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Opinions of Sunday, 4 September 2011

Columnist: Ampofo, Ofori

Is Everything Wrong with Ghana or the Politics!

Even After Decades of Military Revolutions?

By: Ofori Ampofo

In a recent associated press release by correspondent Darlene Superville, the United States President Barack Obama is quoted as saying, “There is nothing wrong with our country. There is something wrong with our politics”. Evidently, President Obama has faced lots of frustrated politicking in Washington as to how he wants to deal with the economic downturn faced by the American people.

America will rise out of the economic mess, no matter what anybody thinks. They know how to solve their problems, be it political or economic. They live in the midst of plenty; they are still the biggest economy in the world despite the downturn. America is still the world's super power. However, the political leadership does not live in arrogance nor are they above the laws of the land. When they see any looming crises of any sort that will threaten the freedom and liberties of Americans, even one American, they will rise to the challenge.

After several days of give and take economic stalemate, Americans have set up a bi-partisan (Super Committee) to come up with a draft proposal that will be acceptable to both sides of the political divide. They call their country the land of the free and the brave. It is for a good reason. They tackle their problems head on!

GHANA by population and natural resources, live in the midst of plenty, just as America. However, everything seems wrong. Despite the many years of military revolutions with the resultant killings and brutalities meted out to people, nothing has been changed. The political system is dysfunctional. However it does not appear to the leadership of the country that anything is wrong. The fact of the matter is that those who enjoy a dysfunctional system will never see anything wrong with such a system. Left to them, the status quo should remain forever. To them, when the stinky system is fixed, they can’t continue amassing illegal wealth. Following is a catalogue of reasons why I think everything is wrong in Ghana. You may have your own.

1. The 1992 Constitution remains a joke and mockery of democracy, drawn with all powers to the President. WRONG!

2. The Legislative body only exists to approve of loans to finance partisan projects. Parliament has no powers to draw bills. What then are they as Legislators? WRONG!

3. The Constitution guarantees free pocket monies to all Members of Parliament. Known as MP common or development Fund, nobody monitors how they apply those funds. WRONG!

4. Every four years, MPs are given new funds to buy vehicles, regardless of how many times an MP has retained his or her seat, even though almost every one of them own their own cars. WRONG!

5. The allocation of free funds for MPs to rent accommodation. WRONG!

6. Free accommodation to Ministers and all Government officials. WRONG!

7. Free allocation of FUEL to all MPs and Government officials. WRONG.

8. Use of Government vehicles by Government officials for Funerals and other private errands, WRONG!

9. Health care facilities are a shame without modern equipments. A 2.5% National Health Insurance Levy has never been accounted for improvements in health care. WRONG!

10. A reported or estimated five thousand school classes are held under trees. WRONG!

11. Roads have become death traps all over the country. WRONG!

12. Young boys and girls finish high school and even Universities and have no Jobs and no hope for the future. Unemployment rate is so high government refuses to report them. WRONG!

13 Prices of goods and services are astronomically high relative to average income. WRONG!

14. Electricity and Water are rationed precious commodities. WRONG!

15. There is no National development plan, and political decisions always seem tainted and geared for a political advantage. Wrong!

16. Poverty has become endemic and a very high percentage of most people can’t find a good day’s meal. WRONG!

17. Bribery and corruption has become a national disease and shame. The leadership seems to have given up investigating and any efforts to stop them. WRONG!

18. Import duties and taxes are unreasonably high. WRONG!

19. Stagnated waste water in open gutters breeds mosquitoes and malaria kills over an estimated 200,000 Ghanaians every year. WRONG

20. The quantum of ex-Gratia awards to serving Government officials and Parliamentarians is tantamount to robbing the National treasury. WRONG.

21. Probity and accountability is missing in our body politic, but nobody cares, because those at the top are all selfish and guilty. WRONG!

These are a catalogue of some of the major wrongs in our 54 years of Nationhood.

Despite these negativities, Ghana’s debt obligation keeps mounting without corresponding development to show for. It would appear that successive Governments have based their policy decisions on robotic management without the application of much intellectual capital investment.

Every economic crime during the 1970s and 80s, that influenced successive military interventions have escalated. The injustices which JJ Rawlings, the only surviving revolutionary leader, sought to correct with his slogan “we no go sit down make you cheat us every day”, are worse today than they were before his revolution. I pray that Rawlings will someday accept the reality that his 19 years rule did not change the dysfunctional system, but only enriched himself and his cronies.

What can we do? Undoubtedly, we have had several wasted years, both under civilian and military administrations. However, if we acknowledge our mistakes, then, we can ask ourselves a simple question, what can we do differently to reverse our Economic hopelessness and decline in human development?

Ghana has borrowed more money than the Colonial administration left for us at independence or Kwame Nkrumah used despite all the infrastructures and schools and Universities he built. We have sold tons of cocoa, Gold, diamonds and other natural resources since 1966. In terms of development, we do not however have enough to show against the billions of dollars in loans we still owe. That shows that there is nothing wrong with Ghana but everything is wrong about our politics and needs fixing. It is long overdue. We can do it if we are serious and willing as the Americans are doing.