Opinions Sun, 5 Jun 2016

MANASSEH AZURE AWUNI writes: IMANI Ghana & the Komenda Sugar propaganda

So whose views constitute propaganda? Is it IMANI’s or governments? You are likely to answer based on where you stand.

On the day of the commissioning of the Komenda Sugar Factory, I had a meeting with a very senior government official. It was a private meeting so I cannot name him. When he was talking about the project and its viability, he admitted there was no adequate raw material to feed the factory. In addition to the problem was the fact that the sugarcane varieties here are very thin and produces very little juice. He said the way to deal with this was to import a foreign variety of sugarcane that had bigger canes and enough juice. He said the managers of the company were in the process of getting the new variety and distributing to potential farmers. This is a fact that anybody can verify from managers of the factory.

This is a good initiative but the fact that this is now being done is an admission of a major lapse in the planning process. Why did we have to wait until the factory was ready before we started planning how to feed it? Couldn’t we have planned ahead and given the farmers the seeds so that by now, we should be harvesting and feeding the factory?

I have read the attacks and insults on IMANI Ghana for casting doubts on the viability of the project. And I’m disappointed.

I have read the issues IMANI raised, together with facts and figures. If you disagree with them, the sensible thing to do is to deflate their argument with superior knowledge. If IMANI is telling us why the project may fail, you don’t counter that with insults. Insults don’t add anything to the discourse. They expose your hollowness. Counter their argument with facts and figures that will convince whoever is reading that you are right and IMANI is wrong.

It doesn’t make sense to get emotional about policy issues. This is not religion, even though some of you regard your political parties more sacrosanct that the Supreme Being. A nation cannot grow if we approach every national discourse with our hearts instead of our heads. IMANI Ghana cannot always be right. And IMANI Ghana cannot always be wrong. But the reasonable thing to expose them, if you think they are wrong, is to tell them why they are wrong.

And let’s not hide behind patriotism. You are not patriotic when you do not question the policies of your leaders. You are not patriotic when do not help to shape national policy by subjecting it to critical analysis. You are not patriotic when you keep mute when ill-implemented policies drain the already drained national coffers. Patriotism is not an emotional act.

Patriotism, like love, is a decision. It’s not a feeling.
Columnist: Manasseh Azure Awuni