You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2009 07 04Article 164636

Opinions of Saturday, 4 July 2009

Columnist: Agbodza, Kwami

Are We Capable Of Managing Our Own Affairs?

This is a rejoinder to an article entitled "Are We Capable Of Managing Our Own Affairs? by Jans Nouh Shuaib & P.K. Opoku Bonna published on 10 June 2009 on Ghanaweb feature pages.

This rejoinder shows that the title of the article contradicts the central question the article asks. The rejoinder then concludes that the article fails to raise the central question what incentives are concretely in place enabling our ruling elites who are our own brothers and sisters to fail to develop the resources of Africa.

According to the article Africa is endowed with abundant natural resources, yet we Africans have failed to develop the resources in order to get rid of poverty that has become synonymous with the word ˜Africa™. In an attempt to diagnose the problem, some Africans look outside ourselves; when they look outside they attribute our lack of development to colonialism, western economic hit men and/or "dependency" theories. But those of us, who admit that these forces exist and operate not only in Africa, prefer to look within and have found the real culprit in our midst;

The problem within is that our own brothers and sisters “ who are the ruling elite “ are failing to develop the resources to rid Africa of poverty.

Since our ruling elites - who are own brothers and sisters are not capable of managing our own affairs what can we do towards wealth creation and prosperity to prove to the world that "the black man is indeed capable of managing his own affairs"?

The article argues all over the place but in effect that all Ghanaians irrespective of all differences can work to create wealth and prosperity for all, by taking certain steps : œIn view of the terrible nature of the problems we face regarding our inability to create wealth and prosperity, we would like to call on all Ghanaians irrespective of their political or tribal affiliations to work together to reduce or possibly eradicate unnecessary expenses and corruption in our system, so that we can channel enough capital into the productive sectors as incentives for wealth creation and prosperity, and be able to prove to the world that "the black man is indeed capable of managing his own affairs".

So what must we Ghanaians do to prove "the black man is indeed capable of managing his own affairs"? is the question they seem to ask.

From our careful reading, colligating and collating all proposed actions, we think the article argues that all Ghanaians must take the following actions to create Wealth and Prosperity:

1. We must have the courage, at least by now, to admit that we prematurely achieved our independence only to be subjugated and exploited by our fellow merciless Africans.

2. Ghanaians: We must stop holding agricultural prices down, as we have been doing for ages, and forcing savings out of farmers (œsurplus extraction) to stop the destruction of agricultural growth important for industrialization.

3. Ghanaians: We believe that the bottom up approach is more appropriate at this stage of our development and must be encouraged in all sectors of the economy especially in the agricultural sector. For example, incentives to further expand the cocoa industry and fully exploit potentials of the crop as well as domesticate and develop other crops to generate more revenue and employment.

4. Give proper incentives to release the energies of all: There was only one problem neglected over the years. And if solved, will lead to the solution of all the other challenges: processing, domestication and gathering the other 50% that rots in the bush every year. Like any other sector in the country, the solution lies with proper incentives; incentives that will release the energies of the village women and propel them to produce more. Providing the farmers with protective clothing to guard them against snakes and insect bites is desirable, but not enough to propel them to go for the other half that we desperately need for our foreign exchange since all farmers face snakes and insect bites.

5. The authorities should encourage and provide the required "invisible hand" for the transformation, and embark on a research programme in order to have some proven results handy before they are pressed to provide them sooner or later. They should involve themselves on the ground now to determine the appropriate planting distance between the trees, maturity period, selection of high oil yielding species after knowing why some nuts produce more oil than others, why some trees produce more nuts than others, why some nuts are sweeter than others, the relationship between sweetness and the production of oil, why some are bigger than others, whether a particular type of soil found at a particular location has any impact on the nature of nuts borne by the trees, are there some diseases affecting their development and a host of questions and answers that must be made available by the agricultural scientists, as well as taping into the vast knowledge of the local people concerning the trees.

6. The government should set up 1 or 2 kilometers open demonstration plantations at some vantage points to be emulated by all those who will be willing to enter into the business.

7. But as much as possible, bureaucracy in all its forms should be reduced to the barest minimum in any of exercises.

8. In order to preserve our meager resources and efficiently direct them as incentives to the productive sectors, What we need is an increase in the producer price of the crop, and let the villagers know that it is a cash crop and pay them cash crop money for their work.

9. We must religiously eradicate or at least curb transgression and corruption. It is no longer a moral issue to be preached against in the churches, mosques or the daily news papers but a national crusade for our survival. This should involve all of us because, normally, countries get the type of leaders they deserve, although the emphasis is always on the leaders to set good examples since laypeople in every society imitate their leaders, and their misconduct is not a private matter. The exercise must cut across party lines, and each party should seriously consider purging the bad eggs in their midst before they embarrass them and wreck our already fragile economy no matter their influence or position in their respective parties. Our leaders must live above suspicion and technicalities, as well as adhere to agreed principles of correct moral conduct. This is what is expected of them and this is why we call them the ˜honourables™.

10. We should put in place strong measures that would reintroduce and instill in us the sacredness of government property. And the perpetrators from the president to the last officer must have their day in court and imprisoned if found guilty or barred from public office or both.

11. We should have an eagle eye on our public officials and if necessary scrutinize them thoroughly. Those who would not be able to cope or dislike being watched or scrutinized must find their way out since public servicing is a matter of choice and not mandatory. It has come to a point where we can no longer guarantee the honourability of many of our leaders and should therefore have stringent measures in place to protect ourselves.

12. The laws must be applied strictly to all and justice seen to be done devoid of political vindication.

13. Let us utilize the expertise and capabilities of the Accountant General and other related departments to systematically close all the known and perceived loopholes that a public officer can exploit to siphon resources, right down from the president to the lowest officer in the hierarchy. And the system must be such that it can prevent and expose transgression and fraud before or immediately after it has been committed.

14. We should seek the support of all the auditors in the private auditing firms that have ever audited the big corporations to reveal some of the rots they know. And any other transgression or fraud that ever took place in Ghana however small is a possible lead to closing these gaps, and the work must be done thoroughly and with passion.

Conclusion

We are left with the nagging question to ask the writers, namely, so who will lead the Ghanaians to take all these actions; or will the actions simply happen without leadership? If it must be led, what incentives are in place to make this leadership succeed that will replace those enabling the ruling elite to fail.

The writers believe all Ghanaians irrespective of their political or tribal affiliations to work together to reduce or possibly eradicate unnecessary expenses and corruption in our system, so that we can channel enough capital into the productive sectors as incentives for wealth creation and prosperity, and be able to prove to the world that "the black man is indeed capable of managing his own affairs.

Therefore the writers believe that we can manage our own affairs but having been let down by our own brothers and sisters as the ruling elite we all Ghanaians irrespective of all differences should work together.

The writers fail to address the possible absence of proper incentives for our brothers and sisters as the ruling elite to release their energies to develop Africa™s resources to create wealth and prosperity to rid Africa of poverty.

If the writers had raised the logical question arising from the complication they have themselves identified, namely, our own brothers and sisters “ who are the ruling elite “ are failing to develop the resources to rid Africa of poverty, they would rather have asked what incentives are making our ruling elites fail to develop resources to rid Africa of poverty.

If the writers had asked that logical question they would have properly understood that diagnoses must look both within and without. But they have only looked within. If they had looked without, they would understood that colonialism, western economic hit men and/or "dependency" theories are the external culprits fostering failure-enabling incentives on our leaders to develop Africa.

Looking within only is just as defective as looking without only. We must both look within and without. This is the CPP approach to development which Ghana must return to.

The writers fundamentally contradict themselves by implying it is the same elites who have so far failed to develop the resources of Africa that must be tasked with the actions necessary to tackle internal actions.

Note for Readers:

The Rejoinder is by Kwami Agbodza, Regional Education Secretary of CPP UK & Ireland.