(Part 2 of 2)
There are some who may equate problem-solving to what happens in Mathematics. However, this may not be fair if taken at the surface. Analytics skills can be found in all subjects, including Law, Engineering, Mathematics, and even Art. There is no subject per se that has been documented to be best for leaders. In an Internet online discussion forum last year this writer cited the former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, as perhaps the master strategist and master politician who should be read by all potential third world leaders. In his book, ?From Third World to First: The Singapore Story, 1965-2000?, Lee Kuan Yew lists the problems he faced in 1959 time when the British were leaving and he and a few of his friends took over as leaders. One would think that he was describing Ghana. Among the funny ones Mr. Yew lists the traditional cattle rearing and consequent defecation in the city, the police bribery, dirty stinky gutters, and many more. Another interesting fact is that Lee Kuan Yew had come to Ghana to dialogue with his friend Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Africa, from whom he learnt such strategies as state-owned industries.
During the discussion, a Ghanaian Professor in Houston pointed out to remind us that Lee Kuan Yew, a lawyer by profession and master political strategist, the man who succeeded where our own Nkrumah failed, had done his undergraduate education in Mathematics. It can be inferred as an illustration that the use of the mind to solve problems, be it in mathematics, in building a technology, a carpentry shop, running a competitive business, factory or farm, can lead to effective problem-solving skills which translate into effective performance as a leader. Lee Kuan Yew built his nation to have a per capita income of over $20,000, higher than that of the US in his term of office, and to bring corruption down to a rate higher on the International Corruption Index than Britain and US. He was a problem solver in all situations, from state security, housing, job creation, health plans for his people, and even suing those who tried to taint his reputation. He also won every election. Some jealous Westerners can call him a dictator, but he got the job done for his people through elections in 35 years.
It does not take a genius to know the sources of malaria. One does not need a medical degree to know how to keep the malaria parasite out of our lives. Our elementary school Science classes taught us the mosquito is the cause and transfer agent of malaria, and the mosquito breeds from larvae which grow on standing or stagnant water. One does not need to call in the World Bank and obtain a billion dollar loan, if one is sincere in helping solve the problems such as malaria. For would-be and leaders such as President Kufuor, the challenge is obvious. Ghana is saddled with old road designs with open gutters that act as breeding grounds for mosquito larvae. In the middle of the capital city, parking is a premium, and covered gutters could create thousands of parking which can be charged to cover the cost of the underground sewage. Examples of these are shown in some older roads in the Ministries with covered sewage and sidewalks as seen in most Western cities. These were designed during the Nkrumah days and during Busia?s short term of office in 1969-72.
What happened to Ghanaians after Nkrumah and Busia in the 1960s and early 70s? From the most affluent suburbs to the lowest villages, open trenches and gutters is the current norm that should be abolished for a better solution. Since arriving in Ghana less than two months ago, this writer has been bitten by more mosquitoes than any foreigner would consider tolerable and forgivable. When we see potential investors come and go back but no investment, does it teach us any lessons? Do we find out why? Were I not a Ghanaian with a soul determined to return home and help, I would have sold all my investment and left Ghana in disgust at such lack of effort to solve our problems! Ghana government collects tax money, duties, VAT, at far higher rates than in the developed nations. Why do the leaders not use part of the money to solve the societal problems?
When you have a problem like malaria which plagues, maims and kills thousands of your people, a caring leader of the nation should sit down with experts in public health, medicine, sanitation specialists, and brainstorm this for a day or so. And simple solve it!
Too much Talk: In Ghana, as in most Africa, academicians and policy makers are known to use academic-sounding phrases that do not offer any implementable solutions or guidelines. The time for such waste of time is long past. As pointed out by Dr. Melville George, WHO representative in Ghana at the workshop conference, malaria is ?a preventable disease as well as a major contributory factor to the poverty plaguing Africa?. Academic talk only impress other conference participants, and mostly waste resource funds of nations instead of working on implementing solutions. During Nkrumah?s era in the late 1950s and early 1960s, public health professionals were charged with inspecting areas of standing stale water, trenches and stinky gutters, whiles laborers were on the job weeding and cleaning, as witnessed by the writer during childhood in his hometown of Abetifi. What happened to those town councilors, who could even issue citations for households with stale water? Too much talk solves no problems. We must stop this charade that only makes us a disgrace among our fellow humans on this earth. Efforts by WHO are appreciated, but both Dr. George, Dr. Henrietta Odoi-Agyarko and the other public health officials are therefore advised to focus their attention on reaching the roots of malaria epidemic, and stop putting bandages on the wounds of the problem. The President of the nation should get involved in helping eradicate malaria and root it out once and for all in our society. Period. We can find internal solutions, sources of financing, and strategies for implementation. Just do it!!
This generation of post WW2 boomers wants to point out to our leaders of the Nkrumah-Busia era that we are tired of the delayed slide-rule thinking habits of our uncles and fathers. We live in a world now where knowledge is available for sharing on the Internet and our children are as skilled as any in the world if only we would wake up from our dead stupor and help them solve problems of the society. My short stay in Ghana tells me there are many problems. However, on this health issues, I personally challenge President J.A. Kufuor, a senior of mine from Prempeh College, to take this seriously and find a solution to this without any dilly-dallying, and without any consultation with external bodies whose interests may lie in selling us malaria tablets. Senior President Kufuor should use his inborn cognitive skills, call on many Prempeh College Amanfo professionals, as well as others we know from other Ghanaian schools who have studied medicine, public health and engineering, and have built years of expertise and are good problem-solvers. J.A., please show your leadership, take the initiative and tackle the mosquito problem of Ghana and nip it in the bud once and for all.