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Opinions of Monday, 2 November 2009

Columnist: Appeadu, Charles E.

Ghana’s Retrogressive Policy on Dual Citizenship and Key Appointments

What are we doing as a nation? How do our leaders make decisions? What are the true motives behind these decisions? I wish to make here a strong case not only against this very retrogressive policy of preventing Ghanaians with dual citizenships from holding certain positions in Ghana, but for deliberately going after some of these individuals to hold certain key positions in Ghana! I am assuming here that our leaders have a clear objective to create a better nation and to enhance the quality of life of our citizens.

Ghana is a developing nation with underdeveloped institutions critical for nation building. Many (if not most) of its most intelligent students travel to the most advanced economies in the world to further their education. The best among these individuals compete with the brightest students in the world in some of the most competitive universities in the world and hold their own. Some of them are fortunate enough to obtain employment in some of the leading corporations in the world and get exposed to the best practices in their fields of expertise. There are Ghanaian scientists working for some of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world. There are Ghanaian IT specialists working for IBM, CISCO Systems, etc. There are Ghanaian finance professionals working for leading Investment Banking/Investment Management firms in the world. The list goes on and on. Any wise leader should see this as a great positive for Ghana! Think about it! We got free education on the backs of our peasant farmers and fishermen and were privileged to travel to the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia etc. to study for advanced degrees. After our degrees, we got employed in some of the best companies in the world and got exposed to the best technological and management practices. Some of us have had great opportunities to work as Portfolio Managers with billions of dollars under our management and we have executed our fiduciary responsibilities with the utmost professionalism and integrity. Other Ghanaians are working at the highest management and technical levels in some of the most reputable US corporations with several people reporting to them. I must add that more often than not, these very intelligent and accomplished Ghanaians are also the citizens with the highest levels of integrity. Shouldn’t this be the time for Ghana to reap dividends from these children of hers? Shouldn’t this be the time for the President and other leaders in Ghana to search for these Ghanaians and discuss with them how they can use their valuable knowledge and experience to help put our dear nation on the path to development? We often make attempts to compare the development of the Asian countries to our own. Have we made any attempt to learn from the Asian countries how they made use of their citizens who were working in these advanced economies? Do your research and find out the contributions citizens of Taiwan, India, Malaysia, China, and South Korea in the Diaspora made to those countries’ respective developments. How do we think? If we don’t change this attitude, we are not going anywhere. Instead of seeking these people to help, we make laws to prevent them from taking key positions saying something to this effect: “when we were in Ghana suffering, you were in the US enjoying life and now you want us to give you a position so you can come here to enjoy over us”. What a childish way to think!

The leaders in Ghana should know that many Ghanaians in the Diaspora took up citizenship in these foreign countries so we can fully participate in the systems here. This does not mean that we do not love Ghana. On the contrary, we do love Ghana dearly and many of us send thousands of dollars to Ghana each year. We also travel to Ghana to engage in business activities, hold seminars, and teach in universities during the summer months. If an accomplished Ghanaian of genuine integrity decides to take up an appointment in Ghana, it is not because he wants to steal from Ghana but it is because he wants to contribute towards Ghana’s development. Of course, there are always those who have nefarious agenda and the government should do its homework well before making appointments but to say that because I took up a US citizenship, I am no longer patriotic to Ghana is unfortunate. We cannot deny the fact that a disproportionately high number of our best and brightest are domiciled abroad and it will be in our best interest as a nation to diligently seek these individuals to bring their expertise to bear in our quest to build our nation.

Charles E. Appeadu