I can’t help but share and comment on this really exciting show called DOUBLE CRITICAL on Asempa FM 94.7, at 7-8pm Ghana time. It is also Nhira-FM in Kumasi. This is one of the advantages of being here in Ghana. I listen to the critical issues live! (smile) and I ignore the mosquitoes that are biting me at 8pm whiles I am writing. I don’t have to tell you that my electricity has been interrupted 4 times this evening. Ghana! Oh Why! We need to wake up and it’s double and triple critical!
This is the second time I came across the show and forgive me for not catching the full name of the Host. Whatever his name is, he is hot and he is good! I can’t help but comment that the host is doing a great job. On Today’s critical issues, he listed about 6 of them and my notes showed these:
1. Government over-invoicing financial losses – I think the host was commenting on reports of major practices of over-invoicing that has been reported and asking what government is doing about it.
2. Ghost names in the government payroll that is not being dealt with by the government. I managed to write these down, that in 2006 the amount of money that was paid to people who are dead, buried at cemeteries, and still on government payroll, was C257 Billion. In 2007 the amount was C279 Billion. I presume this is old cedis but he was quoting from the Chronicle investigative reporting.
3. Capital Flight from Ghana – Last year there was $750,000,000 Ghana paid for imported rice alone. He said only $10 million can help rice farmers produce very high quality rice for Ghanaians to eat.
4. Economic mismanagement – He cited examples all the way from Nkrumah’s time when tractors purchased for farming were mismanaged, and all the good work was not continued; then the Busia time, Acheampong, Akuffo, Limann, Rawlings, to Kufuor and now Mills not using the Jubilee House which has an over-invoice of several hundreds of millions of dollars!
5. Poverty in the midst of Plenty – that our people are not poor and /or our nation is not poor but for the poor leadership that is making us look poor and resources siphoned elsewhere.
6. Systematic corruption – corruption that seems planned extortion and stealing from government public coffers.
During the many calls that were able to get through there was general agreement and shared excitement and expression of fury over what is happening in our governance system. One of the most delightful things I noticed also was the fact that one of the callers started by saying NPP government had done something, and the host stopped her right there and said Living in poverty in the midst of plenty in Ghana had nothing to do with NPP or NDC, but rather the overall lack of concern of the elected for the ordinary people.
I highly commend the host of Asempa FM Double Critical for his professional sharing of excitement and fury that needs to be expressed in Ghana. So what do we do about these?
The Next Step –
Where do we go from here? If I were to advice, I’d say what we need to do is go one step further from the anger and fury at the law makers to peaceful action! It is a shame indeed that our government, the appointed Attorney General and prosecutors are unable to prosecute crimes and let criminals in government services get away year after year with mass thefts such as some of the ones exemplified in the program. I recall the grassroots democratic practice when I was a young student at the University of California at Berkeley in the last 1960s to early 1970s. American students decided to push to end the involvement of America in the Viet Nam war. Through demonstrations, rallies, and strategic peaceful protests such as office sit-ins, American youth pushed to end the war in Viet Nam during the era of President Richard Nixon. The sit in is a strategy where hundreds of youth and adults take turns and sit in the offices of elected officials all day until their grievances are heard. There is nothing that any police can do if citizens sit-in at the office of say the Minister of Water, or the Minster of Roads, demanding that proper accounting of the water and road funds or contracts be disclosed and certain specific time frame be met in the delivery of water or certain roads be built well. There are many other ways to demand specific performance from legislators. Hundreds of citizens for example can sit in the office of parliament and demand water, demand that open gutters in their neighborhoods be banned and converted to underground sewage, or that non-concerned members of Parliament be impeached or recalled, whatever the legal term is needed. Citizen’s arrest is allowed in a democracy. A friend suggested why not put their heads in gutters, so they smell the stink and squalor! But that may be a last resort to get a message across that open gutters should be banned!
The constitution definitely needs to be amended to have districts and town elect their own Chief executives and form their own city councils. This will make the MPs responsive to the needs of the people and not elected to push the agenda of the President as one MP from Mpraeso (Hon. Acheampong) was saying this morning as his understanding of his job.
Democracy and Freedom are never won on a silver platter. The way Kwame Nkrumah and the few radicals won Ghana‘s independence was not as easy as some may imagine. There were moments of sacrifice for the freedom won from Britain. Ghanaians without water, with unstable unreliable electricity running their appliances, with open gutters breeding mosquitoes and causing them major financial expenditures in malaria treatment should make an effort to sacrifice for better living conditions by pushing for change from their elected officers! People should demand accountability of the funds taken as grants and loans for water, for electricity, for the foreign grants that are missing or the over-invoicing or payroll ghost names, and insisting on prosecution and social justice! That is how democracy works and the next step from the radio talk shows is Peaceful Collective ACTION within each community! That is how democracy started and that is how it works even to this day!
Yes, Ghana is in a very double critical situation: We are falling behind other nations every day, and the little that we have is being stolen by elected officials, and our prosecution system is weak and ineffective to arrest and curtail the public crimes. It’s Double Critical!
Dr. Kwaku A. Danso (firstname.lastname@example.org),
President - Ghana Leadership Union, Inc. (NGO) East Legon, Accra, Ghana