With barely 3 months till we go to the polls it is apparent that there are indeed many versions of Ghana at issue. Some of them will be affected by the results of the polls but most will not be impacted by the chorus of promises which count for campaigning.
The Ghana I experience often is one of a man who travels many miles to get medical care for his pregnant wife or a mother with a sick young child neither of whom can afford simple medications because they have to choose between food, transportation back home or the cost of suggested treatments by nurses and doctors who may not have been paid for months themselves.
Or it may be workers hired to do a job who though keen, are so poorly trained or prepared, that one wonders where to begin. We read articles daily in which the writers cannot distinguish between “bothering and bordering” or tell the difference between “formerly and formally” or “park and pack” or “perks and pecks” or write “death ears instead of deaf ears” etc. With all this going, on our leaders say we are making progress because they are building roads. These roads are built with borrowed funds and usually riddled with kickbacks for party hacks.
Good leadership is about building societies with good and sustainable values. To this end, I was most gratified in reading that Prof. Ama Ata Aidoo had walked out of an event at Legon apparently because her name had been wrongly spelt on the event program. Someone is finally standing up to the tyranny of illiteracy and mediocrity in Ghana. It’s about time. Ya br?!
According to UNESCO, we supposedly have a literacy rate of 76% but what do we read and what is written? Gone are the days when a primary school child would pick up a national daily like the Daily Graphic to improve their language skills. Today this paper and others are routinely riddled with grammatical and other errors. Cameron Duodu where are you? This year’s West Africa Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) results had 53%, 33% and 48% of students passing English, Math and Science respectively. The Education Ministry called it an improvement. No cause for alarm. Only 53% obtained 5 credits or more. Roughly 25% of students failed “in toto.” This calls for serious analysis devoid of political noise. We are failing to prepare our youth for the future ahead of them. We need to accept the reality, find the root causes of the problem and develop a comprehensive plan based on data, not emotions, to turn things around in short order.
Our cities are increasingly filthy because we have no guiding or overarching national sanitation and waste management strategy that is uniformly implemented and evaluated at the local level. The superficial gimmicky monthly sanitation days have died an expected natural death. Poor sanitation is central to most of our health problems in Ghana.
Our oceans are full of plastic waste, destroying the natural ecology of sea life. We say we are a tourist destination. Who wants to spend leisure time on a beach that is a glorified rubbish dump? Plastic waste clogs our drains and our cities flood every raining season with untold deaths but we are told that things are good and we should rejoice. Cholera is now endemic in our country, yet all is well. There is no strategic long range structural urban planning going on and there are no laws enforced to guide the expansion of our towns and cities, yet all is well.
We are illiterate both in English and in our own native languages. Is “Montie” an Akan word? “Listen” is spelt “Muntie” in Akan as our Fanti teacher the late Egya Brew taught us in Augusco, while we were learning English, French and Latin concurrently. Is education no longer a prerequisite for any job?
Some guy who has not made a sound in parliament for years is nominated by our president as a Deputy Minister and he is taken seriously. Ok. Maybe he was the best man for the job. That says a great deal about the person making the nomination also.
Three talking heads actually threaten judges and the Chief Justice who happens to be a woman with rape and the Attorney- General does nothing, so the judiciary is forced to act. They are lawfully tried and sentenced and Ghanaians immediately start begging. What is wrong with us? A whole song and dance goes on with members of the government who are supposed to serve all Ghanaians, signing a partisan petition to have them freed. These ministers included women. What were they thinking? What was their message on the rights of women?
Oh, the president has the prerogative to commute their sentences, so why not? Let them out! All doctors know how to make people die, so should they exercise their knowledge also? Soldiers are armed so should they go shooting? Of course not! We are all guided by rules, regulations and laws but more importantly by good judgement. Those in leadership positions are expected to foster a culture of sound decision making.
They were released on compassionate grounds. Really? Were they dying from terminal illnesses? The judges would have considered all mitigating factors. If they had not, I would have expected a 12 month sentence. For publicly threatening murder and rape with impunity on the airwaves? The judges were kind and the president could have shown more wisdom in his leadership.
So the campaign is on. The opposition have a one district- one factory program, a one village – one dam program, etc. I wish we were more realistic. Saying that an industry or focus of commerce will be identified and promoted for every district would be more realistic. Some may have assets in tourism, health, education, agriculture etc. around which economic development can be supported. We do not need a factory in every district. The global economy has shifted towards the role of technology in the management of knowledge and information in the service of many industries. Our plans for economic production must at a minimum be regionally focused since the ECOWAS market of 335 million is one third of the population of sub-Saharan Africa and about 50% of the population of the European Union.
The political tools that citizens need to stem the high tide of daylight robbery by those in authority, like the Right to Information Bill, continue to languish somewhere in parliament. The opposition couldn’t even get a hearing on the floor of the house for the Ford Expedition palaver. The Speaker failed in his non- partisan role and diminished the value of house by his actions. There is no moral courage to do what is right.
A few short months ago, the Bureau of National Intelligence (BNI) took some South African security experts brought in by the NPP to court. The judge granted them bail and the BNI operatives simply “kidnapped” the suspect and left the courthouse with them, ignoring the judge’s ruling. The Attorney – General said nothing. The president certainly did not recognize the miscarriage of justice nor did the Ghana Bar Association. So, a culture of lawlessness and impunity is being nurtured and fostered by this NDC administration and the appropriate professional body also does not assert itself.
Even “younger” nations have their overseas citizens registered and voting during their elections and we are still not there yet but we are making great progress.
Watching Rio 2016 was very painful because we were not relevant. I longed for the days when Ghana surely would win medals in soccer, track and field and boxing. We need to get serious. If we are planning to compete in, rather than attend Tokyo 2020, we should start finding sponsors to support the training of our promising athletes now. There are also so many other sports we should be developing and competing in but these have to be nurtured and supported from the ground up through the dying academic system.
We have everything we need but are wanting for selfless, honest and wise leadership. God has already blessed our homeland Ghana a hundred times over and we have no oppressors ruling us but ourselves.
The choices are clear. More of the same, something slightly different or something radically different.