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Opinions of Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Columnist: Danso, Kwaku A.

Create Jobs! Stop Drug Trafficking!

The report published on Ghanaweb of March 10, 2006 is a shock to me, that Ghana is becoming a transit point for illegal drugs and has even been so noted in US reports! Come ooon!! The report reads:

?The US Government?s 2005 Assessment Report on Illegal Drugs Situation in Ghana said ?Ghana is increasingly becoming a transit point for illegal drugs, particularly cocaine from South America and heroin from South East and South West Asia??
Captain Effah Dartey said government has taken drug trafficking as a serious issue and is committed to fighting the pandemic to the barest minimum. However, Director of the UN Information Centre, Accra, Madam Novicki revealed in her report that ? In 2004, the total amount of cocaine seized while being transported through countries in West Africa exceeded 14 tons? (Ghanaweb, 2006, March 10).

Folks, for centuries, it has been known that illegal drug use was a means to destroy any society. It is quite unfortunate that drugs have found their way through our ports, perhaps due to the peaceful (relatively) nature of our ports and nation, and the known poor enforceability of laws in our country. Yes, poor law enforcement is a weakness in leadership, and such weakness has also caused massive loss of capital infusion and even misappropriation and mismanagement of loans meant for public works and job creation. This has then led to high costs and hence high inflation, poor pay below living wages, as admitted by Rawlings long time finance Minister Dr. Kwesi Botchwey. Our leadership of the last two or so decades have been known for high sounding talk and empty braggadocio, but with low cognitive skills and management savvy. They have created desperate families with a tendency for high crimes in Ghana! Our culture has changed!

People in Ghana, including the President and the Ministers, are paid so little that they can be easily bribed and their whole culture, upbringing, Sunday Church service, are thrown out of the door! The government leaders and Ministers, unable to solve what we call in our language ?sika nkontabuo? (money arithmetic) and hence solve this human resource problem, subsidize their pay by dipping their hands illegally in public coffers to buy cars, expensive unnecessary luxury vehicles, and travel using per diem allowances to pay back campaign debts and save for their kids college education overseas. The worst of them actually are known to make public funds vanish [what was called in the PNDC time financial wizardry] to the tune of millions of dollars, and neglect supervision of public projects such as road construction. No road in Ghana is built to last! Shame!

Public image and perception of crime or corruption is a very critical factor in the world that affects national rankings and financial investor risks. This then affects what interest rate one gets for major loans. An interest rate hike of say 2% could mean another $20 million paid annually for being a ?bad boy? when they give you that $1 billion. Our President Kufuor does not seem to understand this. Else he would not talk as if perception of crime and corruption is not valid. It is! Folks Ghana was not like that when some of us were growing up! Desperation of educated people with no jobs creates major social and cultural behavior patterns and mechanisms, including such foreign-induced materialistic-oriented crimes to do desperate things like cocaine and other drugs that ruin peoples? minds and fry their brains. Desperation has let some Ghanaian even board cargo areas of planes to Europe and died. Why? Desperation leads to unusual risk-taking! Americans have lots of crimes, far higher than any civilized nation on earth, including drugs, but they have the money to fight, the core will to enforce laws, and jobs. Drug trafficking then become one of a fast track means for some crooks. In Ghana selling PK chewing gum and dog chains in the streets all day for a secondary school graduate is a hard sell. Patriotism does not bring food to the table. Small temptations such as drugs can become a temptation, just as joining coup-makers and white collar corruption become a pattern in our government in the last few decades for some of our smart old school mates in academia in Ghana. The solution, my friends, is elementary: Let us create jobs in Ghana! Let our leaders focus mainly on what will keep young kids busy and off the streets! JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! If we think of job creation, every time we negotiate with others, that should click in our minds to think only on what will benefit us as a nation, what will create jobs in Ghana. Leaders of nations like Singapore used such strong mutually self interest negotiations tactics to attract America jobs, and it worked! Today they have left us in the dust. We are still at GNI/capita below $400 and they are over $22,000! Buying buses, cars, building materials, procuring loans, enforcing laws, building public parks (You wish! smile), etc, etc. All of them have job-creation components. If our own engineers, technicians, laborers are hired to implement public works procured with these loans, and our officials allow high paying salaries out of these loans [above their own secure salaries without envy], eventually the society will move up. More jobs created reduce tension and creates government revenue to improve the society and hence develop as a nation. Higher government revenue leads to higher pay for government executives and Ministers also. It should be made illegal for any government official to take foreign loans on our behalf, and allow foreigners to come and work in Ghana at expatriate wages, with very rare exceptions if we have advertised for say 3 months or more in Ghanaian global sites and advertisement media and found no Ghanaian bidders on the job. Americans do the same in the US. They hire foreign workers only if they cannot get their own people to do the job.

Drug trafficking is a serious social damaging activity, beyond being a personal crime. That is why every society fights it. It simply reduces people to a useless state, sometimes leading to other crimes such as murders and street gangs, costing us more in hospital costs, funeral costs and loss of investment in the individuals. In the US it was found that some sick-minded government officials had even encouraged the infiltration of black neighborhoods in California cities with drugs in the 1960s/70s, just to cause more havoc and destroy these impoverished communities. There are sick minds in every society and human love is not as common as we read in the Bible. If I were to advice on this drug trafficking, which triggered me to write today, it will be to do whatever it takes to negotiate with the Western nations, such as the US, to help us create jobs in our own country! All the drugs (legal), chemicals, insect sprays, machinery, electronics, we import from the US give their people gobs and takes away from our people. Even rice importation has killed our investment in rice farming, reducing perhaps whole communities to joblessness! Ghanaians have thousands of scientists, bio-chemists, engineers, technicians, who can create small machine parts, are good craftsmen, and are creative and flexible minded if anybody would train them. These foreign firms should be challenged to manufacture machine parts, automotive spare parts, chemicals and drugs, in order to help create jobs in Ghana and not simply use our people as tools to their own ends. A win-win situation is what is needed to create global harmony and peace. Competition is good, but it is supposed to help people improve their local skills and productivity and quality of products, and not kill their endeavors completely. Let us fight crimes and help our youth grow up with hope, and our people out of desperation.

Long live Ghana.

Kwaku A. Danso, President Ghana Leadership Union, Inc (NGO) Fremont, California & East Legon, Accra, Ghana

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

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