The change we all need

Ghanaians Holding The National Flag File Photo

Wed, 21 Nov 2018 Source: Brig-Gen J. Odei

The situation in the country today is very difficult economically but not hopeless as those who created the problems in the first place (NDC) would like Ghanaians to believe.

My beef is the tendency to put all the blame of our failures on Governments without conceding the simple fact that we as Ghanaians have contributed immensely and in diverse ways to our predicament. The demands on Government by Ghanaians are simply too much. President Kennedy of the United States of America once stated, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. I wish Ghanaians will take a cue from this and stop the nagging and the clarion call of “Aban, Aban” (Government).

It is sad to recount some of our problems but it is necessary to remind ourselves so that we find solutions for them. We must accept that no matter how determined Governments are to solve our problems, many Governments will fail without the support of the people and we would remain in our present situation for a very long time to come. Attitudes and behaviors such as laziness, selfishness, greed, hypocrisy, tribalism, lies, deceit, dishonesty, corruption, lawlessness, etc. are not the making of Governments but bad habits acquired by individuals which are impeding the progress of our nation. Of late a new dimension has been added–“verbal diarrhea”. We talk too much, criticize everything under the sun and do very little to help ourselves and the nation.

Corruption, the lethal virus devouring the nation has reached unprecedented levels and it is the most dangerous canker that is destroying everything we believe in as a nation. We live in this country, we know what it is, the form it takes and the way it operates. It is a hydra-headed monster living in the society, ready to cheat at any given time and like some incurable disease, it is immune to several therapies. The Government alone cannot fight corruption without the people who indulge in it, encourage it, protect it and sadly complain about it. We all need to join hands and people must be ready to provide information and be prepared to give evidence to support the allegations. Ghanaians are cowards and hypocritical when it comes to substantiating allegations. We need a national crusade to fight this canker.

In Ghana, research has revealed that there are five main categories of religions namely; Christians- (71%), Muslims-(17.6%), Traditional-(5,2%),Others-(0.8%) and none-(5,2%). Since Christians are in the majority, could it be opined that Christianity has contributed negatively to our difficulties of late? I dare not conclude without the necessary research but one could say that Christians have contributed negatively because of their numbers. The Bible tells us that LOVE of one another is the second most important doctrine in Christianity but to some of our churches, love for MONEY is the most important. The Churches have no love for their congregations but build their empires with their donations, tithes, Sunday collections and pledges. Today, some churches are commercial entities who suck the “blood” of their members like leeches. The leaders are among the most powerful, richest and influential persons in our society but where is the direction of their influence? Sermons preached emphasize on miracles and “get rich quick” instead of hard and honest work and it is therefore not surprising that today lotto numbers are being dished out from some pulpits. Embezzlement of funds, in Government institutions, non-government institutions including the churches, is the order of the day. So where are the Christian values?

Matthew 5:14 says “you are the light of the world”-where is this “light” among Christians who are the majority in our society? The orthodox Churches like Presbyterian, Methodist, Roman Catholics, Anglican etc. continue to preach morality and other virtues but they are also not angels and the sad reality is that their numbers are being swallowed gradually by some non-orthodox churches whose emphasis is on miracles and riches. Could anyone imagine the change that will take place in Ghana if Christians begin to show “the Christian light”?

The desire to make “quick money” is the cause of many crimes in our society today, especially when the thieves do get away with their crimes. Petty thievery and cheating called “kalabule or 419”, the hallmarks of the lower class have been perfected by the elites and the results are the establishment of Savings and Loans and “Ataa Ayi” Banks, who use high interest paid on investments as bait to roll in the customers. Some Ghanaians blocked their reasoning, filled their ears with wax, hardened their hearts and ignored the warnings from experts who doubted the sustainability of the operations of these banks. The creation, the sudden rise of mushroom banks, operational successes and the sudden collapse of many of them were all made possible by GREED and the desire of some Ghanaians to reap bountifully where they have not sown.

Our inability to enforce our LAWS has sadly brought some lawlessness in the whole country. From Bank of Ghana reports, it is very clear that if the laws on the establishment of banks had been followed, some of the collapsed Banks wouldn't have obtained certificates to operate. Billions of Cedis paid by Bank of Ghana to bail them out were also misappropriated making mockery of “Woyome's” case. Traffic jams in our cities are due to indiscipline especially by taxi, and “trotro” drivers and some motorists who stop anyhow, drive on the shoulders of the road with impunity, jump traffic lights at will whilst passengers spit and litter the streets with plastics as if there are no laws governing this country and we claim to be intelligent whilst the institutions established and paid for by the tax payers to maintain order, look on sheepishly. Visit other countries and see the behavior of drivers on roads in the cities and countryside and you will understand why we are still classified as underdeveloped.

On punctuality, it's simply hopeless since our sense of time whether educated or not is nothing to write home about. We talk about “African time” as if we live on a different planet. We attend meetings and other official functions late as if time has no value and unrepentantly grace such occasions with flimsy excuses. To query a Ghanaian on punctuality is a waste of time. Many Ghanaians in Government Institutions don't report for work on time but will not hesitate to complain or demonstrate when payment of salaries is delayed. A few Ghanaians are hardworking but majority are lazy and the lazy ones are even able to acquire fake “excuse duty” forms (or are they issued by some unscrupulous Medical Doctors)? Visit some Government offices on Fridays and many desks are empty because of weekend funerals/treats and other unproductive ventures. In many institutions, the honest and hardworking people are few but they are detested and called names by the majority.

As for patriotism, don't go there because from our actions we don't love this country and besides, many Ghanaians think Ghana is a “fat cow” that must be milked. The payment of taxes is not an obligation but a choice which many corrupt minded Ghanaians delightfully indulge in. On a recent trip to Enchi in the Western Region, when paying the hotel bill, the attendant asked me whether I wanted VAT receipt. I demanded an explanation and he said that customers who resist VAT payments are given different receipts. I asked for a VAT receipt and I paid GH¢ 141.00 instead of GH¢120.00.I called the Hotel Manager and scolded him and explained the implications of his fraudulent activities and warned him to desist from the practice. Later, I learnt that the practice has been going on for years not only in the hotel industry but other commercial sectors as well. The Internal Revenue agencies who are to nail the thieves, condone the acts after a few Cedis have changed hands. In developed countries refusal to pay taxes is a very serious offence but not in Ghana.

My dear Reader, some of the issues raised are not the making of Governments but Ghanaians. In developed countries, education and discipline have been the benchmark of their progress and therefore if we want our nation to progress then education and discipline must be taken seriously. Our current President has taken education seriously and I plead that discipline must be given the same treatment. For starters, we need to enforce the rules and regulations in the country without fear or favor and the NCCE must step up its education on civic responsibilities. The long term solution lies in instilling discipline in the youth from homes, primary schools through SHS and tertiary institutions. It may take between twenty and thirty years to achieve the desired effect if such a plan is taken seriously, but it must be done.

Columnist: Brig-Gen J. Odei