Ghana Under President Mills: So, What Has Changed?

Tue, 6 Apr 2010 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

April 4, 2010

Well-meaning Ghanaians continue to complain about the inability of the Mills-led NDC government to enunciate and implement policies that will ensure a positive turn-around in national affairs. Genuine concerns have also been expressed that the government doesn’t appear to be doing anything concrete to justify the rejection of the NPP by the electorate. Can President Mills’s government make the difference?

In effect, complaints are rife that the government isn’t working hard to improve the situation it inherited from the Kufuor administration. Should we say “No” to these criticisms and wait till the end of President Mills’ term in office before judging him? Certainly, a big “No!!” We have every justification to do so now. President Mills has to be told that his government is treading known grounds which haven’t led Ghana toward any sustainable growth and development over the years. It’s the same old story that is being rehashed and re-told. We are tired of this trial-and-error approach to governance.

So far, there is nothing concrete to confirm that this government intends to move Ghana on a new path of development to confirm that it has a better agenda for national development than what the previous governments had used. No new policy directions; nothing encouraging that the attitude to governance and national affairs has changed for the better; the same trial-and-error approach! It is nauseating.

Nauseating because in opposition, the NDC had claimed to have the solutions to national problems but now in government, it hasn’t done anything to confirm such boasts. So far, it’s all a matter of flim-flammery. Where is the hope for a brighter future if things continue to be done this way?

I am one of those who have not hesitated to criticize our politicians for failing to provide the kind of productive leadership that the country needs to lift itself up. I have done so over the years and will continue to do so, regardless of whose ox is gored in the process. The truth is that Ghana has all that it needs to develop at a faster rate and to rub shoulders with other countries that are recognized as “making it.”

So, why is the country not making the desired progress to give its citizens the relief that they need?

Our politicians have failed us and we must not continue to deceive ourselves that they will change for the better on their own. We (the citizens) have to poke them with the force at our disposal to effect the desired attitudinal changes. We must use civil disobedience to torment our leaders until they do the right thing.

The problems facing our country have been with us since time immemorial. Unfortunately, we are behaving as if we don’t want to solve these problems to move the country forward.

Someone calling himself “Ghana Boy” put the issues in the proper perspective in his interesting observations on Ghanaweb yesterday:

“Looking at the present situation compared to the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th century, nothing much has changed:

• For 600 years now, our trade pattern has remained the same;

• We have always exchanged raw materials for finished products with Europeans;

• We are not doing our best to change this unproductive trend;

• We are still not capable of exploiting our country’s rich natural resources;

• There are still more resources undiscovered in our everyday environment;

• Our appetite for money has made us completely blind;

• All the best brains have left the shores for greener pastures somewhere.”

These are serious observations that no one dare repudiate. If we look closely at what has happened since the end of British colonial rule in our country, we can tell that we haven’t done much to take control of our own destiny. We must be bold enough to condemn ourselves for failing to make the kind of progress that countries that achieved independence within the same period have attained. India, Malaysia, and South Korea come to mind. What is it that has moved those countries forward so fast that we cannot learn from?

Of course, each country has its own endowments and strategies for national growth and development; but we can’t say that we are unlucky to have been denied those endowments (human and material resources) needed for national development. We have everything. We even supplied slaves to boost the Trans-Saharan and Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade! Our natural resources flood the international market every day, and our “brains” continue to serve other countries at the expense of our own country.

I ask again: Why is our country not making the desired progress to give its citizens the relief that they need?

Our inability to develop has often been blamed on our leaderlessness. Yes, we lack the caliber of leaders who will pool our resources together to move the country forward. All those we’ve had so far have in one way or the other failed us. The long period of political instability as a result of military adventurism and incompetent civilian governance as well as the wanton dissipation of resources for personal or political purposes have also compounded our problems. But should we continue to sit down and prate over the past? No; that’s not the line of action to be taken by those who seek to build the future.

That’s the point at which the Mills’ government comes in. With its mantra of “Change,” it has been in office but seems not to know what to do to make the difference between it and the previous administrations. It seems to be ripped a[part by its own lethargy.

The question is: So, what has changed under President Mills? Nothing, if anything at all. The only change we see is a constant reminder that the government is hamstrung and can’t do what the country needs to break away from the past. It is the same worn-out rhetoric from officialdom but little action.

We are constantly bothered with incompetence at the helm of affairs; hooliganism by the party’s followers; flip-flop and deception in official acts of commission or omission; recourse to actions that create needless tension; unbridled crave for material things (tractors, houses, and cars); nepotism in appointments to public office; wanton award of contracts to cronies; and manipulation of the system for personal advantage. Those in power benefit while those who put them in power continue to suffer.

The current spate of agitations by sections of the youth in the NDC is the direct result of this massive deception and lethargy. Instead of confronting the problem at its root, President Mills has turned to the show of force. Instructing the police to crack the whip and arrest the disgruntled and rampaging NDC youth is not the solution. It is just part of the culture of failures in tackling serious national problems. At best, it may give the government a sickening temporary relief but not rid the society of the problem that generated this disaffection or the negative effects that it has created. Rather intriguingly, the problem doesn’t affect only the NDC followers.

On their own, however, these NDC elements may not be acting this way just because they are hell-bent on causing mischief. Their open display of anger and frustration at the government’s inability to satisfy their demands for employment is the result of deception and political chicanery and is unstoppable. It definitely threatens national security and is reminiscent of a society in crisis—a sad reflection on the unsatisfactory performance of the government.

The earlier the government takes serious steps to address these concerns, the better it will be for it. In the long run, these are the very people who will be called upon to campaign for votes in less than two years hence. If their apprehensions persist, the government will have an uphill task turning the tide in its favour.

At this point, it is obvious that the NDC machinery itself is weak and incapable of handling the internal crisis. Otherwise, what are the party’s National Executive Council, National Officers, and the various Regional and Constituency Officials doing to allay the fears, doubts, and suspicions of these disgruntled youths?

In a situation whereby the agitations appear to be spreading from one constituency to the other and creating a bad image for the government, why is it that the party’s big wigs are not stepping in to soothe the followers? Are they anymore credible, having snuggled close to the gravy train and had their bread buttered for them?

It gives me a clear impression that the NDC is gradually falling apart and its members shouldn’t blame anybody if their house collapses on them. Against this background, it is politically unwise for President Mills to have appointed the high officials of the NDC to various public offices, which has removed them from the party’s base. Invariably, they are now ensconced in their cocoons of privilege and have no pressing impulse to do what could solve some of the problems we are now seeing in the rank-and-file of the NDC.

In all these instances, the government keeps annoying the people that it will fulfill its campaign promises and implement the NDC’s manifesto. What does the government think Ghanaians are—that they will be cajoled into being patient while the living situation worsens and there is no move to solve their problems? I am convinced that as time flies away, desperation will soon set in. Then, the government will realize rather too late that Ghanaians are wiser than what it has been taking them for all this while.

Ghana deserves more than what President Mills and the government have delivered so far. We want to see the rhetoric of “Change” translated into concrete action. No more massaging of public feelings. Time and tide will certainly not wait for this kind of government.

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.