When the good book said in Proverbs 6:6 that “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” there was a strong basis. Indeed the verses that followed outlined the justification for that directive. After the Ebola experience under former president John Dramani Mahama, many rational observers had hope that President Akufo Addo would handle the COVID-19 situation with much ease, at least with the benefit of hindsight.
The Western African Ebola virus epidemic (2013–2016) has been recorded as the most widespread outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in history — causing major loss of life and socioeconomic disruption in the region, mainly in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. On 8 August 2014, a Public Health Emergency of International Concern was declared leading to fear and panic in many countries including Ghana. With no ‘blue print’ to fall on, John Mahama who doubled as the ECOWAS Chairman proactively faced the outbreak with such mental fortitude and dexterity that only earned him admiration and accolades locally and internationally.
For instance following the declaration by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that West Africa was Ebola free the United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki Moon highly commended the former president for the role he personally played in ending the Ebola virus disease in West Africa. The Secretary General was full of praise for President Mahama and the Ghanaian people for accepting to host the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) and allowing Accra to be used as a staging post in the fight against Ebola. He described the gesture as selfless and noted that it was critical in facilitating the international response against Ebola and contributing to the end of Ebola in the three most affected countries.
Under the former president Ghana’s leadership role in Africa as well as being a beacon of hope for the continent was aptly made manifest. It may be recalled that during the crisis Ghana government donated some food and relief items to those countries worst affected by the deadly virus.
With the current outbreak of what WHO has rightly described as pandemic, our current president seems clueless and pathetic. Many in the diplomatic circles are just shocked about how Ghana has sheepishly looked on in spite of constant admonishing from WHO to show more commitment towards its preparedness. Recently WHO was compelled to release a report on Ghana’s awful state of preparedness and practically begged the government to bridge the funding gap of about $6 Million to no avail.
Strangely on March 11, 2020 the same government that was struggling to raise $6 Million hurriedly arranged a Presidential broadcast to update the nation on its preparedness and strategy to fight COVID-19. Although the broadcast itself lacked substance the President took the opportunity to announce that $100 Million had been earmarked to fight the pandemic.
Apparently this charade of a broadcast was only orchestrated to escape blame or bashing from the good people of Ghana upon realizing that two suspected patients had tested positive to the Corona Virus. No wonder an official from the WHO office referred to Proverbs 6:6 and asked this reporter “Why didn’t the President collaborate with former President John Dramani Mahama in the fight against COVID-19, considering the wealth of experience the former president has”?