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03.09.2020 Feature Article

#PluckingFeatherlessChicken 2.0

File: A health worker checks the temperature of a traveller as part of the coronavirus screening procedure at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra.
LISTEN SEP 3, 2020
File: A health worker checks the temperature of a traveller as part of the coronavirus screening procedure at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra.

It appears that the Government of Ghana (GoG) didn’t hear our Elders’ admonition that we do not pluck fatherless chickens.

Yesterday, it announced that it will charge US$150 for testing for COVID-19. No exception was made for stranded citizens who have been financially-ravaged by the pandemic that caught all of us unaware.

The GoG is charging $150 even though the experts at the Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research said that the cost should not be higher than $20. “On the $150 fee to be borne by passengers, Dr. Bonney said the prices should averagely cost “between $10 to about $20.”

He believes the $150 charge may have been arrived at following the consideration of administrative cost among other auxiliary items associated with the test.” - Dr. Kofi Bonney, Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research - https://www.myjoyonline.com/news/national/noguchi-clashes-with-government-over-cost-of-antigen-test/

This is sad.

Relative to its population, Ghana ranks very high (second in Africa) in terms of Diasporan remittances. - “Nigeria, which has a sizable diaspora across the world, is by far the largest recipient of remittance flows with $23.8 billion in 2019 followed by Ghana ($3.5 billion) and Kenya ($2.8 billion). In South Sudan, remittances of $1.3 billion accounted for 34% of its GDP, the highest in the region.” - https://qz.com/africa/1844973/world-bank-remittances-to-africa-to-plunge-by-a-quarter/

I produced a TV Programme, “Abrokyire Abrabo” which aims at chronicling the lives of Ghanaians in the Diaspora, especially in Europe.

One thing that most Ghanaians abroad express with bitterness is the lack of appreciation by both society and relations they struggle hard to support. Stories of being fleeced by friends and relations they trusted are rife, very rife. Watch an episode here: http://alaye.biz/videos/abrokyire-abrabo-episode-1/

Unfortunately, the TV stations in Ghana were interested only in programmes devoted to dancing, drinking and fornicating or speaking in tongues.

Not only do they get shunned by relations in times of personal crises, but Diasporan Ghanaians also lamented the lack of appreciation by their government. They generally point to the startling case of tourism, which contributes far less to the national economy than their remittances, getting a full ministry while all they get was a desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.

I took this issue up with Madam Hannah Tetteh when she was the Foreign Minister in an interview for the New African magazine.

Here was our exchange:

Question no 14. Minister, successive governments have paid what could be described as lip service to the question of the Ghanaian Diaspora. This is a very huge talent of highly educated men and women the country could tap into to fast-track her developmental agenda. What are you going to do regarding the Ghanaian Diaspora?

Ans: I honestly do not believe that Ghanaians in the Diaspora are entitled to any special dispensation.

What we shall try to do as a government is to try and create a viable environment for every Ghanaian, irrespective of where they reside, to realise his or her full potentials.

I also have heard the Diasporan clamour to be given certain entitlements because they said that they have helped with remittances and such.

I don’t think that citizens are entitled to special treatment based on remittances that were sent to mainly family members and for their personal expenses.

However, what is important is to engage with them to see how an appropriate means for them to be able to contribute to national development could be arrived at.

What I think is that it is very important to engage with them, and have a structured dialogue to see how best this can be done.

I think that there can be incentives for them in return for direct contributions to national development and progress. They could do this by contributing with the skills they have acquired.

I am not at all against incentives that make it interesting and worth their while to contribute more formally and directly to our growth and development. It would make a world of difference!

For instance, if some of our medical professionals outside could be encouraged to come and work in our hospitals from time to time and make it possible for people to have specialist medical care, and for that to happen the terms of this kind of assistance/contribution would have to be defined, and the incentives to be given must be clear.

This is not the only area where I think Ghanaians in the diaspora can contribute; it is just an example.

This kind of arrangement can only be arrived at through a process of dialogue/discussion and agreement and that is what I meant by I would be having an “engagement” with Ghanaians in the diaspora on this matter.

I just don’t believe that the basis for any special consideration should be remittances to friends and family. Read it here: http://alaye.biz/interview-with-minister-hanna-tetteh/

Diasporan Ghanaians do not ask for the moon, not even a spacesuit. All that they clamor for is recognition for their immense contribution to the development of their country.

Fẹ̀mi Akọmọlàfẹ́

September 2, 2020

Femi Akomolafe
Femi Akomolafe, © 2020

The author has 236 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: FemiAkomolafe

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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