Opinions Wed, 26 Sep 2007

The Underdevelopment of Ghana

Ghana was started on a good footing after gaining independence. If the trend were allowed to continue, the country would be in a better economic shape than now. Tragically, the country’s defenders contributed immensely to the problems the country is facing to date. Their numerous involvements in the political system did not benefit Ghana in any way; it rather sent the country many years backward.

Afrifa and Kotoka opened Pandora’s box under false pretext about the country’s economy, that the economy was going awry. One may ask, has the economy ever been better than then? After the overthrow of the government of the day, amongst other charges, the social and economic structure started to crumble. That was the beginning of underdevelopment of Ghana by Ghanaians. Many viable projects that were in place at the time were abandoned. The numerous projects that Dr. Kwame Nkrumah initiated were for the good of the country and not for his personal gain. All kinds of industries were spread across the country. What a selfless leader that he was.

Many Ghanaians at the time perhaps did not give much thought to the fact or realized that soon after Afrifa and his cohorts did their infamous act, he Afrifa built a mansion and a township for himself, family and friends. (Pitifully, those who were aware sang his praises). Yet he decreed that it was unwise to continue with the study-leave allowances that teachers in training were receiving at the time, among many other devastating decrees. As a result of this cruel act, many teachers in training with families could not continue their studies. Imagine the effect on education.

Kwame wasn’t a saint, but of all that they accused him of to justify his overthrow, he never illegally amassed wealth for himself nor did he hide wealth behind other people. There wasn’t a front. Afrifa and Kotoka did what they did for their own self-interest. The assertion that foreign entity was behind their act is ridiculous. They were not under coercion to disrupt the political system by overthrowing the government. It was a choice they made. How unwise it was for them to halt almost all the feasible projects that were in progress at the time. After all, the projects, the machinery, workers brigade, the infrastructure, and the factories were not the president’s personal property. He did it all for his countrymen and they were good for the nation. Whatever the case may be, he used the country’s resources for the projects, and so how impulsive it was to abandon them. What a waste and lack of wisdom. In the same vein, it is preposterous to name anything in memory of either of these men. Their action was the beginning of events for a country that was someday going to be described as poverty-stricken. Now, sadly Ghana is counted amongst the poor.

Those who argue that the economy was in shambles, perhaps never realized their folly for the fact that Ghana’s economy has never been better than what it was before the overthrow of Dr. Nkrumah’s government. One wonders if it would ever be, considering the greed and the ‘let’s grab it all for it is our chance’ attitude of people of positions of trust. Some may vehemently disagree, but the fact is that the living condition of the people is a reflection of the health of the economy of a nation and not on the accolade of outsiders whose interests are being served and tend to gain immensely.

Every military coup in Ghana set the country years behind. This is not fiction. Ghanaians are feeling the effect today. The plight of the country, in terms of the welfare of the people, did not start just a few years ago to be blamed on the current administration, though it has its share of the contributing factors. No military rule has benefited Ghana. The army is a disciplined institution with good men and women, but those who took arms to overthrow a legitimate government elected by the people, did so for their own selfish desires. The last military junta for almost twenty years did a deadly blow to Ghana. Ghanaians were subjected to bullying, intimidation, fear, lost of lives and properties and the like, sadly, by their own countrymen in uniform and civilian accomplices. The period of oppression somehow changed the national psyche for the worst. There is gross indiscipline. That is what the so-called revolution brought Ghana. Subordinates could boot out their superiors, and see what is going on in schools and in the country as a whole. Some people have adopted lawless behaviour that one doesn’t have to obey laws of the land in the name of democracy. Can a country develop in a state of lawlessness and lack of respect for authority? Of course not, those in authority must act properly and obey the laws themselves. The regard and respect that students had for school authorities diminished in PNDC era and the trend continues. Accountability was the “preacher’s” message. Has anyone asked Mr. Rawlings to account for the fifty-cedi notes that he collected? Many lost their life savings and their livelihood by this infamous decree. A country cannot be developed by decrees, especially when coming from a power-drunk and “revengeful” individual. At the time of the insurgency the rich were enemies of the state, no matter how they came by their wealth. It was a taboo for one to have two toilets in ones house. Many lost their properties without due process. Would it be out of place to let Mr. Rawlings declare the source of his wealth? He continues to throw dust into the eyes of Ghanaians that anything he owns was a gift. A true revolutionist would not even accept these generous gifts since it would compromise his mission and beliefs. A man who once saw two or more toilets in ones abode as a crime, now has many. Perhaps Mr. Rawlings should go in Guinness World Record as a man whose wealth and assets both at home and abroad were gifts because of his ruinous human rights record. Some credit him with bringing stability to Ghana. That’s far from the truth. It is some measure of fear of God and the resilience of Ghanaians that saved Ghana from chaos. No malice intended but the truth must be told.

By the end of the year 2008 Ghana would have gone through sixteen years of democratic rule, perhaps only eight of those years could be termed as truly democratic. Fifty years and what the country has gone through, the military interventions, one would only envisage that the political parties would work together despite inevitable differences, to find solutions to the country’s numerous problems. Instead, the concern is towards their respective parties. How could a party be sure that it would win an election by all means? Especially, when it is not in power. Apart from rigging, winning an election depends on performance and manifestos, not on empty promises. Moreover, elections are unpredictable. Ghana does not practice alternate form of government and I don’t know a democracy that does it. The impression given is that the other party governed for eight years and the present ruling party is about to complete eight years, so “it is our turn desperation” sets in. If it were so there would be no need for elections. There is a frightening aspect of the impending presidential election, that a political party is poised to win by all means, or else. People issuing such threats have their personal agenda other than nation building. It is like using the barrel of the gun to force oneself on the people. Let the electorate decide. The accusations, counter accusations, and the revengeful threats of mass imprisonment because some of our members were incarcerated for offences against the nation, as purported by the opposing party, are not the way to develop a nation.

The behaviour and activities of some Ghanaians add to the underdevelopment of the country, which began, with the advent of coups. Some people who are placed in positions of trust to offer services to their fellow Ghanaians woefully betray that trust. The time it takes and monetary demand for one to get utility services is unbelievable. Electricity Company, water Company and the Telephone Company are all culprits. Instead of concentrating on the revenue that their good services will give to the companies, the contrary is rather the case.

Lack of love for country and greed will make a Ghanaian be a front for a foreigner to cheat and carry on some dubious activities inimical to the state, and affect every Ghanaian in the long run. Isn’t sad to listen to some Ghanaians assert that, “if you were in his/her shoes you would do the same,” when someone is accused of corruption, suggesting that all are corrupt. The minister of Aviation, Ms. Gloria Akuffo has proved otherwise, she has indeed shown a spirit of patriotism and must be highly commended. People in positions of trust have disgracefully been lured into accepting such offers at the expense of the welfare and economic development of the State. Some companies illegally do that knowing well that some of those in decision-making positions are corrupt and therefore can be bought easily. An establishment like Ghana airways on its onset had planes of its own but eventually lost them all due to apathy of the employees, from superior to subordinate, which eventually led to the total collapse of the only airline of the country. This indifference goes on in many establishments. Some workers even find it amusing to ridicule hardworking colleagues that the work is not for their fathers, therefore they should slow down.

According to some sources, Ghanaians hardly get University campus accommodation because they are unable to pay as much as others, therefore they have to reside outside campus. Some Ghanaians affected don’t feel as if they are in their own country. Sons and daughters of Ghana must be catered for as much as is done for foreigners. Ghanaians experiencing this dejection will not develop love for country. In time of need the country turned her back on them. The Universities could engage in fund raising activities to help keep the students on campuses. Let the younger generation feel and be proud that they belong to the country.

It is quite pathetic that at this time and age, some supposedly enlightened people mount podiums and advocate for military coup, for according to them, the administration is not performing to their expectation. These are the people that well meaning Ghanaians should be aware of. They have no interest whatsoever in the development of the country, but to get a chance to further loot the country’s treasury. Some Ghanaians aspire to go into politics just to make themselves, their families, and friends wealthy. Thanks to the System with many loopholes that makes it easier to “steal” with impunity. Many falsely give sweet talk of the wonderful things they will do for the country, others go the easy way, by the gun and can stay on as long as they want to later enjoy ‘former president status’. In the end, Ghanaians pay a heavy price of mismanagement, loss of revenue and underdevelopment. The ballot box must be the only avenue to change governments. The development of Ghana depends heavily on Ghanaians with outside help when necessary and not the other way round. They only will have the deep interest required to bring progress and growth devoid of deep-rooted corruption.

Ghanaians will go to the polls in about a year’s time. It will do Ghana a lot of good if people do not vote on ethnic lines, but rather according to their conscience. The electorate should ask questions about the candidates and listen carefully to what they have to say. Those who can do their own research should do so and educate others. Voters in the central region were accused of being disloyal in the last presidential election for not voting for a candidate who hails from the region. They should rather be commended for exhibiting maturity and enlightenment, and not voting for reason of ethnicity. Ghana needs a true selfless leader for all. Let the people seek the help of Providence in order to be provident in choosing a leader.

K. Afrani.

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

Columnist: Afrani, Kwabena