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Ten Reasons Why We Need Change In Ghana

Mon, 15 Dec 2008 Source: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

Any one who lives or has visited Ghana recently knows that we need monumental change in the motherland. We have worrying, yet basic, perennial problems that beg for immediate solutions. In this piece, I want to list 10 reasons for change from my perspective. I encourage you to list your top reasons and post it for our consideration. In tow, I assert that we need a new group of people who are much more focused, not arrogant, in touch with the hardships of our people, not corrupt but forward looking to take this country to the next step. I want change not for the sake of change but to move Ghana from point A to B. I am not convinced that a continuation of “Kufourism”, backed by the politics of “royalism” and bald face corruption will get us there! We must reject in its entirety, what Kufour stands for. He has proven to be a failure and certainly an incompetent leader. No one man has addled corruption and incompetence more than Kufour. No wonder he reminds us that corruption started with Adam and Eve so we should get used to it.

1)      We need change in Ghana because we need hardworking politicians who understand that a sewer network throughout the country needs to be installed. Why do we need a sewer system urgently? It will help eradicate diseases, show us as a clean country that respects the environment, end inhuman labor practices like carrying feces on our heads and help push the tourism industry forward. More promising is the fact that a project of this magnitude will stimulate the economy and create jobs for the people of Ghana. A sewer system will be a critical piece of the national waste management system that ought to be put in place now! Vote for change!

2)      We need change because we must have the freedom of information bill that will help bring transparency to government. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. With transparency comes accountability and responsibility. The current government has shown that it does not care and cannot be responsive to the cries of its citizens. No amount of excuses can justify why we don’t have the right to see what our government is doing with our money and question it. For example, why can’t we know the cost of the presidential mansion or how much the president had raked in the form of per diem? Perhaps knowing the real figure can bring some real urgency to the need to put checks in place for the next president. No? The overbearing executive must be tamed at all cost and urgently! Democracy is far deeper than just allowing people to shout themselves sore and ignoring their wishes and supplications.

3)      We need change because we need a government that will take the issue of poverty seriously. We have to eradicate poverty. Our current government is elitist and panders to the rich and privilege in society. This government has shown that it does not understand the reasons that pillar poverty in Ghana and has no solutions. If it did, we won’t be spending our precious resources on issues that can not only wait but are not even a priority given our current reality. We need a new and deliberate focus on poverty! We cannot deepen poverty by adopting wrong and elitist policies! 10 million live under $1 a day! Yes we can do better! We need change now!

4)      The current parsimoniously resourced education system in Ghana does not reflect the needs of a developing country. It is also discriminatory to the extent that those who attend private universities do not get the same liberal financing as those who attend government funded universities. Our curriculum is outdated and our teachers poorly trained and paid. We need a system approach to education that starts from day care for toddlers and ends with the highest level attainable. We need new leadership with new ideas to move our education system into the 21st Century. We need a government that can create a compelling vision for education as a necessary tool or accessory to development. Education for its sake is useless! Education that can be applied and is relevant to our situation is what we need and must get.

5)      Our economy is currently built like a sand castle. It has no foundation and lives on handouts from outsider. Ghana must develop from within and stop being a beggar nation. We need a doable plan based on serious systems thinking. Ghana has tremendous resources and we need to take inventory and use such knowledge to build industries and create jobs for our people. We are too dependent on foreign management. In a systemic way, we have to create a new vision for our economy. This will help shape our education and training policies. We need a viable credit system engendered by a legitimate address and ID system. We need a mixed economy based on commonsense and practicality. An economy in which government partners with the private sector to create jobs and move our people out of poverty. We need to put in place a rigorous non-partisan micro credit system that impacts the grassroots and promotes cottage industries. Investment and jobs!

6)      Ghana must change completely its idea of healthcare! We need to not only emphasize prevention but live it. Mass education and a patient’s bill of rights are long overdue. We need a healthcare system that takes delivery of services to the people for the most part. We need to make healthcare affordable by getting everyone into the system so that we can pool risk. We must train more community nurses, doctors and other key medical personnel and pay them well to stay in Ghana. We must make continuing education a basic requirement in practice of health care delivery in Ghana. Health care should be a right for all Ghanaians. All government officials must seek healthcare within the system. Health care must be affordable, accessible, and quality in everyway.

7)      Ghana needs to feed itself and even export food. We are blessed with verdant soil. We need a government that will craft a clear vision and role for Agriculture in our development effort. We must eat our fresh farm produce and eschew contaminated exports. We need a vibrant poultry sector! Also, we must retire outmoded institutions like the CMB and put in place 21st Century arrangements that allow farmers to keep a bulk of their earnings to educate their kids. We have to organize our farmers, introduce technology, maintenance culture, introduce business conscious farmers, build capacity, educate our fishermen, promote efficiencies and create markets (local and overseas) for our produce. Also, we must build midsize factories to process our products into secondary goods which are not subject to risks of perishable primary farm produce. Resources and Jobs!! Smart farming!

8)      We must reform the civil service. We need a meaner and leaner bureaucracy! This means that we need highly trained officials alongside sensible policies that help to move our country forward. We cannot continue to have two-thirds of our budget dedicated to civil servant pay. No! We need a work smart policy that ensures appropriate technology to match the right manpower in a devolved system. Most of our civil service units must be self supporting. We need accountability, standardize processes and equipment, and a merit based civil service. We need a mean lean system based on merit and not longevity.

9)      We need to reign in corruption! This means we need a government that will not hide behind the loopholes of the constitution but rather point to them and act to close them. We have to strengthen government both at the local and central level. The various arms of government must work well. We need a government that takes law enforcement seriously. The police force has to be radically rebuilt and reeducated. The judiciary must be sanitized and resourced to perform admirably. A fully computerized judiciary in all regions is long overdue. We must hold our judges to strict review and punish any hint of corruption. Parliament must exercise oversight at all cost.  

10)  To make all the above possible, we need a democracy that works! This means that our constitution must be either radically amended or thrown out and rewritten. Note that the current constitution suits the corrupt politicians so they don’t want it changed. It is one thing to blame Rawlings for the warped and convulsed constitution and another to work towards changing it. The power of the executive has to be clipped. Parliament and the judiciary must be emboldened. The three organs of government and the press must come alive. The organs of government must be seen as partners instead of the current dominant position of the executive. Rule of law and Separation of Powers! Real press freedom!

A note on Change:

Together, we have a great opportunity to work collaboratively for change in a civil way. We must grab this opportunity and make it work for this toddler democracy of ours. If we don’t do it, the abuses will continue and an arrogant ruling class will emerge. If the latter happens, the potential for violent conflict will be seeded. Do we want more bloodshed down the road? We do ourselves grave harm by supporting the status quo along tribal or partisan lines. The destiny of Ghana lies in our hands and we must act to put Ghana on the right path now. Now is the time to change and shore up our democracy. We must not let a greedy and careless few lead us down the path of destruction and damnation. Lets act in the name of posterity. This responsibility lies squarely on our shoulders. When given the choice between Ghana, tribe or party, I picked Ghana. What will you pick? 

 

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman

(also known as the double edged sword)

 

I don’t give them hell, I tell the truth and they think its hell. – Harry Truman


Any one who lives or has visited Ghana recently knows that we need monumental change in the motherland. We have worrying, yet basic, perennial problems that beg for immediate solutions. In this piece, I want to list 10 reasons for change from my perspective. I encourage you to list your top reasons and post it for our consideration. In tow, I assert that we need a new group of people who are much more focused, not arrogant, in touch with the hardships of our people, not corrupt but forward looking to take this country to the next step. I want change not for the sake of change but to move Ghana from point A to B. I am not convinced that a continuation of “Kufourism”, backed by the politics of “royalism” and bald face corruption will get us there! We must reject in its entirety, what Kufour stands for. He has proven to be a failure and certainly an incompetent leader. No one man has addled corruption and incompetence more than Kufour. No wonder he reminds us that corruption started with Adam and Eve so we should get used to it.

1)      We need change in Ghana because we need hardworking politicians who understand that a sewer network throughout the country needs to be installed. Why do we need a sewer system urgently? It will help eradicate diseases, show us as a clean country that respects the environment, end inhuman labor practices like carrying feces on our heads and help push the tourism industry forward. More promising is the fact that a project of this magnitude will stimulate the economy and create jobs for the people of Ghana. A sewer system will be a critical piece of the national waste management system that ought to be put in place now! Vote for change!

2)      We need change because we must have the freedom of information bill that will help bring transparency to government. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. With transparency comes accountability and responsibility. The current government has shown that it does not care and cannot be responsive to the cries of its citizens. No amount of excuses can justify why we don’t have the right to see what our government is doing with our money and question it. For example, why can’t we know the cost of the presidential mansion or how much the president had raked in the form of per diem? Perhaps knowing the real figure can bring some real urgency to the need to put checks in place for the next president. No? The overbearing executive must be tamed at all cost and urgently! Democracy is far deeper than just allowing people to shout themselves sore and ignoring their wishes and supplications.

3)      We need change because we need a government that will take the issue of poverty seriously. We have to eradicate poverty. Our current government is elitist and panders to the rich and privilege in society. This government has shown that it does not understand the reasons that pillar poverty in Ghana and has no solutions. If it did, we won’t be spending our precious resources on issues that can not only wait but are not even a priority given our current reality. We need a new and deliberate focus on poverty! We cannot deepen poverty by adopting wrong and elitist policies! 10 million live under $1 a day! Yes we can do better! We need change now!

4)      The current parsimoniously resourced education system in Ghana does not reflect the needs of a developing country. It is also discriminatory to the extent that those who attend private universities do not get the same liberal financing as those who attend government funded universities. Our curriculum is outdated and our teachers poorly trained and paid. We need a system approach to education that starts from day care for toddlers and ends with the highest level attainable. We need new leadership with new ideas to move our education system into the 21st Century. We need a government that can create a compelling vision for education as a necessary tool or accessory to development. Education for its sake is useless! Education that can be applied and is relevant to our situation is what we need and must get.

5)      Our economy is currently built like a sand castle. It has no foundation and lives on handouts from outsider. Ghana must develop from within and stop being a beggar nation. We need a doable plan based on serious systems thinking. Ghana has tremendous resources and we need to take inventory and use such knowledge to build industries and create jobs for our people. We are too dependent on foreign management. In a systemic way, we have to create a new vision for our economy. This will help shape our education and training policies. We need a viable credit system engendered by a legitimate address and ID system. We need a mixed economy based on commonsense and practicality. An economy in which government partners with the private sector to create jobs and move our people out of poverty. We need to put in place a rigorous non-partisan micro credit system that impacts the grassroots and promotes cottage industries. Investment and jobs!

6)      Ghana must change completely its idea of healthcare! We need to not only emphasize prevention but live it. Mass education and a patient’s bill of rights are long overdue. We need a healthcare system that takes delivery of services to the people for the most part. We need to make healthcare affordable by getting everyone into the system so that we can pool risk. We must train more community nurses, doctors and other key medical personnel and pay them well to stay in Ghana. We must make continuing education a basic requirement in practice of health care delivery in Ghana. Health care should be a right for all Ghanaians. All government officials must seek healthcare within the system. Health care must be affordable, accessible, and quality in everyway.

7)      Ghana needs to feed itself and even export food. We are blessed with verdant soil. We need a government that will craft a clear vision and role for Agriculture in our development effort. We must eat our fresh farm produce and eschew contaminated exports. We need a vibrant poultry sector! Also, we must retire outmoded institutions like the CMB and put in place 21st Century arrangements that allow farmers to keep a bulk of their earnings to educate their kids. We have to organize our farmers, introduce technology, maintenance culture, introduce business conscious farmers, build capacity, educate our fishermen, promote efficiencies and create markets (local and overseas) for our produce. Also, we must build midsize factories to process our products into secondary goods which are not subject to risks of perishable primary farm produce. Resources and Jobs!! Smart farming!

8)      We must reform the civil service. We need a meaner and leaner bureaucracy! This means that we need highly trained officials alongside sensible policies that help to move our country forward. We cannot continue to have two-thirds of our budget dedicated to civil servant pay. No! We need a work smart policy that ensures appropriate technology to match the right manpower in a devolved system. Most of our civil service units must be self supporting. We need accountability, standardize processes and equipment, and a merit based civil service. We need a mean lean system based on merit and not longevity.

9)      We need to reign in corruption! This means we need a government that will not hide behind the loopholes of the constitution but rather point to them and act to close them. We have to strengthen government both at the local and central level. The various arms of government must work well. We need a government that takes law enforcement seriously. The police force has to be radically rebuilt and reeducated. The judiciary must be sanitized and resourced to perform admirably. A fully computerized judiciary in all regions is long overdue. We must hold our judges to strict review and punish any hint of corruption. Parliament must exercise oversight at all cost.  

10)  To make all the above possible, we need a democracy that works! This means that our constitution must be either radically amended or thrown out and rewritten. Note that the current constitution suits the corrupt politicians so they don’t want it changed. It is one thing to blame Rawlings for the warped and convulsed constitution and another to work towards changing it. The power of the executive has to be clipped. Parliament and the judiciary must be emboldened. The three organs of government and the press must come alive. The organs of government must be seen as partners instead of the current dominant position of the executive. Rule of law and Separation of Powers! Real press freedom!

A note on Change:

Together, we have a great opportunity to work collaboratively for change in a civil way. We must grab this opportunity and make it work for this toddler democracy of ours. If we don’t do it, the abuses will continue and an arrogant ruling class will emerge. If the latter happens, the potential for violent conflict will be seeded. Do we want more bloodshed down the road? We do ourselves grave harm by supporting the status quo along tribal or partisan lines. The destiny of Ghana lies in our hands and we must act to put Ghana on the right path now. Now is the time to change and shore up our democracy. We must not let a greedy and careless few lead us down the path of destruction and damnation. Lets act in the name of posterity. This responsibility lies squarely on our shoulders. When given the choice between Ghana, tribe or party, I picked Ghana. What will you pick? 

 

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman

(also known as the double edged sword)

 

I don’t give them hell, I tell the truth and they think its hell. – Harry Truman


Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka