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Bawumia’s illness should not be a national secret

Vice President, Dr. Mahamud Bawumia was reportedly taken ill on Friday last week, and immediately, a blanket of deafening silence was thrown over the story by the government which has, since then done its utmost to keep Ghanaians in the dark about what ails the young man. Suffice it to say the government is being insanely evasive about an issue that should be public knowledge.

Besides a brief official statement belatedly acknowledging that Dr. Bawumia was indeed sick, and has, in fact, been flown to London for observation and treatment, the government has, otherwise, been stingy with information and not completely forthcoming with details.

With the sole exception of those with intimate knowledge of the vice president’s health, no one else, not least the Ghanaian public, knows what is going on.

In the absence of honest official information about Bawumia’s well being, conspiracy theories and wild speculations have been making the rounds. Some of the rumors have it that Mr. Bawumia’s treatment was beyond the ability of Ghanaian health facilities, hence the urgency to rush him overseas where treatment is supremely better.

And, you know what, information minister, Mustapha Hamid did not help matters with his bizarre explanation that the vice president had to go to London to get much needed rest, but more so, to avoid the vast army of relatives and friends who would have thronged his house to express their sympathies. The minister’s weak and lame rationale exemplified the government’s desperation to shield Dr. Bawumia’s predicament from Ghanaians.

I understand the government’s eagerness to protect the vice president’s privacy. The apparent hysteria, confusion and panic that will ultimately ensue were details of Bawumia’s illness made public, are enough reasons to keep the government tight-lipped.

But how long will the government stick to this strategy of keeping everything about Bawumia’s health under wraps, a top national secret? Not for too long, I can assure you of that.

Because pretty soon, somehow, someway, bits of information about Bawumia’s health will start trickling out, no matter how strenuous the efforts to shield it from the public. After all, we live in rapidly advancing technological world where information is easily obtained and susceptible to manipulation.

The government’s behavior is not the least surprising. You see, African politicians are in a class of their own when it comes to matters pertaining to their health. They have this uncanning ability to obfuscate and erect smoke screens while vehemently asserting that all is well.

We all remember the long drawn out official denial about the health of the late President John Arthur Mills. The Ghanaian public was deliberately kept uninformed until Mr. Mills dropped dead one morning.

And, across the West African region, it was the same pathetic tale of coverups by authorities.There was the sad case of the late President Shehu Yar Adua of Nigeria whose deteriorating health was a closely guarded secret until he took his last breath in Saudi Arabia.

Lest our politicians forget: it is Ghanaian taxpayers who are shelling out billions of cedis to cater to the health needs of our politicians and therefore have every right to know what ails their politicians, in this case, the Vice President.

We live in a democracy, and we expect our politicians to live up to its tenets by being unfailingly honest with us. Lets remember this very important fact: democracy thrives on transparency, and any attempt by authorities to mislead and throw dust into the eyes of the public on national issues effectively short changes the system we have grown to appreciate, not to mention dampening our spirits and diminishing public confidence in our democratic institutions.




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