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Opinions of Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Columnist: Noah Larvoe

Government undermining the young generation?

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

By: Noah Larvoe

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) is perhaps considered as the party with the most experienced human resources in terms of key government positions in Ghana.

Although this maybe debatable, the ongoing appointments of ministers and other government officials in the present regime speak volumes. Clearly, government appointments have shown that the youths may have less chance for key ministerial/sectoral positions unlike the erstwhile Mahama-led government. The Mahama led government made use of the youthful exuberances of Haruna, Iddrisu, Felix Ofosu Kwakye, Okudjeto Ablakwa, Victoria Hammer, Hannah Bissiw, and many more in key positions, which led to the government being sometimes criticized for using what some people refer to as “babies” or national service personnel in their administration.

Indeed, a section of the populace agree that some of these young fresh bloods in the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) government did not deliver to their expectation while others believe the behavior of some of them might have caused the NDC in last year’s general election. However, it is an undisputable fact that the immediate past NDC government gave many youths the chance for many key positions in its administration.

Although appointments in the present NPP government is still ongoing, the Akuffo-Addo led government is showing that it has the men to prosecute its agenda as promised during last year’s campaign. It is the hope of every Ghanaian that this country moves from its current state of blurry economy, where the three are opposing views on its true state, to a more stable economy as soon as possible. Many Ghanaians do believe that entrusting this country into the hands of the experienced in terms of the presidency and government appointees may be the right way to go. It was therefore not surprising to hear a pastor once on a radio say that the former president, John Dramani Mahama lost the election because he was not qualified to celebrate Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary. The reason given by the pastor was that the country’s independence was older than him and for that matter the country needed someone older than her to commemorate the 60th anniversary. This assertion may divide opinions but let’s leave that to the spiritual leaders and those who are in the best position to judge.

But of course, one cannot complain that the NPP government has completely shut down on the youthful human resources of this country. The likes of Hon. Dominic Nitiwul, Hon. Adwoa Sarfo and many others are being given the opportunity to add their intellectual powers to the nation building. It will also not be wrong to say that many youths will still be included in the present administration considering the fact that appointments are not still ongoing. Nevertheless, compared to the past NDC government, the NPP may have more experienced and older personnel in government at the end of the ongoing appointments if the recent trend continues.

However, what has become a worrying trend are the utterances of some persons within government concerning the young generation. There have been three instances where comments of key people in Government seem to undermine the youth in this country simply because they are young.

The first instance is when Hon. Yaw Osafo Marfo appeared before the vetting committee of Parliament. As a member of the appointment committee, Hon. Okudjeto Ablakwa sought to question the senior minister designate on CNT/CI loan and MacMillan debacle during the former president Kufour’s regime. This was something the Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu had read from the newspapers and was seeking for clarification. "I think you were too young at the time to understand the issue," was the reply from the senior minister designate. The MP smiled but you could guess from his facial expression how humiliated he felt not for any crime commited but just because he is young.

The next instance is from the first gentleman of the land, His Excellency the President who has been accused of distorting the country’s independence story during the 60th Independence Day anniversary celebration. The president’s reply could have been better. “I made a speech to the country which I tried to speak about how Ghana became Ghana. Everything I say has ended up to be a controversy, but that is how it should be. A politician who doesn’t generate controversy is a dull politician, and that is not an interesting politics. The amusing part of this is that, the people who did not live through the independence era, young people who came much after, claim I distorted the history of Ghana and belittled the role of Kwame Nkrumah”. The president went further by citing President Robert Mugabe as someone who is more qualified to understand the story of independence of our motherland Ghana. This reply from the president claiming that those criticizing him for distorting the story of our independence are not old enough to understand the story is uncalled for. This time around, it is not clear who is behind the criticism but the question that remains to be answered is obvious. Assuming that those behind the criticism are the young generation as the president asserts, does this means that the Ghanaian youth is not educated enough to know their country’s history? I also do not think we need President Mugabe to understand the story of our independence.

In the latest development on the floor of parliament, there was a heated debate concerning the budget statement presented by the Minister of Finance Hon. Ken Ofori Atta. An opposition MP, Hon. Sam George, raised an issue pertaining to the budget as well to Hon. Alan Kyeremateng’s ministerial policy during the former president Kufour’s regime. Again, Hon. Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, the minister for monitoring and evaluation is heard arguing that the MP is too young to understand the then policy from the erstwhile Kufour’s government. Are these key personalities in government saying the young people of Ghana cannot debate and contribute to national issues because of their age? As for the curbing of babies with sharp teeth from Ghana politics said by Hon. Otiko Afisa Djaba during her vetting, the youth could be excused here depending on which angle you look at it from.

The utterances from the president Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo, Hon. Yaw Osafo Marfo and Hon. Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei do not promote youth participation in our nation building. The earlier we condemn and draw the attention of government to this, the better. The fact that the young generation was not present during historical events does not mean they cannot contribute to its debate. If this were the case, there would be no importance of education. The youths may not be experienced or old enough but we believe our educational structure is robust enough to provide a platform for the young Ghanaian to make informed decisions and criticize constructively.

There is no doubt that mixture of both experienced and the young generation is required to build an emerging country like Ghana. Sometimes we need our veterans to trace the paths of our history and the successes the country has choked over the years. Likewise we need the youth to add their youthful exuberance and also prepare them to take the country to its rightful destination in the future. After all, the elderly and more experienced human resources the country presently boasts of will not stay forever. The young generations that are being undermined today are those who will take over in the absence of the veterans making these statements. The earlier we accept the youths and get them involved, the brighter the future of this country will get with time. That is why building a nation can sometimes be likened to the building of a football team. The more playtimes you offer your players on the field, the earlier they develop and mature for the future. It is not surprising that the immediate past coach of South Africa, Mr. Ephraim Mashaba once made an envious comment about Andre Dede Ayew regarding the number of games he had accumulated for the Black Stars at the age of 25. He was given the chance at a very early and youthful age. He grabbed that chance and has since developed into one of the country’s iconic players in the modern game. We do not believe that anyone tried to suppress him just because of his age when the opportunity came. Why then are our veteran politicians trying to shut potential leaders of this country up because they are not old enough to understand national issues?

The so-called experience appointees we have today started from somewhere and got to where they are today. Let’s stop undermining the intellect of our young people. Ghana boasts of vibrant youth resources that can be tapped in the development of our nation. Let’s not make them coil back into their shells because of their age but rather encourage them to add their voice to national issues. The young generation should be guided and corrected if possible but not in such a manner of addressing them as if only old adults can speak on historical national events.

The reference to age by key government officials may suppress the potentials of our young generation and our future leaders. Our veteran politicians must not push the youth to think that only adults are welcomed to debate and have a say on national issues. The young generation deserves to be recognized for their intellectual effort and what they study. The young and the age mantra on key national issues must not be entertained in this country. Allow the young to arise and defend their country because we are all involved in building our mother’s land.

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