Some Ghanaians have asked why we need another NGO in Ghana, and I hereby respond with our Press Release issued on the inauguration of the first re-election of a civilian President.
Many have realized the need for some specific actions to make our democracy work, and to attract job creating opportunities; but there is no civil organization or NGO in Ghana now which wants to, or seems to have the ability to take matters into the realm of implementation, and ask: How can we change the system as it is? Most of these NGOs are funded by foreign nations and Embassies, and understandably may be prohibited from taking the government on where gross negligence is obvious. Most NGOs are merely platforms for lectures and panel discussions. I even saw one NGO with the name of ?Mosquitoes? in East Legon, but nobody is trying to get the government to curb the spread of Malaria from the mosquito. 200,000 children are born with deficiencies or die each year in Africa, according to a conference report cited on Ghanaweb of August 9, 2004, due to the malaria. Estimates of at least 5,000 of these are Ghanaian babies. Malaria tablets alone can be estimated at close to $200 million, creating jobs in some Western nations and impoverishing Ghana and the African nations. Leadership on problem-solving seems to be the missing ingredient.
Unfortunately, the people of Ghana are suffering far more than any of our elitist dialogues reveal. This writer?s analysis showed that food, water, electricity, and phone bills are higher than in California and most of the US, and the small percentage who have jobs in Ghana don?t make a fraction of the income, even if living with family homes. Talk of poverty reduction is noting but talk! This writer was in Ghana for three good months in the Summer of 2004, and issued many reports whiles studying the society, and living with the people as much as I can claim to do. From the city suburbs of Accra such as Madina, Adenta and Ashalley-Botwe, to the villages of Hwee-Hwee beyond the lovely areas of Abetifi and the Kwahu mountains, I got down on the ground to see how people really live. I found out how the people we left behind get water, how they struggle to live by open stinky gutters and sell their goods in the cities. I took many pictures, of men forced to urinate at open areas even at government tax collection offices where one day?s collection of fees could build a public lavatory, but the government would not care. I took pictures of policemen collecting bribes at barriers but did not care about the 3hour traffic delays. I went to the offices of Ghana Water at district, regional and national levels. I went to Abose Okai and saw how people struggle to compete at the global level on discarded parts from Europe and the West.
Many asked me what we overseas can do with those who are settled in Ghana after living overseas, and those who never went overseas. This is my analysis and the result of my shared story, culminating in the formation of an NGO, GHANA LEADERSHIP UNION, Inc., to see what we can all do to help shape and rebuild our democracy using the rule of Law and not a gun. Please read and share:
January 6, 2005
Press Release issued by President - Kwaku A. Danso
Introducing Ghana Leadership Union, Inc. (GLU) To The Public
MAKING DEMOCRACY WORK EFFECTIVELY TO SERVE THE PEOPLE:There comes a time in every nation?s life when men and women of goodwill have to make sacrifices to take their destiny in their own hands, and demand to lift their people out of an apparent quagmire to higher levels of achievement. Many in our society do not see where hope lies for us as individuals or as a people. Oftentimes there seems to be nobody to appeal to for help except to religion and the unknown. Ghana was born as an independent nation almost half a century ago. Today, after four Republics and four coups, we lag behind others who gained their independence long after we did. Sadly, our performance leaves a lot to be desired. Our situation calls for an urgent need for all of us to demand a more effective management and leadership of our nation. We are too far behind, and we need to stop making excuses for ourselves, and try to catch up with our contemporaries in other parts of the world. This calls for a sense of purpose with absolute discipline, sacrifices from all, and accountability to sustain our democracy. It calls for leadership. To promote these values and to foster prudent management of our national affairs, a new Non-Governmental Organisation, known as the Ghana Leadership Union(GLU) has been born. Ghana Leadership Union (GLU) is a non-profit, non-partisan, humanitarian organization dedicated to bringing real meaning, responsibility and accountability to the concept of democracy in Ghana.
Ghana Leadership Union, Inc. became a Tax-Exempt Non-stock US corporation on November 30, 2004. GLU is duly registered in the United States of America with Tax Id.# D10328698, and is also presently being incorporated in Ghana. Registration in the USA and the tax-exempt status allows members in the Diaspora to make tax-deductible contributions. Ghanaians and well-wishers in the Diaspora are therefore encouraged and welcome to join us to work harder to make ?our-homeland? (Ghana) a better place to live. In this regard, we extend the ?olive branch? to all to feel comfortable to donate their talents and or money to support the Ghana Leadership Union?s vision of contributing to the building and reshaping of Ghana.
The Essence of GOVERNMENT ?A National Problem:
The essence of government in any organization is for he provision of common services such as roads, sewage, shared utilities and security. Our past government officials may have taken the people for granted, perhaps partly due to fear of gun-toting rulers, or the awesome power of civilian leaders and/or corrupt Chiefs. None of us older folks should ever forget these things about our past era and the mistakes made by our leadership. The time has come for us all to resolve that never again shall our nationals? toil and sweat result only in a pittance. People live and sell their goods near filthy and mosquito ridden stinky gutters at home and at the market places, while a group of inner-core elites, elected or appointed to deal with these issues, seem to take them for granted and seek their own interests. Most ethnic Chiefs, it appears, collect land revenue, but have no clearly defined responsibility, nobody to account to, and hardly do anything for the development of those lands. Corrupt ?educated? government land officials are happy to collude, sit on paperwork, and keep our nation behind, only for personal gain. These self-centered behaviors must stop! Never again must we accept this!
GLU is fully conscious of the fact that nothing is free in life, and determined to demand of our leaders to provide the basic necessities of life for our people to live decently once they pay their fair share of taxes as citizens. GLU is dedicated to championing the cause of the ordinary citizenry of Ghana, the poor as well as the rich, so that we can all live relatively well like people in other parts of the world. Poor roads, stinky gutters, mosquitoes, bottleneck traffic, poor communication lines, affect all, and nobody can escape these inconveniences. We want to ensure that ?Public-Sector? leadership in Ghana assumes responsibility and demonstrate open and verifiable accountability through adequately informed, realistic and transparent approach to budgeting and prudent spending. We want to see respect for the people, sincere and professional problem diagnoses, quality standards, work auditing on contracts, and an entrenchment of the rule of law. It is our passion to work with like-minded individuals and organizations to restore dignity, integrity, and sincere commitment in government towards the greater good of Ghana. Just as we did in 1957, Ghana must act as a beacon of light to the rest of Africa as a whole.
OUR VISION and GOALS:The vision of GLU, among others, is to use the rule of law to first challenge ourselves as a people to higher levels of performance and standard of living, within our means, as an independent nation. We want to bring to justice those who abuse their powers. We want to share and utilize our collective global knowledge and skills to serve our people, and use the legal system to demand of ?public-sector leadership? (both politicians, civil servants and traditional authorities /Chiefs) to perform their duties as required of them. It is our prayer that in the interest of the common-property (Mother-Ghana), reason will prevail in government at all levels of operation (National/ Regional/ District/ Local) to strengthen the necessary public institutions that will ensure real checks and balances in all branches of government. It is our hope that pragmatic leadership and management decisions will require the decentralization of power to enable and empower rural and local self-determination as the cornerstone of our democracy and economic growth.
The goals and objectives of the Association are to:
1. Take a leadership role in pushing for political and social reforms in the proper management and accountability of the nation and national resources.
2. Support dynamic change efforts in our society towards national development through proper utilization of our combined global skills and talent in public service.
3. Seek administrative justice for all citizens through pushing for equitable distribution of revenues and social development in all areas of the nation.
4. Develop and nurture leadership talent of the youth across the nation in preparation for a better Ghana.
5. Help educate Ghanaian youth and adults to take leadership initiative in community affairs towards societal development in Ghana and in whatever country they happen to reside.
6. Encourage our people to be self-confident, be responsible citizens, active in civic affairs, and stand up for ethics and social justice, and to protect our environment.
7. Lobby for Legislative Changes in Ghana?s political landscape towards Justice and Equity for all in Ghana.
8. Help channel support and resources from the Diaspora to help in the socio economic and technical development of Ghana, and to help Ghana make its rightful contribution to the world economy and body of knowledge.
9. Support the efforts of people of integrity for public office throughout all districts in Ghana.
10. Act as a catalyst and platform for investment capital towards the development of towns, districts and regions of Ghana using a supportive and enhanced self- empowered strategy.
Founding members as well as supporters of Ghana Leadership Union simply want to contribute their part in Ghana?s evolving history. We will not accept mediocrity anymore, and we hereby invite all men and women who share our aspirations for a better Ghana to join us on this path into history. We believe that by making our voices heard as responsible citizens our leaders will return us the honour and courtesy by putting the plight and needs of the people of Ghanaian first. We believe that our leaders will stop and deeply reflect, and not be so insensitive and impudent to write checks for themselves, travel as they please, and accumulate other personal gains. They must be made aware, if they are not, that thousands in a whole generation of young people can?t even be admitted to our top schools and universities because they can?t get a place to sleep or to study. Whole communities or towns don?t have water even when they get bills and are willing to pay for water. Are the moneys from the central coffers adequately and justifiably being spent to serve the people?
THE MORAL CHALLENGE:These are the moral challenges we face as a group of human beings on this earth, in this modern age. GLU, for example, is concerned about what the leadership of the country is doing about dirty stinky gutters that breed mosquitoes and the concomitant malaria and other diseases known to claim hundreds of lives each year. GLU is equally concerned about corruption in officialdom, rapidly declining public educational standards, deteriorating social and moral fibre of a once-caring and benevolent African society. We want to know why government still continues to maintain some archaic, unreasonable and irrational state procedures and regulations. Example why should some forms be typed in quadruplicate or eight-plicate in this modern age of copy machines? Why are we unable to have land registration done in one day in this age of computers? Why have our banking and financial services refused to change and adapt. Why should every Bank or major company have to have their own power plant (and hence extra costs passed on to consumers), because government is unable to deliver basic electricity? We are deeply grieved by the apparent lack of real incentives in the system for productive and entrepreneurial activity, and much more concerned with government or private telephone, electricity and utility companies levying unreasonably excessive charges, even more than obtainable in the Western nations where average labour costs are over twenty times that of our people.
Our People Overseas: Ghana has invested billions of dollars in higher education since Independence, and we have an estimated 2-3 million of our people overseas. They support the economy, at an estimated 30-50% of current GNP. Ghana Leadership Union is very concerned about the plight of hundreds of thousands people overseas who on their return home, are forced by situations on the ground to compromise their ethical standards and sometimes have to bribe port officials to clear their goods for instance. We are concerned about the disgraceful suspicion that our fellow Ghanaian port officials have of our people returning home, leading to arbitrarily high and speculative vehicle and property valuations, ignoring authentic and easily verifiable receipts in this information age when the Internet could be used to do this. Ghanaians work hard overseas, and it is a painful insult in any part of the world to start suspecting people, without proof, especially many of these professionals who are accountants, doctors, engineers, nurses, university professors, or simply hard working decent Ghanaians. We are also worried that government officials are enriching themselves at the expense of extortion of money from poor Ghanaians returning home after a journey, and the executive, our law makers and the Judiciary branches of government, all seem to have no clue about this daylight robbery nor how to resolve this issue.
The Challenge of Finance: The Ghana Leadership Union, like any other non-profit organization, cannot survive without financial support. The founders have as of November 2004, made substantial personal financial commitment, and we invite and appreciate contributions from all like-minded individuals and organizations who share a similar passion for justice and the rule of law. Ghana is OUR country, and together we can all salvage it and work to make the place as decent as any we (including most of our leaders) have found it overseas. Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and other pre-colonized nations, overcame the initial post-colonial handicaps, surmounted the entry barriers into modern civilization, and are now considered by many as full mature members of the world economic society. So too can we! However, to effect change takes sacrifices, of time, money and effort. Those of us who are blessed and can afford it need to put some money behind our talk, and push hard to institute discipline, reforms, and change in our culture from the focus on immediate personal gain and ethnocentricity, to the concept of community sharing, responsibility, and nation building. (Contributors can also deduct this from their tax returns as legitimate contribution to a worthy cause).
FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS:GLU believes that after almost 50 years of independence, at least all Ghanaians have the right to good drinking water, stable electricity and telephone line. We are not asking for this free from the heavens, but at least, as a society, we must be able to have this planned, managed, and delivered by a body of representatives called ?government?. This is the least we can do to seek entry into today?s global arena, and call ourselves members of the civilized world. Our people have travelled and worked all over the globe. They have demonstrated their smartness, and can compete globally with any, as many of our citizens have done overseas in the last half-century. However, our leadership seems weak, lacks self-confidence to achieve, and are self-centred. We cannot afford to be the object of ridicule in the world anymore, whiles our South East Asian counterparts who travelled the same colonial path as we did have, to a large extent, dis-entangled themselves from poverty to reach relatively high economic and social levels. For example, in 1959, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore came to Ghana and consulted with our first Prime Minister Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. He took some ideas from Ghana, implemented them with discipline, personal integrity and sacrifice. Today, in only 40 years, Singapore can boast of a GDP per capita income which risen from the 1960s value of around US$400 to today?s value of about $23,000 (whiles Ghana is still around $400). Singapore ranks higher than Britain and the USA on the international index of corruption by Transparency International. It is the absolute conviction of the GLU that we can equally get there with visionary committed leadership and direction. Nobody, and absolutely nobody, should therefore think, or try to convince us, that the best Ghana can do is to settle for and grow plantain and cassava!
We see no justification for several expensive bullet-proof cars, unjustified increase in travel per diem allowances, as well as $20,000 un-repayable car loans for politicians and parliamentarians at this time of our country's history. Our leaders have not delivered an admirable increased economic gain, increased nationwide infrastructural systems, nor added much value to our society to justify raising their allowances and benefits. Even today, many Ghanaians cannot get the basic necessities of life such as good drinking water. Ghanaian administration has still not learnt the simple art and science of land title registration, needed to make land a major resource capital as done elsewhere. Are the last fifty years of formal education not adequate for us to register land in one day? Our people have had enough of this disgrace. GLU is calling on all lovers of human rights, and patriotic Ghanaians, to join us to demand from our leaders, in the strongest possible terms, to use the loans, as well as inland revenues to create a better Ghana.
PUBLIC LOANS and DEBTS:All nations borrow for development. However responsible leadership implies a plan to pay back the loans from the outcome of the investment for which the loan was procured. Our society has so far failed in that. GLU wants the government to aim and plan to pay the off every loan from the projects for which they were incurred, and not leave posterity with huge loans with 10 year grace periods. Government collects revenues through personal income taxes, property taxes, mineral rights endowments, port duties and taxes, levies on water, phone and electricity bills, service charges, and more. We should be able to account for that money, distribute this among the regions and districts, and budget with whatever we have. We should be able to plan and build durable roads, sewage systems, basic backbone communication lines, and deliver water plan for water distribution.
We should be able to do this if our leaders will stop treating public funds as their own. We are a small country, but have multiple digit percentage taxes, port duties and large Value added taxes (VAT) on goods that are not even made in Ghana. The people deserve nothing less than the best in modern infrastructures (water, electricity, and telephone backbone systems), education and health delivery systems, to provide for current and future security as well as prospects and opportunities for posterity. GLU believes Ghana's survival does not rest on foreign loans alone, but on proper management, responsible budgeting, financial discipline, and honest accountability within government. We need to learn to plan, manage and budget on our rich natural and human resources. Our leaders must learn to sacrifice a little for the sake of future generation.
The founders, the executives and all supporters and well wishers of GLU want to see a nation where the rule of law prevails, and honest self-appraisal with integrity and accountability works. Essentially, we wish our nation?s leadership to use our considerable collective global skills and experiences, gained since political Independence, to push our society for positive self-determined change in every way possible. However, we shall also challenge the establishment to overcome inertia and the status quo, and desist from archaic and counterproductive business-as-usual practices. Effective immediately, GLU will start actions on behalf of the people using our existing legal system in Ghana, to demand these necessary changes in our society, and demand basic services from our leaders. No one will dare or attempt to stop us, because we shall not relent to see in practice, not by words, the establishment of good governance, delivery of public service, and the demonstration of administrative justice and accountability in public life.
Long live Ghana. Long live Ghana Leadership Union, and God bless us all.
For questions, and/or membership information, contact:
President - Kwaku A. Danso, Fremont, California, USA & East Legon, Accra, Ghana Tel. 510-440-8383 (USA) 021-517-206 (Ghana). Email: email@example.com
Vice President - Dr. Eric Sekyere, Sydney, Australia Tel. 612-9837-0407. Email: ESekyere@ccia.unsw.edu.au
Hon. Secretary ? Okyere Bonna, Waxhaw, North Carolina, USA Tel.704-243-1769 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hon. Treasurer - Kwasi Kissi, New York City, USA & East Airport, Accra, Ghana Tel. 718-538-4177 Email: email@example.com
Hon. Assistant Secretary - Anthony Williams, Ellicott City, MD, USA & Accra, Ghana Tel. 020-824-6732 /0244-057566 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
MEMBERS OF THE FOUNDING COMMITTEE:Kwabena Barima Antwi, Bradford,UK & Cape Coast,Ghana. K.B.Antwi@Bradford.ac.uk
Kwame Tuffuor, Alexandria, Virginia, USA. email@example.com
Kwaku Osei Bonsu, Dallas, Texas, USA. ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. David Puplampu, MD, Fremont, CA.,USA & East Legon/Accra,Ghana. email@example.com
Dr. Kwabena Ayesu, MD, Orlando, Florida, USA. Ayesuk@bellsouth.net
Sam Twerefour, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA. Sam.Twerefour@aei.com
Yaw Opong, Winter Garden, Florida, USA. Yawboye@aol.com
Dr. Kwaku Osafo, East Legon, Accra, Ghana. Kosafo2000@yahoo.com
Henry Siaw, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. '"Henry Siaw"'