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Opinions of Tuesday, 25 November 2003

Columnist: Abdul-Latif, Issahaku

A New Paradigm For The Political Future Of Ghana

A good number of political scientists assert that the problems of Africa are the product of a crisis of leadership. It is no doubt that the political leaders of Africa have contributed tremendously to the under development of this continent. Some times, one begins to wonder whether African nations are adequately prepared to depart from bad political leadership to a new definition of good governance and prosperous societies. As a youth of Ghana, I reflect on the political history of Ghana to present day. Hardly do I see or notice any transformation in our political leadership. As a result, I subject myself to indefinite scrutiny on whether the political future of this country is guaranteed given the current system under which we operate.

Nevertheless, let no man or woman underplay the significance of politics in our lives as a people; the very essence of our lives from good, clean drinking water to the telephone we use in communicating are influenced by political leaders. One Minister of State or Member of Parliament has to supervise a director of a state corporation to provide “affordable” (with all courtesies to Hon. Kan Dapaah) and decent goods and services to the people of Ghana. However, do we monitor closely the performance of our leaders? The answer is not far fetched. Many of them are directly responsible for the failure of our economic, political and social systems.

Karl Marx, an eighteenth century economist, with his flawed economic theories claims that the state revolves around economics. This clearly articulates the central or dominant role of economics in pursuance of our national goals and aspirations. Therefore, it is imperative that policy makers such as Ministers of State and MPs understand the rudiments of practical economic models and theories in formulating policies. A good number of our political leaders know very little about this vital area. The consequences of this deficiency cannot be under estimated. Imagine some MPs who do not understand the budget process approving our national budgets in utter ignorance of the implications of vital policy decisions.

As useful as it is, many of our political leaders faintly understand key macroeconomic indicators and how they affect the lives of ordinary citizens. Even when they do, “political talks” over-shadow the relevance of their economic decisions. For the average Ghanaian, it makes a lot of sense to tell them annual figures for Net Job Creation rather than Primary Domestic Balance, for instance. In the words of Nii Moi Thompson, a Ghanaian economist, the last time this figure (Net Job Creation) was published was in 1960, such a very useful economic indicator is left to play on its own. If the labour minister announces that government has created 2000 Jobs, does he have an idea about how many jobs are lost?

Bad economic policies have left Ghana like many sister nations in Africa trodding behind old pals like Malaysia and Singapore with relatively lesser natural resources. The big question is what measures are we putting in place to breed a new generation of politicians in this country? The answer is far and wide but obviously falls on the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS). This is one body that has groomed a good number of Ghana’s politicians. This domocratic body is also laced with numerous challenges both within and without. Financial misapropriation has become a bed-fellow of the leaders of this body who in some cases fail to present their annual financial statements to the detriment of the progress of Ghanaian students who need a powerful and unified voice. The worst of all, politicians to some extent manipulate the actions of NUGS leaders to achieve their political targets.

The educational system deserves a fair share of the blame for the mess of our poitical leaders. Our educational system does not offer the student adequate tools to understand and analyse economic systems under practice. Eventhough, we train all calibre of professionals, each category of professionals require a good level of understanding of economics. The reason is that all kinds of professionals are needed in Parliament and the Ministries to lay the required framework for policy decisions in various sectors of the national economy. What is the way forward for Ghana?

Our educational system must begin training students well-grounded on economics to take up leadership positions in the country more responsibly. The taxpayers’ money cannot be wasted any longer to train people who mess up our economy as a result of their deficiency in this field. Secondly, we need a writing class of political leaders as a developing nation who communicate their ‘sociopolitico-economic’ ideas to the people through writing so that they can be judged appropriately. Besides, it lays the platform for active debates on policy issues which are rather on a low-scale if not non-existent. Great societies suffice on discerning ideas from ordinary citizens and the intelligensia. If leaders like Kwame Nkrumah and J. B Danquah did that, what debar today’s leaders from embarking on that paradigm? We should remember that as a developing nation when others are crawling, we should be hopping. Comments are welcome!


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.