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Opinions of Sunday, 6 March 2005

Columnist: Adomako, Appiah Kusi

After 48 Years Of Self Governance: What Next For Ghana?

??.The black man is capable of managing his own affairs?What the Europeans and American have used hundred years to achieve the black man can use one generation to achieve... ?Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

Today marks the forty years of our nationhood; a day we all cherish as a nation. Now is the time to look calmly at ourselves and identify the mistakes that we have made as nation. Of course we have in one way or the other made mistakes. Like what Confucius once said, ?it does not matter the number of times we fall but the number of times we rise when we fall?. We cannot continue to fail the next generation. The fact that the previous generation slept through the world of change like Rip Van Winkle does not mean that we too must also fail posterity. India, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and the rest of the Asian Tigers have been able to use less than two generation to propel their economies from the quicksand of aid dependency to the solid rock of economic independent. Today all over the world we talk about Asia as the centre of international commerce. It must interest us to note that we all inherited the same economic condition after independence. The difference is that whilst we in Ghana were seriously engaged in military adventurism in our national politics our contemporaries in Asia were busily embarking on good governance; whilst we as nation were only consuming finished products from Europe and America they were manufacturing their own.

If Ghana is poised to take its rightful place in God?s universe, then are some certain things that we should that will grant us all safe passage into the city of self actualization. Many years ago a great philosopher by the name John Stuart Mills said when society requires to be rebuilt there is no use in attempting to rebuild it on the old plan. The rebuilding of our nation cannot be carried on the wheels of military adventurism, poor attitude toward work, corruption, ethnic and tribal tensions and unhealthy political rivalry. The solution to our national problem is within our reach. No prodigious thunderbolt from heaven will blast away corruption and economic decline and increase our foreign exchange reserves and shoot per capita income to say $ 4000. Again and again God will not send marching armies of angels from heaven to lift us from this present stage. We the people of Ghana must commit ourselves to the desired change. National goal of economic prosperity and Ghana becoming the gateway of West Africa will not roll on the wheels of inevitability. For less than forty years Asian countries like Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia have been able to move their economies clutches of aid dependency.

Freedom lays more emphasis on responsibilities than slavery. When the people of God were in Egypt under the crippling yoke of oppression and slavery. The Egyptians were thinking and making decisions for the Israelites. When they decided for emancipation, they had to walk through the wilderness for forty years and endure ordeals. Nevertheless, these people came to the promised of freedom and decided to build a nation. Now that we call ourselves a free nation then we must endure the pain and ordeals of emancipation and still move on with a firm sense of responsibilities. I have heard many times people saying Ghana would have better by now if the whites were still ruling us. Have we forgotten what happened in South Africa during the apartheid? This period of marking our forty eight years of nation, there is no time to engage in a luxury of romantic illusion and empty philosophical debate and merry making. This is time for us to look back and take stock of the past so that we can make projection. This is the time for reflection and meditation.

This piece will not be complete if I do not come out with the specific things that we need to do as nation if we want to go forward.

First, we should love our nation. Ephraim Amu reminds us in the National Anthem that Yen Ara Asaasi Yi. Most Ghanaians are unpatriotic. Take for instance our attitude to national service. University graduates finish university and do not even do their national service and leave for U.K and the U.S. This is even worse with medical and pharmacy students. Politicians are also not insulated against these unpatriotic behaviours. They divert funds meant for development programmes and stash them into their bank accounts. Corruption is still a national cancer on our body politics. The N.P.P zero tolerance for corruption is appearing to be a political catch phrase. We see many cases of corruption not investigated. Individuals, companies and business are earning millions of cedis monthly and yet they do not pay tax to the state. The tax burden in this country is negatively skewed against some few people in the formal sector and the cocoa farmers. Custom officers for the sake of their pockets will allow a tanker loaded with petrol cross to Cote D? Iviore or Burkina Faso where petrol sells relatively higher than in Ghana. Contractors are doing shoddy work. People who are not working for the state still have their names on the government payroll. Nobody cares about anybody. We increase prices of goods and services with doing any proper cost analysis. When we enter the corridors of power, we get with the intention of making wealth. If we do not change, we as nation will be destroyed not by an external invasion but rather an internal decay.

On Fridays government officials go and fill to the brim their vehicles and use for their private errands. This always swells government expenditure. This corrupt practice has been institutionalised.

Out of the fullness of patriotism and nationalism that people like Sergeant Odartey, Corporal Attiopoe and Sergeant Adjetty offered their lives that you and I will have freedom. Out of generosity of nationalism and patriotism that Kwame Nkrumah, J. B Danquah, Ofori Atta, Arko Adjei, Obsetebi Lamptey and Akuffo Addo stood and challenged the colonial masters in their bid for independence for you and I.

The second thing must do is that we must lift ourselves from on own bootstrap. For more than four decades we have relied and depended on foreign aid to survive. Now we have reached our menopause stage. In biological terms when a woman reaches her menopause it is believed that the woman has set her house and things in order. If we set our priorities we can raise the needed capital here we need here. Let me tell you this: India has reduced its number of bilateral donors and now it is trying to avoid the foreign aid dependency syndrome. We do not have to go to the Bretton woods institutions for loans to develop our countries. Our population of twenty million is not a liability but rather an asset to us.

Ghana?s heavy reliance on foreign aid makes implementing development plans more vulnerable to factors outside our control. May be instead of parliament debating to approve loan agreement it must rather use their precious time to debate on how we can practically empower the people so that we can raise income here.

Thirdly, we must see ourselves as one people of one destiny. Ghana belongs to us all. An Akan says that if a false prophet prophesise the doom of a town, he also is part of the town. Another great historian and writer by the name Arnold Toynbee said that some twenty-seven civilisations have risen upon the face of the earth. Almost all of them have descended into the junk heaps of destruction. The decline and fall of these civilisations, according to Toynbee, was not caused by external invasions but rather internal decay. If we fail to live together as one people, a feature historian will say that a great nation called Ghana died because it lacked the soul and the commitment to live together. Like a colour every tribe is important on God?s mosaic.

The fourth thing that we must strengthen our educational system and move it from the present state of theory oriented to practical oriented. The Educational Reform Programme set to do this has not done much. There is a still a high blood pressure of creeds and anaemia of deeds. We have more in our head than we do not translate it with the hand. People are finishing junior secondary school and they cannot even write their names and not even to construct a simple sentence. The government policy on education is noble but does it yield the desired results?

The growing gap between university research findings and that of industries is a still a worry. Project works, thesis and research findings that people have spent time and money to prepare gather dust at the universities. If we want to succeed in our national goal then never should we allow intellectual properties goes untapped. Can a developing nation afford this luxury! We cannot!! And Never!!!

In the words Prof John Evans Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress: there must be a proper symbiotic relationship between the gown and town. That this universities and polytechnics must feed the industries with intellectual properties. Government must set up a special commission to oversee this project. At the 2004 TRADE AND TECHNOLOGY FAIR at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology one could see good inventions students and lecturers has made. If fund is invested into these inventions and later sold to the industries it will do us a good. Most of the technologies that we are enjoying today are people?s project work. If these ideas had come from Ghana I am sorry say to that we would have not allow it to come to reality. Let me use this opportunity to thank the KNUST for inventing the fufu pounding machine.

At the first National Forum On Harnessing Research Science And Technology For Sustainable Development participants issued communiqu? concerning how we can use technology to solve the development needs of the country. Among these were:

1. There is an urgent need to define a national vision of science and technology for Ghana which should embody the applications of science as the driving force for national development process.

2. There should be a strong commitment at the highest level of political leadership to research, science and technology as an important factor in the realization of the national vision.

3. A Presidential Commission on Science and Technology should be set up to help realize and sustain the national vision for research, science and technology.

4. There is the need to create a cultural environment that will be receptive to the application of science in everyday life by ensuring that the informal education strategies, including adult literacy classes cover the fundamentals of science.

5. Research institutions and universities should establish science parks and technology incubators in partnerships with industry;

6. Efforts should be made identify existing institutions to be upgraded with state-of-the-art equipment in order to establish them as Centre of Excellence that will facilitate cutting edge research in science and technology.

7. There is an urgent need to establish a comprehensive database of local researchers, scientist, technologist and other experts together with their areas of expertise and on-going research projects.

The nation must recognize and celebrate achievements in research, science and technology by instituting appropriate national awards.

Finally, now that we have seen that we cannot control the tide of our professionals leaving the country we must find how we can harness the brain drain syndrome. It is like HIV/AIDS. The message of abstinence is falling on deaf ears. So now we have shifted from abstinence to the use of condoms. We have to identify the group of professionals that we are haemorrhaging and the countries that they go to when they leave Ghana. Once it is identified, government can provide special funds to the tertiary institutions to train quantum of students to be trained for export. Once they finish we can export them and the state can take 40% of their salaries like what is done to our military personal when they go for peace-keeping operation. Philippines and Cuba are earning millions of dollars each year through this scheme.

As I conclude this let me share something from the great book. One night in the Bible, a great man came to Jesus and wanted to find out how he could get eternal life. Jesus did not look a Nicodemus and say the isolated approach of what do and what not to do. He realized that if a man can still he would kill. If a man can kill he would lie. Jesus did not tell Nicodemus you must stop drinking liquor if you are doing so excessively. He did not say that Nicodemus you must not commit adultery. Instead, he said something altogether different Nicodemus you must be born again. In a sense your whole structure should be changed. If Jesus were to address us at this period of nationhood celebration he would have echoed the same words Ghana you must be born again.

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us sometime bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The ?tide in the affairs of men? does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. There is an invisible book that faithfully records our vigilance or neglect. The good thing is that it is not too late for us. At forty-seven we can start over with new attitude towards building the nation. The paraphrase words of former U.S President John Fitzgerald Kennedy still remains us strong that: we should not ask what Ghana can for us but what we can do Ghana Ghana, at this period of nationhood celebration must be born again. It must start from you and me. We must change for the better and make this nation the true black star that Dr. Kwame Nkrumah dreamt about.

God bless our homeland and make it great and strong.

Appiah Kusi Adomako is a freelance writer and student of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He also works with an NGO called ?LEADERS OF TOMORROW FOUNDATION as an administrator. He can be contacted on: Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation, P.O. BOX. KS 13640. Kumasi-Ghana, West Africa. Tel 027-740-2467

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