placed a ban on the purchase of new vehicles by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).”
The president, as legal genius as he is, in his letter had further directed that MDAs to make use of the “existing fleet of vehicles in their respective transport pools” but with a caveat that in extraordinary circumstances, MDAs that want to procure new vehicles “shall seek for and obtain the prior express written authorization”
Unfortunately, appointees like Bennet Aboagye do not seem to care at all, except to seek their personal comfort thereby creating window of opportunity for the president`s detractors to punch him for not enforcing his own edict on purchase of vehicles.
So far neither the presidency nor any member of the government has come out to explain whether or not Mr. Aboagye and the MMTL management decision to buy a car has reached the presidency. Mr. Aboagye himself resorted to media acrobatics to defend the MMTL management and himself with the lame excuse; “insisting that he has not abused his office.”
Yes, for Mr. Aboagye and his partisan supporters in the MMTL, Kumasi branch, he may not have abused his office and it could also be true that some opposition elements in the MMTL were behind the demonstration, but it still does not exculpate him from the charges of managerial short-sightedness with regard to the purchase of $108,000 vehicle for jolly ride.
Per his own argument and concerns raised by the staff, MMTL`s financial situation is quite precarious and as a result he had to put in prudent measures to control cost by limiting spending to operationally driven activities, reducing depot monthly imprest from GH¢640,000 to GH¢384,000,” whilst “creditors’ money has been decreased from GH¢27 million in June to GH¢26 million as at 19th September, unlike the first half of the year when creditors’ amount increased by more than GH¢14 million which is an average of GH¢2.3 million a month.”
Aside the liquidity, infrastructural and technical problems, the MMTL now faces stiff competition from the revived State Transport Company (STC) and the existing efficiently managed private transport companies.
It looks as if Mr. Aboagye and the MMTL management that sanctioned the purchase of US$108,000 official vehicle do not care a hoot about the conundrums affecting the state transporter. If they do then why will they take such an unpopular, selfish and self-aggrandizing decision to impress one public officer who may not last the entire lifespan of the President`s tenure.
One may ask, if the MD knows all these challenges confronting MMTL and he is working hard to resolve the challenges, why then would he in agreement with the MMTL management go in for highly expensive car?
Why is Mr. Aboagye not patient enough to wait till the end of the fiscal year to see the balance sheet of the MMTL before rushing to get new car?
If MMTL was his personal company with dire liquidity and technical problems coupled with the demands of his workers for raised incentives, will he had still go in for the car?
I am sure Mr. Aboagye and the management of the MMTL would have avoided their decision to get an expensive car him, if they had asked themselves these basic questions I raised. I am of the firm belief that. Mr. Aboagye, as a right-thinking man who cares about the efficiency and success of the MMTL will convince his MMTL management colleagues to stop the imprudent buying of US$108,000 car. He should see his appointment as a rare opportunity to serve the country and not to milk the country with such selfish ostentatious car buying craze which angers the public and make them revolt against a government (party) they helped to vote to power.
Already, the rumour mill is rift with canards of vehicle purchases by certain public officers and members of the government without recourse to the proviso stipulated by the president.
P.S: Someone asked me why the demonstration in Kumasi? In the internal Ghanaian political context, the first workers demonstration in Kumasi may seem quite strange to the politically uninitiated because Kumasi, in particular, and the Ashanti Region in general, is the electoral “IMF” of the NPP.
However, cosmopolitan Kumasi is a crucible of business oriented ethnic group in Ghana. They clearly understand the maladministration of organization and its impact on the personnel and society in general.
The activism and courage put up by the MMTL demonstrators in Kumasi is crystal example of how an unsuspected source could be the base for a political agitation and popular cry against non-performing, corrupt and incompetent government. That is why this government must listen and move swiftly to deal with appointees whose perverse managerial lifestyle and decisions are likely to make the government and the party unpopular with the masses.