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Opinions of Friday, 12 October 2007

Columnist: www.cpposafo.com

Source of Ghana's under-development

The single most important thing we must realize in the pursuit of all human endeavor is that we seek our collective dignity as a human race so that we may find our self worth and agree on the values that define the society we live in. It is only through a human-centered value system that we can achieve development with compassion.

The adequate provision of food and water, shelter and security, sanitation and education are basic pre-requisites for paupers and presidents alike. No politician will fail to promise you that much. But let us examine the reality of the difference between what we say and what we do! Why is it that as a nation we focus so much attention on the provisions for a president and the privileged few, when indeed our collective dignity is measured by the provisions that we make for the weakest and most vulnerable among us. The first admission of our failure to achieve our development aspirations is that the educated elite of Ghana have not performed satisfactorily. In deed we have been selfish. The five to -fifteen percent of our population that have received the best education on the backs of fishermen, farmers, laborers and even child workers have been most wasteful of our resources. Some even consider it their God given right to have the best of everything without any of the obligations of responsibility to the less advantaged. As if to add insult to injury, many of these privileged few have become disdainfully elitist, deceitful, arrogant, ostentatious and irresponsible in our development efforts. In plain English, those at the top have short changed the rest in the mistaken notion that they serve the public and must therefore enjoy the best the country has to offer at the expense of the basic needs of the majority. This sends the wrong message and is counterproductive in galvanizing the collective zeal needed for development.

Analysis of the Problem: – Source of Our Under-development In my humble judgment, successive governments have been unable and unwilling to confront and contain individuals and groups that are mismanaging or misusing the nation’s limited resources. Some Chief executives of public and semi-public institutions lack vision and have failed to discharge their duties efficiently. Some Ministers and Assembly Chief Executives preside with impunity over waste, inefficiency, indiscipline, corruption and poor delivery of public services.

Civil servants collude with businessmen and women to steal from the government through the supply of goods and services at inflated prices and contractors get paid for shoddy work or abandoned work and so on and so forth. These are all problems that demand uncompromising political action in fulfillment of the covenant and social contract the government made with the people; any government’s failure to fulfill this social contract with the people amounts to a betrayal of the people’s trust!

The problem of our current undevelopment and lack of self-achievement does not simply lie with particular administrations, NPP or NDC. It is one of a value system failure. The problem lies with the educated elite who are crippled by a number of negative practices and tendencies including social injustice and a frantic contra-developmental and infantile pursuit of crass materialism often through thievery and corruption. So, the mere replacement of one group of Ghanaians in government by another group changes nothing, unless we the educated few who seek leadership first cleanse ourselves from the economic and political filth that afflict us.

Political ideology, economic models and pragmatic coping mechanisms for development that are devoid of a value system are nothing but ramblings of an empty rolling drum. They serve only to polarize mischievous protagonists as they struggle and vie for power in pursuit of their self-centered agendas.

MY VISION FOR GHANA

What Ghana needs today is an economic system whose key elements are a pragmatic approach on the questions of private ownership and government intervention. There must be socially responsible use of the means of production; public or private, and an intense commitment to high productivity and rapid growth. Our stewardship must be marked by frugality and equitable distribution of the national product among all the citizens. On the political front, there is the need to agree on an institutional framework that allows all citizens’ equal access to a free and unfettered debate of national issues geared to building consensus on values, goals and instrumentalities. We have to emphasize social corporatism – the ethic of collective well-being and group interdependence – lest it is overshadowed by excessive individualism and independence. Ghana must be built as a nation with the humanization and dignification of its citizens because humanized and dignified individuals tend to contribute more substantially to the development effort.

Today as Ghanaians we live in a republic that we take for granted. It could, however have been an amalgamation of Bantustans but for the vision of one man, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who believed in one Ghana, one people and one nation as a building block for a united Africa. Ghana was envisioned as a credible anchor for a powerful continent. A racial powerbase to serve as an embodiment of African history, the repository of African traditions and values, the custodian of African interests and security of every member of the race, a veritable fortress of countervailing strength against anti-African designs and machinations everywhere. The tool to achieve that objective was and still is a knowledgeable, confident and determined people that believe in themselves. As Garvey rightly said “ If you have no confidence in your self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence you have won even before you have started”. Nkrumah’s self-confidence as a leader and an African was exemplary when he first addressed the UN General Assembly and said - I stand before this august assembly to address you on world matters, a thing which was undreamt of a decade ago and again he said on another occasion – what the imperialist took a century to build, we shall take a decade! Today, we have lost our confidence. We have no grand dreams of our own except to hang our hopes on the apron strings of other nation’s generosity. Today, unlike Nkrumah, we prefer servitude in tranquility to independence with danger. Note the uncertain tentative, gradualist approach to everything including Pan-Africanism. We are however not gradualist when it comes to disposal of state assets and enterprises!

What has happened to our work ethic and integrity, that today we revel as a people in mediocrity, deceit, greed, ostentation, arrogance and corruption of all forms, including dealing in hard drugs like cocaine to get rich quick and consequently ruin the lives of our youth – thus eroding the very strength of our nation. In every day life, decent and honest Ghanaians encounter entrenched habits that belie the voracious appetite of those who short-change their fellow citizens for services rendered at fitter’s yards, building sites, tailoring shops, schools and universities, public and private offices and even hospitals. There must be an end to these stubborn frailties. We must as a nation turn a new leaf so that corruption becomes abnormal and honesty the norm. The curse of corruption should be exorcised from the top most hierarchy of government – the President, Ministers, Judges, and other top public officials through the declaration and publication of assets and liabilities. In this connection, I am happy to announce the declaration and open publication of my ‘hardware’ assets even as a presidential aspirant. As President of Ghana, I shall update this declaration every year publicly. I challenge all aspirants and candidates to voluntarily declare their assets publicly. I shall require all top officials of my government to declare and publish their assets on assumption of office. We shall set new standards for serving the people of this country. All contracts from the district to national level will be published. The Right to Information on all government transactions will be enforced and made transparent. My government will enter into agreements with International Banks, the IMF, the World Bank and other countries to divulge all illegal financial transactions involving the President, his Ministers, and other top public officials to the public and the International Court of Justice for recovery of stolen funds and subsequent prosecution. Corruption deprives our citizens of education, health, shelter and other needs. Corruption indirectly kills innocent citizens through these deprivations. We shall tackle it ruthlessly from the top since the quantum loss is greatest there – where over 90 percent of financial losses occur. My government will establish a leadership code that provides a firm check on unbridled corruption and self-aggrandizement, along the lines that incorruptible leaders like Nkrumah and Mwalimu Nyerere established in respect of leaders in government, civil service and political parties. It is preposterous and a travesty that a country of such woeful underdevelopment should have leaders addicted to material display, luxury cars and palatial homes earned from corrupt practices.



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