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Opinions of Sunday, 22 January 2006

Columnist: Asomaning, George

A Reconciled Nation on Its Way towards Economic Recovery.

Friends, many of us are born into traditions, some of which we keep upon maturity, others we reject. My parents and grandparents are NPP supporters. As a grown up I have also elected to subscribe to the Danquah/Busia tradition though not a registered card carrying member. I have never voted in any election in Ghana, under 18yrs in 1979 when President Liman was elected and left the country before 1992 when the 4th republic was ushered in. Eagerly waiting for Parliament to pass the new legislation that will re-enfranchise Diasporas.

My hope and that of many of our countrymen is that members of the Danquah/Busia tradition and the Nkrumahist would bury their differences and be reconciled for the sake of our dear Ghana, for our advancement and prosperity. Let?s be honest, if what I have heard is true, then Osagyefo did not treat Dr Danquah, Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey and a great number of other opponents fairly. Some Nkrumahist would try to argue that these people deserve their punishments because they were a threat to the personal safety of Nkrumah and also to the security of the motherland but I wish Nkrumah had pardoned them particularly as they were old and sick and I am so glad that the NPP government has maintained a very clean human rights record, something that is to be admired and cherished. A good example for our motherland.

The desire is that both factions would bury the hatchet, be reconciled for the good of Ghana. Failure to do so I believe would delay the social healing process of the country, and I will explain this.

My own party as a result of its dislike of the Nkrumahists does not want to have anything to do with the Osagyefo?s policies, yet I believe the salvation of our country lies in adopting some of his radical and refreshing economic polices. For example the State House, the Flagstaff was not used and not maintained; the Peduase Lodge was not maintained; the Conference Centre, Job 600 was not maintained; the Motorway extension was abandoned. The current market value of the real estate alone could exceed $50 million and the rental income lost over the last 40 years of neglect could be another several millions! See what the dislike for Nkrumah cost us! Nkrumah was a great man, far above his peers and contemporaries who achieved a lot for the nation and for the African continent. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he was sensational, a visionary whose policies were as radical as they were empowering. Look at the Dam, Harbour, KNUST, Colleges, Technical, Secondary and Primary School Projects. The number of industries he set up had never been matched. He was brave and courageous and made enormous strides; he walked where nobody else had walked. In his time Ghanaians were a happy, proud people respected all over the world, they were not jobless or hopeless, the cities were clean and well run, people didn?t go hungry nor undernourished en masse, electricity and water were running without frequent interruptions and even telephones in the areas where they were operational, worked - all in those early days. Time has proved his matchless achievements!!! Friends, TRUTH STANDS.

My Party?s adopted Political, Economic and Social philosophy is the Free Market System. Unfortunately Ghana cannot follow this model wholeheartedly to lift the great majority of our people out of poverty. At best, the rich will continue to get richer while the majority poor will get poorer. What will trickle down from the rich will not have any impact on the poor, and the crumbs that fall from the master?s table will not be adequate to satisfy the majority poor. In 5 to 10 years time and beyond, the rich (NPP, Nkrumahists and NDC supporters alike) will continue to drive their SUVs with and without government petrol through the sewage and rubbish strewn streets of our cities oblivious to the plight of the majority poor many of whom live, eat and sleep right next to the filth. Our hospitals will continue to be dilapidated and mothers and children would die unnecessarily while the rich use private hospitals or better still travel to the West for treatment. HIV cases would have doubled and unemployment skyrocketed. Human suffering would be too much for many to bear. Is this the Ghana we want to live in? Yet I am afraid this is what we may reap if the government?s economic policy remains unchanged. Frightening!

On the other hand should the government adopt a Mixed-Economy principle as Nkrumah did in some of his policies, things could be different. I don?t mean socialism, which is deadly, and a look at Russia alone and China before they changed proved that socialism is a hopeless policy. What I mean is a mixed-economy in which a government actively is helping people to set up industries, giving tax incentives and holidays ? not only to foreigners but also to our NATIONALS. We must start having faith in the GHANAIAN because he is able. If we can excel in foreign lands why can?t we do the same in our own backyard? But prosperity will elude us if we expect the average Ghanaian businessman to compete unaided against foreigners who have more resources and are sometimes supported by their national governments. We need to actively support the Ghanaian businessman against foreign competition. Every country on this earth is doing this so why not Ghana? We need mass employment in manufacturing even if for national consumption only!! (To be honest, the whole of West Africa will be waiting for our exports). This will shift the economic gears and move us from foreign dependency to self sufficiency. We will then begin to have clusters of skilled workers in manufacturing emerging. This is Development. Producing only raw materials won?t do the job.

A recent article on Ghanaweb reported on Wednesday 18 January is that a British company was to acquire 5000 -10000 hectares of land in Afram Plains to cultivate Jathropa Curcas seeds for Bio-diesel. This project apparently is being supported by the Deputy Eastern Regional Minister, the Afram Plains District Secretary and senior civil servants, yet the company would export the seeds for processing abroad and only give materials to interested farmers in Ghana to cultivate the seeds. This is an insult to our intelligence. According to the article, MOFA will negotiate with the company to establish a factory in Ghana to process some of the seeds into bio-diesel. My problem is why we are negotiating a contract that will keep Ghana as a primary producer of raw materials, then sending the raw materials abroad for processing ? where all the skills and profits will be. WHY?? Why can?t Ghana be the site for the processing of all the seeds? Mr Minister, please don?t sign that contract until we site the manufacturing factory in Ghana, preferably in Afram Plains. It is only by doing so would we as a nation move forward. Remember VALCO?

This is where we could have a court issue an injunction against such signing. In the past Ministers have sold many national assets and given rights against strong public opinion.

So friends let us embrace the mixed-economy model for development. Where Nkrumah failed, we condemn unreservedly and vow never to repeat it, but where he was successful, we must be big enough to embrace it. Both Dr Danquah and Dr. Nkrumah are our fathers. We must take what is good in both of them then discard what is wrong. A nation at war with itself will not stand. Surely we need strong opposition parties in our healthy democracy and my hope is that one day a true Nkrumahist will emerge to engage my party in a healthy debate. But as at now, the Government must actively encourage the GHANAIAN businessmen to compete effectively against foreigners, moving away from the raw material production economy set up by the colonials into a manufacturing one, where the money is. I know the IMF and the World Bank would try to resist this but it is our country, and we must do what is best for our people. We deserve to live decently like other people of the world. Our people also have equal rights to life and prosperity. Poverty is a curse and those of us who are strong must help those who aren?t, the rich must help the poor through job creation by investing their money locally, the government also intervening to lift the great mass of our people into a new prosperous Ghana. A Ghana where the dividing line between the rich and poor will be decreasing instead of widening, a Ghana where people are happy, healthy and prospering, in jobs rather than out of jobs, as stakeholders, homeowners and business owners. This will also be a Ghana that is safer for the rich also to live peacefully. That is my kind of Ghana.

Long Live Ghana My Happy Home.



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