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Opinions Thu, 1 Dec 2011

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If I Were The President Of Ghana...

The President, Prof. Atta Mills and his predecessors before him, all had agendas geared towards the total development of Ghana. With Ghana becoming an oil producing country, with production estimated to reach five billion barrels in five years time more is expected from our leaders. The exploration began in December 2010 by Tullow Oil PLC. This company single-handedly propelled Ghana's Stock Exchange to become the third largest on the continent when it went public in July this year. This is a plus not only for Prof. Mills but for his predecessors too. However, whenever a President's term of office ends, the one who comes in often blames his predecessor for poor leadership, thus increasing the woes of Ghanaians. It is often said that in a game of drafts, those who stand and watch the game see more traps than those playing.

I asked some students of a Senior High School what they will do if elected President of Ghana. The students presented very thought-provoking issues which are not difficult for any President with purpose, foresight, knowledge, experience and the love for the country, to do.

The first student said he would create a full and independent Ministry of Maintenance and Repairs. Ghanaians are always happy to have new roads, buildings, pipe-borne water, electricity, etc. When the conditions of the afore-mentioned deteriorate, those responsible for their maintenance completely neglect to repair them. Most of the times the toilets and water supply in government buildings cease to function after the first few years. There are multiple pot-holes causing accidents on roads that are only a few years old. Who even thought Tema motorway would develop pot-holes and record fatal accidents?

An interesting thing about the Ghanaian is that he or she is happy when he gets a new mobile phone from a relative abroad. As soon as the battery is no longer functioning, they demand new phones, completely refusing to understand that a mere battery replacement will make the phone work again. With a Ministry of Maintenance, bad roads, dilapidated and unpainted public buildings, old and rusty pipes will be a thing of the past. We have a culture of building things and forgetting about them. The estimated cost of an infrastructural project over a number of years should include the cost of maintenance of that project over that number of years. This should be penned in at the planning stage and followed through at specific intervals after the project is completed. We should not wait for a project to start showing visible signs of deterioration before repairs are carried out. Maintenance should be an around the clock work and the Maintenance Ministry will see to that.

The second student I interviewed also said that it will be his prime ambition, as President of Ghana, to move the country towards ICT and other technological development. He said he would ensure that the money obtained from oil exploration will mostly be directed towards the cause of technology. All efforts will be geared towards supporting people like Apostle Kwadwo Sarfo of Kristo Asafo in his marvellous inventions, by providing research assistance into his inventions. This pastor has single-handedly manufactured television sets that open by a mere clap of the hands and close with a wave of the hands, a block making machine that makes one thousand blocks in minutes, a car with an engine made from the scratch. He has a device in the car that issues a warning in Twi when the car is reversing and many more. The student said as a President, he will never allow this great son of Ghana to send his gifts to the grave. Europe and America are proud of their inventors and they go to every length to support them morally and financially.

Another student vowed that he would convert the entire Suame Magazine into a technology village where research and production will take place. Mechanical, civil and electronic engineers, who today only sit in offices appending their signatures to official documents, will be deployed to a research base which will be established at the Technology village. With consistent hard work and effective results, these engineers will join hands with the fitters and the dream of producing the first Ghanaian car will be a reality.

A student who was in his final year also said, as a President, he would ensure that a firm decision concerning the number of years students must spend in Senior High Schools (SHS) would be taken in parliament. The number of years that would be agreed upon by the majority in the house will be accepted and gazetted. It would become law and future governments will never be able to change it to suit their whims and caprices, unless it goes back to parliament for the majority to decide on any change. Steps would then be taken to improve the level of education in Ghana by ensuring that every Junior High School has more graduates and specialists among the members of staff. Today even SHS students are employed to teach JHS students. This is appalling indeed! Strict supervision will be undertaken by the Education Office, and any school found to have pupil teachers and no graduate among the staff of the JHS would be closed down. A whiz kid competition would be launched in the Junior and Senior High Schools nationwide. Through these competitions we will be able to identify the children with special gifts. These whiz kids will be given special training which will help the seed of technology in Ghana to germinate.

The last student to speak, also added that as a President, he would resurrect dead factories like Bonsa tyre factory, the tomato processing factory at Akomadan where tomatoes grow in abundance, the jute factory and shoe factory all in Kumasi and the Nsawam cannery. If the silos that were built by Kwame Nkrumah at Tema are totally beyond repairs, new ones will be built elsewhere to store excess maize that will be produced in order that maize will be available all year round.

These students have been put as President in a hypothetical situation. You may consider their suggestions as child-talk but their thoughts represent the concerns of many well-meaning Ghanaians. They have only tried to show that with Ghana having been blessed with oil, any serious President will be able to propel Ghana to become an industrialised country. We need a President with foresight and courage to move Ghana from glory to glory.

Written by Stephen Atta Owusu

Author: Dark Faces At Crossroads

Email: stephen.owusu@email.com

Columnist: Owusu, Stephen Atta

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