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Opinions of Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku

Mr. President, can you hear me?

From Voice Of Reason:

YOUR EXCELLENCY, before I dive into it I would like to be clear: Yes, I voted for you and what your party stands and I represent those who invested their scarce hopes in you so please don’t take my advice for granted! I also would like you to know that I hold no special brief for any particular ideology, group, party or school of thought which might want to seek to bring about changes of any kind in our manners, morals, institutions or society.

I’m not a reformer, crusader, social philosopher or economic theorist---tulfiawa! However, I consider myself as a practical individual who has devoted his very life to guiding Ghana to a brighter future for this generation and beyond so as for it to live up to its potentials.

Mr. President, no, I’m not going to disturb you with too many issues right now because you’re too busy trying to put your administration together and tackle the mountainous problems you’ve inherited. .However, I know some issues can’t wait for another four years.

As a new president, you’re going to get a lot of advisers and ideas all over the place, so I need to get your attention now, before your office gets so crowded and clogged by job seekers, ’fortune hunters’ and ‘political parasites’.

I’m a realist—in the most realistic sense of the word. I appreciate the fact that this is —and never has been and never will be—the best of times for Ghanaians to see the socio-economic Promised Land than now. Nevertheless, this is the most difficult time in the history of Ghana, therefore that doesn’t mean one must under no circumstances raise questions, give suggestions, voice doubts, scratch his hair, raise any eyebrow or seek improvement.

The point is, it does no one any good to pretend there is never anything wrong in our system or society. Therefore there is no need to strive for perfection. In other words, in a free society like ours, anything that in any way affects the lives or the welfare of the public at large should never be precluded from continuing critical scrutiny, examination and criticism.

With that in mind once we’re all on a nation building the following are my suggestions:

Your Excellency, right off the bat, bewares of your own people and surround yourself with people who can always tell you what you don’t want to hear but need to hear. And, remember that those who are singing hallelujah now are the same people who will cry for your crucifixion four years from now.

Mr. President, I know, I may already have made some of your people mad, and I haven’t even gotten warmed up yet. But let’s not let that get in the way of good suggestions coming from a dedicated and noble statesman with genuine concerns.

Mr. President, I hear — and, I’m sure you also heard— a lot of weeping and moaning during your campaigning season about the state of the country. Their dissatisfaction has three main, related causes: First, government does too many things they don’t want it to do. Second, every time the government does anything, it ends up costing them too much money. The cost always outweighs the benefit. In other words, the people who pay for government are the people whom government seems least interested in serving. Third, their MPs take them for granted after the election .You could say that they’re not mad at the government—just the people who run it. If you don’t believe them take a trip to our seaports, hospitals, DVLA offices and other government’s institutions. These are positive and healthy expressions of honest, righteous grievances from the folks who sent you there.

Seek advice from your foes:

Seek advice from other political parties –not just with those you differ with politically, but everyone provided they have good ideas to offer you to govern. It’s not a sign of weakness but, it’s called finding a common ground. We need more people with good ideas to help you tackle the tasks ahead of you. So tap into the pool of Ghanaian professionals, both home and abroad and seek their knowledge.

We Don’t Need Mother Teresa to Rule Ghana:

We don’t want mother Teresa to rule Ghana. We all have our weakness so look deeply within yourself and see how you can turn your weakness into advantages which can benefit Ghana. Mr. President, don’t be afraid to admit to Ghanaians when you screw-up badly(which you will do once in a while!).Once you do that your fun club membership will soar into the stratosphere.

Speak To Ghanaians Regularly:

We live in a microwave world with its sophisticated technological gadgets. Make good use of them. Get online, send messages and present your cases in an unfiltered way to a broad audience; both home and abroad otherwise the Ghanaian media will take you to the cleaners. Make town- hall meetings the hallmark of your administration so as to interact with the folks who stood in line for hours to send you to your new home.

Be Frank with the Electorates:

Most politicians are viewed with wariness and despised by electorates, so try as much as possible to tell them what they need to hear not what you want them to hear all the time. And, please let them know that intellectual ability, empathy, patriotism and integrity have nothing to do with a college education.

Let the Media be your Ally:

Do reporters and news men and women start their search for the truth in a totally unbiased, objective way before stories are published? Do they actually do any investigation to see if an allegation holds up before they report? They will tell you they do? They will vow, promise, swear, aver, and take an oath with one hand on the Bible that they do, but they don’t. However, that shouldn’t be the reason to fight them. They are more than you and your ministers. Besides, if you and your ministers tell the truth all the time to Ghanaians, there is no need to fight them.

Mr. President, remember the current environment has amplified the loudest and helped most partisan voices and speed -up fact-free theories about politicians. So watch what you do or say. In short, with the help of the Fm stations, political insurgents have tilted the national conversation.

Any Plans for This Microwave Generation?

“Say what?”Mr. President, I bet I caught you off guard, huh? Yes, I’m referring to our face-booked, Iphoned, tablet, WhatsApp and instant- gratification generation; with its over-consumption appetite for foreign goods and lifestyle. This is the most important resource of Ghana yet its aspirations and expectations have taken for granted by every government .I wonder if Ghana can walk majestically if this segment of the population is creeping and wobbling aimlessly. Question: Can your administration meet ( their sometimes, unrealistic) expectations and contain their anger and mistrust?

We Need An Active Disporan Affair Office for Ghanaians in the Diaspora: Mr. President, can you and your administration sincerely ignore the plights of 5 Million Ghanaians leaving abroad and survive this socio-economic tsunami? Your Excellency, amazingly, Israel has a plan to lure or recruit and retain every Jew from anywhere on this planet to move to Israel.

It does so by giving very attractive resettlement packages and incentives to entice the best brains to move to Israel and settle. But, in Ghana, the situation is different—way different!. The problems start right from the arrival Hall at Kotoka Airport till the day one checks out of the country. No one (including the government officials)seems to care about the plights of Ghanaians in the Diaspora.—their skills, personal safety and ‘land –guards’ problems—are the government’s back case ,Does the government really have any record of all Ghanaians in the Diaspora and what they do and the skills and capital they possess? The point is, right now those who are moving back home are doing so without any governmental influence, infusion or incentive.

Therefore they either have enough from their host countries or they need a rest from the hectic life in their host countries or the combination of the two. Is that the best way to harness Ghana’s intellectual resources and attract and retain the socio-economic self-imposed- exiles? Aren’t we all tired of seeing the offspring of Ghana being the globetrotter? Even the dual –citizenship’s (mambo-jumbo) process is so complicated and time -consuming that people simply give up after the first attempt—this goes to show that we only interested in their remittances—to finance luxurious funerals at home and be the source of financial reservoir for our inflated expectations and entitlements.—but not their physical presence in Ghana. Well, if the government takes care of their problems and needs maybe,(just maybe),they will be willing to pay their fair share of taxes while in their host countries; provided their taxes could be accounted for and put into good use for the betterment of the nation.

We Need More and Aggressive Road Maintenance Fund:

Vehicles coming from our neighboring countries should be asked to buy temporary auto insurance in Ghana for the period they intend to spend in the country. That would not only safeguard our citizens and economy in case something happens while they’re in Ghana, but it would be a source of revenue for our Road Fund. The Toll booth’s revenue should also directly go into this Fund so as to fix our accident –prone and pot-hole infested roads.

Job Creation to Check the Brain Drain Syndrome:

There are four major areas good jobs can be created for a massive employment: 1) Railways transportation, 2) we can create an niche in ‘Organic food’ Production department (snails, mushrooms, fruits, edible leaves and plants) and export them to the western countries—who are tired of consuming chemically saturated foods which have been the source of their diseases and obesity.3) Medical tourism can single-handedly be an answer to our healthcare personnel exodus and fix the unemployment situation in Ghana.

The juicy part of this industry is that it will bring in subsidiary industries like: banking, transportation, restaurants, hotels, hair salons, housing, building construction, entertainment, communication, education, shopping outlet, personal security services and much more. In other words, medical tourism positively and directly affects other areas of the main economy and the society beyond everyone’s imagination.

National Summit Is Needed Urgently:

Your Excellency, I know your hands are tied up right now because of other matters, However, I think within two years of your administration You need to organize a National Summit to bring home all the stakeholders in and outside Ghana and ask for their ‘contributions’ or ‘supports’ to help you move this nation forward to an enviable level.

Decentralization Of Your Ministries:

Mr. President, do we honestly need to have the Ministries of Agriculture, Education, Social Welfare or Natural resources to be in Accra? Moving some ministries away from the capital will encourage development in other local areas and reduce over population in the capital.

Your Excellency, I know I have already pissed-off many of your overly-sensitive folks out there. Some of them have their blood pressure gauge way up in the sky. But that is just a bit of an advice that you can of course ignore or heed, as you wish. I can pretty much predict what will happen in either case in 2020 in Ghana. If it’s ignored life will go on pretty much as it has up till now. If you heed the advice things will change for all of us. But, I hope I am not the only dreamer or the lonely voice in the forest.

Mr. President, our fragile and infant democracy needs a brand-new mindset and a visionary leadership in order to allow our many socio-economic- self-imposed exiles the chance to work, live, raise their kids and ultimately, die on their motherland. So please don’t disappoint them, sir!

To those who are upset with my advice: Believe me, if you don’t come from (or didn’t grow around) abject poverty—with no prospects of obtaining any money and no concept of a future—you really don’t have a clue about this message. I thank you sir, for your undivided attention,

You’ll definitely hear from me again and again after your ‘honeymoon’. Meantime, let’s keeps hope alive!!

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi (voice of Reason)

*The author is a social commentator and the founder of the Adu-Gyamfi foundation for the disadvantaged youth of Asuom.