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Opinions of Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Columnist: K. B. Asante

We shall overcome

Ghana seems to have lost her lustre. The future appears gloomy to many. The atmosphere is not appropriate for confronting and resolving difficult problems and issues. Therefore, media and television houses which preach the message that all will be well provided we do our duty deserve commendation for a most necessary yeoman’s work.

The media itself has a lot to do to assist the nation to move forward. It should explain the difficult situation and insist that those we pay do their work well. It should further insist on excellence in the execution of public duty.

Considering the facilities at its disposal, the media does well but it should not be complacent. It should promote the anti-corruption drive and assist us to read and write better.

The very morning when I was digesting Prof. Yankah’s thoughtful remarks about books and reading the 6 a.m. GBC newscast made me sick by bad reading. The reader paused where she should not and gave the impression that she did not understand what she read. How then are the young, especially, to understand and love the official language? With such performance, the media promotes bad reading and low educational standards.

I have a feeling that the news reader arrived at the studio a minute or two before 6 a.m.; took the script and read it as unseen. She should obviously arrive reasonably long before 6 a.m., read the script and make her own punctuations so that she reads the news with understanding and benefit to viewers.

Her supervisors obviously did not do their duty. They should ensure that certain rules are followed so that work is well-done. Bad supervision is common in many institutions. Supervisors do not do their work well either because they are not good or because they fear to take action against subordinates who are well-connected. Kwame Nkrumah would have telephoned GBC that morning and asked that the reader be taken off her role. And we would say today that he was a dictator!

We shall overcome and all will be well only if we do our duty. The government has prime responsibility for changing the gloom which prevails. But all will not be well if we all do not do our bit.

“Work and Happiness” was the slogan in the mid-sixties. Tawiah Adamafio and John Tettegah were the authors of the “propaganda” pamphlet “Work and Happiness”.

A highlife music was composed to promote the idea. Things were not so easy at the time and government acknowledged its role while reminding the public that a bright future could not be built without hard work. But there must be work to do and for this government, it must adopt appropriate policies and should have no qualms about the involvement in industry and services. Educational institutions and students have roles to play but the onus for the availability of jobs rests with the elected leaders of the nation.

For good policies to succeed, the people should understand the simple truths about the economy in general and services and industry in particular. No excellent entrepreneurship will enable the school leaver to establish a simple cannery if there are paths but no roads from the fruit and vegetable farms to the factory. And the cannery factory will not work satisfactorily without adequate supply of power at reasonable cost.

Naturally, the entrepreneur would expect an energy price which would enable reasonable profits to be made. But this is not achieved by pressing the authorities to lower the price of electricity at any cost to the national economy.

It may be that the best way to maintain the factory and keep the national economy healthy is to increase electricity tariffs to enable other sources of energy to come on board. But this means good understanding of the energy situation.

Now Ghana normally gets the bulk of its power from the Akosombo, Kpong and Bui dams. These depend on water and now that the rains appear to have failed, the water levels are low. There are rumours that the water level at Akosombo is near the minimum. This means that we have to rely more on gas or oil for electricity production.

Electricity from these sources is much more expensive. Therefore, we may have to pay more for electricity from these expensive sources. We may also have to build more plants to generate electricity from gas and oil. We have to borrow money for these investments. And if we borrow, we have to pay for the borrowed money as well as the more expensive electricity.

Therefore, shouting that we would not pay more for electricity would not help. We should, however, insist on full disclosure of all the facts about our power supply. We should know how electricity thefts are dealt with and whether management is also up to its responsibilities. Responsible public reaction may take other forms. And our governments should tell us the truth and not stories to make us happy so that we vote for them in the next election.

We shall overcome when we know the truth which shall free us from impossible expectations. We shall overcome when we know the uncomfortable truth that with Akosombo water levels as they are and with energy consumption rising, we may need more energy barge facilities from Turkey for which we must pay cash which will have to be provided by electricity consumers or by all