Feature Article of Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Columnist: Bannerman, Kofi
Kofi Bannerman ([email protected])
Yes, I said it! Go hang yourself if you disagree. We are supposed to be a sovereign nation whose citizens should be boasting to the outside world of our rich cultural heritage and prosperity; in stead, we project poverty and inferiority complex. Our forefathers toiled to dissolve the umbilical cord that married us to the colonialists, only for greed and abject stupidity of our leaders to derail our progress, leaving our country worse than the colonialists left it.
For one, Ghanaians suffer collectively from inferiority complex. That should be common knowledge to all. We would rather glorify foreign customs and norms than our own. How do we live in a country that has a bona fide currency but locally trades in the United States Dollars (USD)? Did we run out of Cedi? When?
The following incident prompted me to write this article: A couple of days ago some coworkers of mine and I had a brief discussion about Ghanaian architecture and how much houses are generally sold for. It was easy talking about Mediterranean, contemporary and modern architectural flairs that grace our cities. The discussion went smoothly until we “googled” the cost of houses in Ghana. We were taken to multiple websites, among them Ghanaweb.com. What did we see? Every house was priced in United States Dollars. “Don’t you have a currency?” was asked of me by my coworkers. I have never been this humiliated in my life! (Please see: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/realestate/luxury_houses.php, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/realestate/bargain_houses.php, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/realestate/apartments.php, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/realestate/uncompleted_houses.php, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/realestate/residential_rentals.php, )
Every land or house advertised for sale, completed or otherwise, is in dollars. Being domiciled abroad for decades, I just noticed that this practice has been ongoing for far too long.
If the US dollar is our medium of exchange in many quarters, what then is the purpose of our national currency, Cedi? Are we that stupid as a nation?
Talking to my brother-in-law about this, I discovered that a significant number of Ghanaians converts their earnings into foreign currencies and open foreign accounts with them in the country.
Delving deeper into the subject, I came across several articles online stating the devastating impact of this practice on our economy. (http://business.myjoyonline.com/pages/banking/201206/88229.php; Joy Online News: Statement: BoG has not taken any decision to close foreign deposit accounts [http://business.myjoyonline.com/pages/news/201206/88007.php]; Joy Online News: Foreign currency account holders to pay the price for Cedi depreciation [http://business.myjoyonline.com/pages/news/201206/87998.php]; Joy Online News: Government denies plan to ban dollar accounts [http://business.myjoyonline.com/pages/news/201206/88030.php]
Did our elected officials just realize the devastating impact of this practice on our economy? I mean are they plain stupid, grossly uneducated, simply nonchalant—or all of the above?
Point number two, it is also common knowledge that Ghanaians are a peace-loving and hospitable people. These are virtues I brag about always. But, to what extent, should we allow people to filter through our porous borders into our country? Talking to my friends and family in the Central Region, Kumasi and Accra, it is known that Ghana is now overcrowded with Nigerians. What’s more, their so-called 419 scams have crossed the Nigerian borders into ours. They have flooded our country to the extent that Ghanaians can’t enjoy peace. It’s annoying enough to be called at 5 am from Nigeria about an order from Microsoft, which one didn’t place; and it’s a whole different story to flood another country and become a nuisance. Didn’t a Nigerian kill his Ghanaian girlfriend just this month? (See http://news1.ghananation.com/headlines/261803-nigerian-man-kills-19-year-old-ghanaian-lover-and-tosses-body-in-neighbor-s-compound-photo.html). Did this murderer have the guts to do this because Ghanaians are too stupid, too lax and too accommodating when dealing with foreigners?
Again, didn’t a Nigerian criminal forge the signature of one of our ex-president’s (Kufour’s?) for a shady deal that was later uncovered? Haven’t we heard of many Nigerians implicated in armed robberies in Ghana?
Worse, friends tell me there are loads of buses of people from Nigeria coming into Ghana daily. The annoying thing, as one pointed out, was a bus with an inscription that went something like, “Nigeria: A country of Good People.” I don’t think a genuinely good people would advertise themselves that way. Can this be a cover-up for who they really are? Or is it meant to divert attention from who they really are?
What’s more, any discernable individual who has the guts to talk frankly about Nigerians in Ghana is often confronted with, “We have businesses here, and we pouring billions of dollars into your economy.” For one, Ghanaians didn’t ask any Nigerian to start a business in Ghana. Two, Ghana as a whole benefits from a net negative impact of Nigerian presence in our country, all things considered. If starting a business in Nigeria is not feasible for them because of corruption and the political atmosphere, tough luck!! They should look to the Middle East and North Africa for answers: Arab Spring!! We have many problems plaguing our country and we don’t need their presence, which complicates life for us.
Is it being alleged here that every Nigerian is a criminal and nuisance? No! However, there are too many fraudulent acts committed by too many Nigerians that it’s difficult for most Ghanaians to separate the good from the bad. Even in the United States and United Kingdom, there are Nigerians who hide their “Nigerian identity” when dealing with others. If some Nigerians feel uncomfortable disclosing their country of origin because of fraud commonly associated with them, then perhaps many can excuse my ignorance.
My Ga siblings are upset over the procurement of their lands by other tribes, mostly Ashantis. Do Gas know that many foreigners, mostly Nigerians, are snatching up their lands? I will admit that we are literally selling our country to foreigners, and if this trend should continue in that trajectory there will be nothing left for the future generations.
What about the Togolese, Fulanis and other “illegal” foreigners in our country? It is no secret that individuals from countries bordering Ghana easily move to our country as if Ghana is a city in their own country. Being close to Ghana doesn’t make one a Ghanaian, just as being born in Mexico doesn’t make one a citizen of the United States. Our leaders must do a lot to prevent influx of people into our fragile and poor economy. Do I expect them to heed this advice? No, because they are preoccupied with stealing public money.
Do our elected leaders see this as a problem? Sadly, no! Why? It is simply because they only care about money they will make from shady deals and not the wellbeing of the general populace.
Point number three: Our elected leaders are a disgrace to our country. They would sell the soul of our country for a pittance. Corruption is so prevalent in our political culture that there are only a few good politicians, and even they are endangered species. One needs to take a cursory glance at our many national ills and will realize how incompetent our leaders are.
Both the NPP and the NDC are corrupt to the core. Politicians from both parties have lost any shred of trust we have in them. We should all shy away from the partisan nonsense we are mostly engulfed in and fight for the one country we all call home.
How many politicians from both parties haven’t being implicated in corruption? The sanest politician in Ghana, I must reluctantly admit, is probably Rawlings. However, he presided over corruption for decades and his current utterances directed against corruption in his own party are just a means of venting his frustration for the mistreatment of his family by the party he founded.
On the same score, it is no secret that I admire Kwame Nkrumah for all he did. However, I loathe the man for making Ghana a part of ECOWAS. We should expel all foreigners who are in our country illegally and opt out of ECOWAS if needed. We are a sovereign nation and capable of such acts. Our country is on the downward spiral and may continue in that direction if such stringent measures are not taken. We should welcome professionals and citizens from other countries who will further our development, or people who apply to enter our country legally in search of “greener pastures.”
All the same, we should put a cap on the number of people entering our country “legally,” for we still remain a poor country. We are not the United States. We are not the United Kingdom. Our country will remain unsustainable if we continue to open our borders to anyone who wants to come in. We are suffering and something has to be done.
Ghana, wake up!! Our low self-esteem and lax attitude as well as our greedy and selfish leaders are destroying the very fiber of our country. We have been stupid and have acted stupidly for far too long!! Wake-up, Ghana. Wake-up, Ghana. Wake-up!!!