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Opinions of Thursday, 21 May 2020

Columnist: George-Maclean Adzidaglo

Ghana's white elephants - Abandoned projects and arrested development

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The love for our Nation and the desire to see development in our nation seems to have eluded us as a people. The erstwhile colonial administration did not call us THE GOLD COAST perchance or out of the lack of a better name, but because of our lands which our gallant forefathers fought so hard to preserve for us as a legacy is rich with all kinds of mineral resources.

The Gold Coast was so-named because it was an important source of gold. The Portuguese interest in trading for gold, ivory, and pepper so increased that in 1482 the Portuguese built their first permanent trading post on the western end of present-day Ghana.

Today we can still boast of oil and gas and many other resources that had not been discovered in the days of the Gold Coast. Ghana, as well as other key Africa countries, are blessed with many natural resources. A country like Congo is touted as the richest country in the world in terms of natural resources, but poverty, lack of patriotism characterized by greed, indiscipline, disregard for state, and constituted authority and wanton corruption plagues us severely.

One the wonders if it is a curse to be blessed with all the natural resources we are endowed with, while the western countries, which are not as endowed with as much natural resources as we are have developed to the extent that Africans are always running for greener pastures to those countries. It bothers me a lot when I sit back and reflect on how poor we have become as a nation in spite of and in the midst of all the wealth we have.

Successive governments in one way or the other came to power and have to heavily depend on donor countries, especially these same Westerners who are not as endowed as we are, by borrowing and begging for aid to enable us to survive. Currently China has become one of the leading lending countries in the world which most of the richest African countries, including our beloved homeland Ghana, depend on for their survival.

Where lies the independence that we brag about and celebrate every 6th of March? Dr. Kwame Nkrumah our first President who fought together with other great men and women in gaining independence for our motherland, said unequivocally on the eve of Ghana’s independence day at the polo ground in Accra, that ‘the Blackman is capable of managing his own affairs.“

Intellectually, we have the men with the requisite knowledge and abilities to turn this continent of ours, especially Ghana, to the standard of other countries we have been running to for assistance. Dr. Kwame Nkruma, a well-travelled visionary leader that he was, would not have made such pronouncements if he did not know the potentials hidden in this country and the whole continent of Africa.

Sadly, if only he also knew, that the lack of progressive policies, intellectual dishonesty, selfishness or self-centeredness, greed and a total loss of nationalism will see us today still depending on the past colonial administration and the West for direction.

Our research institutions keep conducting research and the results are left on the shelves in our universities covered with dust. Ghana got its independence within the same period as countries like Singapore (1959) and Maylasia (August 1957), but when it comes to development, we are no where those countries, despite the fact that we possess more natural resources than they do. As a nation, do we lack those capabilities in turning our country to the status of those countries? What are we not doing right? Can we seek for assistance or learning from those countries?

In Africa today, President Kagame of Rwanda is changing the fortunes of his country by putting progressive policies and measures in place, and I have no doubt in mind that in no distant future that small East African country will be among the most flourishing countries in the world. Knowledge they say is not in one mans’ head. There is nothing wrong with us extending our hands to your neighbour, for assistance and knowledge on how we can also grow our fortunes as a nation.

In my previous articles, I made mention of abandoned projects by successive governments starting from the pre-independence era to today, in some case the slow pace at which project started by previous administration is carried out leaves much to be desired.

Taxpayers’ money is used to start projects and the same will be left to rot away because there is no national policy to ensure that those projects are not abandoned by succeeding governments, in the name of audit.

I was overwhelmed with joy when I read in the news that the Tema Motorway Roundabout, a project that was begun by Former President Mahama, has been completed by the current President H.E Nana Akuffo Addo and same would be commissioned in May 2020. That project still serve the purpose of reducing traffic at that stretch and movement to and fro our main Port becomes much easier. This achievement alone can yield more revenue for our country.

Other projects are currently ongoing and one must give credit to the current President for his commitment in this area. Projects like Pokuase interchange, Obitsebi roundabout expansion and many more which were the initiatives of the previous government, are still being undertaken by the current government. This is the continuity that some of us believe will not only improve our lives as a society, but will also save us from the unnecessary waste of our country’s resources.

One can only imagine the quantum of development Ghana will rise to, if we continue in this tangent. While applauding the Akuffo-Addo administration for its commitment to continue and finish the road construction projects initiated by the previous administration, I would like to respectfully recommend the many other projects left unattended to are at the mercy of reptiles and criminals who have converted them to their safe places, should be revisited.

Projects such as school buildings, hospitals under construction, affordable housing projects and many other should be reactivated in the interest of the nation.

We must see to it that those projects do not become white elephants like the club 600 and other buildings, which have waited for completion merely because the governments that initiated them are gone.

As mentioned above, abandonment of projects is not peculiar to this current administration but from Dr Kwame Nkrumah, through to JJ Rawlings, J. A Mills of blessed memory, J A Kuffour and J D Mahama. We cannot continue to shortchange ourselves while looking to so easily run to developed countries for better services like dogs in heat.

The world has reached a stage where we have to develop our own and end the unnecessary dependence on Western and Eastern countries. Let our agenda move from dependence and aid, to interdependence, where these other countries respect us and what we bring to the table.

Today, the pandemic has come to teach us a big lesson and we need to take action by investing in our infrastructural deficits, equip our health facilities across the country, expand our educational institutions, invest in human development and above all task our educational institutions to research more for the progress of our beloved country.

I have no doubt in my mind, if we all put our hands on deck and have this nation at heart, devoid of political, ethnic, religious and other divisive attitudes, we can move in the right direction as a country. Let us allow institutions to be independent and work towards the benefit of the citizenry. I love Ghana as our country and hope to see it become one of the best nations in the world, in my time.

God bless our homeland

Long live Ghana; Long live our leaders.

Stay home and be safe.