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Opinions of Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku

Don’t Vote For Dumbocrats

Voice Of Reason:

Don’t Vote For Dumbocrats: If You Want Freaknomics And Empowernomics!

VOTE FOR ME because I’m throwing my hat into the race for the castle.

Yep, with the oil money in the horizon the next national election will be crowded and clubbed with intensity .Most candidates will be ‘electioncuted’ by the electorates before they’re prosecuted. Therefore I’m throwing my hat (or should I say, my heart?) in very early.

I’m mad as hell so I’m running for something — ‘anything’-- because it seems the Ghanaian government never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to make life miserable for the average Ghanaians.

As if Ghanaians don’t have enough problems to deal with. Now there is a plan in the works by the Ghana government to cedis-and -pesewas the telephone service consumers. The –power-to be- is planning to put 19cents/min. surcharge on the inbound international calls. That is not only a travesty of justice but, it’s a crime against Ghanaians and their Right to have something as simple as a telephone call from their loved ones. I hope the electorates will not forget that in 2012.

Yes, I’m slowly working on my reincarnation. Why not? Every soul in Ghana wants to run away from responsibility but wants to ran for a political office of some sort , so why not me? At least, I shoot straight and I will not make empty promises .Neither will I get a car loan every four years and I will definitely declare all my assets and liabilities in print . I would ask that every MP should be weighed monthly .Any increase in weight is indicative of an MP living above his means. It’s a fact, most MPs gain considerable weight while in office. Why is that?

Yes, I didn’t study Ghanaian politics 101, but I’m sure with no time I’d be able to learn the proper way to take a bribe and embezzle some few government’s funds in order to solidify my socio-economic status. The downside of my inexperience could also be my asset because that would make me do and say things without thinking about the consequence and what my party honchos would do to me .I would surely be a’ loose cannon’ for my party.

For years, my life has been mostly addition and subtraction, so I’m thinking of adding a little life trigonometry to the twist—just to make it more meaningful and dynamic. So the thought of running for a political office is the right thing to do now; just to inject a little sanity into the political process.

But, before I dive into it , I have a confession to make :I haven’t ran for anything in my life. Oh, I take that back. I have ran for something but, not a political office.

Way back in the day when I weighed one-hundred and twenty –something pounds, I ran a- 200yd race for my house when my school had inter-house athletic competition. I have also ran for my life when we experienced very serious and deadly rain storm in 1980, which took off the roofs of several houses in my town. It was the day people suddenly discovered the direct contact line to God for guidance and protection.

The religious ones among the neighbors spoke in ‘tongues’ ,while others chanted to seek protection from ‘Akonodi’ gods and others congregated at local shrine until the storm was doused. That was the time everyone had to run zigzaggedly for their lives —without any designated destination—just like the ‘earthquake hoax “we experienced early this year in Ghana.

Oh, speaking of that “earthquake”, I’m sure every Ghanaian has his own fabulous tale to tell about it. I was in Ghana when we were told by unconfirmed source to walk to the nearest soccer field in the middle of the night to wait for instructions as a way to secure our safety. I refused to go so I stayed by my potable transistor radio just in case the President would get on the radio and inform or assure the nation that everything was under control but, the boys at my house won’t let me stay in my own room because they kept banging my door to get me out. They were afraid for my safety because they didn’t want to see me being swallowed by the “earthquake”. That goes to show that Ghanaians are very vulnerable and weak-minded. A lunatic can easily put the entire country into panic mode by just planting a hoax on the net, or cellphone and start a fire ball.

Now back to my political ambition. Anyway, there are a few things I’m good at but, running for a political office is not one of them. And, when it comes to political office ambition, I’m very adamantly and rigidly against it. I don’t think I would be a great politician. I don’t have the stomach for political innuendos and the nonsense that go on at the political corridors.

For one thing I’d be a lonely MP because I’d always do what is right for the nation .I have the willingness to tell the electorates what they need to know even if it’s not what they want to hear. But, the problem is what is right for the nation is not necessarily what our voters and the parties look for. So I’d probably be a lousy one-time elected politician, because I’d tell my uncompromising constituency what they don’t want to hear, most of the time.

How on earth would I need a car loan every year when most schools in my district do not have school desks for the students? Why do we want government to take care of our sanitation issues? What happened to communal labor? That is how we used to clean our environment. Why do we expect the government to replace our street light bulbs for us? Why individuals have monthly budget plan but, most towns in Ghana have none?

With these kinds of thinking in my chromosome, I must as well kiss my political ambition good-bye. Nobody will vote for me if I want to be a politician of a different breed. Ghanaians don’t like that.

So, why is my writing being saturated with political antidotes, commentaries and social hiccups?

Well, I don’t live in a vacuum .Therefore; sometimes it is very hard to separate my political views from my personal philosophy or belief system. They are more or less intertwined. The line between what we consider as ‘personal views’ or’ belief system ‘and ‘political philosophy’ is thoroughly blurred.

As a result, I have several readers from afar and near asking me to “run for something” (whatever that means!) They must be up to something that I don’t know. The same question is echoed in my district. The folks suggested that I should run for an MP. Some went as far as pushing me to a district head (DCE) position. And, I took all that in my stride—who doesn’t want to be showered with political attention?

But let’s get this straight from a start: If I’m going to run for anything I’d like to go all the way to the top. What about the presidency? Don’t laugh; I’m serious as heart attack. Hey, it doesn’t hurt to have an Olympics –size ambition!

Now that you know my political ambition, it’s fair to let you know the political platforms I would be campaigning on and my vision for the country. I have a truck-load of them and they’re not in any particular order. So just go through and figure out if they would earn me some votes.

My political Slogan is:

Don’t vote for the Dumbocrats if you want freaknomics and empowernomics.

My political platform: The political platform I’m running on is simple: Don’t ask the government to do for you what you can do for yourself and Keep it simple style. (K.I.S.S)

New law: I will definitely make it a crime for anyone talking on the cellphone while peeing in the urinal in public restroom --yes, ladies what you hear in the background while men are talking to you isn’t a water fountain running. We pretend we’re listening and paying attention, but we don’t. The peeing is more important to us than the phone call. So I promise to stop all that if you vote for me.

On education: Right off the bat, I’d privatize public education, making sure the national government and local board have oversight responsibility. It’s a fact, top-quality private schools are giving reactively superb education for less money per student than the worst public schools, yet some pay their teachers less than government employed teachers.

I’d also make some courses mandatory in schools. Every student from senior secondary school to university level will be required to take entrepreneurial classes and study the Kwahus’ business savvy model. We should let our students research and study Kwahus business prowess. Perhaps they hold the key to entrepreneurial skills that the rest of us need in order to succeed financially.

Financial literacy would be a required course for every student in the country. I’m not talking about just learning how to balance a check book. It’s understanding the value of money, stock market, personal investment, and the ability to make an informed decision as a consumer. If nothing at all, it will also teach our future leaders how to live within their means and understand the power of money.

College students would be required to take internship or apprenticeship program before graduation. Many educational experts estimate that over fifty percent of college graduates end up working in areas other than the one for which they hold a degree. That means they end up completing a degree only to find that they don’t really like working in the area that they enjoyed studying.

I’d also recommend that every secondary school student should take community service training course as a graduation requirement.

Mass education will be reinstituted to allow every Ghanaian to have at least basic reading and writing skills. This will be done by senior secondary school students who will take community training service as part of their school assignments.

For effective education, my administration will provide funds and incentives for private vocational schools to give an entry level training to medical personnel in EKG, Nurse’s Aide, Pharmacy technician, Phlebotomy, Ultrasound, Health information technology, patient Care technicians and medical Assistants.

My running mate:

There is no female vice- president on the ticket of any political party yet. Does it mean that there is no female qualified politician in Ghana? My running mate is definitely going to be a female. And, I will tell you the reason. We live in a beauty-obsessed society; a female vice-president can control the male politicians easier than a man. So I‘d select a brainy female with a traffic-stopping beauty, who is humble and possesses the ability to get the job done.

On our ministers, I would like you to think about this as we are entering the presidential campaign season: Doesn’t it make sense a little that we should demand of the presidential candidates to introduce their team before we vote? If my suggestion doesn’t make sense then someone should tell me why the vice-president is picked before we vote? Why should it be a secret to know who is going to get the president’s ear and control our lives for four years? Let every presidential candidate show his team members of his would-be administration before we vote.

Our ministers and MPs would be required to spend two days in a month to go undercover and live among the electorates to see and learn how they cope with life. That would be part of leadership seminary.

On term of office: With people making a career out of politics, our college graduates are abandoning their career goals and focusing on politics with laser beam because they know that it guarantees their fastest and shortest route to stable social status and acquisition of worldly toys as well as state’s property at “donkomi”.

With that I would encourage our Parliamentarians to be part-timers, and would be convened two weeks every other month. The MPs would be housed in nice bungalows, work every day for the two weeks they are on the public’s business then return home and run their own businesses in the real world. Having your own business or some valuable expertise would be a requisite factor for qualification to run as MP.

To help limit their work load, there should be a limit of Bills that need to be passed every year. I have been thinking of six Bills a year. I’m sure that should be enough for them to deal with. What do you suggest? That would also help the voters to keep track of what the government is doing to address their needs and concerns.

I’m thinking of moving some of the head offices of the ministries far away from Accra. Do you really think that we need the head office of the ministry of education, Agriculture, Social welfare, Energy, Interior or Mineral and Natural resources in Accra? What would happen if we moved the main offices to other cites and towns to reduce traffic congestion and increase efficiency and productivity?

Jobs creation:

I have four areas that I want to develop to create enough jobs for those who want to work.

1)By my first hundred days in office, I would tackle the railways transportation system ,as a way to create jobs and make the country accessible to public transportation .It’s politics as usual so don’t ask me about the sources of funds. But Bob Marley was right, “Where there is a will there is always a way!”

A railway transportation network would not only be a major employment generator but, it would also be a relief for our congested and dangerous road network. A trip across Ghana from Takoradi or Cape coast to Bolga by railway could be fun. It would be an extraordinary way to get around and see other parts of the country with less stress and less risk.

Travelers using the railway ports going to the north from our and to our neighboring countries would reach their destinations with less hassle than road. Accidents could be reduced so that we can take a break from too many funeral activities on Saturdays. Funerals are draining our economy and productive time.

2) In the west the consumption of organic (natural) food is becoming a religion because chemically, saturated foods have been the sources of their diseases and obesity. And, since we have a competitive advantage in that department, why can’t we capitalize on that? We are fortunate to be dropped on a fertile land, with great climate which is free from chemical contamination. We can therefore create a niche by exporting snails, mushrooms, fruits, edible leaves, and plants to the west. It’s a fact; no country gets rich by sitting on its lazy ass or resources.

3) On those cellphoneholics and Internetholics, who congregate in the internet café to engage in 'Sakawa' and cyber crimes, I would design a way to put all of them into ITC boot camp so as to let them put their ‘skills’ to a better use. They would be encouraged to polish their skills so that they could build software to help improve education, agriculture and even build home grown personal computers.

4) Medical tourism is another area that has a huge employment potential. I’m not only talking about the foreign exchange coming out from the hospital services but the revenue from subsidiary industries such as: hotels, restaurants, transportation, banking, beauty salons, interpreters, and masonry. The employment potential is endless. I wonder why no politician has tackled this project with vim and vigor as a brainchild of his legacy. No politician ever got defeated by overestimating the voters’ intelligence.

I believe these job creation engines could power our economy more than the oil industry. The good part is that those with entrepreneurial sprit could easily start their own businesses to support these industries. New businesses are vital to job growth, but they need a new comprehensive, well formulated economic blueprint to fuel the engines of business creation. My four years would create enough jobs for every Ghanaian who wants to work.

Next on my radar are the foreign cars that are using our roads and taking advantage of our lax insurance laws. To fix the problem I would ask every driver from our neighboring countries to buy temporary auto liability insurance in Ghana for the time they want to spend in Ghana. That would safeguard our citizens and economy in case something happens while they are in Ghana. That source of revenue would be used to maintain old roads and build new ones.

Another area that needs my attention is our banking system. I’m not talking about the lack of security system in the banking industry. There are plenty to talk about on that, but I will deal with that once I get elected. My immediate concern is the foreign banks operating in the country. How many banks does Accra need?

The foreign and new banks should be required to have their head offices outside the capital for two years before they are allowed to open an office in Accra. This will speed up rural development and also reduce traffic congestion in the city. If they really want to conduct business then they will have to deploy and depend on ICT or electronic banking which will also be a win, win situation for the country. However, there would be tax incentives for those banks that would choose to make use of this law.

I’d also give KUST an ultimatum to come up with a cheap and reliable solar energy panels that can be made from local raw materials. The goal is to blanket the entire country with relatively cheap and reliable solar panels for power supply.

There are more things to bring out to the public before the election but, I’m too busy working out the details, so stay with me. The Dumbocrats are busy trying to out-spend me .So I’m not taking anything for granted.

Stay tuned; I’m still in the campaign mode, so bear with me. More to come!

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi (The Voice Of Reason) NJ.USA

*The author is a social commentator and the founder of the Adu-Gyamfi At Risk Youth Empowerment Foundation, At Kwaebibrim District, and Asuom.