Rejoinder: The Kufuor Government - Time to Panic?

Thu, 26 May 2005 Source: Jeffrey, Peter Nee

In as much as I share the frustrations of my brother and compatriot Kwamina Panford (Ghana web 18.05.05) about the handling of the state of affairs by this government, however I must remind Ghanaian people that the government was elected to serve for 4 years and thus hold them to account at the end of their term in office. We cannot and must not take the route that others in the sub-region did, and the mess is there for all to see.

Kwamina did raised some very fundamental issues that goes to the very core of our existence as a nation and that is almost after half a century since we gain our independence we still have nothing to show. To some degree the gap between the rich and the poor has widen. As Kwamina clearly stated our country at independence was looked upon as the one of the few countries in Africa that can achieve rapid economic progress. So what went wrong. The issues that bedevilled the pioneers are still with us today??that is massive corruption in every sector of our society. Kwamina asked why we are poor after all these years and went on to answer the question when he stated: ?Ghana is poor because our leaders have successfully plundered and misled our nation. Ghanaians have been blinded by irrational loyalty to their political parties and/or governments to the point that they have become unconscious of their economic and social mismanagement (I am referring to the Rawlings and Kuffour governments). When you bring up the poor performance of the present government, the retort is ?Rawlings took 20 years to mess up the country. How do you expect President Kuffuor to fix the country in 4 years??

The underlining concerns have been discussed on the pages of Ghana web by over 60% of contributors highlighting how the so called elite in our country are amassing ill gotten wealth in foreign banks at the expense of the ordinary Ghanaians, our relationship with the Bretton Woods Institutions and our over reliance on foreign aid?which sadly forms more than half of our gross domestic product (GDP). This is not a healthy development because we are capable of achieving growth without massive injections from outside. In a related entitled ?Abandoning Aid Dependency for Prosperity: The case of Ghana? this writer pleaded for time for the Kufuor government to put things right and argue that within the Kufuor government there are individuals who are doing good for the Ghanaian people. Kwamina and others might then ask??.after almost 6 years in government, how much time does the government need?

It is true that some of the emerging economies in Asia and Latin America that we often compare our Ghana with took about a decade or more to move from subsistence agricultural economy to export led economy. However sub-Saharan Africa finds herself in a position that makes her an unattractive partner to the developed world. It is true that geo-politics played a very fundamental role in countries that emerged at the last half of the twentieth century as middle income countries?.such as South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Brazil, Chile, Thailand and now China and India. These countries benefited in what the dependency school of thought describe as ?guided capitalism?. Although before they embarked on their so called ?economic growth? they wisely use the huge injections that poured into their countries to develop a very sophisticated human capital and physical infrastructure and thus at the take off phase had everything in place. This is ! something that we in Ghana and to a degree the whole of sub-Saharan Africa lack.....by directing resources into areas that might benefit us, instead the funds are taken into foreign bank accounts of the elites. The blame, as Kwamina highlighted lies with these corrupt elite. However what is changing now is Ghanaian people are becoming more aware of those masquerading as saviours who are in the game purposely to grab what they can before the light is switched off. The reason most are powerless is due to poverty and persistent hunger, thus the media are left to be the watchmen for the masses. Most families would rather think about how they can get their next meal more than get involved in political tussle about what is stealing from the coffers of Ghana Airways or GNTC.

In most families school children are becoming bread winners?..they have to sell everything they can get at the road side(HAWKERS) before and after school?at times staying on the streets well into the nig! ht when most should have finished their school home work and in bed. This is a sad reflection of how bad things are for most families not only in Ghana, but right across the sub-Saharan Africa. Nkosi Johnson epitomised the plight of the African Child with his moving speech at the Durban Conference a few years ago.

In Ghana and most African countries that this writer has had the privilege of visiting, this writer has come into contact with Children as young as 5years old who had no home to go to?these children, the ?so called street children?, our children can be seen in every major town and village in all sub-Saharan African countries roaming aimlessly, the very human capital that we can not do away with if we want to achieve middle income status of $1000 in 2020. When this writer was growing up in the 1970s in Sekondin and Accra the word ?street children? was an alien vocabulary to him and his compatriots. As recounted by Dr Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe in one of his lively series on the ?The Endur! ing Legacy of Dr J.B Danquah?, in Ghana Dr Nkrumah use the Young Pioneer Movement as a strategy of getting more Ghanaian children to go to school and to foster unity among children of different tribes. Although this writer was a toddler when Dr Nkrumah's regime was overthrown by the CIA backed coup, from the stories told by his elders, the pride of every Ghanaian child was to be a member of the Young Pioneer Movement.

Dr Nkrumah was accussed of indoctrinating the youth to hero worship him. My elders recalled with pride the singing of the national anthem at parade grounds. Although Ghana was literally still a third world country, however her health care system was excellent. Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye Teaching hospitals were the jewel in the crown. These two august institutions have produced brilliant health care professionals, perhaps the best trained medical team in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa?all thanks to Dr Nkrumah?s foresight and legacy. Dr Nkrum! ah encouraged great traditional rulers like late Otumfuo Sir Nana Agyeman Prempeh II, late Nana Agyeman Badu of Dorman Ahenkro, late Nana Kwame Aneasi of Sekondi and countless others to encourage development programes in their traditional areas??a process that is being followed by Tomfool Nana Osei Tutu and Osagyefuo Nana Amotia Ofori Panin and others. Unlike the politicians Nananom understood the essence of development and its impact on the whole community. Thus in all the major towns various groups were encourage to set up their own distinctive communities as a form of self help such as Ayegbe town, Fanti new town in Kumasi, Lagos Town In Accra and various Zongos right across the country. The tribal mix of our communities has serve us well and foster unity among our people.

What is worrying is if we missed the opportunity to develop, then sadly we might end up as the rest of the countries surrounding us. The tragic events that happened in Nigeria (the Biafra war) in the 1960s, Sierra Leone and the Liberia in the 1980s and 1990s, Rwand! a in the 1990s, Congo Kinshasa, Ivory Coast and Togo in recent times should never be allowed to happened in Ghana or for that matter never again in any part of sub-Saharan Africa. Development, Development, Development should be the goal. Corruption is what we must fight.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter Nee

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