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Opinions of Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Columnist: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta

Have Ghanaians bought into Excellence or Team Z?

By Kwesi Atta Sakyi

19th March, 2013

On Wednesday, 6th March 2013, Ghana celebrated 56 years of Independence. Really, with the recent happenings in our country, some of us bowed down our heads in shame. Not when GFA had been alleged to have spent 15 million dollars on the Black Stars, led by the clueless Kwasi Appiah who let us down badly at Afcon Championship in South Africa. The Kwasi Nyantakyi-led GFA has become a clique that pursues partisan and internal politics of poor player selection. What is happening in the Black Stars camp is exactly what is happening in the national political arena.

Our leaders and policy makers have become obsessed with money, money, money, with no regard for the broader public interest of choosing quality people to deliver quality services. Before the demise of our late President, Prof John Atta Mills, in June 2012, some critics had dubbed his cabinet as Team B and Team C. What do we see now? With all the current water shortages and electricity outages in our capital city, Accra, I think Ghanaians have voted for mediocrity, Team Z for, zero, zou, zou, zou or zaa, zaa, zaa. I doff off my hat to J.J. Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor whose tenure of office saw monumental progress in our national development efforts.

They managed to keep Ghana afloat. Today, Ghana is sinking economically due to incoherent policies and poor leadership at different levels. If the likes of Dede Ayew, Prince Kelvin Boateng, Sule Muntari, John Mensah, among others, had been invited to play for the Black Stars, we would not have had that big disgrace in South Africa. Our coach Kwasi Apaiah should be sacked immediately for his poor decision making. Even I, not being a football expert, saw that our defence, led by Isaac Vorsah, was as porous as a large-meshed net. Why cannot we train-tactical defenders in the cast and mould of John Eshun, Kuuku Dadzie, Akuetteh Armah, Oblitey, Odamtey, among others? We do not have to experiment with unproven players at major international tournaments. In similar manner, our national government should not experiment with ministers who have no track record or what I call Team Z.

Currently, extreme partisan politics and dirty tribalism have become the order of the day in our beloved Ghana. Before he was elected last year, President John Dramani Mahama promised Ghanaians that he would run an all-inclusive government. What do we see now? He has woefully disappointed many Ghanaians, including myself by his bizarre appointments of people who have no track record in government. He has not made a single appointment of anybody from the opposition parties. Many of those who have been appointed are political minnows who are yet to cut their teeth. The cabinet as currently constituted, is predominantly skewed in favour of people from the northern and upper regions. In fact, there is apparently lack of geographical spread in the presidential appointments. Where is the inclusivity the President talked about? Was it mere rhetoric or eye wash? The current cabinet also lacks tribal balance. We have plenty of qualified people in Ghana who can deliver quality services but these are marginalized.

I am afraid we the onlookers and observers are seriously worried about the economic fate and state of the nation. If we follow partisan politics to make ministerial as well as public boards appointments, are we not doomed as a nation? We cannot and should not populate sensitive top public positions with party cadres, loyalists and personal friends, because Ghana as a nation is far bigger and valuable than the sum of all political parties put together. I for one, expected our Finance Minister to be someone who read economics at first and second degree levels, and not one who read commerce and public administration as the case is now. The ramifications of Economics are such that only specialists can understand its nuances and idiosyncracies. Why cannot we have people of calibre like Spio Garbrah in the current government? What about Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom? I expect President John Dramani Mahama to show some magnanimity and non-partisanship by having an all-inclusive and transparent government.

He should tap into the opposition and appoint those with chequered experience. He could also look wider afield and appoint veteran Ghanaian professionals in the Diaspora. At the end of the day, it is the Better Ghana Agenda that all of us want to promote. Ghanaians as well as the international community or our valuable development foreign partners, expect a lot from their leaders because taxpayers and donors must have accountability for their hard-earned monies. Ghanaians have a right to expect a lot from their leaders who they put in place to lead them to the ‘promised land.’

Ghanaians are tired of mediocrity or just-good-enough leadership. Ghana is a highly complex and sophisticated country with international clout because there are many Ghanaians outside Ghana who are shining in various fields of endeavour and as such, what happens back home in Ghana attracts a lot of attention in the foreign media. Since the NDC came to power in 2008, we have witnessed a catalogue of monstrous government failures. The Accra-Kumasi road has not been done yet. There was the high profile STX South Korea 3 billion dollars deal which was to provide about a million housing units. The project seemed like a hoax and it fizzled out and never saw the light of day. Last year, the government overspent, with a record budget deficit of 12.2% of GDP.

The norm is to have a deficit of 5% of GDP. Workers’ salaries have either been delayed or they have been short-changed. Thousands of youth are walking the streets as unemployed. We have had the Isofoton scandal, the Woyome 51.2 million Ghana cedis scandal, among others. The integrity of the NDC as a political party is now at stake. Just a few days ago, government announced that the rlg company is to build a 10 billion dollar city at Kasoa near Accra. Where is this colossal capital coming from? rlg or some foreign equity investor? There is a new airport going to be built at Prampram near Accra, 10 new harbours are to be built in 10 coastal towns, 10 new airports are to be built, 10 new regional hospitals are to be built. The list is endless. But when are we going to see all these promises materialize on the ground? Ghanaians are sick and tired of these empty promises from the NDC which never see the light of day. If all these projects were to start running, there would not be the current high levels of unemployment.

Just yesterday, I read that a 51.4 million dollar trauma centre is going to be built at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital from the Kuwaiti and OPEC funds. TOR has been dysfunctional and it is a white elephant. Recently, there was the scandalous 80 million dollar gold shipment which was intercepted in Turkey. Who was behind it? Petroleum products’ prices have skyrocketed and it has snowballed and affected every facet of life in Ghana. Ghana is currently importing more than half a billion dollars worth of food items annually. Teachers and doctors have been on strike over poor conditions of service and pay.

What has happened to our agriculture? I think if Ghana were a public limited company, it should have faced both internal and external failures, and it should have been liquidated and sold. The BOD should have been dissolved. The NDC, the current ruling party, faces a huge credibility gap and crisis of trust because of their penchant for extreme partisanship, rhetoric, non-performance, and non-delivery of critical services. Many projects have been announced but the NDC do not walk their talk. We want Ghana to succeed and President Mahama to succeed. They should put their money where their mouth is, and translate their rhetoric into action.

I may be perceived as being biased but I am not. I am not NPP either. The NPP also had their pitfalls when they were in power from 2000 to 2008. They sold state assets, left and right and enriched themselves humongously. In this scenario and dilemma, I cannot choose between these two evils. I think Ghana needs a third party to come to power because so far, the NDC and NPP have all failed us miserably. During Nkrumah’s days, the CPP delivered on their promises because they had a visionary and hardworking leader, as Nkrumah had a grip on issues. I suggest that we consider electing seasoned and experienced leaders come 2016. Many of us in the Diaspora are annoyed and frustrated by recent economic failures in Ghana which are impacting negatively on our international image. I suggest that Busubrum Kofi Annan be made a special Presidential Advisor and our former Presidents should be made automatic members of the Council of State. Our national crisis in delivering quality services to the people needs all hands on deck.