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Opinions of Friday, 7 March 2014

Columnist: Okofo-Dartey, Samuel

Ghana’s chief chronic bane

It is not that Ghana lacks the intellectual capacity to transform the country from where it is now to a developed one. Ghana is not accursed either. Rather, Ghana is blessed strategically with abundant human and natural resources. But have these resources been able to accelerate the country to the level of economic liberation we so much desire? What, therefore, has gone amiss?
Of a truth, Ghana’s major trouble among others is the stark reality that truth is now a scarce commodity in every facet of the Ghanaian society. Religious, corporate leaders and the citizenry equally shy from the truth to satisfy their own parochial interests. Even the government prefers misleading the populace by shielding the truth in the face of economic deterioration and the gaping gap between the rich and the poor in our society.
In fact, there is an economy of truth in the country. Therefore, access to information is extremely difficult especially in government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies. If they (politicians) have nothing under their sleeves, why haven’t they fast-tracked the passage of the Right to Information Bill into law which has been incubating for far too long?
If politicians persist in their deceptive tendencies, it would not be wrong to posit that in the no distant future, most politicians will be classified as endangered species or suffer being lynched because of their lies and double standards. They will proffer solutions to alleviate to the plight of the poor and the masses will deem the solutions as safe conduits for the politicians to create, loot and share the riches of the state.
Now, it is clear most Ghanaian politicians get into politics not in the name of selfless service but because of their bellies and comfort. If that is not the case, why should a dismissed government appointee harbour the desire to make one million dollars fortune in order to manipulate people?
Let us face the reality as Ghanaians. Ghana’s economy is crawling. Industrial growth has slacked. Government has no concrete plans in generating sustainable employment for the youth. Loans from banks that could have boosted small and medium scale businesses have crippling interest rates that hover between 27 to 30 percent attached to them. Corruption has become the daily breathe of officialdom.
No wonder Steve Mallory, the Editor of Africa Watch Magazine, has described Ghana as a Republic of Corruption. (See: Corruption Slur: Flagstaff House demands apology from Africa Watch- www. In the midst of this canker, government communicators in their usual propaganda elements keep telling Ghanaians the economy is booming.
How can a country be said to be buoyant economically when it depends heavily on donor partners and loans to fund a significant portion of its budget? For the past two years, due to government’s poor economic management and hollow policies, donor partners have withheld about 700 million dollars capital injection into the economy (See: Donors Withhold US$700 million-
The Chinese for reasons best known to them have decided to release in tots the much talked about 3 billion dollars loan which the government maintained was meant to contribute significantly to the country’s infrastructure. The government now remains helpless and grounded without a clue as to when these Chinese will release the rest of the loan.
Ghana is where it is now because of the paucity of truth and integrity. Our leaders have succeeded morphing Ghanaians into wasteful beggars. The reign of mediocrity, dishonest gains and deep seated tribal politics have so much overwhelmed the country to the extent where any unscrupulous politician, who wants to skip the truth, only has to apply the tribal card, splash stolen funds or put a spin on projects that have little or no bearing on the livelihoods of Ghanaians.
The worst aspect of this truth quagmire has to do with the fact that men and women whose voices carry weight have kept silent for fear of being tagged as anti government or they clearly have a certain umbilical affinity with the ruling government. Therefore, they cannot put government in its proper place whenever there are excesses in governmental functions.
Those who are bold to tell government and for that matter Ghanaians the truth are spared not the venom of government communicators. Pastor Mensah Otabil tells Ghanaians and government to be serious and not resort to joking amid the colossal economic challenges confronting the country and he is flogged incessantly in the press.
The Methodist Bishop of Obuasi, Rt. Rev. Stephen Bosomtwe Ayensu, suggests Ghanaians have prayed enough for the economy to resurrect from its coma and that it is time for President Mahama to put his house in order to accelerate economic growth and what becomes of his bold bluntness? Government communicators and other social communicators jump to the defence of government by untenably vilifying his person.
However, we are not eager to face the reality or in frenzy shield the truth of our economic woes and enthusiastically latch onto the hysterical prayers of an archbishop who spiritually commands the cedi to stop its unbridled depreciation. Is this attempt the panacea to our challenges, when, indeed our economic misfortunes are tied to crass corruption and mismanagement?
Whatever the situation, one thing is for sure: Truth conquers. If our leaders exhibit honesty, become truthful and transparent in their dealings in the management of the economy, the country stands a better chance of prudently managing its scarce financial and non renewable resources for the sake of posterity.
Ghana cannot forever remain a chronic beggar in the twenty first century. A beggar is always a nuisance, psychologically deficient and incapable planning his own life. He is always dictated to by his benefactors. And that is the predicament of Ghana.
If caution is thrown to the wind, Ghanaian leaders may lend credence to P.W. Botha’s assertions that the black man is incapable of thinking or planning beyond one year and that the black man is the raw material for the white all because our black leaders are derailing the economy as they enrich themselves.
In any case, are we not shipping our raw cocoa, gold, crude oil, timber among others to the whites in return for costly finish products? Ghana deserves the best. It is about time our leaders walked in and spoke the truth because it is the truth that will set us free from our economic doldrums.