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Opinions of Sunday, 20 July 2008

Columnist: Aidoo, Ato

National Awards Hubbub and Poverty Mentality

On the judgment day, which I am inclined to believe, that there is one, I would pray to the Lord to grant Ghanaians the first hearing because some of them “live in glass houses, and yet throw stones”.

I do not want to sound apocalyptic, but it is my wish that politicians in opposition parties in Ghana, and derisory journalists, would be the first to be judged because of the self-righteous path that they have nurtured for themselves. Only God is perfect.

If in a democratic environment one would expect people not to criticize a government, an adherent to such a belief must be living in a different world.

But when matters of national importance are trivialized, and criticisms are unconstructive, they raise the political temperature of a country preparing for elections.

I do not begrudge Raymond Archer for his media work, but I am not moved an inch, his so-called “revelation”, that recently, medals presented to distinguished Ghanaians (including Egya Koo who is “very deserving” of an award) cost the nation $1.4 million. In his rhetorical posture, Archer failed to examine the merits of state recognition and honor.

He was consumed by price and hype, for instance, we shall witness how 1.4 million new Ghana cedis would be converted to 15 billion old Ghana cedis. I know how the media operates in Ghana.

These national medals cannot be “donated” to Ghana; neither can they be received as a grant from a foreign country. Let us move away from this “poor man’s mentality”, and allow the government to honor deserving citizens.

Ladies and gentlemen, Raymond Archer, a “yellow journalist”, is on the payroll of the Rawlings’, and no serious watcher of the Ghanaian political trend should give all the credence to his spin and diatribe.

If in a nation of 22 million people, 240 of her citizenry are awarded with medals to the tune of $1.4 million, and Ghanaians are being reminded to believe that “it is a waste ?”, God save our homeland, the problems we cannot solve as a nation the product of our own lack of understanding national duty in the simplistic mode.

They are even made complex through ill-researched commentaries, and the power of a frustrated political tongue.

What Archer of the “Enquirer” newspaper, and one Ato Kwamena Dadzie of “Daily Dispatch” sought to do through their joint criticism of the cost of medals awarded, represents a clear demonstration of a crusade for “poverty mentality”. This would fail.

No country in the world can claim the non-existence of social and economic problems. If it were so, the United States, for instance, would have told the world after “Hurricane Katrina”, that it does not need help from any country, and yet donations trickled in from all the corners of the world to the delight of this great country. Ghana, even in the midst of this “archer/dadzie poverty business” donated its “widow’s mite” to victims of “Katrina”. (I stand for correction)

Still in the United States. A first time visitor should go the State of South Carolina, and to some parts of its countryside. It is still deprived of many social amenities, subsistence existence is common. Some roads are dusty; they are not tarred, and can be compared to the road from Adum-Dominase to Adum-Banso in the Western region of Ghana. Some people even lead a nomadic existence as a means to absorbing some of the shocks of harsh economic and social imbalances of the 21st Century.

Recently, a young man was arrested on the highway riding a bicycle from North-Augusta to visit his mother in Columbia, South Carolina, a 50- minute journey by car. I learnt two lessons from this ordeal. First, the young man explained in court, that it was as a result of high gas prices, and the fact that he has also missed his mother, but could not afford the bus fare. The State of South-Carolina has no “Metro buses”. Second, it is against the law to ride a bicycle on the highway whether you are cash strapped, and that bicycle becomes the only means of transportation.

These shortfalls notwithstanding, the United States is the single largest financial contributor to the United Nations.

This “Poverty Mentality” has no place in modern thinking; as it prepares feeble minds to develop unnecessary hatred for governments such as what is being induced in Ghana. Every country has its fair share of problems, and “Life goes on”.

It must be explained to the people, that the socio-economic problems in Ghana today cannot be completely eradicated with $1.4 million, not even $1.4 billion can extinguish that. And as journalists, this is what the Archers and the Ato Kwamena Dadzies should explain to the good people of Ghana.

The underlining truth must be repeated, that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has a mandate to govern. This mandate is derived from majority of Ghanaians, and bestows upon the government the authority to make decisions that are in the best interest of all.

If the government underperforms, and becomes averse to good governance and tangible decision-making, the good people of Ghana are well positioned to review and nullify the mandate through the power of the thumb

Otherwise, if in the people’s estimation the government meets their expectations, those undignified by self-righteousness and doom would not succeed. Their skewed agenda would not see the light of day.

For these reasons, Ghanaians should ignore this national awards hubbub, as this poverty mentality perpetuates negativity - that fact that we do not have enough; hence we should continue to “count our dimes” and every spending should be geared toward poverty alleviation, and all the developmental projects we yearn for.

I salute the early settlers of “Ka fo dzi dzi”, a small town near Shama in the Western part of Ghana.

If we constantly complain through a poverty mindset, lambasting our government for it’s spending on national awards, a pronouncement which was even an abomination to consider once upon a Revolutionary/ (P)NDC era , because we are poor, our march to development and recognizing heroism and “sheroism” would also be subdued by this poverty-driven attitude.

Do we need to liberate our minds from this blame sarcoma, or we just need to rejuvenate our resolve to offset this poverty nonsense?

“Nothing comes cheap in this world that we live in”.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.