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Opinions of Monday, 28 February 2005

Columnist: Ampofo, Ofori

Save Ghana Now: Politically & Economically

I have been moved by events that have characterized Ghanian politics years on end to form an association, "Save Ghana Now." Membership shall be open to every Ghanian of voting age both at home and abroad. Come on board and let us save Ghana politically and economically, because, the destiny of our country lies in our own hands. The legacy our leaders after independence have bequeathed on us is the sense of looting the wealth of our dear country Ghana.

Our vast natural resources has never been enough to prosperously build Ghana for all to enjoy. The enormous foreign assistance and loans that have come into the country has never been utilized to make any meaningful impact on the lives of our people. Our politicians scramble into office with the ambition to enrich themselves and for the benefit of their families. This shameful behavior has been going on forty-nine years since independence and they turn around to tell us to tighten our belts because the country has no money. Ghanaians have tightened their belts for too long and those who could not sustain further tightening have gone into graves. The surviving ones are getting tired and are ready to give up lives. What a hopeless country.

To save the surviving ones it is about time a new kind of sincere selfless people take control and change the political dynamics of our country. People who are dedicated to the course of building Ghana for the future generations. People who would want to serve the country, but not the country to serve them. Leaders who will consider the welfare of the country and its people first and would not ask what the country can do for them but rather what they can do for the country. The Save Ghana Now Association will be transformed into a political party by the year 2007 to contest the general and presidential elections of 2008 unless there is a clear sign of change in the next three years, economical and political, direction of the country.

Fellow Ghanaians my aim is for us to build Ghana for our grandchildren, there fore it is up to us to sacrifice today for the greater tomorrow that we envision. I will therefor sacrifice my salary for as long as I remain a member of the Save Ghana now political party that will emerge eventually. I would expect all those who would want to hold ministerial and other high offices in the crusade to save Ghana's economy to also sacrifice as much as they can, at least for as long as the economy can make health care available and affordable for every Ghanaian. A healthy people is a healthy nation.

I am not rich but I see myself as blessed with what I will eat and live for the rest of my life. That is all I think a human being can ask from God. Our politicians who are richly blessed either by hard work or greed still look for super wealth, stealing the peoples money while they look into the eyes of the suffering majority, struggling to die at all the country's hospitals and health centers for lack of medication and simple medical equipment. I have no quarrel with Ghanaians who struggle through hard work to succeed in life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being rich when you've worked hard through business entrepreneurship or being chief executive of state corporation, etc., however, if politicians and people in high offices seek to enrich themselves by stealing the people's money, that is troubling. That is a crime against the people of Ghana and the punishment must be with no mercy. Ghana has enormous Natural and human potentials that has to be utilized for the benefit of all but greediness on the part of our leaders have deprived us of even the ordinary necessities of human life. Most Ghanaians cannot even afford two good meals a day. Sadly enough.

I have a strong belief that, Ghana will be a better place for our grandchildren the next twenty years if we resolve to save it economically. Right now, Ghanaians must be prepared to create a political condition that will change the mentality of our politicians regards to the lust for wealth. we must fight the greediness in our political system by holding Government officialsand other politicians accountable for the offices they hold. Excuses like friends paid my children's school fees in overseas universities must be excuses of the past. If we keep on protecting our political and economic criminals we can never ever suceed in our pursuit to transform our political system. My policy will be a morale accountablity, transparancy and zero torrelance. Nothing short of that.

I was born by rural farmers and lived my childhood and part of my adult life in a rural community. My parents were ordinary citizens with just about enough wealth from farming to care for our family and we were content with our way of life. They were very good Christians, God fearing and that is exactly my way of life. My parents extended hands to the needy in the society and that has always been my way of life. I love Ghana so much that I cry deep inside when I see hungry and suffering Ghanian children wandering on our streets with the future ahead gloomy dark and hopeless. We should bare in mind that a whole generation of young boys and girls most of whom uneducated are hopelessly on our streets. We seem not to care about them but some are definitely going to be hardened criminals and gangsters someday and their targets will be the affluent individuals, ministers, parliamentarians, businessmen etc. I don't think they are born criminals but society will make them that way because they will see no hope for a meaningful life after struggling on the streets for years jobless.

Fellow Ghanaians, I have a dream that one day under the Save Ghana Now Association, our children will embrace the politics of hope. It does not require a political scientist to bring about the change, but ordinary Ghanaians who have struggled through life and understand how painful and agonizing it is to be sick and go to the hospital only to be told there is no medication to save your life so go home and die. Yes, today people go to the hospital just to be told to go home and die because there are no good medical equipments. Not even at the major hospitals like Kolebu and Komfo Anokye.

However, four years ago, every member of parliament was granted 20,000 united state dollars loan to buy a car. Mr. speaker, honorable members of parilament please no more car loans in your second term in office. The government may have spent over 5 million dollars in such loans. Couldn't that money have been spent uplifting Kolebu hospital which would have benefited all Ghanaians as a priority over car loans to Mps? When the people started to raise hell about that, the Mps. didn't see any reason why they should complain because, they were enjoying that fat share of the country's economy, they felt it was okay. Meanwhile there were hundreds of sick people sleeping on the floor in our hospitals. Is it not a shame? The same Mps. cried later for a salary adjustment to enable them to service those car loans when they later realized they couldn't pay the loans by the end of their term of four years. These loans were granted without considering the individual's credit worthiness whereas the ordinary sick Ghanian has to be credit worthy to be treated at our hospitals and clinics. The people of Ghana had good basis for out cry because those loans were granted at the wrong time, when they had not created any wealth to enjoy it. Recently, it was said that every member of paliament except four (4) have paid off their car loans from a twenty million cedis award to every MP plus ex gratia awards. The question is, on what basis was the twenty million awarded the MPs? Was it just a free gift to top up their ex gratia awards to enable them to pay for the car loans and then take another loans this term in office? It appears that there is no single person in the paliament that speaks for the wealfare of Ghanaians. Not one. Ghanaians in high authority should deny themselves the luxury of today for a better tomorrow that will belong to our grandchildren.

After all that, we have gone through as a country, today's politicians are still greedy and selfish. Two years ago, MPs complained about their salaries being inadequate, knowing very well the minimum pay in Ghana does not equal the monthly constituency allowance of an MP. A Daily Graphic story, "Mps Bemoan Poor Service conditions" far back December 11th 2003 published the then salary of an MP as 2.3 million cedis a month 50% of that,(1.5,000,000 cedis) is paid as duty allowance, 30% (69,000) as entertainment allowance 10% which is 230,000 cedis be paid as clothing allowance, 593,000 cedis as consistency allowance, 270.00 as car maintenance allowance, 300,000 cedis as driver allowance and 339,000 cedis as domestic servant allowance. The total remuneration of an MP was then about 6,381,000 per month. These statistics, only a few Ghanaians know about, there is no doubt some company executives will be paid much higher salaries and allowance than an MP but they should also know that some government and factory workers are not even paid 500,000 cedis a month let alone the clothing allowance that the Mps enjoy. This is a fact so why should they complain about a total monthly package of 6.4 million cedis?

It is also nonsense for Mps to claim that democracy could only thrive if parliament was adequately resourced. Wrong. It is only the mentality of government and parliamentarians that will let democracy thrive in any country.If Government and paliamentarians enrich themselves and the mass of the people continue to leave in object poverty in a democarcy, it bleeds discontentment and over a period of time there will be either a civil disobedience or otherwise, and law and order breaks down consequently. It is also nonsense for Mps to contend that, unlike civil servants, they work without job security after all, nobody forced them into office. It is an individual choice. 99% of the people who decide to go into politics do so with the idea of amassing illegal wealth. That has been the trend of our politicians since independence and it's about time they changed their mentality and attitude and build Ghana into a prosperous and enviable country amongst African nations. That was the cherished aspiration of the founding fathers.

I really have a dream of a promise land way ahead which I may not get there with my grand children twenty or thirty years from now, but it does not matter to me. As long as my grand children see and enjoy that promise land, my dream would have come true. Fellow concerned Ghanaians abroad, I hope it is a desire that we all go back home someday. There are thousands of successful Ghanaian engineers, doctors, lawyers, professors, bankers, accountants, etc., many of us have lived and acquired European and American lifestyles and tastes but we still wish we can go back home someday given that Ghana was conducive politically and economically. If we expect any Ghanaian government to create an incentive of any kind to attract us to return home, that is not going to happen. Let us go and help create the incentives and conditions that we yearn for. I am ready and prepared to go and how many sincere and selfless Ghanaians who share my views are prepared to rally with me to make the independence day proclamation of GHANA OUR BELOVED COUNTRY IS FREE FOREVER, A TRUE FREE FOREVER POLITICALLY AND ECONOMICALLY?

Let us just come together and go back home with a clear and refined message to the people of Ghana; "here we come, your sons and daughters to sacrifice a little to Save Ghana Now for all to enjoy." If we can eschew greediness,nepotism, bribery and corruption, we can create and establish an economy that will be competitive,vibrant, and attractive for foreign and local investors to establish industries and business to put our people back to work.Those who want to go home now, lets go but, we need the financial and moral support of everyone. We all have individual political persuasions but let us solidly stand behind "Save Ghana Now Association" and really establish Ghana as the real black star of Africa for all to emulate. Fellow Ghanaians abroad, let us join in the march to save Ghana now. Workers of Ghana, arise and join the march. Christians, Muslims and all other believers, join in the march. Businesmen and women, count your blessings and join the march. Let us all join hands, pull resources together and "Save Ghana Now." WE SHALL OVER COME IF WE MARCH HOME TOGETHER IN 2007 with ideas and resolutions to SAVE GHANA.WE NEED A CLEAR ALTERNATIVE TO WHAT IS GOING ON NOW AT HOME.

GOD BLESS OUR HOMELAND AND GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

We need coordinators all over the world call 908 -922- 7909 for more information and free membership registration and to indicate your views, our email address is Ofori60@comcast.net .Tel.Fax 908-561-2716 Ofori Ampofo New Jersey. USA.


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