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Opinions Fri, 30 Jan 2004

The Voiceless Constituency and the 2004 Elections

In this election year I would like to urge the politicians who are vying for office to remember that, all that their compatriots in Diaspora( the constituents whose inward remittances has become the third largest foreign earner for Ghana after Cocoa and Gold ) would want from them is not to undermine the very process that is holding the country together. The unity of the country and our very existence as a nation is more important that any group of people or organisations.


In majority of the developing countries around the world, elections had unleash ugly political violence, killing innocent poor citizens whose only crime was to support the wrong party. The perpatrators of such violence are always the political elite hiding behind high fenced walls. Since the country returned to democratic rule and gain the respect of the International community, especially during the first peaceful handover of one democratic government to another without loss of Human life. This maturity has paid handsome dividend to the country. This is evident in the level of inward investment still flowing into the country from citizens abroad and investors who have shown faith in the country.


Various commentators have used this forum to recommend to the government of ways of using these inflows to buttress the government own Poverty Reduction Strategies (Social Development) in order to ease the suffering of the poor........(cocoa farmers, miners, men and women of the forces and services and countless workers) those workers whose income taxes and toil enabled past governments to offer "Free Education and Health Care" to the sons and daughters in Diaspora( during their formative years in the Motherland.)


Writing about a subject that until now most commentators have not taken much notice (Attracting Retirement Incomes for Investment) Ebenezer Banful had given the government another (masterpiece) avenue of further investment opportunity. As Banful poignantly stated, the babyboomers would soon reach their retirement age within the next decade and majority would contemplate going home to retire due to various beneficial reasons.(Various studies, including one that I conducted in the early 1990s revealled that most of the skilled labour that Ghana lost in the 1980s left the Homeland in their prime --- 18 to 35 year group) Banful gave various reasons including family ties and the pull of the Homeland. The pull factor is paramount during decision making in everyone's life about where to retire. (As one Akan proverb states: I will prefer my Home vulture to eat my flesh than a foreign vulture) Howe! ver, due to the freedom of movement by this group (the Diasporan - almost all have due nationalities ) the government would need to work very hard by formulating measures that Banful identified in his easy in order to attract these nationals home.All would come with their life time savings plus monthly pension, a real soucre of injection for the government. As Banful pointed out, although interaction between citizens in Diaspora and Nananom and politicians (especially Nananom) are paying off in terms of investment. He also stated that perhaps by paying attention to the economic might of our seniors would benefit everyone.

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The 2004 Election will be a defining moment in our nation's history. In terms of political development, which in effect encompasses economic development, this is Ghana's hour of opportunity to make the political process work. Our consituency....... The Voiceless but powerful sons and daughters in Diaspora will be watching from a distance......(If the Diasporan group decide not to invest in their country of origin....it will have a serious consequence across the whole country and will lead to investors avoiding the country).


For the fact that these inflows are increasing year on year plus the political stability in the country is what is making foreign investors have confidence in our country and economy. This is a young democracy and there is room for improvement as Banful pointed out in his analysis. With tribal and ethnic flames engulfing the rest of the countries on the continent, Ghanaians should be grateful that our sense of Unity and Nationhood far outweighs our differences. The Unity that Nkrumah and Busia instilled in us a nation where tribes live peacefully side by side(sometimes through inter tribal marriage) should be the norm at this election year....this is the essence of unity that our forefathers had in mind when they proclaimed Independence at the Old Polo ground in Accra.


This Voiceless Constituency will hold the politicians to task if they fail us by voting with their feet and walet. This constituency, our constituency, the constituency whose inflows is now the third largest earner for the Motherland ask for no more than peaceful Election. The future of the Motherland belongs to us all......" Many Ghanaians overseas when asked about retirement plans say they would like to retire in Ghana..... people who had lived overseas for many years will expect not to beg/bribe anyone for a legitimate service". (Ebenezer Banful - 24th January 2004 Ghana Web). The Ghanaians that Banful referred to include the first, second and to a degree the third generation. Our constituency is estimated to pass the 2 million mark. Our constituency ( the largest constituency, the Voiceless and voteless constituency) should be listen to by our policy makers. Nananom are listening to us, so why not the politicians and policy makers?


Those of us who have been fortunate enough to have lived under or participate in a Western democracy knows that corruption in society undermine the very essence of what all are trying to acheive. Sadly, as Prince Aidoo junior stated in his eassy (24 the January 2004 - Ghana web) our politicians should be held to account this time.

P. Jeffrey (London)

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

Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter Nee
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