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Opinions of Monday, 30 March 2015

Columnist: Bediako, Alexander

58 years after independence: Have we gained the economic independence?

The primary responsibility of all oppressed peoples and their countries who seek freedom is to fight and overthrow controlling imperialist colonial rule and to go all-out for political independence. However, it is far from sufficient merely to win political independence, which is only the foundation for complete and genuine independence (Economic independence).

Ghanaians, fifty-eight years ago gained independence from so many years of British Colonial rule. For many at the time it was a great joy and an expectation that was long overdue. It was the founder of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who made that famous declaration and said "the independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is link with to the total liberation of Africa countries”. Preceding Dr. Nkrumah’s pronouncement, at midnight of March 5 the Union Jack of Britain came down and up went red, gold and green flag of the new nation. The people of the Gold Coast regained their freedom under the new name Ghana. Among the then newly independent state of Africa, Ghana has attracted much international interest. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah is said to have represented a new brand of African nationalism, radical, modernizing and socialist in orientation. From abroad, his successes and failures were carefully watched as a test of the experiment of independence in Africa and his type of ideology.
All these were as a result of protracted and arduous struggle of the people of then Gold Coast against both internal and external forces. The people’s political consciousness rose to a new heights and revolutionary movements within were surging forward as never before. It was the people’s determination to completely eliminate imperialist domination and influence and realization of full independence, both political and economic.

What does it therefore mean to be independent? To be independent may mean different thing to deferent people at difference times but generally speaking and simply put, it means free from external control and constraint, not subject to another's authority or not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence and so on. Well we can say that we have our own government and its institutions and therefore we are politically independent as in appearance but we appear not have any solid control over our own internal affairs. After gaining political independence can we say that we have made full use of our political power to go on to win or gain the economic independence, as it is only through this that we can thoroughly rid ourselves of external control and colonialist and neo-colonialist exploitation and gain full independence. One of the radical move made by Ghana after the political independence in 1957 was towards complete independence; reduced economic dependence, accelerated industrialization and development of import substitution industries. The vision of Dr. Nkrumah was clear when it comes to realisation of a genuine independence.

His vision for Ghana to be completely independent was shorten when his government was overthrown in a coup in 1966. After his overthrow, there had been a series of military interventions. The last was 31 December 1981 by Jerry John Rawlings, which in fact, closed all avenues for further military coup in Ghana till today. These periods were fertile ground for external-interest involvement in our internal affairs, and the country made very little progress in our determination and drive towards economic freedom. We were forced as a country and continue to be dictated to, to accept economic policies that very little help our course. From unfavourable IMF and the World Bank conditionality to imposition an Economic Partnership Agreement which would eventually undermine our capacity building as an independent nation. We need to wean out Ghana from the external influence and control.

The development of an independent national economy and gaining of complete economic independence concerns the vital national interests of the newly independent Ghana. It is at the same time opposed to the basic interests of the external forces who want to retain their colonial rule and economic interest. Therefore, the struggle for the development of an independent national economy unavoidably reflects itself in political struggle, in serious political struggle against those who have vested interest in the natural resources endowed us. Without secured and total political independence, genuine economic independence is an illusion; without genuine economic independence, secure and full political independence cannot stand. Put differently, political independence is the precedent or is the stepping-stone for economic independence, while economic independence is the basis for political independence.

It appears the economic independence is gradually eluding us as we continue to struggle with external interest and their internal collaborators and a host of other internal factors which are militating against our progress. We have abundant of natural resources but most are not in our control rather in the control of external interest for their comfort and the development of their countries, all in the name of economic cooperation.

Our leadership and policy makers should make it non-negotiable strategy to have total control over our economic and natural resources as these are necessary basis for establishing economic strength on which any meaningful political and economic independence can be established and maintain. According to some commentators bush meat sales is even fetching Ghana more revenue than those coming from other natural endowments. This is probably because the external interest have not yet shown any interest in our bush meat. If this is the case imagine if we have greater control over all our natural resources!

It was 6 March, 2015 that we called into memory again the day we freed ourselves from British colonial rule. As we did let us also remember the agenda of our forebearers, the agenda of political and economic independence and continue to work towards its realisation. Citizens’ honest and objective participation is key. Institutions of state must demonstrate impartial and show total commitment in their duties to the state and government at all times. It is only through these that we can collectively add true meaning to our political independence.

Long live Ghana and

Long live the Better Ghana Agenda.

By Alexander Bediako.