14.02.2003 Feature Article

Ghana: So far, So Good.

Ghana: So far, So Good.
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Though economic manifestations are extensively used in measuring a country’s health vis-à-vis what people are going through to ensure better life, it is also true that every economic reality in the present should be linked to past economic management/mismanagement. When governments take it upon themselves to develop economies, they do so in the light of the past, they either continue old policies or nurture new ones. The crucial role of every government, even the bad ones, is to serve the people, maintain the rule of law, ensuring that the rights of the people are not debased. This system of belief is deeply rooted in Ghana. As to whether all governments follow the status quo is subjective. At the moment, many people in Ghana are going through hard times, most of them, finding it difficult to feed themselves in the midst of a bumper harvest. In the same way, many people have accepted the challenge to improve themselves, being innovative, looking for new genuine ways to be financially sound, and to live comfortably. Many Ghanaians eat well too, go to “Maame Agbomo” in Tema, it depends on the size of your pocket. During a recent visit to Ghana, my grandmother whispered: “This is not new to Ghanaians, even during the days of Osagyefo people went through this, things were not all that easy, there is no easy way to better life, there is no short-cut”. She concluded with a popular Ghanaian parlance -“Obe Ye Yie” (It would be alright) For the first time in decades, many people in Ghana are now poised for better things ahead, looking into the future with determination, thinking about what is missing in terms of goods and services, and how they can breakthrough. Others are also looking for ways to satisfy the middle-income citizen who is yearning for quality and safety, both at home and work. This means, people who would be innovative and rise to these demands can be winners. There is also an emerging force, of people who are not myopic in the way they analyze government performance, the harsh but necessary economic policies notwithstanding. They are people who think and talk about what the future holds for them. Most of them believe economic independence is not achieved in a jiffy, they say, it requires time and patience. Well-rounded Ghanaians, some of them from opposing political parties confess in private, that there is a new air of freedom blowing around them, of humble gains in the economy, a government which is closer to the people. The atmosphere for innovation, the right ingredients for human growth and survival are all present in Ghana. What is missing - the desire to make use of the opportunities embedded in the system. The NPP government is not the best government Ghana has ever had, but the qualities of a good government subsist in it. Like every government, the NPP has its shortfalls; it cannot claim infallibility, but it is not performing badly. Economic and political structures taking shape in the country gives hope for the future. A government with its “ears” wide open, and ready to adjust policies for the benefit of the people. The agitations for political change took a long time to see fruition; the same can be said of the change that people are expecting. Massive schemes of the present government are too conspicuous to close the eyes to, even a periodic visitor to Ghana would notice. Some people have “good eyes “, but have closed them to all the good things going on. The collective problem facing Ghana at present is lack of a desire to work hard, indiscipline, fast-track to better life, a country full of humor as in “HIPC junction - referring to Prersident kufuor, Boom junction -referring to ex-President Rawlings, and “Aposkeleke”- a signal to use money judiciously. On a serious note, people are full of complaints, always asking: “What is government doing about this, or that? When you ask them what they are doing to improve themselves, listen to the answers: “I am trying to leave for the States, or London. I am also considering a move to Germany or Canada”. “The government says it would create jobs, I am waiting for the jobs promised”. “I do not want to hold a cutlass, I would have gone into farming”, among others. The many lies people propagate about the government abroad were found to be untrue. For instance, there is an aura of hope surrounding the good works of the POLICE, thanks to the Kufuor administration, though some policemen and women still take bribes. Equipping the POLICE is just one of the “goodies”, the joy we can all share, that our homeland is peaceful and safe.They are doing a good job. There have been some rapid structural changes, some are ongoing, but attitudinal/behavioral change has been slow. In an agricultural country like Ghana where people are not tapping government assistance to establish small-scale and large-scale farms to improve their incomes. In a country where people are just waiting for government to put money into their pockets, we need the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to deliver us.But all is not lost. Today’s Ghana is also a country of many social commentators , who parade at television “morning shows” and radio interviews, commenting on issues they have no authority on. Perhaps, we should thank the government for making it possible for people to express themselves freely in the midst of all these difficulties. Hitherto, it was a taboo, a culture of silence. There is hope for the future, a new (is two years plus new?) government that must be given time to govern in line with the trust bestowed upon it through the ballot box. Fair judgment and careful analysis of political and economic trends for just over two years, may not be enough, as the nation prepares for better things ahead. When I visited the homeland recently, the motif in everyday conversation with right-thinking people was that: “So far, So Good”, they were right .

This thought, undeniably, is fast gaining grounds. The author,an alumni of Rutgers University, was a former assistant at the features desk, Daily Graphic, Accra, Ghana. He now lives in Massachusetts.

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