Feature Article of Thursday, 21 April 2005
Columnist: Baidoo, Benedict
The year was 1979 and as a freshman in a Secondary school, I sat in the auditorium listening to this priest defining what a fool was. As young as my mind was, I tried to grasp the meaning to be able make fun of others who fit that criteria as defined by the priest. ?A fool is someone who doesn?t know and doesn?t know that he does not know? and a wise person is someone who doesn?t know but knows that he doesn?t know?. Wow! That was strange. I was used to defining stuff like ?atom? and ?matter? and this time a very vague definition of a fool? I was not cut for that and let go this whole concept of who a fool was, until I read an article that someone by name Akoto has given the president of Ghana an ultimatum to resign his position by May, 13, 2005 or face the consequences.
As I sat behind my computer to read a particular charge that this ?well-meaning? citizen has against the president and his ?Lucifer? government, I could not find anything except some rhetoric that we hear almost everyday with nothing to support them. We hear accusations like cronyism, nepotism, massive corruption and what have you? We are yet to see an individual taking the government to court on those charges. The fact is do we look for qualified people who will do the job requested of them or simply would want to see anyone so long as he is not an Ashanti being appointed into public positions? Again there are more qualified people to hold offices in Ghana but only a handful would finally occupy the positions available. If we want to hold our elected and appointed officers accountable, the laws of the land permit that and we have all the rights to do so, so long as we can prove our cases in the law of court.
The opposition parties have misplaced their priorities and are making a grave mistake. At this time of our nation?s history, having known that coup d?tat never worked, and that rhetorics achieves nothing but animosity and lies, I thought they would work to strengthen the independence of our public institutions like the Police, BNI, SFO and the judiciary so that the cycle of accusation of judicial bias would be a thing of the past, they have converged on a pattern of lies and deceptive base on hearsays and wild allegations that cannot be proven.
The recent politicization of the increases in petroleum prices is rather unfortunate. We all know how much the government had to restrain herself during the later part of last year to absorb the increases of crude oil price in the world market. If we had found crude oil somewhere in Ghana, after all the monies we dumped into GNPC, we would probably argue that increasing the prices of petroleum products was unethical even if we had to borrow to get the oil drilled and processed. We are privy to the news around the world and thanks to the internet and the sea of internet cafes dotting our street corners, we can at least read the prices of commodities prevailing in the world market and should be able to judge for ourselves if what is happening is an attempt to dupe Ghanaians or simply, a government that does not care about the governed.
Elsewhere in the world, driving new or used cars is not a difficult thing to come by but whoever drives knows of the responsibility that goes with it. The driver knows s/he has to buy petrol or diesel and at the prevailing price at the pump. Governments do not set the prices at the pumps but they do determine how much taxes they desire that motorists pay at the pump. In our society, the privileged ones have cars and other do not and therefore it is prudent on the part of government to remove subsidies from petroleum prices and channel that resource into education and health care, which affects larger percentage of our population. One thing that government and city officials should do is to run a local transportation system that would compete with the greedy commercial transportation owners who seize on increases in petroleum products and make a kill out of their passengers.
For every economy to grow, we should have the private sector as the engine of the economy with limited government intervention. This means Parliament enacts the laws, the Judiciary interprets them and the Executive applies them to govern. This is a basic tenet of democratic governance. This is our fourth elected Parliament and we are yet to see how best they can help govern the country. If we want to go socialism or communism, we have others to look at and invariably, there are no shining examples out there to emulate. China has a Communist regime but is emerging as a capitalist nation. We all saw how the USSR collapsed because of the woes of communism. We can argue that Communism was stabbed by the west but at the end of the day, capitalism rewards hard work and does not reward laziness. In Ghana today, we live above out means. We want everything and yet we do not have the resources to acquire them and therefore someone has to pick the tab. This someone could be relatives living outside the country or elsewhere within the country. The level of greediness is so high that others have to kill to rob others of their money belongings. Today everyone is crying and yet everyone tends to forget that s/he is part of the problem.
I expect Parliament to shed off its partisan bickering and constructively work for the interest of Ghana. I expect them to be strong and possibly liaise with the private sector; ask questions as to how to make the economy better. They can occasionally invite experts to testify or shed light on issues they have very little insight to enable them come out with favorable laws that would move the nation forward.
Now, everyone should take time off and before you take the government to task examine your point of view if you are being fair? I hope we will all examine the famous line of the late President Kennedy that goes, ?do not ask yourselves what your country can do for you but ask what can I do for my country?? This does not mean sitting in your offices and yapping at the government or organizing marches or hurling insult at others. This does not take away your freedom of speech either. I hope we would all recognize that Ghana is bigger than our individual personalities and that what we do today will have a long and lasting imprint on this nation. Posterity will be the judge.
May God Bless our homeland Ghana! Long Live Ghana!