By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
July 9, 2016
Not to be unnecessarily regionally biased or ethnocentric, but if President John Dramani Mahama, while “accounting to the people” in any of the regions outside of his northern territorial strongholds, had made the same grossly untutored remarks that he is widely reported to have made about the political opponents of Ghana’s first postcolonial premier, he would have been promptly and pointedly set aright and put to shame. And if he were a very responsible and cultured leader he, rather, would have had to apologize and ask for the forgiveness of Nkrumah’s political opponents (See “Shame on Nkrumah Critics – Mahama” Classfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 7/9/16).
Let me put this on record, once again, for the umpteenth time, that absolutely no major Ghanaian opposition leader opposed the construction of the Akosombo Dam. If Mr. Mahama really cares to know exactly what transpired in the Legislative Assembly debates on the issue of the Volta River Project or Scheme, he would do himself and his minions great good by reading Dr. David Apter’s book titled Ghana In Transition. The author, who died not very long ago, was a professor at Princeton University, right here in the United States, who was visiting Ghana and present in Parliament House, collecting research material for his book, at the time that these debates took place.
Indeed, about the only objections raised regarding the construction of the Akosombo Dam was the prohibitive cost involved, over which quite a remarkable number of academic papers and dissertations have already been written and published and continue to be written and published on the same subject. You see, Kwame Nkrumah and his politically cynical followers and supporters had a way of making any political opponent who was opposed to some of their extravagant and profligate ways seem like a nation-wrecker. I have personally written quite extensively about the controversy surrounding the construction of the Akosombo Dam. And so if he or any of his supporters and followers care, they could readily Google the subject of the “Akosombo Dam” and my name up. I have also generously referenced my sources, and so they need not worry about the reliability of my account.
We need to also highlight the fact that a lot of far-reaching progressive projects were being undertaken in the country, with the studious and intimate involvement of many Ghanaian leaders as far back as the colonial era before the future Prime Minister Nkrumah appeared on our national political landscape, including the construction, development and administration of the country’s flagship academy, the University of Ghana. We must also underscore the fact that both contemporary and latter-day economists have assessed the cost involved in the construction of the Akosombo Dam by the standards of the time and still believe that the country had been slavishly exploited in the process.
On the latter count, Dr. J. B. Danquah, the putative Doyen of Gold Coast and Modern Ghanaian Politics is on record as having argued for some of Ghana’s foreign exchange reserves stashed in British banks to be tapped to undertake the construction of the dam, thereby drastically reducing the cutthroat rate of interest demanded by the creditors of the Convention People’s Party’s poorly negotiated contract with the Kaiser family (See L. H. Ofosu-Appiah’s The Life and Times of Dr. J. B. Danquah). To add insult to injury, the Kaiser family, owners of the Volta Aluminum Plant/Company (VALCO), located in the country’s industrial hub of Tema, would be allotted about 80-percent of the energy generated at Akosombo at the cheapest of the globally going rates for some three decades, at the expense of Ghana’s rapid industrial development. In other words, the Akosombo Dam ended up enriching the members of the Kaiser family of California by causing the virtual enslavement of Ghanaian workers for some thirty years, after which the decidedly exhausted Volta Aluminum Plant was handed over to the Ghana government.
On the construction of the Accra-Tema Motorway, what we need to be presently discussing regards the fact of why after 30 years of wielding the reins of governance, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and its antecedent, the Rawlings-led Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), has done a diddly little to upgrade the general quality of roads in the country to the level of the Accra-Tema Motorway, and not the frivolous question of who raised Cain in parliament at the time of the construction of the ATM, or who among the members of the opposition vehemently objected to the construction of the project.
It is very obvious that the President and his NDC Abongo Boys and Girls have achieved a piddling little that is worth “accounting to the people” about, which is why Mr. Mahama would so lamely and scandalously resort to rehashing dead news to justify his patently wasteful self-tickling electioneering campaign tour of the country.
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs