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Dr Mahama, don't misuse Nkrumah's Legacy - A Rejoinder

Fri, 26 Dec 2003 Source: Jeffrey, Peter Nee

Dr Nkrumah's legacy can not, should not and would not be misuse by any one who firmly believed in the ideas and writings of the great man. It is true that since the days of the CPP and to lesser degree the days of the PP administrations the Ghanaian economy have been going downhill. This can be atributed to the bad handling of the economy under various military regimes that followed and the looting of the country's money by corrupt officials who masquaraded as "saviours" and lastly to Geo-Politics( which i will come unto later).

Both Dr Mahama and Prince Aidoo are right that the current state of the country is bad and rightly blame the politicians who place their own selfish interest first before the country's interest- hence drained the coffers of the country. A very sad situation now seen across the whole of sub-Saharan African countries with Zambabwe being a classic example. However one should not just jump into conclusions by not looking at the geo-politics of the Developed countries and their relationship with the Developing countries of the South. In the 1960s and after the oil crisis of the 1970s most African countries borrowed money from the Development countries and Western Financial Institutions including the Bretton Woods institutions(World Bank and IMF) for development. Most of these monies were either wasted on bad projects or stolen by the elite.

Dr Nkrumah's legacy can not, should not and would not be misuse by any one who firmly believed in the ideas and writings of the great man. It is true that since the days of the CPP and to lesser degree the days of the PP administrations the Ghanaian economy have been going downhill. This can be atributed to the bad handling of the economy under various military regimes that followed and the looting of the country's money by corrupt officials who masquaraded as "saviours" and lastly to Geo-Politics( which i will come unto later).

Both Dr Mahama and Prince Aidoo are right that the current state of the country is bad and rightly blame the politicians who place their own selfish interest first before the country's interest- hence drained the coffers of the country. A very sad situation now seen across the whole of sub-Saharan African countries with Zambabwe being a classic example. However one should not just jump into conclusions by not looking at the geo-politics of the Developed countries and their relationship with the Developing countries of the South. In the 1960s and after the oil crisis of the 1970s most African countries borrowed money from the Development countries and Western Financial Institutions including the Bretton Woods institutions(World Bank and IMF) for development. Most of these monies were either wasted on bad projects or stolen by the elite.
During the 1980s when most countries, majority in sub-Saharan African countries could not repay back these loans, the IMF/World Bank, being the leading institutions that were owed most of these funds instituted structuraling programmes, later to be known across the world as Structural Adjustment Programme (although this programme is not a new concept as most Social Scientists already know) for these undebted countries. Ghana being among the group of sub-Saharan African countries debtors had a charismatic leader that the Bretton Woods institutions think can work with, and knowing the Ghanaians as law abiding and good God fearing people would not necessary rebel against hardships. The Western countries were inpressed by Chairman Rawlings populist activities such as peronally taking charge of the evacuation of his compatriots who were expelled from various African countries and thus by implementing the Adjustment Programmes ( which incidentaly Ghana accepted in its totality) would not encounter any major political problems. The implementation of user fees for Education and Health took away the ability of national government providing free primary education and free health care for the very people that the programme aimed to help- the Poor. As Dr Mahama and all politicains know Ghana had no choice in terms of implementation of the Adjustment policies. The outcome of these policies was the charging of fees for health care and Education, thus defeating the very aims of the Alma Attah declaration of Free Primary Health Care. The results are there for all to see....Children are forced to drop out of school because parents can not afford school fees, and the needless death of our people because they can not afford to pay to see the doctor. The ensuing hardships was what was behind the Brain Drain from the motherland in large droves. Migration within and out of West Africa has been going on for much larger part of our history. West Africa sub-Region is the most integrated region in the whole of the sub-Saharan African continent and our shared values.... thus any strife that occurs in any one country within the sub-region directly have a negative impact on the other countries....to be honest... all our destiny are linked...this is what Dr Nkrumah(God Bless his soul) saw that he statred to advocate for unity..... Dr Nkrumah ideas were well ahead of his time..... and thus his statement at the Polo Grounds in Accra....( The Independece of Ghana is meaningless without the total liberation of Africa)..... Both Social Scientists and Historians can attest to this.... The hardships that Dr Mahama argues the youth are going through now are as subsequent of the Adjustment programmes.... However the large skill migrants that Ghana lost in the 70s,80s and early 1990s are repaying the debt that they owe the Motherland...... How?.... As a results of the Liberalisation of the Financial institutions including Banking sector and easy transfer of money, Ghanaians in Diaspora began sending money back to the Homeland.... this was aided by the International Financial Institutions who tauted Ghana's Reforms under the Structural Policies as " a Miracle" and " A success story" around the world...! meaning to get other developing countries to get lockin into the structural programmes. To some degree they were successful in that skill Ghanainas in Diaspora began to held their held high in their adopted countries and began thinking about the Homeland. President Rawlings was credited with this success and was rewarded with state visits to various Western Capitals including Washington, Paris and London. This success sadly left behind the poor who could not and did not share in the so called "Miracle" as was the case in Chile under Pinochet, Indonesia under Suharto and the Phillipines under Marcos...all were branded success stories at a point in time when they also successfully implemented the Bretton Woods structural programmes without counting the Human costs...which both Dr Mahama and Prince Aidoo correctly identified in their analysis. The remittances that the Ghanaian Diaspora started to send back to their Homeland has been increasing dramatically...however its uses has been a cause for concern. In the mid to late 1990s i wrote to the then PNDC government and the Daily Graphic to question its uses. I was not alone in my criticisms as other academics including Anthony Hawkins of the Financial Times also did the same. Perhaps if the money has been channelled into Social developments and Human Capital Formation, icluding fighting HIV/AIDS, then the plight of the youth would have lessened. In a research that I conducted among the African Diaspora, most respondents cited lack of investment in Education and Research and Development as the result of emigrating. Most of these respondents left the Homeland in their prime....again confirming the massive Brain Drain that Dr Mahama stated in his article. Surprisingly among the intellecuals only 5% gave financial reasons for emigration. On remittances and development of the Homeland, the pull factor and the current President's aim of seeing the country achieve middle income status is what is encouraging all Ghanaians to send money home. Traditional Rulers frequent travels to interact with their subjects is also contributing factor, especially the visits of Nana Otumfuo Osei Tutu II AND Osagyefuo Nana Amotia Ofori Panin II. Both these eminent sons and the President's visits to canvass for investment from their compatriots is what politicians should emphasised on and not arguing over our yesteryear great leaders. As the Nkrumahists perfectly knows, if Dr Kofi Busia's PP government was not overthrown, perhaps Ghana will be a different country today. For the sake of future generation President Kufuor should be given the opportunity. I am among the generation that did not have the opportunity to live under our previous two great leaders, namely Dr Nkrumah and Dr Kofi Busia, and sadly left the Homeland in my early teens just before ex President Rawling came to power in 1979. But having had the opportunity to study all their policies and been following that of President Kufuor, I will remind our politicians to remember the past.... when I was growing up there was no street children nor children hawking along the streets of Sekondi Takoradi, Accra or Kumasi because we have to go to school first. ! Sadly due to Globalisation Africa is being left behind. The Dependency Theorists would argue that Human Development forms principal part in Development and not GDP alone, howvever with out good marco economic policies, then the aim of acheiving middle income status or Vision 2020 would sadly elude Ghanaians. At this festive season we should all think about the way forward instead of arguing about who done what in the past. As the pledge goes..... Let's promise to be faithful and loyal to Ghana our Motherland.

God Bless Ghana.

P. Jeffrey, London.

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

Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter Nee

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