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Opinions of Friday, 6 January 2017

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis

Akufo-Addo’s magic wand faces a potential dilemma of epic proportions [3]

By Francis Kwarteng

“Political promises are much like marriage vows. They are made at the beginning of the relationship between candidate and voter, but are quickly forgotten” (Dick Gregory).

ADDITIONAL POLICY QUESTIONS FOR PRAGMATIC CONSIDERATION

Now, with Akufo-Addo and his incoming government yet to assume office next year, are we thinking of real change in cosmetic (temporary) or sustainable (permanent) terms?

Are the promised factories going to provide employees with living wages?

Are these factories going to be cottage industries or large-scale industrial factories that can compete with their counterparts in the West, Japan, Brazil, China, Australia, and South Korea?

Or that they are going to be merely white elephants, as costumed scarecrows in any countryside chosen to house one?

In other words, can these proposed factories advance comparative advantage and pragmatic nationalism?

Do we have men and women with superior technical, managerial, scientific, and technocratic knowledge, competence or expertise who can efficiently manage these factories?

Do we have unlimited supply of energy or power to run these factories?

Do we have adequate supply chain management systems and maintenance regimen in place to coordinate the operational activities of these factories and their maintenance, respectively?

Do we have a reliable supply of raw material to feed these factories?

Do we have ready markets to absorb the products these proposed factories will churn out?

What strategic and tactical measures have we put in place to ensure that our products compete well with others on the international stage?

How favorably do our statistical quality/quality control techniques, for instance, compare with others’ in the industrial world, say Japan or the United States?

And with the typical Ghanaian’s taste for foreign products and ideas, and abject hatred of things Ghanaian and African, what measures have we put in place to ensure Ghanaians at least patronize locally manufactured goods and services?

Do we have men and women with employable skills to keep these factories operationally afloat?

Do we have men and women and monitoring systems in place to guard against members of crime syndicates or organized crime from smuggling factory products out of the country and selling them at uncompetitive prices to Ghana’s potential competitors?

We are referring to men and women trained in the techniques of industrial espionage!

What about the dams promised?

Are they going be modern industrial-scale dams or cheap 15-century earth-fill dams?

How are we going to maintain these dams?

What measures do we have in place to combat the harsh realities of global warming both foreseeable and unforeseeable, including drought and desertification?

What criteria are the $1-million-per-constituency-a-year disbursements to be based on? Population size? Giving out the same amount every year whether or not one constituency contributes to the nation’s wealth, public purse/GDP than the other?

How do we expect one constituency with a larger population size to be given the same amount of money as another constituency but of a smaller population size?

What measures have we put in place to ensure these monies do not end up in private pockets, that is, to prevent another pathetic round of “create, loot and share” as happened under the Mahama and Kufuor presidencies?

Do we have competent and patriotic men and women to handle these monies? What exactly are these monies to be used for? And who determines what exactly these monies are to be used for?

Do the criteria include only ideas for regional or constituency development that is totally divorced from any national program of development?

Do citizens of these constituencies have a say as to how they want their monies used and, if so, will it be based on a referendum? If not, how? What if there are serious disagreements, say deadlocks in referenda, as to how these constituencies want to use their monies in a way that do meet the expectations of a national program of development?

Are these monies taxable?

And then how do we factor in the so-called Zongo Development Fund? Does every constituency across the country have a Zongo? What if one constituency has multiple Zongos? What of other non-Zongo communities with similar levels of poverty and material deprivation as our typical Zongos?

Do such non-Zongo communities—such as Christian ones, to mention but one—have a right to similar funds? Can we create a similar fund for National Association of Head Potters (Kayayes), for surviving trokosi girls and women, and for the Unemployed Graduates Association of Ghana (UGAG)? In other words aren’t there non-Zongo communities that are equally deprived and deserving of similar funds?

What are our expectations? How do we measure the success of these funds? Have we put strategic measures in place to ensure these funds are not channeled into other unpatriotic and subversive activities such as terrorism, into building more makalanta rather than S.T.E.M-based learning institutions, and/or into supporting other disruptive activities against the non-Muslim community?

Can this Fund breed dependency complex? What other qualitative measures have we put in place to ensure we effectively deal with the root causes of the problems in the Zongos and not merely to treat their symptoms?

Could the Zongo Development Fund be basis for discriminatory charges by non-Zongo communities against the Akufo-Addo government?

Should these policy activities not have been the responsibility of strong local governments, rather than of the corrupt executive office?

Finally, how can a helplessly corrupt political organization like the NPP guarantee that these monies do not mysteriously end up in the pockets of private persons?

And, oh yes, we have a billion template of questions to ask about all the other pre-election promises Akufo-Addo and Bawumia made to Ghanaians.

In other words the list of unanswered questions is almost endless…

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

There is no question in our minds that, indeed, Akufo-Addo and his incoming government have a herculean task on their hands.

This includes the untechnical, unscientific grounding of our educational system. The current state of our educational system is such that it cannot support the kind of radical transformation Akufo-Addo and Bawumia have been touting.

Significantly, sustainable change and transformation go beyond a passing knowledge of attitudinal change in the national character. For what it’s worth, we believe the two must go hand in hand.

This will require intelligent, bold, visionary, technocratic and anti-corruption leadership and the proactive collaboration of Ghanaians and civil society organizations to make this happen.

In fact, any policy strategy and technocratic vision short of this will not augur well for the kind of policy transformation and change Akufo-Addo and Bawumia have been proposing all along.

Only a scientific or technical revolution can bring about this radical transformation and change, which among other things means serious policy consideration for and implementation of the concepts of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in our dying educational system, and outright rejection of the chew-and-pour methodology or learning-by-rote pedagogy our educators and students are known for.

We have more to learn from South Korea, Japan, Brazil, China, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

Even so Akufo-Addo (and his incoming government) must carry Ghanaians, Africans and other members of the rest of the world along as he implements his campaign promises. Members of his government and all well wishers should engage the Ghanaian particularly, the youth and women as well, through education and gender equality, affirmative action programs aimed at why these programs are needed to boost the national economy and at why their continued support for and successful operation of these programs will largely depend on the Ghanaian’s participation in the entire process.

These programs must be people-centered.

All hands on deck!

CONCLUDING REMARKS

The probity, transparency and accountability rhetoric of the Fourth Republic has been nothing positive other than a hypocritical political sermon favoring, or coded language endorsing, institutional corruption.

In the Fourth Republic we have seen the physical attributes of Ghanaian leadership change from Rawlings’, to Kufuor’s, to Mills’, and to Mahama’s, yet the only real, substantive change any one can point to in the country that is constant have no doubt been the suffocating stench of open defecation, institutional corruption, children studying under trees, trokosi, mass poverty and illiteracy, proliferation of criminal lies, unmotorable network of roads, a schadenfreude politics of insults, political ethnocentrism, steep decline in the critical faculties of Ghanaians, mushrooming of clerics as the new deities of latter-day disorganized religion and organized religion, and so on.

This change that has remained constant in the Fourth Republic also has been palliative, largely unsustainable at best.

Thus, for Akufo-Addo and Bawumia to achieve a semblance of the radical transformation and change they have been promoting, they must among other things do away with organized crime at our harbors, borders, and airports, as well as distribute the national cake equally among the regions.

Finally, revenue collection at the harbors and airports is to be closely monitored so that it does not end up in private pockets.

Also, corporate social responsibility is another important area of technocratic pursuit they must never ignore. Among other policy strategies therefore, this new leadership involving Akufo-Addo and Bawumia should formulate progressive tax policies aimed at courting foreign and indigenous investment, to promote local industries, namely policies that are certainly antithetical to unfavorable corporate tax repatriation, tax evasion, and illicit financial flows from Africa, as well as to local or indigenous entrepreneurial initiatives.

In other words, there is an imperative need to get rid of all bureaucratic bottlenecks that stand in the way of comparative advantage, pragmatic nationalism, and progressive investment strategies. It goes without saying that we need strong institutions for the implementation of these policy propositions to work, beyond the dog-whistle politics and grandiose implicatures of our duopolistic boobocrats.

This calls for an independent judiciary, parliament, and special prosecutor. The BNI and the CID should be re-constituted and retooled to make them more independent of political influence and patronage.

Further, the Indemnity Clause and its adnate offspring, executive dominance, must both disappear from our national constitutional for good without any imaginable trace of their potential rebirth or reappearance in the Ghanaian body politic.

Combating galamsey and galamsey-related pollution as well as, if possible, renegotiating all the contracts we entered into regarding our natural resources—minerals, gas/oil, primarily—are a must.

This somehow ties into a progressive understanding of land economy, forest and wildlife management, environmental engineering and awareness issues, historic preservation, hospitality ethics, and absolute eradication of open defecation, and finally, into investment management strategies regarding the service industry which accounts for a sizeable portion of Ghana’s GDP.

It is high time we realized natural resources are not, in and of themselves, wealth. Science, technology, industrialization, hard work, good leadership, strong institutions, patriotism, good citizenship, quality education and critical pedagogy, comparative advantage, and Afrocentric Pan-Africanism are true wealth.

Again, it is high time we began living this true wealth. But then again, at the same time Akufo-Addo and Bawumia and the incoming government must prove Dick Gregory wrong.

Surely we must also do away with the schadenfreude politics of insults, abuse of incumbency, arrogance of power, political ethnocentrism, extreme partisan politics, phallocentric politics and male chauvinism, crony capitalism, institutional corruption, executive dominance and Indemnity Clause, political propaganda and agitprop, social media abuse of politicians, biased muckraking, and the winner-takes-all kleptomaniacal democracy.

With that said, we will also add that Akufo-Addo and his incoming government are in for the long haul—no doubt!

We shall return…