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Opinions of Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Columnist: Ampofo Ofori

The Top Is The Problem Not The Bottom

GHANA?S ECONOMIC PROBLEMS, WHERE DO WE PUT THE BLAME? If this question is put out for National debate, many will blame the Government but a lot many will definitely blame the Ghanaian people for societal ills like, Apathy, Laziness, Bribery and Corruption, and Unpatriotic behaviors.

Those of us who have lived through the 1960's to date can best write a living testimony of the past and the present. That is what I am going to attempt to do. During the days immediately after Independence, Ghanaians were highly spirited and hardworking because, whatever one earned as a monthly pay was way enough for every needs and for savings. There was nothing like Bribery and Corruption and the Ghanaian sense of Patriotism was highly evidenced in all spheres of our national character. Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, DR. J.B Danquah and others, made Ghana and Ghanaians a proud Nation and a proud People. Throughout the world, Ghanaians were proud to openly claim the national identity.

Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah proclaimed at independence in 1957, the Independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total Liberation of the continent of Africa, Yes, he followed through and made good his words and pushed for the Independence of all sub-Sahara Africa. Ghana was then the Black star of Africa. Ghana was transformed rapidly to be an Industrial giant of the West Africa sub-region. The economy was good, and Ghana turned out to be the United States of America and The United Kingdom for our brothers and sisters within the sub-region. In 1960, Ghana was declared a Republic and Osagyefo Dr, Kwame Nkrumah transformed the political landscape into a One Party State and latter introduced his obnoxious Preventive Detention Act, which empowered him to detain his political opponents. Even though those times were economically good, there could not be a meaningful economic freedom without Political freedoms. Therefore, the pride of Ghana and Ghanaians started eroding. In any event, bribery and corruption was largely unheard of during the period in question before 1966.

The Military coup of 1966 which overthrew Kwame Nkrumah and his convention Peoples Party was welcome for one reason. The End of Dictatorship however, that was the beginning of the economic doom of our country, with the level of indiscipline that characterized the Ghanaian way of life, economic mismanagement, bribery and corruption and the subsequent series of military interventions and its attended Indiscipline within the society.

Fellow Ghanaians, despite the unpredictable world economic order, some third world countries as we are, have made great strides in their economic developments. For example, Malaysia and Singapore. Today, Malaysia controls Ghana?s Telecommunication systems. Ghana has absolutely no excuses at all for the level of our economic decline in terms of population and the many God given Natural resources we are endowed with. Who do we blame for the MESS?

Undoubtedly, APATHY, LAZINESS, BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION AND UNPATRIOTIC behaviors have entrenched deep into our national character because, the leadership of the country after 1966, haven?t cared too much about developing the country. Every Ghanaian knows the leadership since, have been very corrupt and only enriched themselves at the expense of the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized in the society. 1) How do we expect the ordinary people to care when the Leadership don?t care?

2) How do we expect the ordinary poor Ghanaians to be hard working, when they cannot afford two meals a day but see the affluent lifestyle of the Leadership since 1966?

3) How do we expect the ordinary poor Ghanaians to stop demanding bribes to get things done within the civil service, when they know the Leadership has been guilty of the same since 1966?

4) How can we expect the Policeman, the Custom officer, the Judge, the school Headmaster etc, etc, refuse to ask for bribes, when they know the Leadership has been guilty of the same since 1966? Bribery and corruption has gradually become an acceptable part of our lives.

5) How can we expect our younger generation especially, the college, polytechnic and university graduates of all disciplines and our medical doctors to remain patriotic and serve the country when they cannot find jobs and the Leadership do not seem to care?

6) How patriotic and sincere is the N P P Government?

7) How patriotic and sincere was the PNDC/ NDC Government?

8) How patriotic and sincere was the Peoples National Party Government?

9) How patriotic and sincere was the National Redemption Council Government?

10) How patriotic and sincere was the Progress Party Government?

11) How patriotic and sincere was the Supreme Military councils 1&11 Governments?

Before 1966, there were only about five thousand Ghanaians in overseas; out of that figure, 75% were most likely on Government scholarships. There were no reasons for Ghanaians to desire to look for visas to travel on their own because, there were ready jobs for even the elementary school leavers. Cost of living was very cheap and every category of wage earner could live well within the month?s pay and even have something left for savings. The opposite is the sad story of today?s Ghana. Today, there may be approximately 2.5million Ghanaians living in all parts of the world. A World Bank reports on Ghana web general news of 29th October 05.puts the figure at 5 million. GHANA SECOND IN BRAIN DRAIN. This report came when I had finished writing and I had to revisit the article to give my readers the authentic figure. FELLOW GHANAIANS, THIS IS THE APPARENT RESULT OF LEADERSHIP FAILURES BOTH MILITARY AND CIVILIAN ADMINISTRATIONS SINCE 1966. BRAIN DRAIN. Fellow Ghanaians, my understanding to the so-called Brain Drain, is the loss of our trained professionals to foreign labor markets; simply put. That is a natural human demand that a person looks for the best in life. Ghanaians who migrate to look for greener pastures are however seen as unpatriotic. I do not accept that characterization because; the conditions in Ghana are very obvious that there would have been no livelihood otherwise for those people.

2) Previous and present Governments would have been overburdened with urban drift looking for none existing jobs if all those 2.5 (5) Million WORLD BANK FIGURE Ghanaians had remained within the boundaries of Ghana. A situation which could easily discredit any Government.

3) Statistically, if a minimum of two thousand College, Polytechnic, and University graduates come out every year, how do we expect them to fit into our none existing Job market? The only option is to find ways and means to get out of the country. That makes him rather more patriotic, instead of ridiculing the Government for not being able to provide for its people. I sincerely believe the Government today, is more relieved having 2.5-5 million of its citizens, being fed by some other countries while at the same time, they send enough foreign exchange home to boost the Nations ailing Economy. In today?s Ghana, the best that has ever happened to any home, in all honesty, is the day a family member packed baggage and was seen off at the Kotoka International airport to a known or unknown destination outside Ghana.

The biggest question is, why has Ghana?s development remained stagnant since 1966? Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah gave us a good Industrial take off, whatever his political shortcomings were; however, successive Leaders abandoned every dream about Nkrumah?s industrialization plans. In 1966, Ghana?s population was about 7million.today, it is tripled and when we needed to reactivate some of those abandoned industries to employ our technicians and engineers, to pay taxes to increase the national revenue, we borrowed to build infrastructures that never generated income to repay the loans. PURE MISPLACEMENT OF PRIORITIES. That is why we accumulated over 4billion Dollars debt and for God?s sake the G8 has bailed us out.

Our leaders since 1966 have had no vision. The development of Ghana like all countries is vested in the hands of its Leaders and therefore, 1) if the Leadership has no vision, the people will have no vision and the country will have no political direction.

2) If the Leader is Corrupt, Selfish and Greedy, the people will be the same.

3) If the Leader is Unpatriotic, the people will be the same. We always look up to our Leaders.

The Ghanaian by nature is dedicated and hardworking but Political and economic conditions make them disgruntled and disillusioned before they set foot to the work places and offices. They are therefore rendered unproductive before they get to their places of work. The solutions to Ghana?s problems may be complexed but not insurmountable. As long as Political and Economic conditions change, work ethics will change and the result is higher productivity.

2) What we need, is a Leader that will not go cup in hand begging for Aid and Loans for our development aspirations. All the money we need for our development can be found and created by ourselves from within. The Potentials are available to create our own wealth. We cannot continue borrowing to supplement budgetary allocations. We must therefore widen the Tax base and that means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. More Jobs for companies and workers to pay taxes to increase the National Revenue.

3) We need to seriously tackle agricultural production on various Food and cash Crops for Local consumption and possible export. Just as there is too much waste in Government function, so also is too much waste in excess food and crop production which could be processed and stored against lean season. It is time for us to change our way of life and behaviors.

4) We need to be tough on Economic Saboteurs, Discourage completely Bribery and Corruption, and punish Willful misappropriation of national resources.

5) The top needs to encourage willing Ghanaians overseas to fulfill their dreams of returning home to establish. Whether our leaders like to hear this or not, I have to make it clear that for 40 Years they have failed the people of Ghana and there is every reason to believe that the salvation of Ghana can only be possible when THE BRAIN REFILL. Many such people have tried to establish small and large scale industries but have always been frustrated with the usual administrative bottlenecks. There have been no laid down procedures to help these people, and when they can no longer take the frustrations, they park and go back to overseas. I HAVE KNOWLEDGE FROM FOUR SUCH PEOPLE AND THERE MAY BE MORE I DON?T KNOW ABOUT. Presently, there are a group of young enterprising Ghanaians who I know have for more than Four years explored and established tomato processing plant but from my understanding, instead of Government officials cooperating and assist them with some funds, nobody seems to care. These guys are getting frustrated and very soon they might also abandon their dream and return to their foreign abode. How can Ghana expect to develop when we cannot encourage our own entrepreneurs? Is it because they refuse to pay bribes to Officials? Or politicians do not want to see us any more in our own motherland for fear of intense political competition? COUNTRYMEN, THE TOP IS THE PROBLEM NOT THE BOTTOM.

GHANA NEEDS LEADERS TO AVOID THE IMPRESSION OF A PERSONALITY CULT. AGAIN, GHANA NEEDS A NEW KIND OF POLITICAL DIRECTION WITH LEADERS WHO WILL BE SINCERE, DEDICATED AND WILLING TO SACRIFICE TO SAVE GHANAIANS FROM ECONOMIC ENSLAVEMENT, AND SET GHANA FREE FOREVER. IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE BECAUSE OTHERS HAVE DONE IT. TO END THE BRAIN DRAIN, WE NEED TO SAVE GHANA POLITICALLY AND ECONOMICALLY BUT IT CAN NOT BE ACHIEVED UNDER CORRUPT, SELFISH AND GREEDY POLITICIANS. THAT IS WHY SOME CONCERNED GHANAIANS HAVE FORMED SAVE GHANA NOW ASSOCIATION, TO CHAMPION THE COURSE FOR DYNAMIC CHANGES.

A NONE POLITICAL ASSOCIATION WHICH BELIEVES IN ONLY THE TRUTH.IF YOU THINK GHANA CAN BE SAVED AS WE DO, VISIT OUR WEB SITE www.saveghana.org AND REGISTER TODAY. TOGETHER, WE CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE AND BRAIN DRAIN &ALL SOCIAL VICES WILL BELONG TO HISTORY.

MY FELLOW GHANAIANS, DO NOT GIVE UP ON GHANA. WE SHALL OVERCOME SOMEDAY.

Ampofo Ofori (Save Ghana Now Association)
UNITED FOR DEVELOPMENT


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