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Opinions of Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Columnist: Adamu, Albert

RE: Ghana’s Second Chance

You cannot fail but be happy when you read well written opinions from great statesmen and women especially in our land when such write ups are not so common and this was exactly my reaction when I chanced upon Dr. Busumuru Kofi Annan’s article – Ghana’s Second Chance.

Before I even proceed, let me thank the former Secretary General of the United Nations and indeed ask him for more of such.

The article in remarkable fashion draws parallels between Ghana in the 21stcentury and Ghana at independence when the old Gold Coast (re-christened Ghana) emerged out of British imperialism and colonial rule with full promise of a country ready to use its resources for the development of its people and to match up to the best standards anywhere around the globe.

Not only were we ready to move our millions from abject deprivation and poverty, we were ready to lead the African continent into a new era, an era where there would be little difference between the “dark continent” and the western world, our dreams were justifiably unlimited and Mr. Annan captures it perfectly.

Unfortunately just like all who chronicle our trajectory from independence to our present circumstances, Mr. Annan had to move into the sorry issues that have led us to our current sorry state where it is undoubted more of our people have become more deprived than we were at independence.

We have made some progress as Mr. Annan noted with over 20 years of continuous democratic governance, a few fairly established and strong institutions and structures and one or two things to be proud of as a nation.

But the reality which probably Mr. Annan failed to focus on is the fact that Ghana today seems to be perfectly mirroring all the unfortunate paths which led us from a very hopeful newly independent country aiming to reach the standards of the west to an almost 60 year old nation struggling to keep pace with fellow African nations who are themselves centuries away from even dreaming to reach the standards of the industrialized world.

Exclusionary politics, Corruption and disastrous economic management have all become our bane in today’s Ghana. Our politics seems to have become so exclusionary that even leading members of the ruling party feel abandoned and rival opposition personalities for space in making known their complaints on how their ideas brilliant as they may or may not be are not even invited. It got worse a few weeks ago when the leader of government business in parliament, the majority leader had cause to complain on how he himself had been virtually dumped by his government – that is how bad it has become.

You mention corruption and you do not know where to start from. From the gifting of over half a billion Ghana cedis to cronies and foreign businessmen under the guise of judgment debts in a very audacious and shameless scheme which has been appropriately christened by no less a justice of the Supreme Court as a league to Create, Loot & Share to the dole out of hundreds of millions to one or two businessmen under various shady proposals from guinea fowl farming, reforestation, pothole management etc. and the tripling of project costs all still under the umbrella of looting and sharing. No matter how our own military dictator turned democratically elected former president is inconsistent, you would find it very hard disagreeing with his analysis that corruption in Ghana today is as worse as corruption was in the late 70s or as it has always been in Nigeria, which has been a well documented arena for mockery.

Then you talk about bad economic management and your soul is left weeping at how a country like Ghana could overspend its budget by over 4billion dollars and be left with nothing tangible for this insane expenditure. You talk about economic management and you cannot forget how Ghana’s external debt has doubled from 4billion dollars to 9.5billion dollars in just 4 and half years without any obvious improvement in social services, infrastructure or the wellbeing of the ordinary Ghanaian or how despite all the huge inflows from unprecedented borrowing, unprecedented high commodity prices and unprecedented increases in taxes and levies, our state is still owing in almost all its statutory payments and has virtually been rendered incapable of paying contractors, salaries and utility providers.

So it is that dire.

Nevertheless, I am excited above all that Mr. Kofi Annan added his voice to the millions of small whispers asking the Supreme Court to do a just job on the ongoing Presidential Election Petition especially because in such deep and dark trenches, the last thing the Ghanaian people deserve is a weakening in their confidence in the judiciary, which remains the arm of government that commands the most respect and confidence from the Ghanaian people. Our last refuge in our darkest moments as we have witnessed in the last couple of weeks when acting as a modern day Yaa Asantewaa or Ndewura Jakpa, it solely led a crusade to get us some of the millions illegally paid to foreign companies in the name of Judgment debts.

But I picked up my pen and paper and indeed have been writing for more than I planned because of a fundamental disagreement I have with how Mr. Kofi Annan ended his article with a quote of Kwame Nkrumah and went ahead to urge the Ghanaian people to live up to the aspirations of Kwame Nkrumah.

To start with, is it not an irony, that in a write – up, which urges our Supreme Court and indeed the Ghanaian political class and the entire population to hold on strongly to our democracy and not work to undermine it in anyway, the conclusion would be a Kwame Nkrumah quote?

The same man who in 1958 Nkrumah introduced legislation to restrict various freedoms in Ghana? The same man who after the Gold Miners' Strike of 1955, introduced the Trade Union Act, which made strikes illegal? The same Nkrumah who wrote the Preventive Detention Act (PDA) that made it possible for his administration to arrest and detain anyone charged with treason without due process of law in the judicial system? The same Osagyefo who when the railway workers went on strike in 1961, ordered strike leaders and opposition politicians arrested under the Trade Union Act of 1958? Or the same man who in 1964, proposed a constitutional amendment which made the CPP the only legal party and himself President for life of both nation and party? Of course for records sake, the amendment was passed with over 99 percent of the vote - an implausibly high total that could only be obtained through electoral fraud.

For crying out loud, it was Nkrumah who imprisoned J. B Danquah under the PDA, left him to die in prison and as if that was not enough, suppressed all public celebrations of Danquah’s life and did same to virtually thousands opposed to his rule who were detained indefinitely just because Nkrumah or the CPP did not like their guts or their beliefs. So it seems quite remarkable, that Nkrumah would appear prominent in a pro democracy write up such as the excellent piece put up by Dr. Kofi Annan.

Indeed, any thorough analysis of our bad governance cycle we have found ourselves in as a nation, would show that the exclusionary politics, the bad economic management and corruption all began with Nkrumah and that our leaders since Nkrumah, took ‘good’ lessons in these areas from the Kwame Nkrumah.

We are talking about our second chance precisely because the man who was in charge of our first, did us little good.

By: Albert Adamu