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Opinions of Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Columnist: Eric Kwabena Edusei

Ghanaians must change for better tomorrow

There is immeasurable grace upon our nation, but it will take a responsible and well disciplined citizenry with new attitudes and beliefs, to translate these fortunes of the nation into fruition. The world is changing very fast with its own attributes and challenges, and we need to change our approach and mindsets to remain competitive or wither and perish as a nation.

It is imperative that we change our behavior as we cannot do the same old things and expect a different result. Ghana is full of charlatans, greedy bastards and corrupt leaders at all levels that needs to be transformed.

We lie when we state that we love Mother Ghana because most of us are hypocrites, self-centered, greedy and corrupt to the bone. Some of our leaders (murderers) in the past have collaborated with top civil servants to steal state resources at the expense of the struggling masses under the ‘create, loot and share” syndrome.

This scenario is what Hon. Martin Amidu aptly classified as Structural Violence, a situation where leaders steal the nation’s resources while many languish in deprivation and want.

Does any beggar have pride, glory or dignity? This represent aid infested African countries including Ghana which underpins President Trump’s shit-hole analogy about African countries – worthless, dependant, corrupt, mismanaged and irresponsible.

President Nana Addo’s vision of ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ is purely an attempt to reclaim the image of Ghanaians by reinforcing what the first president of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah once envisaged that ‘the African when given power is capable of managing his own affairs’.

This vision of the late president to make Ghana a showpiece within which you can come and enjoy but within our rules became a mirage because of greed, power, selfishness and corruption.

If corruption is the basic qualification to heaven then Ghanaians and indeed most Africans have already earned their tickets. It is so pervasive and destructive that it has literally paralyzed our nation beyond one’s imagination. Countrymen and women, Mother Ghana is going nowhere neither is she going to make any meaningful progress unless we change our behavior and life style.

The novelty and vision of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to transform Ghana beyond Aid is indeed very laudable to redeem our image but the nation does not have what it takes to achieve this idea. Ghana, like one of the most expensive cars in the world, Lamborghini, cannot operate on flat car tires unless we change the tires and so must we.

We need to change our character and mannerism because it takes a disciplined and unified people with a clear philosophy (Ghana beyond aid) to translate the ideals of the nation into fruition like Malaysia and Singapore.

Where is the wisdom and patriotism when public and civil servants work tirelessly to sabotage the nation because they are not NPP supporters? How does the Free SHS policy succeed when the principal actors like Headmasters, Bursars and Matrons are conspiring day and night to circumvent the program? How do we survive as a nation when the surrogates of past governments in the governmental machinery are consciously working hard to derail government programs while others try to undercut government appointees questioning our loyalty and patriotism? How do we live in a nation where crime has no consequence and time has no value? We need to conform to ethical standards in order to compete realistically at any level when given the opportunity.

We are by our own behavior an affront to creation, corrupt, selfish and wicked; we are largely untruthful in our dealings with our neighbors and at work places. These characteristics are unacceptable and we as a nation need to incisively fight them head on and that must start with direction from the presidency.

As I write this piece, there is no agency, department or ministry that is following the code of conduct and ethics devoid of corruption. Everywhere you go for services in Ghana you have to put ‘weight’ on your document to warrant attention and resolution.

How do we develop as a nation where only the rich and affluence are capable of accessing services? This primitive behavior in our departments, ministries and other governmental institutions has to stop.

A lot of foreign companies have preferred Ivory Coast over Ghana because of bribery. This attitude should stop and I call on the Ministers to prop their arm chair Directors to stand up to the occasion and end this canker now.

How can we manage our lives and work without being time conscious? We need to seriously re-orientate our mindsets and realign our culture on time consciousness since it is eating us up in our productive lives. We talk about Africa Time, ’Ghana Maybe Time’, to insinuate reasons for lateness, something which connotes indiscipline.

We are slow with time, take too long to process information and waste time on issues; we are always late to state functions, workplaces, church services, appointments, parties and almost every function which is untenable. Nobody gets fired from work or punished for being late.

We need to change this behavior because it is uncouth, uncivilized and a sign of backwardness. We waste 3 to 4 days a week attending funeral celebrations with its attendant huge cost build up which is not sustainable. This must change by cancelling or modifying ONE WEEK celebration before it gets worse because it is unproductive and a drain.

The indiscipline in our society is seriously alarming among civil and public servants. Where is our commitment and loyalty when we supervise (A.ES.C.) contractors to construct roads only to last for 6 months after the initial raining season? In other words, roads which are expected to last for 20 years or more last for less than a year.

The irony is that the roads get bad before they are even paid for. In the end, we have to re-do the same projects again. Our technocrats are not helping since they happen to be the worse culprits in the modus operandi (abetment of crime). Who prepared the quantities for the Vice President’s house of $17 million and Kumasi Airport renovation of 28 million Euros? They have to be arrested, shamed, tried and jailed.

Most of the crimes are hatched with the involvement of the Chief Directors and Accountants who behave as if there is no tomorrow. Yesterday, it was a SSNIT software scandal for $82 million and today is about stolen cars and Dr Opuni but strangely enough, nobody gets punished. Wow! This will not happen in Malaysia or Singapore where crime has consequences.

As a people, we appear to be lawless, too irresponsible and lack commitment to ourselves and mother Ghana. Everybody everywhere is stealing and defrauding the nation and institutions including some Chief Directors, Accountants, church elders and some politicians.

The Judiciary Service and indeed all ministries need to be overhauled as enshrined in the Audit Report. Crime in the nation is so huge and prevalent that it behooves on the leadership to create the necessary framework to allow the Auditor General to also prosecute certain cases because the Special Prosecutor alone cannot do it all.

We also have to establish special Fast Track Crime and Commercial Courts (corruption tribunals) with upright judges to deal rapidly with the numerous corruption and fraud cases in the country i.e. issue of dud cheques.

Where is wisdom and our sense of patriotism when we condone with foreigners to derail and sink our nation? The Chinese nationals are destroying our future with the help of our Chiefs, Security Agencies, DCE’S, Inspection Officers and other Local Government Officers.

‘Shamest thou conspirators, who walk about with their bloody hands at the expense of the voiceless and marginalized.’ As we speak, galamsey is still in operation with the supervision of those tasked to halt it.

Where is our sense of loyalty and patriotism!!! It is about time we started firing DCE’S whose areas abound with heavy-loaded galamsey activities and sanction Chiefs found culpable in their operations.

Politics in advance countries is an opportunity to serve and not a pathway to enriching one’s self (all cabinet ministers of President Trump are millionaires). Similarly, the winner takes all attitude, nepotism and tribalism within our body politics should end before we destroy ourselves.

It was gratifying to see the President doing consultations with other political party leadership. It is against the Directive Principle of State policy to staff one ethnic group in the governmental machinery and that is what happened under the watch of President Mahama where Northerners constituted 70% of all Chief Directors who are still at post.

This notwithstanding, 70 % of all Regional Coordinating Directors were also Northerners, 70% of Economic Planning Officers in Eastern Region were also Northerners. The story is messy with job recruitment at the respective ministries as they are all controlled by one group. Ghana should be manned by the cream of our intelligentsia notwithstanding their political colorizations and tribal affiliation.

Nepotism, tribalism and discrimination undermine efficiency, competence and our capacity to grow as a civilized nation. The situation is similarly bad in the Service Institutions which is unhealthy for Mother Ghana and must end.

God created man in his own image and He is the embodiment of wisdom yet most of us have decided not to reason again by using our brain capacity. We are thinking but not reasoning and after 61 years, we are still defecating in streams and littering around hoping and expecting someone to come behind us and clean our mess. At 61, we defecate in streams, saturate our rivers with mercury and other chemicals and still expect to drink good water and live well, what a paradox! We are doomed if we continue to destroy our natural surroundings i.e. land, rivers, trees.

Unlike many advanced nations, we walk a lot and need to have Rest Areas (toilet facilities) in most areas to protect our environment. We need to privatize the building and operations of public rest areas (toilets) under PPP.

1. The metropolitan and District Assembles should establish locations for the projects

2. Design a standard plan to be easily identified by the masses like McDonalds building in USA.

3. Seek private developers and ensure effective monitoring of their operations. In Ghana today, only 30% of houses have flashing toilets and we are the 2nd worse country when it comes to open defecating after 61 years of hopelessness ; why are we allowing people to build houses without toilet facilities while others convert rest areas into rooms for rent under our noses? The Inspectorate Divisions must wake up and act.

Land acquisition determines everything and do we progress when the process is so chaotic with Chiefs selling a single plot to as many as three people while government officials at Lands Commission are also selling reserved government lands? Why are Ghanaians so disturbed about the lowering standards of football when all our football parks have been encroached and transformed into markets, hotels, stores etc.

There is an urgent need to create Land Courts to solely deal with land cases. Chiefs are not above the law and so must dubious ones be punished according to the laws of the nation. Other dangerous accomplices in the Lands Commission and Town and Country Planning should be severely punished as they are the worst offenders orchestrating the re-zoning of water bodies for building purposes.

Presently, all government open lands earmarked for future development have been re-zoned and sold by vampires (nation wreckers) at the Land Commission and Town/Country Planning. This must end immediately including the shameful operations of Land guards in a civilized nation.

Mother Ghana is in a story state, full of stooges and surrogates of certain political parties. This has negatively affected the level of objectivity on our media platforms. Every media station has a political lens which has serious influences in the content of their programs and reportage as many are paid to talk nonsense.

How do we develop as a nation when our air waves are polluted with skewed and adulterated information? This is disheartening, unpatriotic and disingenuous to our nation, and must stop.

Where is the maintenance culture in our lives? It is logical to think that poor and less resourced people will always maintain what they have very well. Contrarily, that is not the same with mother Ghana, we cannot maintain anything; cleaners at the hospitals who are paid for 8 hours will go to work, clean once and that ends the day.

Presently all rest rooms in all government institutions and other service areas in the country are in a bad state – all ministries, hospitals, filling stations, sport stadia, schools, police stations etc. Most of us have travelled outside the county and have seen what is right about sanitation but we tend to do otherwise. We are largely irresponsible and that is untenable.

It is a piteous spectacle that we glorify crime in Ghana. People commit serious crimes and use their political cards to seek freedom. The situation is so terrifying to the extent that even party members who have been involved in armed robbery and murder still get away with their crimes.

In Ghana today, when a crime is committed, the best we do is to just talk about it and nobody gets punished. When Abuga Pele was caught in the Gyeda scandal and jailed, some party members rose up to demonstrate for his release.

When Woyome was also caught to have defrauded Mother Ghana, chiefs from Volta Region went to the Castle telling the late President Atta Mills to release him because he was their proud son; the same goes with Dzifa Attivor who asked people of the Volta Region not to vote for NPP because they will jail her forgetting that crime goes with punishment.

All contracts are padded and surprisingly, those who hatch the deals are allowed to escape without punishment (public servants). Be wild, Mr Martin Amidu as we pursue the Right to Information Bill.

Ghana is on the warpath to economic emancipation and we need serious minded people as partners of the national construction agenda. If our policies on agric and industry are going to materialize then we need to get our productive agents working very well- electricity supply should be up and running at competitive rates, our banks should be reasonable to cut down their rates and taxes must be right. Who controls the banks? They are hurting the nation with their high interest rates as we continue to lose business to Ivory Coast.

Ghana needs to be remodeled again because we did not prepare ourselves well after independence. We had our values and culture intact during the Gold Coast era but we have lost everything. Many of us are thinking but we are not reasoning; we consciously allow high level crimes to go unpunished while many of our people are suffering without care- no water, no schools, no hospitals etc.

We need a new Ghanaian which is responsible, nationalistic in orientation and patriotic. Today, bribery and corruption is endemic and everybody is stealing state funds with impunity without fear; loyalty and commitment to the national course has no value as people earmarked to check excesses are compromised; we are lawless, irresponsible, selfish and largely greedy.

Mother Ghana cannot develop by herself without our input as citizens because the president cannot do it alone. We cannot be deceived by our inert complacency and expect to blossom as a nation.

Consequently, the president as our leader has to start talking about these deficiencies in the system and task the clergy, Sector Ministers, Chief Directors, Service Institutions, schools heads and all institutional leaders and Civil societies to start preaching the gospel about the effects of bribery ,corruption and sanitation in the nation.

In other words, let us make it a national discourse. It is about time we eliminated all non performing civil servants – all workers should be made to sign a new form which makes it legal to be fired for nonperformance after two caution statements. (After recruitment, nobody gets fired in Ghana for nonperformance).

Corrupt officials should be shamed, removed from their positions and prosecuted. The menace of bribery, corruption and sanitation should be taught in our schools from JSS through tertiary institutions. Change is a must in pursuance of our dream to redeem mother Ghana beyond aid.

Destiny is true to fight for and this is the only way to being self reliant and economically independent, for we cannot continue to be hewers of trees and drawers of water. Mr President, if we fear God, change our ways and live like ants by being focused, organized, resourceful and committed; it shall be well with us and the generation unborn.