President Mahama, Stop Blaming IMF And The World Bank

Mon, 14 Jul 2014 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

President Mahama is at it again. He has added the usual suspects, IMF and the World Bank, to his catalogue of satanic forces, if you will permit to paraphrase, derailing his presidency, however, this time he went continental. Speaking to a pressure group at the Flagstaff House he blamed them for Africa’s agric woes. When I finished reading the piece it felt like listening to an old gramophone record being played for the hundredth time. It becomes boring and uninspiring.

I honestly believe that if Nkrumah were to be alive today he would have taken back his words that thundered around the world on independence eve. He said: ‘And from now on there is a new African in the world, that new African is ready to fight his own battle, and show that after all the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.’ After nearly sixty years of independence the foregone statement, which was made overflowing with optimism, vitality and expectations, we have not provided a shred of evidence to prove that we can. I am certain that those with thin sensibilities are fuming uncontrollably after reading this preamble. Don't get angry, not yet. At least, my strong conviction is not a product of an idle talk, but a careful evaluation of the trajectory of leadership in the country since we took over its management.

The first decade of our independence was our only golden age out of the almost six we have so far endured. And even that can be explained away without any reference to what Nkrumah, the showman, did. Is it probable that the formula we adopted was wrong? And I think it is. Almost all African countries after independence went on communist or socialist binge, which we are still suffering from its hangover. Most of those arrogant self righteous leaders thought they knew it all and did not allow any dissent. For them to have dreamt that such a system will work is beyond me. This is an ideology, which its success is dependent on everyone thinking and behaving the same way. How could it work when even monozygotic twins think differently? This model is the root cause of our poverty, and not any pill forced down our throat by the IMF or the World Bank.

It is very difficult to convince the hardcore Nkrumahist that their hero was wrong. They keep conjuring some outlandish euphemistic words like scientific socialism to evade the obvious. For those day dreamers who think Nkrumah was not a socialist I would like them to process this quotation. I will, however, truncate it due to space. He said, ‘Capitalism is too complicated a system for a newly independent nation hence the need for socialist kind. Now, if this does not define the thinking of the man then I don’t know what else can convince them.

I am going to this length on the trail of Nkrumah, because it is when we are able to recognise where we made the mistakes that is when the recovery will start. On the other hand, we are still in denial and hold the economic values of the man as sacred. The economic problems we are facing now are due to the vestiges of Nkrumah’s socialist policies, which still shape the thinking of the majority and poison every economic debate.

After building the schools and churning out graduates without the requisite economic system to absorb them they had to be employed by the state in the civil service, which got bloated and bloated. As expected, the national coffers began to dwindle, and we ate into the marrow. The fact is, they were not producing anything considerable to augment national savings. Then Busia took over the poisoned chalice from the killers of Nkrumah’s dream. His unmitigated arrogance destroyed any credibility left in the righteousness of his culling of the civil service, which was a significant catalyst to his overthrow.

Acheampong also came to continue the failed policies of Nkrumah. Among other things, he acquired all the shares of Ghanaian Italian Petroleum Company (GHAIP), which ultimately become a cushion to absorb their incompetence. Hilla Limann was just a blip on our political history. For Rawlings, I don’t even want to talk about him. He is the worst thing that ever happened to Ghanaians. His 1981 coup took us back to the Stone Age. However, those who drink from the fountain of socialism think otherwise. Kufour came to salvage the ship of state, but they had all been fed on the diet so much that he couldn’t resist the temptation that it is not the job of the government to provide jobs, but an enabling environment. He created GYEEDA that the shameless NDC thugs came to use it as conduit to enrich themselves.

Now, where are the companies Nkrumah’s brainchild gave birth to? Let me give you one classic example why those villains will tell you to remove agric subsidies. I grew up in Tema, where one of the defunct companies was situated. State Fishing Corporation, on its death bed in the 80s, it was referred to as State Selling Corporation. Because the crews of their trawlers will fill their holding tanks with diesel, paid for by the state, only to catch fish and sell it on the high seas, and come back to port with empty vessel. The incompetence of the people at the helm of affairs led to serious criminal activities at the operational level. I am not privy to some of the human stories at the state farms, but they were all being run at a loss. Yet, the government kept throwing money at them. In the capitalist world, businesses and companies do die, but they get replaced or supplanted by efficient and superior ones without creating a vacuum.

Our main problem is the sort of people we have in the position of leadership who are hardwired on the principles of socialism. Our cedi is dying as a result of a monstrous civil service, and because they only think about the social impact, Mahama and his government cannot bring themselves to do the right thing. Why is it that multinational companies pay monstrous severance package to their non-performing CEOs in order to terminate their appointment? The fact is leadership is everything. Currently, Mahama is failing Ghanaians because he is a wimp who cannot act like a man with a spine.

Can anybody tell me that South Koreans are better people than we are? If that is the case then I will give up my quest to promote capitalism in Ghana. Nkrumah absolutely made a wrong choice for us. Now, before Ghana and South Korea launched their industrialisation in 1962, Ghana had better economic prospects from all the indicators. Can we now compare ourselves to Korea? Absolutely not, it will be madness. The reason why they are millions of miles ahead of us is that they chose capitalism and we went for that accursed system of socialism.

In the context of Mahama’s bashing of the IMF and the World Bank, our experience can be likened to a prodigal son who squanders his fortune, and goes to his judicious brother for help. As a brother who does not want his sibling to be thrown to the vultures, he demands that before he parts with his money he meets part of the bargain by curtailing the throwing of banquets. Obviously, the prodigal son abides by the terms of the loan. However, the children of the prodigal son, who are used to their monthly banquets, query their father. Dad, why are we no longer having banquets? Instead of him to tell the children the truth that they have been living beyond their means, not working hard enough and mismanaging their inheritance, he tells them it's Uncle Kweku Nsiah who says we cannot have them. Yet, Uncle Kweku always keeps up with his monthly banquet for his family. For what meets the eye, it's absolutely not fair. On the other hand, the position of the prodigal son cannot stand a minute of rigorous scrutiny. If the European Union pays farm subsidies to their farmers the fact is they don’t go to the World Bank for loans to support their economy.

To be fair, it’s not only Africa that receives the IMF and the World Bank treatment. There are so many examples, but I will refer you to the Greek financial crisis and another interesting one. The British took a loan from the Americans just after the Second World War, when they have been dying in trenches together to defeat the Nazis. The head of the British negotiation was the world famous economist, Lord Keynes. The British were expecting comradeship from the American bankers, which never was. The terms of the loans were so draconian the government hid its dismay and took it because the empire was coming off the seams. The possible answer was the British people had elected a socialist government. The loan was finally paid off in 2006.

Socialism is a poison that is killing us softly, and for that matter Africa. We have agric graduates who spend all their time in air-conditioned offices instead of standing with their Wellington boots in rice fields. Agricultural Credit and Co-operative Bank, now Agric Development Bank gave loans to the so called deserving farmers who had no intention to pay back and you expect capital to be available for further investments in the industry. It is twaddle for anybody to complain that the sector is not performing under these circumstances. The disease is socialism. Nyerere after surveying the abject failure of his socialist policies quibbled; at least, I stopped multinational companies from carrying away the wealth of Tanzania. What an utter fool; why not just apologise.

The national economy is deteriorating very fast. Mahama and his cabinet do not have the guts to take the bull buy the horn when there is time to do it. Now, if the IMF and the World Bank come in when the corpse is decaying we wouldn’t have anybody to blame. When your house smells and you don't make the tentative effort to remove the smell, your next door neighbour will come to help get rid of it. You might end up with disinfectant that may not be pleasant to your nostrils.

The non-performance of the agric sector has nothing to do with the oppressive strings attached to IMF or World Bank loans, but our inability to mechanise our agriculture. Besides, the little that is produced cannot be transported to the urban centres where they are needed. Now, don’t get me wrong it’s not that by nature our leaders are all incompetent. It is the socialist system that breeds incompetence. The fact is people at the top are not under any pressure to excel and they become slothful and degenerate. When you continue to blame others for your problems without taking responsibility you become a passive moron. A bad workman always blames his tools.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr



Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina