By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Folks, I have said several times and insisted on saying it whenever possible that Ghana is still in the doldrums because of the negative attitude of Ghanaians, not necessarily because of the inadequacies of national leadership, especially the President.
In our time when much has been heaped on the “poor head” of President John Dramani Mahama (affectionately called by some of us as “The Lion of Gonja”) to create the unfortunate impression that he isn’t providing the effective/effectual leadership to move Ghana out of the woods, some of us have rushed to his defence to say that he is not Ghana’s problem. Instead, Ghanaians themselves are the real problems to solve. It is all attitudinal. Ghanaians are more adept at creating problems than solving them. It’s a fact that must be faced.
Yes, leadership counts; but when the citizens don’t do what will validate policies, programmes, and measures, no amount of exertion by whatever leadership there is can help solve any problem. Having observed goings-on over the years, I can confidently stick my neck out to say that Ghanaians are their own devils eating themselves dry yet pinpointing their leaders to blame for their woes.
No amount of force (as exemplified by the “buga-buga” military governments) suasion (under the so-called democratic dispensations leading to this 4th Republic) can solve any problem of underdevelopment unless Ghanaians make amends attitudinally. There is too much rot in the system that some bless and add more to if only doing so will help them realize their ambitions.
Such is the problem with Ghana, which one captain (the Head of State) in control of the ship of governance cannot solve. There is too much happening to break hearts. Whether in the public or private sector, nothing on the basis of good conscience seems to work well. It is a matter of taking advantage of the system and shifting blame. Too much to grate on the ears if told.
Here is this latest story about happenings at the Metro Mass Transit Company, which encapsulates all that I may want to say. When Kufuor introduced this venture, his critics laughed him to scorn, claiming that it wasn’t capable of solving the mobility problems facing Ghanaians in the urban areas. He stood his grounds and committed much to it.
I remember very well how Dr. Limann’s PNP government introduced the City Express and supported the Omnibus Services Authority with fleets of Tata buses produced by India and made available to Ghana. Dr. Tackie Otoo of the Action Congress Party’s attack on Harry Sawyerr, then Minister of Transport, regarding such transactions may belong to history but can’t be forgotten by some of us.
Long before then, the Great Osagyefo had established the State Transport Corporation and equipped it with Setra buses from Germany to improve cross-country movement of people and goods. How did successive governments handle the STC? Too saddening!!
So, in retrospect, we know how attempts by the various governments to solve the transportation problem took shape. To date, the situation hasn’t improved. No reliable road traffic support, rail network (because the Ghana Railway Corporation is dead), and some limited air traffic that rich private individuals like Asumah Banda and his Amtrak or any other new entrant are busily exploiting. Mobility is still a huge problem. When there is no easy means to transport people and goods, the economy doesn’t grow!!
Let me cut it all short to say here that the news reports about what is happening at the Metro Mass Transit Company clearly reflect the danger that Ghana faces. Here are the bare facts as reported:
“The Management of the Metro Mass Transit Company has begun investigations into how buses have disappeared from the company. The investigation follows a petition by workers of the company, Managing Director Noble Appiah told Joy News' Francisca Kakra Forson. Twelve buses belonging to the company cannot be traced. Six of the vehicles from the Tamale yard, four from Kumasi and two from Wa have reportedly gone missing”. (See more at: http://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2014/December-17th/mmt-management-begins-investigations-into-missing-vehicles.php#sthash.0F9hOlCB.dpuf).
Explanations given by Dickson Dzeho, who heads the Wa MMT, paint a different picture to create the impression that everything went through the due process of disposal. Many loopholes exist to be plugged; but who will do so? We know that when it comes to such issues, the Ghanaian can be trusted to use his “ingenuity” or plain ingenuousness to advantage. Buses written off as scrap can be cannibalized and reactivated in the hands of a private transport owner (as late Gyimah did with the Omnibus Services Authority’s buses to give us the “Odorkor-Accra Central” fleet of buses in those days).
The over-arching question, then, is: Why is it difficult for public-sector ventures to be managed profitably? Who really is interested in safeguarding the public interests into which public funds have been invested? What are those “public interests”, anyway? Who cares about them?
Many precedents exist to alarm us. Whatever has been done with public funds must serve “public interests”; not so? But is that really true for Ghana? History has a lot to alert us to the problems. Many abandoned projects still dot our country’s landscape because nobody cares about “public interests”. Consciences have been so seared as to become a bother. Nothing is worth recognizing anymore as solutions. All there is are problems to torment the daily lives of the citizens whose blood, toil, and tears sustain the system.
Bring in the fate of the State-Owned Enterprises and you should see things clearly, especially with the Rawlings government’s establishment of the Divestiture Implementation Committee to dispose of those enterprises that are doing very well in private hands (including those of Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings, wife of the Apostle of Probity and Accountability now reaping windfalls from the Nsawam Cannery, re-named Carridem or whatever)!! And there are many others operating in the shadows to rake in the ill-gotten wealth that makes them delude themselves into thinking that with such an enhanced status, they can become Ghana’s President in our time.
Folks, we in Ghana have a high hurdle to jump before setting things right. We have all kinds of human and natural resources but are suffering just because we are engaged in a rat race. We are more interested in damaging the public interest if only doing so will help us achieve our personal and private objectives. Too bad for the common good of the country.
Nothing has changed over the years in terms of this attitudinal equation; and nothing will change in the foreseeable future. Those shouting themselves hoarse just to beguile the electorate into voting them into office are over-reaching themselves and should pause to think more deeply. It is a Ghanaian problem that they must not lose sight of. A close analysis of the situation since independence should help them re-focus and re-strategize. Ghanaians are difficult people, to recal the late Kutu Acheampong. No more!!
In conclusion, then, what will be the justification for pointing accusing fingers at the man elected to head government? Can this man succeed in moving Ghana forward if Ghanaians aren’t doing what is required for him to achieve his objective? The problem, my fellow Ghanaians, is with us!!
I shall return…
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