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Opinions of Sunday, 22 May 2011

Columnist: Komla. Adetsu

Ensuring Consistency In National Development

Ensuring Consistency In National Development : Manisfestoes Vrs National Vision

The ostensible emerging signal is that the generality of the populace is now fully conscious of the huge discrepancies between manifesto pledges and its materialization. There is therefore agonizing repetitive hue and cry over the abysmal failures on the part of governments to meet its citizens’ expectations. The corollary excuses and defense from governments always stem from what some magnanimously call reality checks. The argument is forcefully made that, prevailing conditions virtually render their manifestoes a non workable document. The tussle over these recurrent disappointing phenomena can be surmounted if and only if the nation puts in place a comprehensive mechanism to adequately hold governments accountable. Thus establishing a standard by which manifestoes are evaluated and how performance or achievements are judged.

Manifestoes, by their nature and design are partisan and ideologically biased. They reflect visions of political parties seeking the mandate of the electorates. Therefore is not out of place to view them as developmental agenda primarily fashioned and targeted at winning national elections. One can imagine how flamboyantly they are carved in order to make them more appealing to the ordinary man, who probably does not get to read them fully but only hears excerpts and may not be well informed to properly put them to critical scrutiny. Therefore, manifestoes, especially in our part of the world can best be described as decoys. They more or less serve as competitive tools to gain power. However, the multibillion cedi question remains to be asked. To what extent do these manifestoes reflect national aspiration?

At this juncture I should submit that the only authentic, transparent and pragmatic mechanism that can hold governments accountable to their manifestoes promises is common NATIONAL VISION. If parochial political actions are not in tandem with national vision, no matter how genuine they are intended, the obvious resultant effects will be; uncoordinated programmes, directionless efforts, haphazard and scattered projects, ad hoc measures, nick jerk reactions, and kind of fire fighting approach to addressing issues. Even worse is the fact that, in an attempt to leave behind monumental marks, each ruling party endeavours to starts new programmes and projects. Hence developmental actions do not follow any concrete defined national patterns. This haphazardness flies in the face of the Directive Principles of State Policy which enjoins continuity of state projects and programmes. However, it is to be understood since each ruling government comes from different political perspectives and different economic views of how the nation should be developed. In light of this, it is imperative to have a national agenda that can whip each government in line, so as to bridge the dichotomy between manifestoes and national vision.

This national document must be a product of all shades of opinions, expertise, knowledge, non-partisanship, stakeholders among others, all in the bid to giving it a nationalistic identity, ownership and outlook. Contained in this national agenda, should comprise a grand strategy of a vision that reflect what, where, how and when the nation wants to see itself at a certain future date, taking into account both internal and global dynamics. The fundamental aim is to lift the nation from her economic underdevelopment to a developed pedestal, where the country can assume its full respect and weight among communities of nations.

How can the said national vision engender consistency in development? Let us take a typical example, if for instance on education, the national agenda envisions establishing twenty universities in the next twenty years. That amounts to one university averagely, each year. For each four year term of a government, the nation naturally expects to see four universities. Proceeding from this binding vision, each political party is compelled to incorporate this in their manifestoes. A manifesto then can competitively promise more than four universities and further explain how they hope to fund it. Once an acceptable national vision is in place, then it becomes imperative for all manifestoes to draw their strength from it. The context, content and acrimonious contest of our political discussions will now be reduced to the debate over choice and mode of implementation of manifestoes.

Just as our legal frame requires that all other laws must be consistent with the nation’s constitution so also all manifestoes must be drafted to match the national vision. That is the only way consistency can be guaranteed in our developmental quest and journey. The clarion call is even sounding louder beckoning the nation to swiftly put together a think tank of the crème de la crème to draft this all important document without delay-NATIONAL VISION.