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The Inadvertent Curse Of Abundant Natural Resources (VI)

Sat, 4 Dec 2010 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

Since independence until 1992 the nation was literally feeling its way like a blind man in a large empty room simmering with discontent. Fortunately, our discontent found a worthy partner in the 92 constitution in the form of peace, which ushered in our current democratic credential. A credential that has proven worthy than what even pertains in a first world country like Russia.

Discontent they say is the first step in progress; however, the second step only becomes a reality when there is peace. The peaceful age of Elizabeth I and her successors produced giants like Shakespeare, Francis Bacon and John Locke who greatly influenced the Renaissance as well as the leaders of the American Revolution.

Likewise, the peace that the Puritans found in America coupled with the underlying discontent of their rulers in England led to the abolishing of the divine rights of kings and replaced it with the inalienable rights of the individual. It was such a novelty in political ideology, so unthinkable, critics at the time were adamant that United States will never see the light of day. And here they are still going strong after more than two centuries of existence.

The survival of the human specie is predicated on our ability to think to solve the problems that confronts us. On the other hand, that privilege can only manifest itself when our consciousness is literally submerged in peace.

Before independence all that our leaders thought about was political freedom from the clutches of colonialism. Then after independence until 92 all that we thought about was how to free the country from ourselves with few flashes of brilliance from the first republic to the third republic but without sufficient illumination that could brighten the political night sky, which was devoid of much needed stars. Then the clamouring for change ushered in the fourth republic, which has so far lived up to the expectations of the global community.

Now we have a functioning democracy, though it's not perfect it is just living up to the satirical definition given by Winston Churchill that it is the worse form of government except all the others. It brings to mind the notion about democracy, which many share, that it is not an easy system. Building a nation with various competing desires and aspiration within a democratic milieu is not a journey for the faint hearted. It is a crucible that brings the best and the worse out of a people. And any body who believes in democracy will have to understand that. In essence we have to put our shoulders to the wheel and press on, exposing the saboteurs and rewarding those who labour for the welfare of the nation. No matter how bad the government of the day is so long as the right to protest exist then we should do everything within our power to preserve it. At least democracy with all its fault provides continuity and the rule of law. Every citizen should cherish it knowing that dissenters will not end up being bundled in the middle of the night and exposed to brutalities by those who don't agree with them.

It is natural that the incumbents are doing everything within their power legally i.e. giving them the benefit of a doubt, to prolong their power while the opposition is moving heaven and earth to wrestle back power. And so long as all this is done legitimately it's the electorates that benefit when they make objective choices devoid of subjectivity and emotions.

At the moment, the electorates are questioning things because they are not happy about the status quo. Which is a natural and objective course of action for every thinking people. Quite naturally there are those who are constantly burning the midnight candle to find a legitimate way out. I do personally agonise endlessly about the way forward and I am more than 100% sure that I am not alone. There are a lot of Ghanaians from every nook and cranny of the country - besides, those resident in other parts of the world who are shouldering this burden. During the nineteenth century industrialisation of Europe the brutal exploitation and deplorable conditions of workers led to Marx and Engels developing the communist ideology independently before they became acquaintances. And so is Leibniz and Newton in the case of calculus though its only Newton’s name that is normally associated with it. In effect what I am driving at is human beings react to condition that besets them. And in our case the evidence speaks for itself with the explosion of opinion on the electronic media.

Currently, the Internet couldn't have come at a better time it has fundamentally transformed the dissemination of information and democratised national opinion. Though there is a lot of negativity we should pick up the positive side and run with it for the benefit of our democracy and forget about those who are bent on bestialising the technology.

But a word of caution! Politics is a game and our politicians are in it for what they can get. Those that are in it to make a genuine change can be counted on the fingertips. Besides, don't let any politician fool you that they can bring success overnight. National success comes incrementally. Though individual success can be achieved through hard work and thorough planning within a short space of time. That of a nation comes at a pain and torturous snail-moving pace. We constantly hear about the economy of India and China growing at an incredible pace, yet there are people in India who still scavenge on dump hill for their survival. The wonderful growth that they are experiencing will take considerable number of years before the direct benefits filters through to the average Indian or Chinese. Though Churchill had his reservation about democracy, yet he defended it to the hill for the simple reason that it works. On the other hand it only works when the smart ones among us whose interest lies in the efficient functioning of the system helps it to work. Because the politician will only do what is right when he knows that he is going to be held accountable for his actions.

So long as the electorates do not glorify the status quo then the need for change becomes a necessity. The human instincts to develop and think works best when one is under threat or in danger of extinction. To some Ghanaian minds it seems and feel like we are at the edge of the abyss waiting to be sucked into the bottomless pit. Perhaps, with the premonition that without the intervention of an invincible power we are definitely doomed. And this is where I profoundly beg to disagree. This is not the time for the maker’s hand but the time for the ingenuity of the mind and the strength of character. At this moment that there is no hope this is the time to force the hand of hope. When necessity seems to be our bed buddy is when the opportunity should be seized to transform, revitalise and redirect all the resources at our disposal especially our human resources.

The beautiful skyline of Manhattan was the product of necessity. It's not that the people who live in Manhattan love tall buildings but the fact is they don’t have the land. All city centres around the globe have high price per square metre of land because everybody is competing for the same finite land, the resultant effect is to build higher to accommodate the demand, which needs ingenuity to accomplish. Our capital is choking with traffic, besides the ever-increasing prices of property and rent. As a people we have to do something about it else one day the city will grind to a halt. So either we import the technology or come up with our own solution i.e. creating something that will be practical to our needs and environment or lift up our hand and face defeat. It therefore stands to reason that necessity makes man to accomplish the unthinkable. It is necessity that brought the White man to Africa, America and to other parts of the world. Necessity is what drove them to all the technological achievements we enjoy today. And it can also be replicated in our case when we put our minds to it.

NB

Next article will be on the solutions

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr

London

baidoo_philip@yahoo.co.uk

Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina