A Short Analysis by Kwaku A. Danso
The sale of state owned assets by men entrusted with powers, either democratically (NPP, NDC) or through force of arms such as under the PNDC and later the NDC, causes great concerns for many in society. The article by Eric Kwasi Bottah on Ghanaweb, September 7, 2007, entitled “Stanbic and the Crown Jewels -Why ADB Should Not Be Sold” perhaps depicts in a nice language the reasons why some men who otherwise have been classified as among the smartest of their generation, have failed Ghana. They are selling Ghana because either
(1) they are so greedy and would rather take some small illegal side commissions (as the public thievery is now being defined as), or
(2) they are not smart enough to see simple common sense daylight robbery, i.e., the limits of their intellectual capacities, their cognitive skills, are not adequate to negotiate effectively on behalf of the people of Ghana when faced with these European, American and other greedy capitalists or those disguised as World Bank or IMF officials.
This writer has a longer article being edited to highlight the generational gap between the older J.H. Mensah generation and his own. However, this is a short rejoinder and addition to what Kwasi Bottah wrote, for our Ghana Leadership Union (GLU) forum, and enhanced and edited for general readership. A class or school mate of Kwasi Bottah in the Silicon Valley or Bay Area has testified to his brilliance in high school. Every society has their Einstein’s and the question is how we allow them to develop and help the society. Many of our readers may not have the skills to analyze our situation from the global perspective, let alone figure out a solution. The task of building any nation is better understood by men and women of high IQ and high integrity, either hired to work by managers and leaders, or self-creative. Cognitive skills have been researched in the academic literature, especially by Prof. Robert Katz of Harvard (1955) and Prof. Mumford, Zaccaro, and others (2000), to provide some conclusive evidence that effective leadership has some correlation to “problem solving skills” as well as “cognitive skills”.
It is therefore important that we should not be modest and accept that God did not create all of us the same. Some in society choose the easy way out, and some in our society will sit down till floods carry them away without ever thinking of a solution. It’s like a frog in water which is warned gradually who would sit till the water was so hot to kill it. In Ghana we a have a saying about the vulture mindset. The vulture, the saying goes, never builds his house till it rains on him and then promise to build it the next day. Ghana’s leadership in the last four decades seem to suggest such mindset and thinking, if not worse due to the greed factor. The government sat till the Akosombo Dam water level was so low they had to ration electricity. Any gain in Economic activities and GDP gain over the years will be wiped out this year and the next few years till final solutions are found. About 70% of Ghanaians still do not have potable water, according to the World Bank reports (2005).
This writer believes that in every society the men and women to whom the creator endowed higher cognitive skills take the responsibility for changing the society. Example, between 1982 and 1991, there were many who lamented over Ghana, and many who had actually suffered personal losses and some who died through the stress of prosecution and high blood pressure. Many such as B.A. Mensah, Mark Cofie and Siaw of Tata Brewery lost their personal fortunes. It took many strategies of many groups, through writings, pressure networking at some higher places outside Ghana, to put pressure on the Rawlings administration, and finally for them to agree to call for elections. In every society, it takes the men and women who consider themselves smart and of higher cognitive skills to change the destiny for all.
Time is not on our side and waits for no man, as the saying goes. We need to move beyond mere lamenting over the foolishness that has led Ghana and Africa behind and allowed outsider to justifiable think we as black people are mentally incapable, or an inferior breed of humans. Prof. Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen (2004) have found out a correlation between intelligence and the wealth or poverty of nations. (Fact is that some times they are justified in thinking so if you put yourself outside the emotional realm and observe Ghana/Africa yourself with examples such as the stinky gutters in residential neighborhoods across that nation, the exposed soil allowed to erode causing flooding, and 50,000 dying of malaria, and no effort being made by our leaders). We need to think outside the box, so to speak, and find means to have these greedy and selfish men acting as leaders brought to justice and remove their grip on power. We should not allow them to bequeath to us billions of dollars in loans that we will never see signs of! Hope others see my point. As Rawlings was provided money to take care of his kids overseas, so will Kufuor and his men preparing to leave be fully covered and to hell with Ghana if we the people have water or not, despite the loans they are incurring on our behalf!
The new generation of smart men like Kwasi Bottah, and some of you who are smart and savvy, should start doing deep critical thinking. I recommended John Perkins book “The Economic Hit Man” (2004) and some have not taken it seriously to read it. In the book the author tells exactly a strategy that the Western conglomerates use to keep poor nations indebted for ever “with loans they will never be able to pay”. Ghana discovered oil a few months ago and it was reported this week Ghana has already been pledged some $2.5 Billion in loans in the next few years?
What will these loans do for the people of Ghana?
How do we pay them back?
Didn’t these same people just agree to write off some $2.8 Billion in loans over a period of 10 or 20 years?
Calculate the interest on these loans - $2.5 billion at a nominal rate of say 5% amortized over 10 years requires a monthly payment due of $26.516 million or $318.196 million per year. If the money is not used to deliver any products or services that will help pay for the loans, remember that the total output of gold and cocoa was reported to be less than $360 million for the year. Simple calculations by J.H. Mensah and his team would show the debt and financial losses they are putting Ghana in. J.H. Mensah and his so-called Abenfo are trying to sell every single national asset while not even able to maintain hotels and state buildings. They rather take more loans to build new buildings! It makes one wonder if J.H. Mensah is really as smart as the myth around him, or he lacks integrity to that point of blindness?
Folks, apart from the monthly obligations on these loans, if legit, these capitalist will sell us a $3 screwdriver for $500 if they can get away with it, since our men in power are mere stooges if you can deposit some $20,000 in their account to sign at the dotted line, or if they have a white prostitute bare her thighs and serve them wine during the signing ceremony. Wasn’t there a report recently that P.V. Obeng was fronted some $5 million which most probably shared among the top executive Rawlins and his wife – simply so Scancem or Ghacem will have a monopoly in cement manufacturing?! Can you imagine the financial loss to the people of Ghana if we are buying cement at $8 per bag which perhaps could be sold at $3.50 per bag in a competitive market of manufacturers! Even at a modest 2 million bags per year, that amounts to over $180 million in losses over say 20 years! That money we lost to greedy monopoly can build 30 Dormitory building and 30 classroom blocks for our Universities!
Fact is that our people in power are quickly selling our land and assets since they started taking loans for the country, indebting us without much to show, under the so-called IMF /World Bank SAP/ERP during the PNDC under Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, with the associated conditions under free trade and open market globalization concepts. It is generally known in Ghana that these sales of State Owned enterprises have been done by officials while securing their own personal fortunes and future through bribes taken from the foreign companies. Yes they are no different than the local vultures and never think of the future in building a nest for their children. Isn’t it an irony that some of these same Ministers now want to be Presidents of Ghana?
Having said all that, however the challenge is - what does the generation behind do about this situation?
Since the time of slavery, Westerners have colluded with some of our people to make the greedy people act like fools and sell our assets, human and material. However, strategies to be developed by smart and savvy people to grapple bones from these mad dogs and elephants may be harder. Selling one’s assets and taking loans to spend for the year does not seem like the smartest thing, and no private Bank will grant loans to anybody without a good return for investors. Simple common sense! Our future is in the hands of all of us, and the smarter ones have the obligation to society to strategize and save or nation from more bleeding.
Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.