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Opinions of Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

Why Ghana Remains an Arrested Development Colony

Do you call yourself a Ghanaian? Do you love your country dearly? Are you full of fluff or muscled for biting action? Are you certainly happy with where Ghana is headed? At the moment, any unbiased observer will admit that Ghana is ailing menacingly. Corruption, Incompetence, Tribalism, Nepotism and other grave diseases afflict this country that we love so dearly. It does not have to be this way and united with a single purpose, we can change this grave situation. If a loved one is gravely sick, what course of action are you/we obliged to take? Why are we refusing to act? Why do we sit back and allow these cancers to fester? Mother Ghana is not feeling your love! No way! When will we come together to beat back these ailments and nurse our beloved country back to health? If we don’t do it, who will? The cheats and thieves or the Scribes and Pharisees? Good luck!

Force field analysis teaches us that weakening the drivers of a challenge and strengthening the forces that propel a desired outcome is the way to attack our current ailments. We know ad nauseam what our challenges are. How do we come together as a people, in a sustained way, to deal a blow to these daunting challenges? How do we put a dent in corruption, break the back of incompetence, send tribalism reeling and put a kibosh on nepotism? How can we create a country where kids get free education, adults get healthcare, no electricity interruptions, pipe borne water flows and our waste (solid and liquid) is managed effectively? How do we build a country where 3 hot meals and shelter is guaranteed to all? How do we build a country where our naturally gifted resources are used to benefit all as opposed to a small thieving minority?

There is abundant evidence to suggest that Ghana is blessed with tremendous human and natural resources. How do we leverage these resources to move our people and country forward? How do we create a system where hard work is rewarded and thievery is punished severely? How do we weed out the crooks and bring in the dedicated? Have we all too soon resigned ourselves to the fate that the thieves will rule while the faithful watch? How can we make Ghana work for most if not all? The thieves will not hand it over for sure! How do we take it away from them?

The most dire need that we have in Ghana at the moment is able leadership. However, even the best intentioned leaders have to grapple with a suffocating culture of corruption, incompetence, tribalism and nepotism. The latter is why we need a critical mass to create the tipping point for radical change in Ghana. The days of coups are far behind us. As least that is what we’ve committed ourselves to. Now, we have to make change happen without guns and bullets. The thieves know every well what system we’ve pledged to. They also know that we are a country divided by tribe, class and parochial interest. These thieves, like dogs, have no plans of leaving the meat truck. You certainly cannot talk a dog off a meat truck! Unless of course you are a mean salesman. Even so, your chances of success are very dim. We have to pry these pit-bulls off the meat truck. We have to come together my brothers and sisters or risk losing this country that we love so much.

Take a look around you and what do you see? A lack of progress! Do you think progress happens by way of serendipity? Get a grip!! We don’t plan so we plan to fail. The incompetent lads are the ones in charge! The competent and outspoken lads have been marginalize and frozen out of the system. We can’t even run a competent election for crying out loud. Granted that elections face challenges everywhere. Did we try hard enough? Meanwhile, as a result of incompetence, our mothers, sisters, aunts’ uncles and brothers die needlessly. The rich and powerful, glaringly incompetent, carve out half baked schemes destined to fail. For their half-ass efforts, they get paid pretty well, while the poor get raided. For as long as we tolerate and reward incompetence, we will reap a healthy dose of it. We talk about cultural pride but without economic viability and political perspicacity, what use is cultural pride? The only pride that we need now is national progress. Progress that trickles down to every hard working Ghanaian. Are you not tired of the needless suffering? Well, if you are, do something about it now!!

My brothers and sisters, your enemy is not that man or woman from another tribe! It is not that man or woman who is struggling just as you are! You real enemy is the elite who steals your resources, squanders your borrowed money, lives large on your limited resources, feeds you with bilge and mismanages your affairs. Your real enemy is your incompetent tribesman who is raking in millions through judgment debt but you continue to cheer him or her on in the name of tribe. Wake up!! Your real enemy is your tribesman or woman who trains your feeble mind on non-consequential trivial tribal pap. Open your eyes and ears my brothers and sisters! Your only friend is the one, regardless of tribe, who struggle just as you do. Your destiny and his or hers are intertwined.

Hear me out! You’ve been sitting on the fence for far too long my brothers and sisters. The only sustainable change we can afford now is change that comes from within and is by the people. I know your priorities are more allied toward survival now, than they are the future. I understand and can relate to your reality. However, can you convince yourself to die trying? Can you imagine a future for your family that is better than the hell that you are living now? How do you assume the envisioned prosperous future will be attained, if you don’t engage now and help shape the future? The time to be aloof and inward looking is not now. You can make a huge difference. Note that the countries that we beg from to get you the little that you enjoy, were built with sacrifice from its people. The good news is that Rome was not built in a day. It was still built though! It was not delivered from a crack in the skies. We have to build ours on sound foundation.

The more fault lines and cracks we show, the more elated the enemy from within and without. So today, there is a virulent crop of individuals, on all sides, who seek to keep us divided so that they can pillage and keep this scandal of a democracy going. Until we find ways to go beyond these tribal shenanigans, not much progress will be made. We must unite around the basic goals of sustainable economic progress, participatory political stability and a cohesive social front. We cannot allow our tribal differences to occupy the front seat. To get a clear view of where we are going, we need to break the back of tribalism and stand united. Spurn the incurable tribalists, for they have nothing meaningful to offer. Unity is a key ingredient to progress on all fronts.

All the above will remain sheer talk until we dig deep and find unerring leadership. But leadership without a plan of action means nothing. We need a deliberate plan that aims at breaking the back of the current sick system. We have to find a way to make it easier for well intentioned Ghanaians to rise to the top. Concurrently, we must retire permanently, those who swing and sway with any political wind for personal gain. We cannot tolerate a system in the name of civility, which allows certain individuals, to rob us blind in broad daylight. Yes, we cannot forcibly remove these crooks with guns, but for sure, we can remove them if we bring a united front of zero tolerance to the table. The only way forward is sustained action. The answer to our challenges lies with you. Get up and organize the people in your neighborhood for action. Once your neighborhood acts, aim at the district. From the district, aim at the region. From the region, you must go national. This is your country and you are a full citizen. No one will love your country like you. Get up! Yes it is hard work but who do you expect to fight for you? The crooks are not letting up and shouldn’t either!

My fellow Ghanaians, Ghana is a country that you and I love. It is the land of our birth and we’ve pledged it to thee. Our love and toil must go to this country. We must wrestle it from the criminals and crooks just as Jesus whipped the thieves out of the temple. We can and must not remain disinterested. When the water stops to flow, the electricity flickers off, potholes grow into craters, kids remain uneducated, sick people die, feces surround our food centers and poor people sleep on roof tops, the stains of collective failure have become manifest and immediate action is warranted. Talking will not shake the will of the thieves. What will is action!! You will never be fully dignified until your land of birth represents a level of descent human existence. I am sorry to tell you that Ghana is not there yet and its efforts to get there is being stymied by a powerful and greedy few. Get up and make a difference! Yes you can and you have more power to influence than you give yourself credit for. Come on now! Don’t give up! The answer is surely you/us!!

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman (Affectionately dubbed the double edge sword and overly mobbed as Santrofi Anomaa) I can be reached at Akyere@AOL.COM

I don’t give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think its hell—Harry Truman