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Diasporian News of Thursday, 20 August 2009

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Spio-Garbrah lauds Ghanaians in Diaspora

for being hardworking and law-abiding

The Chief Executive Officer of the London-based Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah has applauded Ghanaians, especially those living in the diaspora, for being hardworking and law-abiding wherever they find themselves around the globe. He said it is uncommon to find Ghanaians breaking the laws of their host countries whether as legal or illegal immigrants residing in those countries.

Dr Spio-Garbrah was addressing a group of Ghanaian professionals and students at Nottingham, UK at the weekend, at the invitation of the group, some of whom had just graduated and were preparing to return home to Ghana. The group of some 50 professionals and students explained that they had invited him to speak to them as a respected and hardworking statesman and on account of the benefits they had received and were receiving by studying under the Ghana Education Trust Fund that was initiated under his stewardship as Minister of Education during the Rawlings administration. The group was made up of individuals who are pursuing various academic degrees, mostly Masters and PhDs in a number of academic fields, notably Medicine, Engineering, Medical Informatics, Microbiology, Corporate Governance, and Law among others. The group was holding a surprise get-together in celebrating the particular success of and farewell to Dr Harry Abruquah, who already held BSc, MB ChB and MPhil degrees, and had just also completed a PhD in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Nottingham, while his wife had also completed a Masters in Microbiology. The former Minister of Education encouraged the gathering to understand that the development, progress and economic independence and prosperity of Ghana is the collective responsibility of all Ghanaians both at home and abroad. He said it will take more than the President, Cabinet, and Parliament or State institutions to get progress for Ghana. He said what was needed is rather an all-hands-on-deck approach involving public institutions, private sector companies, small and medium-scale enterprises, academics and the ordinary people themselves.

According to Dr Spio-Garbrah; "there are too many people standing on the sidelines waiting for the government to deliver the goods. All of us have a responsibility to assist the government of the day, no matter which government is in power, with our ideas, our experiences and our various professional and financial contributions. And the government, on its part, must welcome assistance from Ghanaians of all hues, irrespective of political affiliation, and must do more to engage and involve the hundreds of thousands of citizens who cannot be appointed into government positions but who must be inspired and mobilised to be part of nation-building", he added. He admitted however that “ it will take a lot of courage on the part of those Ghanaians who wish to devote themselves to truly and genuinely serve the people to stand up for what is right to effect the needed change for a better Ghana. “As you prepare to return to the motherland, please understand that on many occasions the degrees you have obtained will be worthless, as the decisions you will often be called upon to make do not require tertiary education, but simply the courage of your convictions. Many at times have people in leadership positions compromised and do what they know to be wrong just because of financial or other selfish reasons. They may have all the degrees on earth, but they are unable or unwilling to separate what is in their personal interests from what is in the national interest. After graduating I believe that many of you will find yourselves back home working in various fields. But it is important for you to know that you cannot use your positions in public offices to enrich yourselves and your families as others may have done and continue to do. Don't get me wrong, I believe that it is right for people to become wealthy, but if you choose to work in the public sector you must do so because you want to serve the interest of the people. If, on the other hand, you want to make lots of money, there is nothing wrong with that, but simply stay in the private sector, grow your own businesses and make all the money you legitimately can.”

Reacting to a question relating to the deplorable state of the wards in Ghana’s hospitals, Dr Spio-Garbrah stated that this was a joint responsibility of government, medical authorities, and even some patients and their families. But he noted that creative solutions could involve challenging corporate organisations as well to adopt, furnish and maintain specific hospital wards and brand the wards with their names, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives. This would enable hospitals generate additional revenues and also ensure that many of the companies that are making good profits in Ghana - especially in the mining, banking and telecommunications fields - are giving something back to the communities in which they do business.

In conclusion the CTO CEO admonished Ghanaians abroad to always look back home, continue to send their remittances, and show keen interests in the social, economic and political development of mother Ghana to the benefit of all.