Opinions Thu, 19 Jun 2014
By Dr. Michael J.K. BokorWednesday, June 18, 2014
Folks, Mr. Clement Apaak (a presidential staffer) has turned my crank with an utterance that I want to react to. And I will do so with all the vigour, verbal violence, and determination that his utterance has wrought in me.
The hue and cry over the sagging national economy over the past five or so years has created the impression that the Mahama-led administration lacks ideas with which to move the country forward. No day passes by without the gloomy picture being painted that it cannot solve the economic problems, even when it initiates any measure, it is ridiculed as inefficacious. The falling rate of the Cedi is a case in point. We know what led to the National Economic Forum at Senchi a month ago and how it raised hopes and expectations that answers would be found to the economic challenges.
Senchi came and went; we heard much noise about a 22-point consensus and the government’s promise to release a final report on that Forum to help Ghanaians know what would be done to salvage the economy. Apparently, the government sought to use the opportunity to deflect the perennial criticisms against its approach toward tackling the challenges. We’ve heard our breath to date in the hope that for once, the government would prove its critics wrong.
Unfortunately, we have reached the point where we can’t continue to hold our breath any longer. And to help us release that breath is Clement Apaak, who has blamed the delay in implementing the report of the Senchi consensus on the untimely death of Mr P.V. Obeng (Senior advisor to the president).
Clement Apaak said that the late Obeng was key in the organisation and implementation of the Senchi accord and his death would invariably affect how the Senchi consensus is implemented. (See: http://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2014/June-14th/pv-obengs-death-affected-implementation-of-senchi-accord-apaak.php)
For many years now, I have never heard any utterance more undignifying than what came from this Apaak. I am boiling with concentrated anger at being told that only one man had everything under the wraps and that his death would derail or delay government’s action on the Senchi Accord.
How do those in government think, anyway? That Ghanaians would buy such crap and continue to live in debilitating poverty while the country’s rich resources are either exploited for personal gains or while those elected to solve problems play hide-and-seek with them? And to imagine that PV Obeng was the be-it-all-and-end-it-all as far as the Senchi National Economic Forum is concerned beats my understanding. Relying on one mortal human being to this extent? What low-level management of state affairs is this?
Within this context, it is appalling to observe that more often than not, people rally around and put so much in the hands of one person that in any eventuality, the entire system either collapses or gets stalled. How come that only PV Obeng could be the repository of all that the Senchi Forum meant to the Mahama-led administration? And that with his death everything would grind to a screeching halt or be thrown into disarray (as Clement Apaak’s utterance indicates)?
When? Oh, when will we in Ghana learn to depend on structures and institutions of state and not the whims and caprices of one so-called intellectual Ghanaian technocrat? Regardless of anything else that might have motivated Mr. Apaak’s utterance, I think that he has woefully failed to persuade some of us that the government is ready to implement the Senchi Accord. We may not really be keen on seeing a published report. All we are interested in is that the 22 points and many more to be derived therefrom will be implemented to solve the economic problems that have gradually reduced the government to a laughing stock.
Will anybody in government stand up to tell Ghanaians what exactly the government is readying itself up to do? It sought for ideas to guide it in handling the challenges; and identifiable institutions and persons of repute responded to the clarion call to offer those ideas. By doing so, they threw the ball into the government’s court. Implementing those ideas doesn’t call for any “Kwaku Ananse” trickery. It calls for conviction, honesty, purposefulness, and a resolute effort to solve problems so that if President Mahama (and the NDC) approaches the electorate for a renewal of his mandate at Election 2016, he will do so, bubbling with justifiable confidence that he used the power given him at Election 2012 to solve problems and can be trusted to do so again.
Other than that, he will become a good riddance to lead his band of followers into a swoon, where wailing and gnashing of teeth will replace the current exuberance with which they do (or refuse to do) things.But I wonder if the situation will ever change, given the kind of mentality with which the Ghanaian operates.
Many happenings confirm fears that the management of national affairs is not being done properly to ensure a speedy, smooth, and uninterrupted, purposeful development of our country. Don’t go far for the reasons. No consistent national development plan exists as the blueprint for the prospecting, exploitation, and use of the country’s natural and human resources to enhance development.
The ad hoc measures adopted by the various governments to tackle problems have had hard-hitting, negative boomerang effects on every aspect of national life to the extent that Ghana is today less reputable than what it was at independence.
At the political level, governance has been impeded by political mischief and intransigence, which made it difficult for stability to be established prior to this 4th Republic. We have this political stability but it is not complemented by positive developments in the other sectors to improve our country’s standing.
Instead, we have a clear picture of Ghana in focus: moral decadence, economic stagnation, social deterioration, and cultural bastardization. And those in authority (politicians, the clergy, traditional rulers, and what-have-you) glibly acknowledge that bribery and corruption are on the ascendancy but can’t help eradicate them. They preach about it in the open but ready themselves to profit from it on the quiet. Hypocrites, liars, and unconscionable characters of this sort can’t help us rebuild Ghana, however solid the political situation may be.
Despite the political stability and the sustenance of the “ballot box” democracy, nothing drastically has changed. The mere opportunity given the electorate to go through the quadrennial ritual of thumb-printing ballot papers in making their electoral decisions hasn’t led to anything concrete to prove that this kind of democracy is helping us solve our systemic problems to improve living conditions. After all, the essence of democracy is the improvement in living standards that it is expected to cause.
Any democracy that doesn’t add value to the people’s living conditions is not worth sustaining. Ours may still be functioning but it is not being used to solve problems. Otherwise, why are the citizens continuing to live in narrow circumstances as the poverty level rises despite the enormous sacrifices that they continue to make to prop up the democracy?
The economy has teetered and tottered enough to instill fear in the citizens; and to demoralize them to the point of giving up, even in the midst of the abundant natural and human resources that Ghana has. Almost all the major problems that existed before the establishment of this constitutional democratic order are still unsolved, which is why Ghana remains under-developed. Why is it so?
It may be so because of poor quality leadership, supported by a demoralized citizenry, more interested in dealing with the devils ruling them that they know than the angels clamouring for political power that they don’t know. Thus, whether by design or accident, the situation hasn’t changed over the years.
We are still where we have been in terms of national development because we don things haphazardly and refuse to think outside the box. We will take only one major situation to exemplify and reinforce our claim that our democracy is doomed for as long as those in charge of governance fail to do the right thing.
I shall return…
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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.