You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2005 11 08Article 93804

Opinions of Tuesday, 8 November 2005

Columnist: Appiah-Kubi, Stephen

The curse of poverty

T D Jakes the ever so impressive American preacher was spot on when he talked about poverty in one of his preaching. With energy, drive and enthusiasm, my favourite preacher said boldly that poverty is a curse and that he who calls it upon himself brings curse upon him. Continuing, he stressed that it is therefore important that man strives to achieve the best for himself, live in comfort so as to be able to Bless the Kingdom of God. My Maker has also made me aware in the Good Book that it is not HIS will that man should be poor. Why am I coming up with all these things? Well, it is all to do with what I see as the curse of poverty that we have brought upon ourselves, I mean the people of Ghana. I will always repeat boldly the very good achievements of the current administration, but that will not cloud my judgement over their failings also. Let?s be patriotic not to run down the good work that has been paid for with our own money over the years.

Ghana is an impressive country, very befitting to be called the chosen generation in a region that is everything but predictable. We have had own fair share of instability in the region, but can we compare that to say even Cote d?Ivoire? Just to remind a few of you, when I was studying development studies and political economy at the University, one of the two main issues we looked at was the structural adjustment programmes in Africa, then promoted by the Bretton Woods institutions and of course the development in Ivory Coast, in terms of the political stability and maturity.

Today, Ivory Coast is a case study, I guess for military adventurers and mercenaries, with France using it as an extension of its foreign policy in Africa, something it has lost for a while. The UN and Mbeki are also struggling with the countr! y now. Look at the reversal of roles today. Ghana is a beacon of hope for Africa, whereas Cote d?Ivoire is a potential trouble spot, whose bout of pneumonia could leave the whole sub-region catching the flu. Why all this? Fellow countrymen, the time has come to do a bit of ! forward thinking here. Our dear President and his henchmen, with lead foot soldier Kwabena Agyapong are failing to understand why there is so much chastisement of every move they make. They are failing to understand, and that is sad. It is all due to the curse of poverty we have brought upon ourselves by going HIPC. This is the crux of the matter. I got this whole idea when I tried to read the responses, or comments people made on Ghanaweb on the news item that Kwabena Agyepong has defended the President?s trip. It was more than 125 responses when I visited the story and some of the things people wrote emphasized how poor we all are! I realised there that most people had legitimate concerns that when you are poor you should not do certain things. That is genuinely true! When you are HIPC, and for that matter very poor, no matter the discount you will be receiving at the Willard Hotel, you should not use the place. I am sure there are discounts to diplomatic missions at other hotels and when you compare prices after all discounts, Willard Hotel, I am sure will still be expensive. So the Ghana Mission in Washington has no case with the discount argument. The amount spent may be within the budget allocated for the trip, but we could still have saved some money for the national coffers. We are poor, aren?t we? So every little helps. This also brings to question the unaccountable imprest that I hear some high people are enjoying in Ghana. Fellow Ghanaians, I think we might have to demand proper accountability and since we don?t have the right to public information bill in Ghana, the Bank of Ghana must help us on this. The question to the Bank of Ghana is whether there is such an accounts like unaccountable imprest system that is given out to! some high people or high person (I don?t want to mention names here because my sources say the unaccountable imprest that has been in existence for sometime has shot up- even though I trust my sources, I want the BOG to help me on this, because it may not be true after all!).

The curse of poverty is clouding the judgment of some of us. People are angry because if a very poor country like Ghana can afford to fly their president and other ministers around several times in a year, often more than that of a rich country, then there is something wrong somewhere. Are we cutting our coat according to our cloth or size?

The NPP must try and disabuse the minds of the people and empower them to take charge of their own economic situation. Some are failing to see HIPC benefits because they think it should change their life overnight. That is what probably has been sold to them so they expect that! Some are struggling to understand inflation figures and their pockets because we have not told them that inflation coming down does not mean that prices of goods and services are not rising but that even though they are rising, it is marginal or it is coming down from the level they were before, so they wont drop after all. Again, poverty has made it difficult for a lot of our fellow Ghanaians to achieve the level of education that would allow them to understand some of the issues. Winston Churchill said on the subject of writing: ?Use simple words ev! erybody knows, then everyone will understand?. To this, I will add that in political language ?Tell the truth so that people can understand when it goes wrong?. We have muddied the waters for far too long and have swamped in poverty for many years. Ghana today is like a paradise to most West Africans, apart from Ghanaians! The housing complex and the sort of structure in place in the country is non-existent in most African countries. But, the powers at the helm have managed successfully to an extent to misinform Ghanaians that we have had 20 years of waste under NDC so we are poor. God Bless them. But what they should remember is that people will always judge you by the measure you set. Even surprising was the report from the Ghana ! High Commission in London about the President?s meeting in London with the Financial Times. I wonder who authorised that press statement to be released. In the report, all we read is about what the NPP has managed to achieve since they took office, interest rates down, inflation down, public sector reforms, etc. There was no continuity. Now, as an investor, the question I would like to be answered is that would the country be the same when the NPP leave power or interest rates, inflation etc would rise when they are out! ? As an investor I will wait and see. The point is that politics is played at home, but as Africans, we always want to play it outside, because we are ?poor? and want sympathy. There is no way Michael Howard of the Conservatives or Tony Blair would leave Britain and go and talk down on their predecessor. They believe that everything is for the common good of all British. We lack continuity and in our haste to score political points, we have donned so many titles- HIPC, Least Developed, Under-developed, emerging, etc. That is the curse. That is why there are so many radio presenters making noise, so many sycophants and so many insults at government. Please, NPP, understand because it is spiritual, it is Biblical. The Chief Imam would! also tell you that poverty and debt are not good. That is why in Islamic Banking they don?t charge interest. They share profits. We must exorcise the ghost! Today, a hardworking man puts together a consortium to buy a hotel in Ghana is seen as corruption- because we are poor. A minister transfers money to his mistress is corruption- because we are poor. Ministers are given cars to be efficient is seen as bad- because we say we are poor. Ministers are driving around in cars some of them have worked tirelessly for is corruption- because we are poor. Mr President, I know you practice my faith so please let us exorcise this ghost of poverty. We have brought this curse upon ourselves and ev! en though we have reached HIPC completion point, we are still seen as poor. Let?s be innovative and creative, and learn to be ?rich? in our minds. Declare boldly that we are rich and we shall be rich forever. Some people feel that the President must walk to the office, criticising his motorcade because they believe we cannot afford it. There is life and death in the tongue and just as Nkrumah famously declared that Ghana is free forever, and we are still free( apart from the curse of poverty we have brought on ourselves), please say Ghana is rich forever and we shall be rich. Cuba has refused to lay down in poverty, so we can as well. Believe me, when we are rich, people will stop insulting because in the Western world, people don?t waste their time talking about cars of ministers etc, because they call themselves developed, not HIPC.



Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.