12.02.2003 Feature Article

A Flip for Development - Part II

A Flip for Development - Part II
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(This is the continuation and the ending of the article titled above which featured some 3 weeks ago).

Nothing comes close to long term planning which is aimed at altering an immediate catastrophe. Planning is achieved from a vision scaled to mission, then goals and put on paper. The difficult part of development planning is implementation. If implementation is bad, any good plan will not survive the achievement of the set goals set. In such a case, the whole planning becomes useless until good and flexible mechanisms of checks and balances were made part of the plan. In Ghana, we have people who can plan very well. People who know the bane of the no-go mountain or a block and delusion of the path to take in our quest for a good nation and development building. Over the years, many sectors have come out with good plans. Some have been implemented and yet the black holes of bad results are always forthcoming. Never a time have we come close in achieving goals set for some of these plans. Nkrumah came up with a 5-year development plan for Ghana. Subsequent leaders did same. Recently, Mr. Kwesi Ndoum of Regional Economic Planning came up with another development plan for 10-years which is to yield good results on the paper though. Yes, this is possible. Before the plan could be implemented a former NDC flagbearer, Mr. Kwesi Botchwey winked foul. He saw the plan as hugely unachievable. Then Mr. Ndoum hit back to explain that that can be achieved. In my assessment, each of them is right. Mr. Botchwey as a former Minister of Finance is a witness to how a he was 'deceived' by IMF/World Bank to accept SAP (ESAP) for Ghana with huge financial support that failed Ghana. In fact, that was the beginning of our economic doom which has plagued us till today. He knows so well that the global economic and development terrain is so deceiving and unpredictable. As a veteran of economic chaos for Ghana he fears the further devastation of his former past to deepen Ghana's economic problems. He sees fresh and new Mr. Ndoum's plan another economic mirage in a terrain he knows little of. In another case Mr. Botchwey knows that his name shall always be attached for our economic woes until a new recovery is determined to change Ghana. This being so personal, he will fume about any attempt that will deepen the problem of our economy for now. On the other hand, Mr. Ndoum with good personal career, which has earned him recognition to be called by the NPP government from CPP to assist in development plan thinks he can handle this new attempt in salvaging our economy. Why not? He has done enough in his chosen profession to prove that he can plan and get results. This I agree with him in humility. I however join Mr. Botchwey to sing clearly the lyrics of fear in that plan. Ghanaians would have to see, read, debate and understand before any attempt is made to push another 'economic bomb' in an envelop to them. Ghanaians have stayed calm over many years to see disappointingly how our goals are mapped out with rush. Somewhere, we could have taken a firm stand by putting stakes to some of these programs and see it thrive. However, they have always been kept in the dark of what is the way forward. The people only come into the picture at some time in the implementation stage and challenged to help by anyway possible. Governments have failed woefully in doing this.

Each day, a government of the day/in political administration wants to impress with goals and turning a blind eye to the goods to the previous administration. Then the sad end is they may not be able to implement the clandestine plan they hoped they should have implemented. So when they are rather out of office, they make a lot of noise to push their mind forcing all and sundry to believe that they could have done better if Ghanaian were patient and gave them enough time. This has been the good tune all the time.

Back to the issue of culture and development (I will later in subsequent articles talk more on culture alone), any government that fails to UNDERSTAND the cultural influence in development program is bound to make little in roads. To understand culture is different from PLAYING CULTURAL POLITICS. For example, NDC and NPP in order to SIMPLY win the elections chose a vice president from the northern part of Ghana. The reason was that the Northern part of Ghana had stated that they were not vote for NDC if they did not chose a Northerner as Vice President. So the two parties in 1996 and 2000 (for NDC) elections impressed to select a vice president who comes from the north. To further win the other ethnic groups, the President Mr. Kufour appointed his cabinet to include 'all' the ethnic groups in Ghana. Honestly, this kind of system is very dangerous indeed. This is the playing of cultural politics, which in such a case hold well with post-military-turn-president where some form of dictatorship is needed to suppress other groups. One can see this kind of politics in most African countries. The end result is always a disaster when the president leaves office. Fearing this, they magically ramble thru the constitution each day to perpetuate their political dream to stay in power as Orwell describes in his book the 'animal farm'.

On the other hand, UNDERSTANDING CULTURAL POLITICS is bringing politics to the doorsteps of people of a country where citizens understand that the successes government planning and development does not matter who sails the boat. Each person and any ethnic culture has a role to play in what they do as fishermen, crop farmers, market sellers, researchers etc. What is important is to integrate all these in development at a level where they can all play a part and also to be counted of the successes. In all this, each will be respected of any kind of work and rewarded accordingly. Nkrumah had a bit of this mind. Nyerere was able to join Zanzibar and Tangayika with different cultures to become a bigger Tanzania. Mandela with his huge volumes of respect brought South Africa together. It has also been the trademark of the Asian countries of Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan etc.

The days of just assuming presidency because one has the popularity is simply outdated for the global movement for change. Some implicit radical economic plan, which is locally sustainable and implemented with iron hands are what will propel a country into the world market. Allowing borrowing institutions to dictate our fate so that we can fit in into the global market have been the huge failure of our economy and development.

I will be among the group to argue that we need assistance but we have to define what it should be. The good thing about the global village is that, all things are possible. It is possible to define what we want and have it. All it takes is good plan and management. This is where aggressive leaders are appointed to positions and act accordingly. However, the sad result in our 'local party' is that political appointees have been the preserve of brothers, sisters, class and schoolmates, tribesmen, campaign financial bankrolls, individuals who can talk and talk well (even if nonsense to protect the failures of the party and appointed leaders); redefine the police and military in their favour and lastly quickly change the Chief Justice. This kind of colonial attitude of leadership will not find Ghana a foot in the global market. Why? Our leaders are simply interested in what is around them. They do not look beyond their shoulders and so fail to recognise that we are part of a global load in a ship.

When shall we our presidents and leaders stop telling visiting leaders and out-going ambassadors that Ghana is a safe place for them to com and invest? When shall they stop roaming round everywhere to beg for investors to trot quickly to Ghana? When shall they come to realise that there are countries we are begging for help who do not even have the land we have and yet they have much and far larger population than us but also they are doing well? When shall they dream that Ghana has Gold, Bauxite, Manganese and all being madly mined and yet we are in usual funny self begging countries who tried to sustain themselves from farming oil palm trees to come and invest or give us loans? When shall they stop to insult the integrity of the hardworking individuals in Ghana and burden their ignorance with debit accounts to pay to international bullying institutions?

Simply, when shall they fail to paint Ghana (that ancient and still Gold dust country) as global beggars?

Oh, is somebody listening?

P/S: I welcome comments and criticisms.

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