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Opinions of Monday, 8 August 2011

Columnist: Ampofo, Ofori

The Purchase Of 5 Aircrafts And The Executive Defense!

1. LET US PRIORITIZE OUR NEEDS.
2. LET US PRACTICE PRACTICAL COMMONSENSE ECONOMICS

By: Ofori Ampofo


The behavior, priorities and decision-making provided by our Ghanaian leadership reminds one of the same exploitation by foreign colonialists of our people some hundred or more years ago.

A good example is the decision by President J A Mills, with the consequent justification to acquire 5Aircrafts for Ghana. The justification does not sound to be one of good reasoning, in my opinion and that of many Ghanaians who have dared to comment.
Unfortunately, the debate coincided with the Akim Brim River flooding that occurred few weeks ago. Touring the affected areas on Monday, 25th July, President Mills is quoted as having said before some flood victims that the aircrafts are to be used to evacuate and rescue flood victims, and to hunt down armed robbers. The timing for such a statement in defense of the purchase of the aircrafts was totally and completely wrong. It was, a wrong time for cheap political propaganda before a heavily dispirited people.
The question is how often do we experience such floods? Of course, the Brim river flood could have been prevented, if people in authority had been circumspect in awarding gold mining concessions too close to the bounds of the popular river.

When the colonial master set foot on the then Gold Coast, the intention was to seek their self interest – first through trade, and later a chance to exploit everything from us. They set up a system to enjoy everything free, including accommodation, chauffeur-driven cars, food, garden boys, maid servants, telephones, clothing and all expenses.
Ghanaian leaders since Independence have adopted the same colonial exploitative mindset and system, and in a worse form than what the colonial master did to our economy. Those at the top ladder enjoy everything free, and worse still don’t even deliver services despite massive loans incurred. They can best be described as our “black colonial masters”. They don't care about common sense application of our resources. All they think about is how lavishly they can live. In the mean time those that vote them to power live in abject poverty.

This attitude of selfishness and greed of politicians leads to a national economy that suffers. National development aspirations suffer, and the people are denied the basic necessities of life. Political deceptions and failed promises then become their trade mark. Such situations often lead to revolutions.
The few politicians and civil servants that control and are hired to manage the wealth of the nation don't care about the welfare of those that they are elected or appointed to serve. Corruption in civil service has eaten deep down into the roots of national life. Selfishness has crippled the economic development of our Country and her people.

In comparison, the system that was established, allowing the Colonial Master to enjoy everything free in the then Gold Coast, does not work like that in the developed economies. The 1992 Constitution, drawn and enacted under military supervision, re-emphasized on the same exploitative system, expanded by the Greenstreet committee, appointed by then Leader Jerry Rawlings. The system has been made even worse by the Chenery-Hessey review committee appointed by Ex-President JA Kuffour that has brought about the obnoxious ex-gratia awards.

Recent reports indicate that President Mills has authorized payments of the Ex-Gratia awards after three years of public outcry and misgivings. I never had any doubt ever in my mind that the self serving executive will deny his colleagues the payments of the awards. Why could President Mills deny himself such a big chunk of free money and all that goes with it?

ALTERNATE USE OF THE MONEY . Modern Medical Facilities: There can be some better use of the moneys. If I were President Mills, I would rather authorize the money that would go into the purchase of the 5 aircrafts to establish at least one ultra modern medical facility to take care of the medical needs of all Ghanaians.
It is an undeniable fact that people in authority fly to South Africa, Europe, Israel, America and elsewhere for medical needs. The reason is that our best medical facility, (Korle- Bu hospital) does not have the best equipments required for the best medical diagnosis and treatment.
Does President Mills and his Government, think the purchase of an Executive Jet and four Military aircrafts are a priority over the establishment of just one ultra modern medical facility? Such a modern facility could even be a medical hub for the whole of West Africa. It will be a place where they themselves and the rest of the people of Ghana can secure the best medical care. After all a healthy people make a healthy country and the vice versa. Amazingly, all the noise being made by the opposition is also not against the purchase, but their suspicion of a possible kick back deal by those in authority.
The same political wrangling has been the trend in our legislative house. The winner takes all, and therefore, the majority will always do whatever they would want to do against all common sense opinions. The sales of Ghana Telecom, The Loan to construct the executive mansion, The STX Loan deal are all test cases.

NEED FOR A NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENDA and PRIORITIES:-
Fellow good people of Ghana, in my good conscience, I think we have allowed the selfish politicization of our National development for too long. There is therefore the urgent need now than ever, for a National development plan, drawn by representatives of all registered political parties. Such a National document will remain binding on every successive Government to follow through. Political party’s manifestos should be under no circumstance allowed to undermine the National Development Plan.
Of course we need everything, but we cannot do everything at the same time. That is why it makes sense to prioritize our needs under a development plan.

Ghana is blessed with everything from Natural resources to a large pool of educated human resources scattered around the world. We have a sizeable and a manageable population. The unfortunate phenomenon is that we have allowed exploitative system established by the colonial master, coupled with our human greed, selfishness and weak culture of enforcement of laws, to dominate our political thinking. Selfishness and graft have therefore entrenched deep in the minds of our leaders’ quest for unlimited and undeserving wealth.

The fear is that if we allow the same political atmosphere and mentality to triumph, the oil revenue may not change or better the lives of the ordinary people of Ghana.
There is therefore the need to practice and apply common sense, honesty and practical economics in our National development aspirations.
President J.A Mills and his NDC Government must listen to commonsense reasoning and stop the purchase of the 5Aircrafts.


Ofori Ampofo (Kade Constituency, E/R, Ghana)