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Opinions of Monday, 18 January 2016

Columnist: Daily Guide

If I were to make a wish list for Ghana for 2016

Let me first apologize to my readers for the short break in the publication of my column. I had to take a few weeks off to enjoy the holidays. I hope you all had a good holiday.

Last year I started the first few weeks of the year by making resolutions for three different groups of people. This year, I simply want to make a wish list. You may call it my prayer for this country for 2016.

My first wish for this country is for us to have peaceful elections. As we all know the election of a president and parliamentary candidates will be the single most important activity in the country and we all have to do our part to ensure that the elections are peaceful.

Peace also goes beyond the elections. Related to that is the presence of the Guantanamo detainees in the country. It is my wish that regardless of their presence Ghanaians will enjoy peace of mind and peace in the country. Events unfolding in Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Chad and all the countries affected by violence, rebel and terrorists activities are a cause for serious concern and Ghanaians certainly have a cause to worry about anything that is closely or vaguely related to terrorism.

In the midst of all these concerns, I wish that there will be peace of mind for all Ghanaians.

It is also my wish that the cedi will become stable in 2016.

The instability of the cedi jeopardizes the efforts to improve the wellbeing of Ghanaians. Prices of goods and services continue to increase when the cedi depreciates against the major currencies and we can enjoy economic freedom when the cedi appreciates. The Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Ghana (BoG) must see to an improvement in the situation.

It’s also my wish that Ghanaians will take better care of the environment than they are doing now. The issue of sanitation and environmental cleanliness continues to be a source for great concern and the Ministry of Environment and our District Assemblies must begin to put in better strategies to ensure that the environment is clean.

A drive through most of the principal streets in the country exposes too many sorry sights – choked gutters, garbage, litter, used plastic wastes. How can we be comfortable with such a situation?

Economic growth cannot be an end itself. It must be backed by a sound ecological and sustainability plan that also seeks to address the challenges that rapid urbanization brings.

My fifth wish is for us to begin to take time management more seriously. It’s a shame for us to continue to refer to “Ghanaman Time” anytime events, national ceremonies, scheduled business and social programs start late. This impacts our development as a country and doesn’t make us look serious. To think that people have to spend two to three hours waiting for a programme or an event to begin because logistics are not ready or speakers have not arrived is absolutely wrong and the sooner we change the better. Time is money and a country that does not value time cannot achieve anything. Time here also includes timely decision-making, timeliness of execution of projects and timely response to issues.

I also wish that this year people will learn to take better care of resources allocated to them. It has been the practice especially in the public sector for people to run down facilities without making any efforts to maintain or improve them. Every facility that is built or refurbished and run by human beings must have a maintenance schedule and the fact that we allow our facilities to run down only to appeal for funding to put them in good shape again is absolutely not right.

. Check our roads, public schools, health centers, public buildings such as our ports (air or sea), pavements and some public vehicles and you will notice that many things are completely out of place. Some even have officers assigned to maintenance, yet almost everything is run down completely under their watch. This attitude must stop.

This goes straight to the issue of accountability and good governance.

The fact is that without accountability corruption flourishes and any person or group of persons who are responsible for departments, ministries, agencies, institutions or facilities must be made accountable.

I believe that this country is blessed with everything it needs to prosper.

However the attitude of many people in the management of people and resources leaves a lot to be desired. Accusations of corruption, abuse of office, taking undue advantage of one’s office to amass wealth etc have to be checked. It is a matter of concern that many people who are accused of being corrupt are neither investigated nor sanctioned if found culpable. Young people of this generation are living with the wrong impression that people in government can get away with anything.

The values of our society cannot be compromised because of the actions and non-actions of the people who govern us. Things must change for the better and in 2016 the government must be seen to be promoting good governance better than it has done in previous years. And talking about young people, I pray and wish that the digital and mobile phone buzz in this age will not just be a lifestyle craze.

There must be a conscious plan for young people to take full advantage of the digital world. We must not just WhatsApp, Facebook, Tweet and Snapchat for fun. We must all take full advantage of the digital world. We must improve our wellbeing through technology.

As the leading network provider, MTN, prepares to launch 4G in 2016 we must see people creating life-changing and revolutionary solutions that will bring our nation wealth.

The world is changing for the better and Ghana must not be left behind. We hope to see the future Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg in this country starting from 2016. After all the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step and we must double our steps in 2016.

I wish all my readers a very fruitful new year.