...BUT NOT IN AMERICA The recent reports in the media of excessive governmental spending habits in Ghana since the Ghana@50 celebrations, the $50-$60 million on Presidential mansions, and now the $37 million Presidential Jet (Ghanaweb, Thursday March 13, 2008), at a time when Ghanaians cannot get water through their pipes, have to pay 100-200% duties and taxes on imported cars and equipment, and phone calls and electricity and water charges are so much higher, causes many to think there is something mentally wrong with the President and his executive.
– Re: $37,000,000 Presidential Jet, $7.1Billion in Debt, High Taxes and Executive Keep on Spending!
However, the more important factor is that there is something seriously wrong with our system of government where leaders can get away with such open armed-robbery (as some writers have called it), and constitutional powers granted the executive branch to spend money with no power of Parliament or any independent prosecution arm of government to stop them. Ghana is now in debt by $7.1 Billion, according to the Governor of the Bank of Ghana. It is quite obvious that if criminals team up together they can loot Ghana and empty our coffers and is there nothing there people can do about it?
How does a society stop a mad President and a weakened and gutless parliament?
President Kufuor and the NPP have gone crazy, but how do we stop them? The GLU forum saw this story 3 times today from contributors who were outraged by the $37 million Presidential jet and the sad justification by Presidential adviser and spokesperson Andrew Awuni. Many are distraught but we a society seem to have no means to seek redress and nothing it appears we can do as a people!
A member wrote: “To the good and concerned citizens of Ghana, if (BIG IF) this story is TRUE we should all condemn the current NPP administration for gross negligence of the welfare of the ordinary people of Ghana. Why are Ghanaians so coward? Aren't there strong opposition to this government? Folks let's put partisan politics aside and confront this inept, corrupt and ruthless administration in terms of priorities. People are dying from common malaria, students can't get accommodation on campus, no water for Ghanaians and we are all sitting down for this government to borrow in the name of Ghanaians and squander our limited resources,,,
This government doesn't simply know when and where to stop. First it was a rumour about presidential palace, then it became a reality, 20 million dollars for Ghana @50 and where are the luxury cars that were imported for the celebration? What does Ghana need fighter jets for? To bomb Togo or Ivory Coast? What a misplaced priority. Fix the electricity, water, schools, healthcare, housing, and many more problems first. Why is this government spending this money on such a luxury place with little over a year in power? Folks I am just mad. We have to resist any corrupt policies. Where is the fiscal responsibility? You borrow money to buy luxury items? What is the rationale behind this? What is the Return On Investment (ROI) here? (Stephen Yeboah, GLU Forum, Mar.13, 2008)
Why do you think there have been so many military coups in Ghana since independence?
Why? Think about it.
Why is there no military coup in New York, America, California, Australia, Canada, despite the occasional nonsense that goes on by their leaders?
America has more crimes per capita and even more than African countries if you examine statistics, and they are not free from corruption. But look at America, look at Japan, look at UK, look at Canada, Australia, etc. Compare!!
To cite a recent example in the news, as soon as reports hit that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was involved in a sex scandal with a prostitute, he did not wait till the news hit but had a press conference to announce his regrets. In 2 days there were clear statements from the Senate Chairman for possible impeachment if Spitzer did not resign! In 2 days he offered his resignation effective coming Monday March 17, to be succeeded by the deputy, the first black person as Governor, a legally blind person.
Let me put my PhD in Social Science hat on for now.
Whenever human beings have a means of finding solutions to their problems, there is no need for military coups or excessive social disruptions and schisms. Social stability and social justice are established in society not by burying differences and covering up complaints and giving them to God to resolve, but through the Chinese-type confrontational solutions. At Intel Corporation in the mid 1980s as a Manager I recall one in-house course we as Managers took was called "Constructive Confrontation". America is what it is today not because it is perfect, but rather in their constant search for social justice for all citizens, confronting their past bigotry, evils of slavery and racial discrimination, detection and then punishment of crimes and corruption and human imperfections. They find new ways to prevent people from cheating on their taxes, crossing red lights, or pocketing moneys collected at toll plazas and parking garages in San Francisco! This is what makes a society like America become so great and as I have said many times, I love America mostly because of this self assessment and societal search for perfection!!!
During my studies I found out that the income gap between the percentage share of income between the top 20% and the bottom 20% between Ghana and the USA were about the same - Lowest 20% Highest 20% USA 5.4% 45.8% Ghana 5.6% 46.6%
I spent several months puzzling over this but never made any conclusive comments because it is so complicated when you have two societies with such wide disparity in income and wealth, Ghana with 78.5% living under $2 per day and USA with 0%, and yet the gap above so similar.
Well, the difference is the CULTURE - here in America the top 20% who have the 46% share of income consider the needs of the bottom 20% and consider them as human beings (note the words) who need housing, availability and reasonable cost for the basic needs such as water, electricity, transportation to go to work, etc. In Ghana this is not the case! In Ghana as soon as your own friends attain higher governmental positions, they don't want to see you again or prefer not to talk to you - they are always traveling and busy, and they never take any advice from their colleagues who may know better or have extensive global experience. In fact if they will take even a technical advice from you, you must return to Ghana, "suffer" like they did for some years (according to their mindset), and then if you can do that, they will bring you into the fold. Usually this implies corruption. I have many mates who have expressed these sentiments and cultural phenomenon after returning home.
Folks, educated Ghanaians are acting like the greatest fools on earth. They pretend like they know when they don't, and that a dangerous culture!
Foolishness may be described not just by lack of intelligence but in using intelligence to do something or ignore something that eventually affects your own happiness. A good example is the road network in East Legon I have mentioned in other writings. How do the Ministers themselves exit to go to work? Now that I am over 60 I am allowed to use certain words and there is nothing you guys can do (smile). Let me explain. When as an undergraduate I once met the Dean of the School of Engineering some 38 years ago, who had become like a "friend" (he said he liked me because unlike many shy foreign students I could express myself) - and expressed why our Engineering studies were so theoretical, you know what he told me? American philosophy on Engineering and education in general was that real education starts when you finish your classroom education, well armed with the theory, and start working in the field of engineering!! I never forgot this and can write more on this later.
THE POINT I am making is that educated Ghanaians like P.V. Obeng, Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, Ato Austin, Kojo and Tsatsu Tsikata, Ato Ahwoi, Kwamena Ahwoi, and all these men of my age bracket and so forth who may have been classroom smart, once they completed their education and could not work overseas, were filled with some disappointment, pain, that later became one of envy and jealousy and frustration and a desire to live off the Ghana system!! Take as much as you can and live well and to Hell with the rest! As somebody said, Ghana is already sinking! Chasing women became their reward when in positions of power and responsibility, and no pride in accomplishing a task to see an invention, a patent, and a possible good income and even stocks that may become a million dollar payday one day, as many young Engineers have seen who joined start up companies like Yahoo, Apple, e-Bay, Google. There was no desire to see a future for their kids but moneys they have stolen and stashed overseas in Ireland or UK for their kids school fees or whatever.
When it came to accomplishments to meet the changing world of technology, globalization and customer preferences facing us, they were lost! However they never asked their many colleagues overseas. More than 95% of my age mates and colleagues are not computer literate and can hardly use the keyboard? Why? The same CULTURE!! Our culture suggests that a man cannot accept that he does not know something, and hence learn from a woman, or from a younger person. As such you see our mates with computers on their desks and covered all day!!
CHANGE comes in many ways and a man who cannot change to use a basic computer software like Excel™ spreadsheet, if forced to make major decisions affecting 138 districts and each one with their budgets, payroll, government housing, repair maintenance, retirement benefits, etc, etc, eventually gives up and does "the best he can" and pretends like everything is fine- meaning nothing gets done right!
COUPS occur in Ghana because anytime you resist change, you work against change, you pretend like things can stay the same, you fall behind, and unable to cope with simple solutions for the rest of the society. Disparity widens in income and wealth so that a few live well and the majority cannot cope! And of course with defects in character (selfishness, greed, lack of discipline and enforcement of laws, etc) the exhibition of ostentatious lifestyles comes in. All it takes is a few soldiers who have access to some hallucinating drugs and can't take it anymore, and then you have a disaster! If not, sometimes civil strife leading to wars as being waged in Kenya and has occurred in many other African countries! This also occurred in the 1700s in France, USA and so forth. Are the educated Ghanaian learning? No!!
President Kufuor has been a major disappointment to most people. Many would agree that he and the staff around him have set the precedence for instability in Ghana and nobody can be blamed but J.A. Kufuor and the NPP executives.
Our culture and system simply does not have a means for complaint and redress of issues. There is nothing anybody has not done to express dissatisfaction at the spending habits of Mr. Kufuor, and yet he keeps imposing heavy taxes and spending the money. He went ahead and borrowed $50 million for a renovation of an existing Presidential mansion that could have been built for perhaps $5 million. Now $37 million for a private jet! without much public debate. Ghana is in debt at $7.1 billion now, according to the governor of the Bank of Ghana!!! Our total GDP was recorded as $8 billion in 2006/7 and 78.5% of our people live under $2 per day and 97 per 1,000 die under age 5, mostly due to malaria and water borne diseases.
The most dangerous thing for a leader to do is surround himself with intelligent-sounding educated fools who are afraid of him. Presidential advisers such as Kwadwo Mpiani, Andrew Awuni and former spokesperson Kwabena Adjapong are good examples. When Kufuor is one day called to answer for his stewardship of Ghana, nobody should forget the advisers also. A Ghanaian proverb suggests a fool is one on whose scrotum one can step twice. After what Ghana had gone through in the last 42 years, the last thing any person would wish on Ghana would be a military coup. However, our leaders like Kufuor don’t learn and our system has no means for stopping a mad President! Rawlings set a bad precedence with a rotten constitution, and Kufuor has taken it to the next rotten level. People complain but the President does not care!
Now you know why military coups occur in Ghana and most African nations end up imploding into chaos, war and disaster.