Where are we drifting to at 59?

Thu, 3 Mar 2016 Source: Kobby Asmah

On Sunday, March 6, 2016, Ghana will be 59 years old, just a year away from the retirement age of 60 if she were an active worker. The celebration of national days is taken quiet seriously in this country. We normally have a theme to mark the day. School children are made to march in the scorching sun while political leaders take a salute to mark the occasion.

Many people like the parades and enjoy the songs played by the mass band as well as listen to or later read politicians' speeches.

But beyond these, what does the day signify to many of us citizens. What benefits can we put the Independence Day celebrations to give real meaning to the citizenry?

Can we, for instance, use the day to understand the reason why the country fought for independence, celebrate the nation state as well as teach the Ghanaian child a sense of pride of being Ghanaian?

Can the celebration effectively foster nationhood and patriotism among the Ghanaian citizenry?

Some have even called for national discussion to take a hard look at Independence Day celebration and agree on common grounds to reflect the exigencies of the times.


At 59, the nation is so much polarised with little focus on its state of affairs that relate to the welbeing of the people. While the ruling party sees nothing good from the opposition parties, the same can be said of the opposition. Indeed, this has been amply demonstrated by the reactions that have so far greeted the President’s State of the Nation Address delivered in Parliament on Thursday last week. While members of the ruling party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have described the President’s address as very promising and revealing the true state of affairs of the nation, the opposition political parties have variously tagged the presentation as ‘deceitful’, ‘theatrical performance’, ‘Making heroes out of half-done jobs’ and ‘full of drama’, among other descriptions.

True State of the Nation

Just yesterday, the 2016 flag bearer of the dominant opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, also delivered what he deemed to be the true state of the nation address in which he painted a picture of gloom and a nation in crisis. After the address and very typical of the political discourse, all supporters of the NPP hailed the presentation as the true state of affairs while the NDC pooh-poohed it.

Intriguingly, in these presentations on the true state of affairs of the nation, the common drawback in the respective presentations by both the President and Nana Akufo-Addo has to do with the lack of balance to reflect achievements and challenges as well as the steps needed to be taken to overcome those challenges. I cannot believe that in the past years nothing at all had been achieved under the John Mahama/Atta Mills administration. By all means there will be successes and failures and this is what I expect to be captured in a true state of affairs of the nation. Any true state of the nation, in my view, should recount the achievements and challenges of the government as well as the direction that the government wishes to lead the country in the coming years. Guess who suffers when a true state of affairs is reduced to lies and propaganda?

Going forward, it is important for the opposition to see some good in the government by way of commending its achievements rather than always painting the government as having done nothing. In the same vein, the government should recognise that the members of the opposition are also Ghanaians who are also seeking the good of the nation. Which means some of their suggestions could be taken on board and credited in the good governance of the nation. This is what pertains in advanced and some developing nations.

Where are we drifting After attaining Independence on March 6, 1957, the question each and every Ghanaian citizen needs to ask and answer independently is where is the nation drifting and what has so far changed in the development sphere? Children of the poor are growing up to be poorer because they do not have the opportunities to improve themselves. All because their parents do not have connections in high places.

It’s 59 years on and Ghana can, no doubt, pride itself as a peaceful, stable nation which is reaping the dividends of democracy. Nonetheless, some have insisted that the only things that have dramatically changed are the-national flag, the national anthem and the Flagstaff House - the seat of government - now occupied by a Ghanaian. Indeed, the colonial legacy of parading schoolchildren across the country under a burning sun is still the order of the day. After 59 years of independence, we still have a colonial governance structure which does not facilitate the promotion of economic independence.

The political leadership is still talking about moving away from the Guggisberg economy where we still deal in raw materials as against processed materials and move into a transformational economy. Currently, the nation is saddled with huge unemployment rate, particularly involving the teeming youth, but interestingly, the nation is importing many things from toothpick to tooth paste after almost six decades of independence.

As a nation, we still have a big taste for imported goods as against made-in-Ghana goods and efforts to reverse the trend is abysmal.

Even though celebrations of national days have symbolic value, I shudder to wonder whether the celebrations are fashioned in a way such that they will make the citizenry think more about national unity, integrity and prosperity of the nation and individual.

We should think of how each of us can do our part to preserve the state of Ghana by way of upholding its laws and promoting freedom and justice in our nation. Our forbears have lost their lives, defending the same ideals and it is our collective responsibility to work to accelerate the country’s economic growth, take steps to encourage new investments in the economy, improve the management of government finances and work for the livelihood of the common man.

This year being an election year compels us all to think politics and I expect the Ghanaian electorate to vote with their conscience. And on this special 59th anniversary, I wish all Ghanaians a healthy, joyful, and festive celebration in advance. As we mark the day, let us also hold accountable those in positions of authority in government and in business – ensuring that they respect our personal liberty and rights to make better decisions in the interest of the nation.

Columnist: Kobby Asmah