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Opinions of Friday, 12 June 2015

Columnist: Al-hajj

Ghana On the brink

-Nation could become a failed state within 10-15 years


Whilst many citizens bubbled with confidence and optimism at the inception of Jerry Rawlings' 1979 and 1981 revolutions that disciplined life was about to finally return to the Ghanaian people and that, the country was once again in readiness to take its pride of place in the comity of civilized and developed nations, the antithesis, regrettably, has been the state of affairs in Ghana.

Contrary to the high expectation of the people, the country has been steadily slipping off the cliff since the return to constitutional rule in 1992, and unless immediate and drastic measures are put in place to reverse this catastrophic trend, the country could, within the next 10 to 15 years, join the queue of disreputable club of failed states.

Over the past two decades or more, indications of a possible collapse of the state have been noticeable. However, it's been increasingly becoming apparent in the last few years, courtesy the perfect storm of crisis, many, self induced or self-inflicted not excluding, the lack of political will to enforce orderliness.

Although events over the past few years in Ghana indicate some level of political authority and control, nonetheless, basic conditions and responsibilities as a sovereign state point to a nation heading to kaput. Ghana is about crossing the minimum classification of a 'failed' state; it’s only a matter of time, this unfortunate status would manifest itself unless and of course, far-reaching measures are put in place without further delay.

Currently, the nation is still in grief following the tragic death of close to 200 people in last week Wednesday flood and fire disaster. What befell the country, unfortunate as it is, only goes to buttress how a once buoyant, inspirational country is so fast degenerating into a state of indiscipline and disorder. A nation where basic rules, regulations are no longer adhered to and enforced, a nation where the word 'responsibility' is fast disappearing from its lexicon, virtually becoming 'alien' to everyone including, the state.

Paradoxically, Ghana pride itself as one of the best countries of sub-Sahara Africa that has laws regulating almost every facet of human life. However, and quite regrettably, most of these laws have been dormant, non operational and/or indeed, are gathering dust on the law shelves. Laws in Ghana are brazenly broken with all the impunity one can imagine with the government, representing the state, being the worst offender.

State resources are usually wasted in enacting laws but its application and enforcement becomes problematic either due to lack of political will, corruption, nepotism, interference or sheer dereliction of duties.

Suffice to mention that, the country’s woes cannot be blamed entirely on government(s), as it has now been firmly documented, established and acknowledged that, each and every Ghanaian in one way or the other, knowingly or otherwise, undeniably, daily contributes to pushing the country to the abyss.

Some of the major contributory factors to the perennial flooding in the nation's capital and other cities have been known by all adult Ghanaians for ages, including even kindergarten pupils. They include construction of open drains by successive and present governments, building on waters ways/course and the emptying of garbage into these open drains. Unfortunately, however, nothing or very little has been done to curb this unacceptable practices.

Another disturbing phenomenon we seem to overlook is the fact that Ghana, in its present form is regrettably polarized along partisan lines, particularly along NDC, NPP divide, further worsening the nation's plight.

A peep into how the country suffers under this obnoxious happening will reveal that, Despite the daily corruption, thievery, sleaze and raiding of the public purse by the looting brigades often referred to as government officials, and invariably, of the NDC and NPP stock, virtually no one has been held to account in the almost 23 years under the fourth Republican constitutional democracy.

This unacceptable folly has similarly paved the way for civil and public servants, who are themselves more often than not, either conduits to these criminal behaviors or passive observers, to also have a field day doing their own things.
It is estimated that Ghana, since the return to constitutional rule some 23 years ago, may have lost trillions of cedis, monies that could otherwise have been used to improve the living standards of the people or, provide them with the requisite and much needed amenities and close the nation's infrastructural deficit.
Since 1993, out of the thousands of government officials that served under the Jerry Rawlings' NDC regime, the Kufuor NPP government, the Atta Mills NDC II regime and now the John Mahama NDC III administration, only a handful of officials (be they ministers, MMDCEs, CEOs, board members, Ambassadors, other appointees, etc) have been indicted in one form of crime or the other. As if all are angels?

And even that, the few that were prosecuted and/or punished cried foul, claiming they never had fair trial. Notable amongst them included the late Victor Serlomey, Mallam Issah, Dan Abodakpi and Tsatsu Tsikata.

Others standing trial for various charges of stealing, embezzlement, corruption and/or causing financial loss to the state had their cases truncated either on reasons of nolle prosequi, thrown out on technicalities or insufficient evidence or had the charges against them simply dismissed. In all of these it's either the state purposely want to get such an outcome hence poor preparation, nepotism and cronyism or sheer incompetence and/or are connected politically.
Yet, when the ordinary Ghanaian steals a fowl, a bunch of cassava or a goat or embezzles as low as GHS100, they are given long sentences by the courts. And we say there is fairness and equity in this our so called constitutional democracy?
The U.S. State Department Country Report on Ghana 2005/2006, revealed how Ghana's justice system has been compromised "The (Ghana) Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respected this provision; however, in practice the judiciary appeared to be subject on occasion to executive influence". It also added that judges are corrupt and that, US citizens should as much as possible try to avoid litigation in Ghana courts.

We may continue to delude ourselves and bury our heads in the sands like ostriches but certainly, this nation is unmistakably sitting on a time bomb ready to explode as the masses, who are feeling the pinch and who feel marginalized or believe they are treated as 3rd class citizens in their own motherland, would one day rise and no force enough could stop them, not even the police nor the army. The Arab spring in the Maghreb region cannot so soon be forgotten.

Today in Ghana, people brazenly kill, maim, steal and rob and walk away freely all in the name of partisan politics and yet, we dangerously believe this Stone Age behavior can continue till thy Kingdom come.

We don't need a prophet or a soothsayer to tell us this impunity can't continue and needs to be stopped and, immediately too.