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Opinions of Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Columnist: Adu-Gyamfi, Kwaku

How Much Money Is Enough For Our Public Officials

and The Wannabes?

From Voice of Reason:
How much money is too much for our public officials—those in office as well as the wannabes? How come the more money they get the less responsible they are?
Wait a minute; I just saw a hand raised back there.” Who will contain the tsunami anger of our youth when things begin to fall apart?”
Please not today! Don’t get me started again…..I don’t feel good! Just pass me the paracetamol.
Well, it’s true that there are very, very serious, great challenges facing Ghana today : Controlling the run- away borrow and spend mentality ,how to generate real jobs, upgrade the labor force’s skills so as to meet the new- world economy standards , how to meet our astronomical energy needs, and how our educational system can teach our students to think creatively.
These are very great important challenges, but I bet we will not hear a thing about them during this election campaign season..Or if we do the politicians will only pay a lip-service to them, but nothing else. Perhaps they don’t see the need to propose any-earth-shaking ideas now.
Whatever the case, the plight of our youth needs more national attention now than ever. Our youths are disproportionally the most unemployed segment of the population and they are mad as hell .But, how long will our politicians and policy makers wait to contain this anger will depend on so many factors. However, I can only hope that something will be done soon to fix things for this segment of the population before things fall apart…….!
In this Ipod,Iphone, X-box and face-book world, Ghanaian youths are jobless, broke as hell and most of them will do virtually anything and everything to get their hands on some money; if that means selling their bodies and souls, drugs, robbing or stealing, then so be it because they’re learning it from the generation before them.
With that in mind, how much money is enough for our politicians and Public officials?
I’m not rich, but I’m certainly not going to cry poverty at this point of my life. I have always lived within my means (with the little that I have) and try as possible to enrich others’ lives through my foundation and I have every intention of continuing to do so. But, again how much money is enough? People whose only goal in life is to accumulate wealth should not pretend to be our leaders because the problems facing Ghana are too great for such pretense.
With the majority of our young people and even able men and women, wallowing in poverty and despair, the last people Ghanaians need as leaders, and our spoke persons are those whose eyes are so permanently fixed on gaining more and more money (in spite of the fact they’re already, by anyone’s standards, very well off) They only pay lip service to the national socio-economic agenda during the election seasons when they are buying votes.
I never had problem with the idea of making money. Money is good. It can do fun things for you. But, as a business man and spiritually oriented person, I learned long time ago that there is difference between appreciating the power of money and falling in love with it. Ghanaians (especially, our leaders and public officials) love money like chickens love corn—it’s over the top. And that is the problem!
That money affair is eating into every fabric of our society and it’s preventing us from tackling the major challenges facing the country.
With no doubt, years of unregulated love-affairs with money are gradually undermining the stability of our infant, fragile democracy (moneycracy) and the security of the entire nation. If you don’t believe me, have you looked around your neighborhood, town or village, hospitals, schools and the roads lately? It’s just simple—the socio-economic inequity in our system is a national security problem. Our new- found belief that greed is good should be changed to reflect on the concern for the well-being of our fellow citizens and the nation.
My question is: Is it possible to earn a comfortable living without selling out your principle, soul and sense of empathy in Ghana these days? Certainly….! Please help me; I’m desperately looking for answers here!
Yes, life is hard. Everyone has been hit hard by economic downturn everywhere. Businesses have failed, income from traditional sources are all but, non-existent. However, you can still find a legitimate way to make a living.

For one thing, I know that our politicians are not giving enough back to the communities and constituencies from whence they come or to assist the impoverished of their towns and constituencies. There is a special place in hell for those who put their ‘dirty’ hands into Ghana’s pocket while her offspring suffer. There is also a place for those who know of ill-treatment the future of our children and youths and callously or cowardly (or selfishly) do nothing.
They should also hang their collective head in shame for they know the country is going down the tube when to make a living our young and able men have become self-appointed (pot-holes and accident- prone) road maintenance crew members.
One day if the youth begin to demand answers from our leaders we will have our own “Arab Spring” in Ghana. And after seeing how things are going right now, that scenario is far less an “if” than likelihood if the government doesn’t speed up and address the concerns of our youths.
By the way, in my next piece, I’ll have some calibrated choice of words for those coward politicians and leaders who put their own political well-being and interest ahead of their constituents and the nation.
Speaking of cowards, last year I was having a serious talk with a friend in the States, about the Arab Spring. He lamented that, “in Ghana the people are afraid of their government, but in Arab countries the governments are afraid of the people, that is why politicians and government take us for granted”. He went on to say that, “we don’t have any Right to complain or demand accountability or complain about injustices. Therefore we should be deeply ashamed of ourselves for allowing cowardice to cause us to betray the principles of democracy”. It’s so true , stop scratching your head!
Yes, I know I have pissed- off many of the overly sensitive folks out there. Some of you have your blood pressure gauge way up in the sky. But, this is just a bit of advice that you can, of course ignore or heed, as you wish. I can pretty much predict what will happen in either case in Ghana. If you ignore it, you’ll soon forget everything that I have said here and life will go along pretty much as it has up to now. On the other hand, if you heed the advice things will change for our young men and women.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s worth putting things into serious perspective. After all, what good is it if Ghana is crawling and our millionaires and zillionaires are having sleepless nights, just because an idle hand is an angry man? It’s time to move the Ghanaian leadership into the 21st century thinking mode.
What is the role of our government, anyway?
Yes, the government can’t solve all of our problems, but what it should do is do things we can’t do for ourselves: protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water bodies clean and roads safe; invest in new schools and new roads and science and technology. That is the role of every viable government. But we need special kinds of leaderships (at every institution) to get things right in Ghana.
I don’t condone the behavior and the desperation of some our young people. But we can’t overlook the fact that their human logical impulses are driving them so hard that nothing can stop them from achieving their ‘goals’.
Believe me, If you don’t come from (or didn’t grow around) abject poverty….with no prospects of obtaining any money and no concept of a future—you really don’t have a clue by which to judge those youths’ desperation and aspiration ,that is why we can’t take their needs and desire to be ‘somebody’ for granted too long. Do we really have time to wait? Only time will be the judge but, wake me up when the fire is burning….

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi
*The author is a social commentator and the founder of the Adu-Gyamfi Youth Empowerment Foundation for Disadvantaged Youth of Asuom.