Can Ghana be developed without a consistent plan of action?

Mon, 10 Feb 2014 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Saturday, January 8, 2014

My good friends, we have been disturbed for many years that despite its enormous natural and human resources, Ghana (our beloved country) is still in the doldrums. We have poured out our hearts to Nature and to all powers-that-be but the situation is worsening with no clear indication that it will change for the better.

Considering the tempo of agitations at all fronts in and outside the country, it is evident that things have long fallen apart and there is no centre to hold. Pathetic!! An irony of fate that such a well-endowed country should be so lost as to lose its glory.

Ask anybody today what Ghana means to him or her and you will be referred to the country’s past glory, not what it holds for itself and the world in the future. Forget about the present because there is nothing to enthuse over.

Even the natural resources are vanishing really fast without any hope of their being replenished to create the impression that the trend of under-development can be reversed as these resources get maximized for the good of the country and its people.

As for the human resources, the least said about them, the better. Aren’t the so-called “greener pastures” still luring them out of the country in droves, even after they would have been trained with the tax-payers’ sweat, blood, and toil? The brain-drain won’t stop. They will prefer to “kill” themselves for the benefit of their host countries than anything else. And they don’t want to look back because it is all scary.

It is not as if when these highly trained Ghanaian professionals (doctors, nurses, academicians, etc.) move out, they realize their dreams and put Ghana behind them. They face more uncertain future(s) than anybody still living in Ghana can imagine; but they move on, fearing any thought of returning home to lose their humanity!!

Friends, the premise of everything is that our country isn’t making progress because there is no consistent development agenda that can instill confidence in the people to “kill” themselves for the benefit of the country. Ironically, though, those who risk it and “kill” themselves for the good of the country end up being victims of the system. Pathetic, indeed.

Now, back to the main beef that I have. Our country doesn’t have any development agenda; and all the governments that we’ve had so far are only experimenting, testing the patience of the citizens and doing things with impunity because they are assured that the kind of democracy we have isn’t “challenging” enough to punish them if they fall out of step.

I continue to wonder how the country can develop without a consistent blueprint based on experiences rooted in history. I mean a development agenda that is rooted in what is good for Ghana and not Ghanaian politicians in charge of affairs at one time or the other.

Down the memory lane. We can peep to see why. When the Nkrumah government drew development plans and implemented policies to move the country forward, there was a kind of compass to guide national behaviour. At his overthrow, all those development plans died with him.

Experiments in stupidity and self-aggrandizement took over. What exactly did the NLC do? Busia is remembered only for his rural development programme that got lost until Rawlings revisited it and stamped it with his own considerations. He did well as far as infrastructural development was concerned; but unfortunately, that angle seemed to have created conditions for wiliness as his predecessors turned to “development projects” as the avenue for making politics serve their materialistic purposes.

The Acheampong government sought to revisit the agenda of development programmes and is credited with the short-lived “Operation-Feed-Yourself” programme that could have achieved much to make Ghana self-sufficient in food production. But the “sweetness of the flesh” took centre-stage and diverted attention to “Kalabule”, to set the stage for sophisticated methods for fleecing the national coffers which succeeding governments polished all the more and are now experts in.

Rawlings’ “Vision 2020” was good in principle only; no wonder that the Kufuor administration abolished it and replaced it with something that ended up promoting the kind of corruption that Kufuor himself could trace to the days of Adam.

The late Atta Mills’ “Better Ghana” agenda had more in common with the adroit means of using “contract awards” for personal gains than anything permanent to re-direct attention to better approaches to governance. Any talk of “Better Ghana” now evokes anger, even among the contractors who cannot be paid for what they’ve done. Not to talk about the harm done to the country or the false impressions created in the citizens that there is a consistent path toward national redemption.

So, here we are. Can Ghana really be built with this kind of haphazard management of its affairs? Can this well-endowed country be built when there is no consistent plan of action to follow, contrary to what happens in other countries?

I can tell from the manner in which the Mahama-led administration is struggling to sustain the social-intervention programmes inherited from the Kufuor administration (the National Health Insurance Scheme, the Schools’ Feeding Programme, and many more) that the lack of a consistent programme for national development is really sticking out for attention.

It is not as if the Kufuor government's social interventionist agenda had any root in the national economy. It was based on foreign donations and support, making a mockery of it in the end. Without the support of the Danish government, what could any local initiative offer to sustain such programmes?

Already, the Mahama-led administration's own brand of social intervention or employment ventures have collapsed, confirming apprehensions that nothing done on the spur-of-the-moment will be sufficient for sustainable national development efforts.

History teaches us the lesson that we have refused to learn, which is why the mistakes that detracted from our country's efforts to develop have been repeated over the years and will continue to be repeated to our detriment.

Acheampong’s efforts to focus Ghanaians on the national pledge and the all-encompassing feeling of patriotism and national unity (“One nation, one people with one common destiny”) is still relevant. What is missing is the consistent development agenda and the commitment to ensure that what is good for Ghana must be pursued, regardless of which political party is in power.

From the hot air that the NPP people are blowing all over the place, I can confidently say that given the chance to be in power, they will throw overboard whatever the Mahama administration is doing and supplant it with their own brand of agenda only for it to be equally thrown overboard when a new party wins power.

How can this kind of unrestrained political vendetta help us build Ghana? I am more than worried. So should you be too because without any consistent and long-lasting development agenda, our country will continue to be toyed with by all manner of people who enter the corridors of power. Too sad to contain!!

We will continue to make our voices heard on such crucial issues; those who think that we have too much time and too little to do for that matter can continue to live in their fools' paradise. But the day of reckoning will surely dawn to consign them to the dustbin that they will rightfully deserve.

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.