Opinions Wed, 21 Aug 2019

Mr President, there’re more pressing needs than renaming institutions

Ghana as a country is bedeviled with a number of challenges which I am sure the country’s leadership is aware of. On the scale of preference, renaming of institutions lies at the very bottom or perhaps should not even be on the list of our worries at all.

Should the issue of renaming of State assets be looked at in the next two or more decades after our ‘fundamentals’ are made right, the manner in which it is carried out should not be the centre of controversy and a cause for division because it is apparently skewed towards a particular political lineage.

Let me reiterate that renaming is not part of our problems NOW as Ghanaians. It is rather worrying and sickening to see that as a result of decisions such as this, the most pressing issues facing Ghanaians are not dominating our national discourse. And as we have come to see, these change of names do not come with any serious plans to develop those institutions and improve them beyond their current states. Is this what we need at this time?

It becomes very worrying when some persons try to justify this by saying “Oh, this was the decision of the governing council, not that of the president”. Let’s continue to deceive ourselves. How coincidental, that all these governing councils of universities and polytechnics decided to honour heroes almost at the same time? And all these institutions – University of Mines and Technology (Tarkwa), UPSA, UDS Wa campus, UDS Navrongo campus and University of Energy and Natural Resources (Sunyani) all decided to rename institutions at the same time and also decided to rename them after persons predominantly belonging to the President’s political lineage?

The truth of the matter is that, we shouldn’t be talking about this right now. This is not a priority. I am sure the President has been duly briefed on what the real concerns of Ghanaians are. At least he was in opposition not long ago and stressed the challenges of the Ghanaian. Most people resonated with his ideas and saw him as a solution to the challenges the country had been facing.

In this case, it is considered as the highest form of mediocrity when our governments make attempts to compare themselves to previous administrations booted out because they failed to live up to expectation. “Oh at least this area is better than what party B did,” is often used as a way of parrying the embarrassment of mediocrity. If that party had given us heaven on earth, would Ghanaians have voted them out? There is obviously a larger challenge the president is supposed to fix and make the lives of citizensbetter.

The tax payer should be proud as a Ghanaian. Resources should be used properly because the president is accountable to the people.

People die needless deaths. Floods Kill Ghanaians during rainy seasons but there doesn’t seem to be any strong plan by government to ensure that this doesn’t happen again in subsequent years. And again, and again, it happens. After the June 3 disaster, we said ‘never again,’ but floods killed people the following year and the next.

Our leaders mostly talk about this when dozens have died as a result of floods and it’s making headlines in the media.

Road accidents kill Ghanaians anyhow. Various roads across the country are in a bad shape; deplorable, no streetlights, no markings, among many other things.

Many areas in Ghana lack basic social amenities. This should be your focus, Mr president. Education especially at the basic level has been suffering. Our younger siblings do not get the right foundations because basic necessities to facilitate teaching and learning are absent, and seen as privileges.

Our brothers and sisters studying in the rural areas are at the worst receiving ends. Investing in infrastructure and changing the face of our educational and health facilities should be the legacy you should be concerned about rather than changing the names of what is already in existence which is even under-resourced. The whole renaming agenda is just a misplaced priority!

The fight against corruption under your reign has not seen any significant boost.

Appointing the Special Prosecutor doesn’t mean you’ve halfway solved corruption. The 2018 Auditor General’s report shows that indeed all is not well under your watch as far as the canker of corruption is concerned.

Mr president, work and make Ghanaians proud of your exploits. When our lives are made better we shall see for ourselves. We shouldn’t be told that we are better off now. We can tell for ourselves if indeed it is so.

You were not voted into power to make us feel ordinary or average.

There is a big gap between us and developed countries. Your mandate should be how to bridge the development gap. Our leaders must be seen as showing enough concern to make us better people. How does creating controversy by renaming institutions be the approach? Ghana is really at the crossroads; if our leaders don’t show enough commitment in addressing our concerns, we are doomed.

Clearly, this approach of renaming institutions after persons primarily affiliated to the UP tradition is outmoded at birth. This is not sustainable. I will not be surprised if another party assumes office one day and these names are reversed.

As a developing country, we shouldn’t lose focus. The concentration should be development, development and development. Distractions such as changing names of institutions, holidays, among other things, should not be the focus now. That is not a priority.

With the Many promises the then candidate Akufo-Addo made while in opposition, we have to see One-district-one-factory projects springing up in every district and in fact competing for attention in the media and really employing more people and changing lives. The Agricultural sector should be developed better; it should be more deliberate than we are seeing presently. The One million per constituency and other government interventions should help develop our communities.

Your government has introduced Free SHS, NABCO and some initiatives, but they are not enough. Let’s not deceive ourselves. There are pressing needs that should be your focus to help transform Ghana. Every Ghanaian would be proud to see Ghana transform just like its former peers – Singapore, Malaysia and others. This can only be done if we choose to focus our efforts on the ball and avoid the distractions. It certainly is not beyond us to build a society we can all be proud of.
Columnist: Edward Oppong Marfo