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Opinions Wed, 29 Jan 2003

Waltzing In Ghana's Democracy

The aftermath of the increase in the price of fuel products and its relative consequences has left Ghanaians in a state of shock. This is because various Government sources have attributed the 94% increase to a variety of reasons including for the umpteenth time the accumulation of trillions of Cedis of debt from previous governments, especially the last one. I choose to use the word Government in plural because it appears the safest thing to do where the word accumulation and inheritance are employed.

The People of Ghana have never made any Government accountable so to create a fair picture, and if the NRC is anything to go by, we might as well blame all past Governments.

Furthermore, the President in his opening address to the two-day Annual Policy Forum of the Global Coalition for Africa held recently in Accra said, “African governments are showing more sensitivity to the plight of their people”. Are our Leaders showing us any sensitivity? If so why are Ghanaians being asked to pay for the reckless behaviour of their past leaders?

Many Ghanaians would loathe finding another Government spending two years of its first term blaming the previous one! Nevertheless we will need to be abreast with the state of the economy before anyone else takes over.

So let us start by setting a good example.

We asked for positive change and accountability should come with the package. Accelerating change should be priority for the delivery of better services to the public. It would only be proper that before the next election, the current Government presents Ghanaians with a statement of account detailing particularly all debts incurred or to be incurred and any other relevant information so that we can have a complete picture of the State’s finances just as any company or business would do when it is up for a takeover. This would be published before the elections and the onus will be on prospective candidates to prove how best they can manage the economy with the statement of account before them. After all, there is no guarantee that the incumbent would remain in place after the next election. Potential leaders might be worried when they read this and quite rightly so because thanks to the new millennium and albeit our Presidential Government, democracy is thriving in Ghana. Ghanaians have practically elected for this and would like to exercise their rights in terms of accountability.

Take the TOR debt for example, if only we were presented with a detailed statement prior to the takeover, we would have been prepared for this shock. The opposition parties would not have to mourn for us. We would mourn directly ourselves. At 45 we are old enough to be able to share in responsibilities as citizens of one of the beautiful countries in West Africa. Our only problem, our Governments are not accountable to us. We will need to renew our faith in how they manage our affairs. No presidential candidate should start rejoicing at the thought of winning the seat for their parties until they have seen what is on the agenda for 2004.

In Ghana, we do not lack skill but we lack know-how. We still have teething problems, which the NRC cannot resolve: