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Opinions of Friday, 1 April 2005

Columnist: Ampofo, Ofori

Save Ghana Now Politically and Economically Part II

In part one of my article SAVE GHANA NOW POLITICALLY and ECONOMICALLY, I enumerated reasons why Ghana needs sincere and selfless leaders to change the political dynamics of the country. If you have not read that which was featured on February 28 2005, I will entreat you to preferably read that and then continue with Part II.

Fellow Ghanaians the political exchanges that is going on as a result of the increase in petrol price to 30,000 cedis a gallon is turning out to be a bitter bickering between the ruling NPP and NDC, with former president Rawlings, leading demonstrators against the increase. In their wahala march II on March 17 2005, Ex president Rawlings is quoted as having equated President J. A Kuffuor to a notorious armed robber of recent times called Aryeee Ayeeetey alias Ataa Ayi among other insults.

On March 22nd, 2005, the National chairman of the NPP Harona Essseku replied with these strong words ?We give notice that from now on, we shall face Rawlings and those who back and encourage his behavior squarely.? In the name of our democracy, I would like to passionately caution both sides for restraints.

To Ex-president Rawlings and his wahala committee for joint action, I would say, yes there is nothing wrong in our democracy to demonstrate against the policies of whatever government in power without victimization. However abuses and utterances that impugns the integrity of the president will not let the government rescind its policies on petrol and therefore unproductive. When the NPP took to the streets some years ago under KUME PREKO, the then NDC government under Rawlings didn't change anything as a result of that demonstration. Demonstrations in organized societies are a means to express misgivings and concerns on certain policies of government without fear. It should not be seen as a means to cause unrest in peaceful societies.

To the NPP government, I believe you understand Democracy and the rule of law far better than Rawlings and his followers. Therefore, I will appeal to both the president and the whole organs of the party to desists from counter charges on Rawlings and instead keep vigilance on his activities. Any attempt to destabilize the fragile democratic process of the country will be a backward effort and should be discouraged.

Both NPP and NDC are to blame for the present hardships in the country because like the NDC, the NPP haven?t initiated sound and practical economic measures that will curtail the onward march of hardships in the country. Every Ghanaian who lived through 1966 to date, will never deny the fact that the economic language of successive governments has been the same. From the National Liberation council down to NPP-the country is broke. SO WHAT? Who will restore the economy? LEADERS, GOOD LEADERS with sound economic policies, encouragement and empowerment of the people.

As for the PNDC/NDC, the least said the better. I don?t understand why after 20 years of misrule anybody would want them to rule Ghana once again. Apart from the extension of electricity which most villages contributed themselves to materializes, what positive growth on the economy turned the anguish and hopelessness of poor Ghanaians into thinking that it will be ok someday? If people are still following the NDC and Rawlings, it is simple logic that the NPP hasn?t kept faith with the plight of the very poor people who cannot afford two good meals a day. It was the hope and aspiration of the people of Ghana especially the poor that NPP was going to do everything politically to get them out of financial enslavement. After four years in office, cost of living is still getting worse and worse with no sign of hope. That's why some people still follow and adore Rawlings as if he was a prophet.

Everyone knows very well that the economy revolves around petroleum products. This is simple economics that cannot be denied. Experience indicates that, each time there is increase in the cost of petrol, cost of transportation increases, and therefore goods and service increases, and the ultimate burden is pushed on to the poor who are already financially over stretched.

In his pursuit to explain the rationale behind the increase in petrol price, the president Mr. J. A. Kuffuor at a meet the people forum gave the following as reasons:

To raise enough taxes . Fellow Ghanaians, to raise enough taxes on already over taxed petroleum sector to further worsen the plight of the people is unacceptable. There is too much waste in government that could be cut to save money. We can also be more innovative in our tax collection system to look for money to serve as the cushion needed for development instead of the already overtaxed petroleum products which will naturally bring untold hardship to our people. To reduce over dependence on foreign donor countries for development. I agree but that does not mean we should starve our people to death. We must be innovative and revolutionarize our agricultural production to have enough food for the people and for export. If we can achieve this goal, then we can safely use donor countries for other development projects after all we can not develop the country over night having wasted forty-eight (48) good years. I believe we should do everything to reduce the burden on our poor people. To bring Ghana?s pricing in line with what obtained in the West Africa sub-region and thereby reduce smuggling.

This is totally unacceptable because every country in the sub region and the world at large, has different economies. Therefore if Ghana?s economy can be well managed and be stronger to sell petrol cheaper to make our people live in comfort, why not? The other argument is that, we still sell cheaper at 30,000 cedis therefore, the question of discouraging smuggling is not a good point. It will still go on as long as countries in the sub- region sells between 34,000 -48,000cedis. What we need to do again, is to be innovative and come up with a much better way to curb smuggling. There is always better ways of solving problems and that?s why we have leaders. Fellow Ghanaians, however the president will explain the rationale behind the increase, I believe 30,000 cedis per gallon of petrol is too high in our economy and therefore not good politics and not in the best interest of the people.

I will always as long as I live refuse to believe that Ghana is a poor country. NO WE ARE NOT. Our biggest problem is and has always been financial mismanagement and corruption in high places of government. As has always been, the business of government is done as if it were a club for the elite\group or lodge with secreats never disclosed. That?s the reason why mismanagement and corruption goes on without notice. THE SYSTEM HAS TO CHANGE. In part one of Save Ghana Now, I stressed that if we keep on protecting our political and economic criminals, we can never succeed; our pursuit to transform our political system. I will re-emphasize on that now and always untill we see a change. Let me draw your attention to the way the former minister of health Dr. Anane?s 90,000 US dollars case was coverd up and the way the majority in parliament confirmed him as the Minister of roads and highways despite the fact that there were dissentions amongst some members in parliament for his confirmation. The president should have withdrawn Dr. Anane?s nomination and placed him under investigation but, knowing what they were doing, his vetting by the parliament?s appointment committee went on disgracefully until he was finally confirmed with opposition walk out in protest. Dr. Anane?s case is just one out of many that hasn?t been exposed yet. How can a whole national air line-Ghana Airways collapse without anybody in authority held responsible? What reason can anybody give the people of Ghana for pardoning the former Minister and Deputy Minister of Finance? these two Minsters Kwame Pepera and Victor Selomey who served under the NDC government were sentenced to terms of imprisonment after finding them guilty for financial misappropriation to some millions of dollars while in office as Minster and Deputy of finance respectively. The president on the eve of Ghana?s 48th independence day celebration pardoned them among others. Were they pardoned under the pretext to cover up Dr. Anane?s case and others we don't yet know about? Under this precedent, is the president going to pardon all those NDC Ministers who still have financial misappropriation cases pending before the fast track court? If the president thinks he is pardoning the NDC Ministers to protect his Ministers and government officials from prosecution for misappropriation or stealing the people?s money,if there should be, then he is making a big mistake. I don?t even think Dr. Anane?s case is dead yet. Stealing the people?s money is a major crime against the people of Ghana and therefore must not be condoned.

My biggest question is, what has happened to the millions of dollars for which those that were pardoned were sentenced to jail? Is the attorney general going to file a civil suit against those pardoned Ministers to retrieve from whatever source the monies for which they were sentenced? Or they have been pardoned to go and enjoy forever at the expense of the people of Ghana?

Fellow Ghanaians, if we don?t make it harder for corrupt politicians to benefit from their crimes against the country, we can never eradicate the cancerous habits from our society and Ghana will keep on sinking deeper and deeper without salvation.

In Ghana today, politics is seen as a path to wealth and not a path to serve the country. Therefore we must let politicians face the consequences of their political crimes. We should protect Ghana?s economy for all Ghanaians and not protect the GREEDY AND SELFISH POLITICIANS,WHOES ONLY AIM IS TO SYPHON OUR MONEY INTO THEIR OVERSEAS BANK ACCOUNTS.

God Bless Our homeland and our people

Ofori Ampofo
New Jersey USA


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