Feature Article of Thursday, 3 May 2012

Columnist: Stonash, Amponsah

An open letter to Ghanaians abroad

Fellow Ghanaians abroad, the million dollar question of “when would Ghanaians in the diaspora have the mandate to vote?” has been answered by Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo; the best man to restore the hope of our nation.
In his meeting with Ghanaians in Atlanta on the April 22, 2012, a participant at the meeting asked the above question. In his responds, Nana Addo said “it was the NPP government that passed the Representation of Peoples Amendment (ROPA) bill. We wanted to implement it. Unfortunately we were not able to do so before we left office. Our successors have made it clear that they are not interested. But we are interested! When we come back, we are going to IMPLEMENT it, and make it possible for all of you (Ghanaians abroad) to be able to exercise your franchise. Less developed countries like Togo, Mali etc. are doing it, so why can’t Ghana?”
In furtherance of the above, Nana Addo reiterated his commitment to create a department within his presidency – when elected – to handle diaspora matters. This office, he said, will work out and coordinate a comprehensive packages that will serve as incentives to Ghanaians coming back home. These incentives will include opportunities for work and doing business, among other pressing issues like duties – he said.
Indeed, this is a great sigh of relief to all.
Ghanaians abroad have been active players in the nation’s developmental agenda, since time immemorial. People with special expertise, who hitherto and/or now bear the name “Diasporas,” are now contributing to the growth of various sectors of our economy by tapping into their gained knowledge and resources abroad. The remittances from us to the nation’s economy have grown “unprecedentedly”, and now stand at a whopping $5billion last year. Yet we are bedeviled with barrage of challenges.
One had expected the current government to have read the riot act in purging our ports and harbors off these corruption and bureaucratic red tapes which relay to customers, absonant off -the-book spending, after the life threatening and shuddersome revelation made by investigative journalist, Anas Amereyaw Anas. It was very indicting, disgraceful and repugnant to have emerged that, officials caught in “action” by the investigators’ camera in engaging were ironically meted with a juicy punishment of “transfer”, by the Mills/Mahama administration.
This inaction will continue to linger on our minds.
With their filibustering tactics, the Mills/Mahama administration has clearly expressed no interest in implementing ROPA law, while the voting right of prisoners has been pushed to the fore. What business have those whose actions have been condemn as being pernicious and retrogressive to society got to do with developmental processes like election? I know the concept of morality is far distinguishable from law, but I beg to buoy up that, the mandate of prisoners to voting needs more moral interrogation than law.
The NDC government in assumption office has increased the international call rate per minute – with the US dollar as the charge rate – from 13cent per minute to 19cent per minute. Yet, we continue to experience hitches in placing calls to talk to our family and loved ones back home. While our talk-time has been decrease by this increment, SIM Box fraud has “unprecedentedly” been on the rise on Ghana’s international telecommunication route/traffic ; a clear case of the government’s ineffective telecommunication strategies.
As if these are not enough, President Mills showed gross disrespect towards the humble tradition of meeting and interacting with Ghanaians in his last visit to the USA. Readers would recall that on Friday, March 9th, 2012, during a “town hall meeting” between President Mills and the Ghanaian community in Washington, attendees were asked to indite their questions on paper, which were then read to the President. Ghanaians were virtually prevented from expressing themselves in the face of the President – father-for-all indeed!
Ghanaians abroad must not continue to entertain these insensitivities – anymore. Change must come our way! And Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo represents this “change”.
With Nana’s “Anas Principle” geared towards fighting corruption in various sectors of our economy including the harbors which have been source of worry for the diaspora communities, coupled with the his profound statement of implementing the ROPA law, and creating a department within his presidency to handle diaspora matters – in his assumption of power – we cannot ask for more.
But in releasing these wishful ideas of Nana, we have to do our part.
Let us encourage our friends and families who have not yet registered in the biometric voters’ registration exercise to do so.
We have to assume the avocation of talking to, most especially, the first time voters (persons who had turned 18years between now and the previous election) within our households. They are estimated to be in a region of three million in every electioneering year. These are the category of voters whom per their age didn’t know how shamed the country was when President Kuffour took over from the previous NDC government under President Rawlings, and how robust our now sinking economy was, under President Kuffour. We must also not forget to whisper into the ears of our “seniors” who have lost track of pertinent national issues due to age. These are the category of voters who do not really have time to interrogate policies stipulated in the manifestos of political parties, but rely mostly on the political inclination of respected and trusted friends and most especially families to cast their votes [these are personal observations, with no scientific connotations].
Our opinions are highly respected in our households. Therefore our position of Nana Addo being the best man to restore the hope and prosperity of our nation, would be strongly upheld, when effectively and comprehensively communicated to these voters. We have always been there for them – one way or the other.
Let us rise up above our disenfranchisement, and live up to the dictum of effecting change by making the calls and doing the talks. Let us show the world that, though far from home, we are still a real formidable force to reckon with, in the determination of the exit of the NDC from office – come December 7.
This is just a quick reminder.

Amponsah Stonash,
NPP Communications Directorate,
New York – USA.