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Opinions of Friday, 4 November 2016

Columnist: Adjei-Barwuah, B.

A letter to the fatherland:

Dear All,

‘She wasn’t quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams ……… And I could tell that time has changed me’.

These are two sentences from an American country and western song titled ‘Unanswered Prayers’. After the 1956 plebiscite by which Trans-Volta Togoland opted to hop on the Gold Coast train to independence, we changed from a four-region colony to become the five-region independent country of Ghana in 1957. Between 1959 and 1983 we became a ten-region independent Ghana. Is this the angel I remembered in my dreams? Whenever I put my right hand on my heart and hum ‘God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong’, it becomes so glaring to me that this is not the angel I remembered in my dreams at independence in 1957; and certainly time has changed me.

Time has changed me in terms of my definition for governance and my perceptions about a citizen’s love for country. In my belief that a good citizen must always put country first, I strove to make a decent contribution to the national effort towards good governance. For the independence I knew was for a land on which the creator left a decent piece of everything necessary for sound socio-economic development – resources, both natural and human. Save for the Accra stadium disaster and the Accra petrol station inferno, the large scale pestilence and disasters which are routine in other lands are generally unknown to us. There has always been the firmly-grounded potential for the good life for all. The average citizen primed himself to work hard and support the homeland.
There was community spirit – unadulterated, de-tribalised and un-segmented. These have all vanished. The traces of good leadership we ever had have evaporated. We no longer engage in politics. We do not practice politics anymore. We now practice MELOFICS - (me looting from individual citizens and state) – the most sinister of political systems and public administration the world will ever know.

This system disregards integrity in public life, candour in judgment and due diligence in public administration. This system shades itself from all basic tenets of participatory democracy save the periodic charade of electoral choices clothed in a disgraceful and obscene public purchase of legitimate and illegitimate thumb prints. Now we are even adding electronic thievery to it. So, if any of us ever subscribed to Stephen Covey’s view that ‘our ultimate freedom is in the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us’, then this is the time to cancel the subscription. The notion does not work here in Ghana; not anymore. For, the system for ensuring the right and power to decide – the electoral process – has been seriously contaminated by the existence of a compromised and corrupt supervisory organisation and the importation of cohorts of aliens by some political operatives to exercise illegitimate suffrage. One should also note the hiring of a foreign organization to tamper with our electoral process the way they would not attempt in any other country.
And do not expect the law to rectify anything political. Someone, in the name of a revolution, oversaw the execution of judges. In abhorrence and as a matter of atonement we built a memorial to the slain judges. Behind the memorial another group of judges murdered our country with a demonstrably flawed assessment of election results as the execution weapon.

The expectation and indeed the promise of the good times that energised ordinary folks into supporting the fathers of the independence movement have been killed with our own hands – the hands of those who call themselves leaders. Blatant corruption has eaten away our dignity. Officials who in times of yore could not even be tempted with token ‘thank you’ gifts now demand them as a matter of established procedure and before any service is rendered.

Our image as a country, national and international, has been destroyed by the antics of people in national bureaux who do not have the sense of honour nor put a value on the notion of trust. They lack the qualification, orientation, experience and commitment to contribute to the efficient running of a state. The vision they have is that of fancy residences in Ghana and elsewhere in the world, a million US dollars in their bank accounts, a string of petrol stations and other businesses under camouflaged ownership and management, comfortable transportation at state expense and a personal feeling that they do exercise control on the lives of large segments of an impoverished population. Their grounding is in the regimen of brutality, indiscipline, corruption as well as the culture of disrespect that were thrown over this rather wonderful country in 1979 in the name of a revolution.
Frighteningly, the practitioners of ‘melofics’ have defined ‘national administration’ as ‘a conclave of crime families supported by self-serving acolytes and latter day sycophants employed to defend the indefensible’. And shielding this is a spineless legislative system, a bloated, compromised and largely incompetent administrative web, a shamefully monitised law enforcement apparatus, a spineless and crooked judicial set-up and a surprisingly inept and inert professional network. And crowning it all is a dearth of leadership.

A greater proportion of our younger population has left formal education without any attestable employment skills. The economy, whatever is left of it, is so sluggish and unimaginative that employment generation cannot be part of any serious contemporary conversation on our future. Economic insecurity is the order of the day to the extent that the majority of our younger population do not have the opportunity of thinking about what has become the luxury of deciding on a career. What they have now is the indignity of begging for anything that goes by the title of ‘a job’. The very people on whose shoulders the future of the country rests are the very people who are severely unprepared to shepherd a state. Increasing numbers in this group have started believing that a connected sinecure or a side-line in ‘melofics’ is the only way to go. Sadly, most of them have gone through levels of education at public expense.
Our environment at the moment is blanketed with falling leaves of bewilderment. On almost all faces is the painful look of frustration and silence. Fear has become a debilitating ailment all over our country:
Fear of verbal insults by hired venomous wordsmiths and innuendo purveyors;
Fear of trumped-up legal offences and accompanying incarceration;
Fear of media and political character assassination;
Fear of physical attacks by indentured drenched itinerant draw-latches.
These fears constitute the cocktail of our current climate of socio-economic insecurity. One stares at the herculean task of using the ballot box to improve the future of the fatherland. The church does not appear to hold sufficient muscle in this enterprise. It would be an exercise in futility if one expected parliament to be an instrument for change in its present make-up and orientation. And the judiciary, at its highest level, has clearly posted ‘do not seek fairness and justice here’ at its door. The majority of us now appear to be looking up to His Own Preferred Experience (HOPE) as the answer. Is it?

The range of meanings for this word - hope - include ‘a confident expectation that something longed-for will come’ and ‘a small bay in the coastline’. After almost six decades of independence we must be hoping against hope if we have a ‘confident expectation’ of any sort. What we have cannot be a bay and even if it were it will be so polluted looking at the general state of our coastline. We probably have a tarn – without an outlet and without any reasonable possibility of catching any fish from it except if one consciously stocks it and keeps a keen eye on its water quality and level. But this is a very impractical methodology. My drift is that we are in a situation where hope is a dangerous notion for inexcusable inactivity. What is our situation and what are the options?
Our first option is the necessity for the ruling group to pluck enough courage to take a comprehensive look at the state of the Republic and to be able to understand that ‘ I have the money and I can periodically throw a few coppers at someone’ does not a country make and does not a society build. With this comes the necessity for one elementary question to be raised:
how does one sleep soundly at night when one is conscious of the fact that his/her actions:
take the basic meal out of someone else’s mouth;
take education out of a child’s path;
take even primary healthcare out of a citizen’s reach;
take decent, livable space out of the grasp of even the hardest working average citizen;
take and deliver citizens into the claws of loan sharks through over-priced public services.
These are ‘wake prompts’ intended to forge some sense of purpose and duty on those in charge and consider themselves as Ghanaians to make attempts to pull the country back from the brink of disaster. I am not holding my breath for this ‘pie in the sky’ because it calls for the kind of group and personal purge that the greater majority of required participants will find impossible to subscribe to. They would not have the courage and they just do not care!
The second option rests on all of us citizens - Ghanaians to the core – to make the effort to save our country. For we need to realise that ‘the Republic is about to die’. This means we must raise the heat of our imagination because it is clear that our beginning has begun to disappear. We trail-blazed for a whole continent and we brought pride to a worldwide family of oppressed peoples. We were the bird with bright colours; we could not be caged. Why have we plucked our illuminating feathers and why are we crouching in a cage now?
Yes, time has changed me. Time has changed me in that for the first time in my life I can see Ghana failing to the extent where some of the component parts might take decisions to cut the strings from the rotten centre pole. One can also smell the sinister development of a policy of encirclement of the majority by the minority as a weapon for continuous misrule.
We have been inundated by undocumented foreigners, ill-educated and with very high rates of procreation and contributing virtually nothing to the tax base and yet consuming and overloading social services. They have no concern nor do they have passion for Ghana and the future of Ghanaians. Our commerce is in the hands of leaching foreigners fronted by unscrupulous nationals. Our landscape is being ripped up by rapacious foreigners in a manner they could not even think of in their own country. What has happened to us?
A dearest brother always begins emails to our platform with ‘those of you who still think of Ghana as a country’. Yes, I sometimes ache when I read his mail but I do not fail to see his point and his concern. I only reject the ‘throw your arms in the air’ attitude it carries. Our Republic is in trouble. We have to have the prayers answered and the dreams realised. We all must be part of the effort and the solution. Our options are clear. We can keep busy just watching a few tear our country apart by creating schisms between regions and communities, emptying the national coffers, and creating a land for the sad, the lonely, the poor, the sick and the marginalised. Or we can keep busy talking to and consulting each other with the view to pooling ideas and resources to eradicate the current disease of selfishness, graft, naked roguery and pervasive corruption that is certainly taking us to our doom as a nation.

We have to recognize that if promises were planes this country would have the busiest airport on the planet. Simply put, we can keep busy drinking the elixir on offer and dying or we can keep busy living by plucking courage and developing a basket of measures to save our country. What is your take?

Please be kind enough to allow me to observe that the bane of Ghanaian development is the population’s acceptance of the cocktail of political ignorance and the attendant corruption, administrative arrogance laced with incompetence, professional indifference, citizens’ forbearance and the shameful general respect for corruption and mediocrity. In the face of the foregoing, my humble advice is – stand up and help save your country. AND THE TIME IS NOW.
Thank you for the gift of your attention.

Your compatriot,
B. Adjei-Barwuah