Opinions Mon, 21 Jul 2014

Pickup Trucks for Chiefs; Trees for Kids!

Hmmmm! misplaced priorities in Ghana! Where do I start……..?

Well, we've all had moments when our priorities weren't quite in line. And we all can recognize misplaced priorities in other people, at least when they screwup badly. The fact is that nobody wants to waste his or her precious time, and so, even as we do less important things, we always focus on what matters most. That is the way it’s supposed to be, not the contrary.

Sadly these days, whenever the government steps in, inefficiency, dysfunction and waste seem to be quick to follow. And the waste and misplaced of priorities by the government of Ghana’s decision to donate pickup trucks to the National/Regional House of Chiefs is no different. In a new report on www.ghanweb.com on 07/17/2014 titled:

“Mahama is corrupting Chiefs with car gift” - Methodist Bishop; it was alleged that:

“President John D. Mahama of Ghana in fulfillment of his promise to the Chiefs on Wednesday, presented 13 four-wheel drive pick-up vehicles, one to each regional house of chiefs, one for the National House of Chiefs and two for the Chieftaincy Secretariat in Accra. This is in a bid to strengthen the support base of the chieftaincy institution and help run the day to day activities of the secretariat”:

Mahama is corrupting Chiefs with car gift - Methodist Bishop

I've been tracking the steady shift of state funds away from the important sectors such as education, health, agriculture, and energy toward the chieftaincy system for some time now. I've found out that such misplaced priorities greatly and often impacts the vulnerable and deprived school kids in the rural communities, and also destabilizes their attendance and their very future.

With all the fuss about educational reforms to promote quality education and information technology (IT) being made a core subject so that Ghana can produce graduates ready to take advantage of opportunities offered by the computer age to accelerate development, one would have taught that "under tree" classrooms” are a thing of the past. This, however is not the case. Currently, there are a lot of “under tree” classrooms” scattered all over the 10 regions in Ghana. From a very reliable source, two of such schools that still boasts of ‘under tree’ classrooms is the St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Junior High School at Kintanpo and, ‘Dodosuo’ Primary School in the Jaman district- all in the Brong Ahafo region.

And, yet the president of Ghana sees nothing wrong to donate 13-brand new pickup trucks to chiefs, costing the poor taxpayer at a huge amount of about $235,625.00 ($18,125.00) - MSRP (Toyota Tacoma) per truck. Well, that's the MSRP, so it could be a little cheaper than that, if only they had a good deal. But with the endless spree of humiliation, incompetence and “stupidity” going on in Ghana these days in government, I bargain for any good deal. I bet you, they are not at that level, so I really DOUBT IT!

The question is this; how many school buildings (Ghanaian standard) could this huge amount of money thrown in the drain have constructed for these “poor kids” in the villages to enjoy JUST basic "humane" academic structures for learning? Folks, what’s going on in Ghana? Why all these attitude of “we don’t care to think and plan”?-So our leaders these days simply don’t cares? Really? Hmmmm, just remember, misplace of priorities will never take us ‘anywhere’ to learn ‘something’ to be competitive in ‘anything’!

Let’s face it, soon after the colonial era, what important roles do chiefs play or have played in Ghana? Ghana may be regarded as an oasis of stability in a region ravaged by strife. But nowadays, Ghana faces a host of bitter ethnic and chieftaincy conflicts in almost all the regions. If these modern day chieftaincy conflicts have their roots in colonial times, then the situation should have improved when the Gold Coast gained independence from the British in 1957 and became Ghana.

Any time you hear about chieftaincy issues in Ghana, it’s about conflicts, it’s about corruption, it’s about sale of a piece of land to 5 or 6 people at the same time, it’s about the sale and depletion of our few timbers left in the forest, it’s about using the so called “Land Guards” to terrorize innocent citizens, it’s about bloody clashes between two factions claiming the right ownership of a particular Stool/Skin, it’s about destruction and separation of families due to grisly claim of right of hierarchical succession, it’s about bribery to induce the "King-makers" to install someone who may not be a direct heir to the throne, it’s about, conflicts between twin-cities once believed to be friends, it’s about modern day “slavery” in some instances through forced/involuntary servants and maids in the palaces. Folks, it’s all about tussle over land and the expression of legitimacy over ownership, and who should, therefore, become a King or chief.

Currently, only few smart chiefs in Ghana are setting good examples through some form of scholarship schemes and development projects. What are the majority of them doing? Please, just take a look around, and ask yourself this simple question: Are majority of chiefs in Ghana playing any important or significant roles to uplift the image, to realize the economic potential of the rich resources in Ghana at the moment? Chieftaincy institution in Ghana now is about Disputes everywhere, there’s greed and lust for material wealth, struggle for power, and in some cases, practice of polygamous marriages! Why? Is that how it's supposed to be? Seriously, folks? Honestly speaking, the behavior of some of our chiefs these days is nothing different from the corrupt politicians in Ghana. They can't even resolve a simple marital conflicts which used to be one of their primary roles in in the villages in those good old days. My point is that the functions of chiefs in the precolonial era are completely different from that of today, yet they want to enjoy the same benefit and these days. Folks, you cannot eat your cake and have it at the same time. That’s not ‘gonna’ work in this modern time 21st century Science and Technology world. Times have changed, and we hope our dear chiefs and other traditional leaders will also learn to move with time.

Under what justifiable circumstances will you donate pickup trucks to an institution in which many have lost their life and still suffer from the gruesome attacks we see and hear all the time? Why would you donate cars to them to facilitate their movements and nefarious activities in order to increase these gruesome attacks and conflicts? Is the welfare of the chiefs in Ghana more important than our innocent kids who are the future of Ghana? Why??

Folks, I would like to ask one more simple and frantic rhetoric question: building/renovating schools or providing educational facilities to students, and donating pickup trucks to chiefs, which of these is a smart investment? Please, you may keep the answer to yourself.

What our leaders forget to notice is that; misplaced priorities, of course, is hard enough to do what you need to do, without wasting time on things that are not going to be important in the long run.

I hope this report inspires our leaders to set common sense priorities and make sure our chieftaincy reflect our nation’s greatness rather than “Flagstaffs House’s” incompetence and misplaced priorities just to win political power in 2016!.GUESS WHAT? SOME VIGILANTE EYES ARE WATCHING AND MONITORING THE SITUATION VERY CAREFULLY!

Thank you.
Columnist: Peter Osei-Adjei