The Diaspora Vote: It's our Land Also - A rejoinder

Sat, 13 Aug 2005 Source: Jeffrey, Peter Nee

The essay on the diaspora vote by Jermaine Nkrumah and others (our North American compatriots) was quite a powerful presentation and it is an issue that will never go away. This is an issue that goes to the core of our present developmental agenda.

The transformation of Ghana?s economy during the structural adjustment years did not occur in vacuum and would not have been possible without the active participation of the diaspora community. The large inflows from our community and the reforms put in place by the Rawlings and Kufuor governments enabled potential investors to come and invest in Ghana. In a rejoinder, my brother Efo Delanyo although acknowledged the enormous contributions of the inflows from the diaspora community and its impact on the Ghanaian economy, however he tried to discounted this contributions when he stated: ?The emphasis of the article was on Diasporas? contribution to the economy of Ghana. The authors intimated that Diasporas made a great deal of contribution to Ghana?s economy and if the ?less than positive sentiments towards [Diasporas]? improved, Ghanaians who lived in Ghana would be amazed by how much this ?Diaspora contribution? would increase. My simple remark on this much-talked about ?Diaspora contribution? is that Ghanaians abroad do not send money home purposefully to improve Ghana?s economy. Ghanaians abroad send money to Ghana for their own private interests, which are very important to them and which they would anyway have to accomplish. Some send moneys to support their families - be it nuclear or extended. Others send moneys to build houses and establish businesses for profits etc.?

Those who underestimate our role in the national economy should closely examine the role of migrant remittances in receiving countries such as Turkey, Mexico, the Philippines and other countries in Asia. Also as my compatriots mentioned in their essay, the role of diaspora during the South Korean Miracle years, the Malaysian success story and the Chinese turn around in the development of those countries are marked. In this regard I will encourage those who wish to learn about the role of skill diaspora in national development to do a bit of research on countries like Ireland and Turkey.

In 1990 the estimated remittances from the migrant communities to their countries of origin stood at $71 billion. In 2004 it is estimated that over $400 billion was remitted from the Western and oil rich Middle Eastern countries to the developing countries. Of this amount, Ghana is emerging as the leading African country to receive over $1.5 billion up to the second quarter of 2004. The amount remitted are considered an underestimate of actual remittances as the reported figures included only the officially recorded flows in balance of payment data reported by Bank of Ghana. In 1995 460,000 in United States El Salvadoran transmitted $1.1 billion to their country. Since then the Salvadoran Embassy in Washington DC uses the figure of $1.2 billion in annual remittances which has helped stabilised the Salvadoran economy. To acknowledged and appreciate their great contributions to their motherland, the Salvadoran government has given the diaspora community in United States! , majority Salvadoran-Americans a strong voice in the running of their motherland. It is estimated to be 2 million Ghanaians or those of Ghanaian decedents residing outside the country. This constituency?s contributions, like their Salvadoran counterparts is a real source of revenue for the government, thus the active involvement and period interactions by government officials and Nananom with the diasporas.

Although Efo and others might not agree with the prominence given to the article written by Jermaine and others, however by bringing the issue to the fore that we as people can advance this debate that can help make Ghana better. We have reached a cross road where every section of the people must contribute meaningfully to the development of the motherland.

Although the football analogy that Jermaine and his group use might not be appropriate to this debate as my brother Efo rightly pointed out, however this whole debate about giving the diaspora right of vote was first put forward by the NDC when they were the ruling party in the mid to late 1990s (during the ?Miracle years?) and is now being advance by the NPP and it hinges on which can expliot the diaspora vote to their advantage. The 2008 will depend on the candidate who can provide good leadership. And the again those in the NPP and the NDC who think they can take the vote of the two Fante/Wassa/Nezima/Ahanta regions (Central and Western) for granted in the next elections must think again. If the NPP think they can impose a candidate from the Ashanti/Eastern region and hope to carry Central and Western regions, then they are living a glass house. This writer was among the first to point out to the NPP leadership that by shifting from Ashanti and Eastern! regions to other regions in terms of electing a flag bearer that they can hang on to the presidency. The NDC have identified this handicap faced by the NPP and are going to expliot this to their advantage by presenting a candidate whom the country will identified as someone with a common touch. And among the leading candidates is John Dramani Mahama.

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

Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter Nee

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