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Opinions of Thursday, 27 February 2020

Columnist: Kofi Thompson

Dismantle the entitlement-superstructure empowering our vampire-elites to ruthlessly exploit Ghana


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Has the time come to dismantle the entitlement-superstructure empowering our vampire-élites to ruthlessly exploit Mother Ghana? Perhaps.

In the year 2000, the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), was set up as a public trust by an Act of Parliament. It was an innovative common-good policy designed to help improve our educational institutions, nationwide, by resourcing them well.

The recent revelations (about how during the Mahama-era, privileged people, including sitting MPs, who weren't poor people, were given GETFund scholarships to study overseas, in some of the world's most prestigious universities, just to enable them spruce-up and burnish their CVs), show clearly that the GETFund ought to focus solely on empowering educational institutions across Ghana, by providing them with infrastructure and logistics, and leave the granting of scholarships to the Scholarship Secretariat. Simple.

It appears that under the 4th Republic, we have ended up creating a well-funded cradle-to-grave welfare state, for our greedy and self-seeking vampire-élites. That entitlement-superstructure means that when they are taken ill, for example, taxpayers pay for them to be flown abroad, to be treated in some of the world's best healthcare facilities. Outrageous.

The irony in all this, is that the selfless and principled President Nkrumah - whom the political forebears of our current leaders, sought to physically eliminate many times over because they felt that somehow he did not deserve to lead Ghana - worked hard to prevent that odious form of state-capture from occurring throughout his years in power. That is why he focused on creating conditions to encourage social mobility in Ghanaian society.

His 1963 speech, at the formal opening of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), is insightful, in that regard. President Nkrumah told the world that day, that he sought partnerships with investors so that our share of the profits from such joint-ventures could pay for social programmes, to empower the poor to bootstrap their way out of poverty. Free education in the north comes readily to mind.

A pioneer female Ghanaian industrialist, Mrs. Esther Ocloo, once recounted to me, how the Trade Fair Site came into being. A group of industrialists led by her apparently went to see President Nkrumah appeal to him for a permanent place to hold exhibitions for the products of Ghanaian manufacturing businesses. The proactive and visionary Nkrumah readily obliged.

Today, politically well-connected private entrepreneurs, hold sway over the Trade Fair Site, and their public private partnership (PPP) plan to partner foreign investors, to redevelop it, has resulted in the destruction of Ghanaian-owned manufacturing companies, providing jobs for young Ghanaians. How ironic.

Thus, in short, we have arrived at a juncture in our nation's history, when although this is a democracy, society's hardpressed-poor are rather subsidising a well-funded high-level public-sector entitlement culture - in stark contrast to the situation pertaining in Sweden, where their system is so structured that those at the top of society, such as MPs, serve the Swedish people diligently, abiding by strict rules and ethical requirements about their conduct - ensuring that they do a very, very good job and act in selfless fashion doing so: at very little cost to taxpayers there. The time has now come to dismantle the entitlement-superstructure empowering our vampire-élites to ruthlessly exploit Mother Ghana. Haaba. Hmmmm, Oman Ghana, eyeasem ooooo - asem kesie ebeba debi ankasa. Yooooo..

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