By Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Hull. UK.
Since time immemorial, Ghanaians have been speaking with their chests out to portray to the whole world, especially their counterparts in the sub-region that they are indeed unique creatures. They base their pride on the rich human resource, abundant natural resources, cultural heritage, religious tolerance and even the democratic environment that they have nurtured. Before 1957, the country was called the Gold Coast (Land of Gold) in apparent reference to the abundance of gold deposits along her coast. Currently, Ghana ranks second to South Africa in gold production in Africa. Talk about politics and the proud Ghanaian will boast that Ghana was the first to win political independence in the sub-Saharan Africa.
Whilst we play second fiddle to Cote D’Ivoire in terms of cocoa production in the world, agriculture has proven to be the mainstay of the economy. Ghana’s total land area has beautiful touristic attractions, such as beautiful parks, mountains, rivers and waterfalls and the fertility of the land is the envy of all. Out of these rivers, Ghana has been able to build the largest man-made lake in the world and through this; hydro-electric power is generated for local consumption and for exports. The sea with its beaches, acts as place for domestic and international holiday makers. The climatic condition is so favourable that if the academic wisdom from the so-called elites were applied to maximise our resources, poverty would definitely be a thing of the past.
Our religious inclination is so strong that if religion were to be a criterion to judge a country as a developed nation, Ghana would be among the G-8 nations. This is because Ghanaians pray and worship God 24/7 sometimes with the wrong notion that all their socio-economic, spiritual and political problems could and should be solved by God. It was therefore not surprising to hear the sitting president unilaterally ‘electing’ God as the president of Ghana. Sometimes one would even fault God for putting brains in our heads. In the field of sports, Ghana has not been found wanting at all because the junior national teams – the Black Starlets, the Black Satellites and the Black Meteors have taken the world by storm by winning gold, silver and bronze medals at different stages of the world football competitions. The splendid performance of the senior national team – the Black Stars at the recently held World Cup in South Africa is a clear testimony of our God-given talent in sports.
In the fields of medicine, education, engineering etc, the expertise of Ghanaians is phenomenal both in abroad and at home thus giving meaning to our rich human resource. Our cultural heritage, with its well-established chieftaincy institution remains one of the best in the world. Ghana even boasts of the Africa personality of the millelium in the person of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of the Republic of Ghana. It is refreshing to note that our country is among the only three African countries – South Africa and Nigeria that had their sitting presidents represent all G-8 Summits between 2001 and 2009. The Ghanaian hospitability is second to none and in spite of our tribal and religious differences, the people co-exist with each other, a feat which has ensured relative stability in our motherland. It is also interesting to note that Ghana remains the only African country to have paid host to three different sitting US Presidents – Clinton, Bush and Obama. Currently, our beloved country is among the oil producing countries in the world – many thanks to His Excellency, J.A. Kufuor and his NPP administration.
However, the above notwithstanding, preventable diseases and poverty are gradually killing many innocent Ghanaians. Whilst many of our natural resources remain untapped, Ghana is still a net-importer of food and raw materials. Currently, our political dispensation has become the arena for political insults, especially by ministers of state who are required to provide quality leadership for the tax-payer. Our young democracy has been characterised by ‘foot soldierism’, corruption and vindictiveness, putting the unity of the country under serious threat. Ghana has been divided into two political lines (teams) and the players within the teams seem to play ‘Kokofu Ball’. Consequently, national interest and consensus building have given way to mediocrity and nepotism. Even members of the same political group have been sidelined for sharing dissenting views whilst others have lost their jobs (Dr. Sekou Nkrumah and Brogya Gyemfi of NDC). If the NDC could do this to its own members, what would be the fate of other political opponents who work in the various state institutions?
Fellow Ghanaians, why would a religious country like Ghana become a home of homosexuals, lesbians and armed robbers? Can we say that religion has had a negative impact on our lives and can anybody convince me that the practitioners of these ‘social crimes’ are atheists? It is so disheartening to see mother Ghana plagued with corruption in all facets of the economy – politics, judiciary, executive, legislature, chieftaincy, religion, educational and health institutions, among others. What religious sense does it make for Alhaji Muntaka, who happens to be a Minister of State, a Member of Parliament and a devout Muslim to spend the tax payers’ money on his girl friend and ‘kyinkyinka’ whilst his wife and children are left at home?
As I write today, the Akosombo dam with its hydro-electric power cannot even produce electricity for the entire country after 50 years in existence. Apart from about 72% of the populace who enjoy power rationing, the remaining 28% still live in total darkness. Ghana’s infrastructure – roads, rail network, school buildings, hospitals etc is an eyesore. It is often said that water is life but how far do our leaders value our lives? Just last week the sector minister revealed that only 62% of Ghanaians have access to quality drinking water yet he failed to come out with a strategic plan to improve water supply in the country. The other time it was the President, John Mills who had to close his eyes before he could pass through the Accra-Ofankor road because of its bad nature. In fact, our roads are so bad that motor accidents continue to claim precious lives on a daily basis. And when the Executive President was tasked to put in measures to curtail the rate of motor accidents, he sought for God’s intervention as if his sense of direction was completely lost. Why can’t our president appeal to reason in relation to rampant road accidents? Typically, Ghanaians are quick to identify the causes and solutions to almost all the problems we face in the country – sanitation, power failure, motor accidents, falling standards of education, armed robbery, indiscipline, low agricultural output etc. A typical Ghanaian can lecture you from morning to evening on how and who caused this and that problem yet when it comes to the practical implementation of programmes and policies to ameliorate them, the competency and the organisational charisma needed to execute the rhetoric are lost.
As a patriotic Ghanaian, I have been so disappointed with the attitude of some Ghanaians who have had the opportunity to acquire formal education at the expense of the poor tax-payer. The other time, I heard Hannah Bissiw, the Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing speak on top of her voice all because she wasn’t addressed by her title on a political debate. She even vowed not to make further submissions until her co-panellist addressed her properly. And this is the woman who spent millions of the tax payers’ money to be trained in Cuba just to specialise in ants, dogs, cockroaches and mosquitoes. What have these titles – Professor, ‘Asomdweehene’, learned friend, General, Flt. Lieutenant, Doctor, Osagyefo, Daasebre etc done for the ordinary Ghanaian apart from using them to oppress the people and steal from the national coffers?
I would like to sound a word of caution to our political leaders that they should never underrate the intellectual capability of the electorate. We may be poor but we have not lost our senses. We are religiously observing following their actions and inactions and very soon we will treat their so-called academic wisdom with contempt because we cannot fathom some of the actions they take. Just imagine how a visionary president like Kwame Nkrumah misapplied the £200 million left in the national coffers by the British government? With a population of only 6.5m, the PhD holder thought it wise to build a mansion for his Egyptian wife. Besides, Nkrumah gave whopping £10m to Guinea towards her developmental efforts at a time when the northern part of Ghana remained a desert and with all these, the defunct CPP members continue to disturb our ears that Nkrumah was selfless. Their reason being that Dr. Nkrumah never built a single house for himself. So what did Nkrumah do with his salary for all the six years that he spent at the presidency and what do his disciples take Ghanaians for? ‘Fools’ isn’t it?
Between 1979 and 2001, J.J. Rawlings – also a Flight Lieutenant, could not understand why a Ghanaian should own two toilets in one house. To him, there should be financial equality between the rich and the poor. He changed our educational system without any adequate preparation. He killed many Ghanaians including three former heads of state. In the end, not only did he educate his kids in a foreign country, but also many private enterprises became insolvent. Apart from leaving the country in a Heavily Indebted and Poor Country (HIPC) status, Rawlings is seriously pushing for his wife – Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings to become the president of Ghana. Hmmm!
I cannot recount the failures of our political leaders without mentioning the inadequacies of my role model, Mr. J.A. Kufuor, the man whose administration brought positive change in our lives. As a human, President Kufuor also committed a blunder by awarding himself with a gold medal meant for past presidents.
There was a sigh of relief on the part of NDC supporters when the so-called ‘Asomdweehene’ – John Atta Mills became the president. This is the man who led a demonstration to kick against, among others; the purchase of a Presidential Jet, the $20,000 car loan to MPs, the celebration of national anniversaries and more importantly the increase in fuel prices at a time the price stood at $147 per barrel. But what has happened under his Better Ghana administration? In his ‘professorial wisdom’, Ghana is spending a whopping $250 million to acquire five military jets. My questions are; is Ghana planning to go to war with any of our neighbouring countries or is Ghana being attacked by our enemies? Is the purchase of the five military aircrafts a national priority? Has President Mills gotten enough money to complete the Accra-Ofankor road? What about the children who attend classes under trees, the SADA and the two new universities he cut sods for construction? What happened to the Ghana International Airlines? Is Ghana a rich country now and has the government purchased a new flow meter to measure our oil?
Unfortunately, the philosophy of the NDC under its own ‘Better Ghana’ agenda is that the erstwhile NPP, for instance, ‘killed’ 20,000 people so the NDC will not be wrong for ‘killing’ 40,000 people. An NPP member ‘slapped’ two NDC members in 2008 so an NDC member should ‘slap’ four NPP members now. Oh Mother Ghana! Do you think Ghanaians would be wrong to describe the NDC members as true economic saboteurs? If you doubt, just assess the two and half years of John Atta Mills – the ‘I care for you’ president and you will understand me better. Apart from doubling poverty levels and car loans of MPs to $50,000, the law professor wisely thinks that the late Kwame Nkrumah deserves some honour from Ghanaians and therefore 48million old cedis should be spent on his birthday. As an academic, President Mills argues that putting money in the pockets of Ghanaians entails doubling fuel prices, doubling and introducing new taxes and banning graduates of tertiary institutions from accessing public sector employment. And this is the party that claims to be a social democratic and brags to have the welfare of the people at heart.
So my dear readers, are we advancing or reversing as nation? Your guess should be as good as mine. I strongly believe that our political leaders need lectures on nationalism, patriotism and intellectual honesty to build the nation for posterity. We cannot remain poor in the face of oil find, agricultural wealth, mineral wealth and all the big loan facility from donor countries. Ghanaians deserve better! Our collective failure to maximise these resources to relieve us out of abject poverty is giving credence to Prophet Bob Marley’s assertion that; “in the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty”. As we have decided to choose democracy over other systems of government, I will appeal to the electorate to see and treat all selfish politicians as baby diapers and change them as regularly as possible, until a charismatic leader, who will combine competency with selflessness, courage, honesty and above all, the fear of God, is elected.
God bless Ghana! God bless the NPP!! God bless Kufuor!!!