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27.09.2003 Feature Article

Asemsebe - Uncensored thoughts of KSM

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Hi folks, once again, it’s Showtime! It’s time to take another look at Ghana, the country so fascinated with the past, that we choose not to move forward. Folks, it is time to look at the State of the Nation. This will be a two or three-part series and I am going to end the series by sharing with you the speech that Ghana is waiting for but unfortunately no president has as yet delivered. The real State of The Nation.

Folks, you know what the problem with Ghana is? After months of agonizing, I believe I have diagnosed the problem: WE DO NOT KNOW WHERE WE ARE!

Let me explain, my friends. Imagine that you are going to visit a friend who lives somewhere at Roman Ridge. You don’t really know the exact location, so you decide to drive to any part of Roman Ridge and give him a call to get the directions. You get to a part of Roman Ridge, and you call him.

“Kwame, I am at Roman Ridge, how do I get to your house?”

You know the first question Kwame is going to ask?

“Where exactly are you?”

You see folks, unless Kwame knows exactly where you are, it is impossible for him to give you directions. You could even be standing across his house and he still can’t give you directions. It is simple; if you do not know where you are, it is impossible to be given directions to where you are going.

The lesson here is that, even if you have a perfect road map in your hand, it will be of no use to you unless you know where you are at any given moment. When Kwame asks, “Where exactly are you” and you tell him, “Actually I don’t know,” all he can say is, “l can’t help you.” Folks, even if you have a perfect road map, it will be of no use to you unless you know where you are at every given moment.

That is the heart of the matter. In Ghana, all the parties have manifestos. (Road Maps) The fact is that, none of the manifestos will get us anywhere, no matter how good they are because we do not know where we are. The NPP has strayed away from their Road Map, because we do not know where we are as a nation.

An unknown friend of mine called HIPC Hippie asked me an interesting question: KSM, Can you tell me where we are today? Are we standing still or moving against time? The answer, my friend, is that, we are not standing still, we are moving. The only problem is that we are moving in a random, ceaseless, chaotic motion. You know why? WE DON’T KNOW WHERE WE ARE and clearly do not know where we are going, so we are spinning in circles. Take my word folks, and mark it on the wall, no party manifesto or road map can deliver us to the promised land without a thorough knowledge and a clear understanding of the true State of The Nation. (Where we are)

By the way, I am not talking about that conventional State of The Nation address where Presidents get to address Parliament. That one is nothing but a platform for the self-indulgence of the ruling party. An occasion for them to pat themselves on their backs, distort facts and claim easy victories to chants of “Yeah yeah.” They always end up assuring the nation that except for a few minor hitches and setbacks caused by external factors or the previous administration the government is on course!

The expression, the buck stops here, is not a part of the vocabulary of our Presidents. Nkrumah had the “neo-Colonialists and imperialist aggressors” to blame. The NLC and Dr. Busia had the “ruthless” Nkrumah to blame, Acheampong had “corrupt” Busia to blame, Akuffo had the “uncouth” Acheampong to blame, Jerry had the “bloodsucking” NRC/SMC to blame, Limann also had NRC/SMC to blame, Jerry came back and had “inefficient” Limann to blame, President Kufuor has taken over and has “the maniac” Jerry to blame. Whoever takes over from the “frequent flier” JAK, will deliver to him his portion of the blame! WE ARE REALLY ON COURSE.

While the blame game is going on, the quality of life is not getting any better, the economy is not registering any significant growth, the class gap is ever widening, we are not creating wealth on any significant level, we are not developing capacity, our priorities are all screwed up, the private sector is in a comatose, industries are collapsing, more and more of our youth, especially from the low income groups, are being locked out of educational opportunities! This is just to mention a few. Nonetheless come the next State of the Union, the President will tell us, that we are on course and that progress is being made. Isn’t it amazing that government is always on course and yet it is never reflected in the quality of life for the majority of the people? Makes me wonder what Ghana would really be like if we were not on course, eh?

Folks, the speech I am waiting to hear from the President, is the one that will jolt all of us into the shocking realization that we do not know where we are and, for that reason, we do not know how to get to our destination. This is free advice for JAK. Sir, take the bull by the horn (Or should I say take the elephant by the trunk?) and tell us the painful truth that we all need to know. We need a speech that will wake us up from this collective delusion that Ghana is on track. We are too eager to celebrate totally insignificant victories.

Folks, if we knew where we were, we would have noticed by now that this nation had been programmed to self-destruct. God has empowered JAK to be a unifying force in this country, but he is missing that calling. He is presiding over a very divided nation. Hostile partisan divisions, ethnic resentments, alienation of workers, and the playing of people against the workers with regard to the National Health Insurance issue. Ghana is so fragmented. Let no one allow the calm façade to fool us into complacency.

God has given JAK a brilliant opportunity to rise and shine, to leave his footprints in the sands of time. At the risk of annoying him, I am sorry to say he is missing that call. He has lost focus and his team is disoriented. If he does not take a time out and re-group, there will be a lot of regrettable miscalculations. There is one that is staring at us in the face; for want of a better word, it is the frivolous rush to score political points with the National Health Insurance Scheme. Allow me to make a quick comment on this.

Folks, we all want a National Health Insurance Scheme and we should all back any government that wants to implement it. But the fact is when you look at the four components of the health delivery chain, it is clear that the government does not have the adequate structures in place at this point to support its successful implementation. So why play politics with it? Besides, I advise against government intervention in economic activities. You see folks, Governments have a tough time governing even under the best of circumstances and the last thing it should do is to assume additional critical operational roles in the economy.

The record is clear that governments are inefficient when it came to operating businesses. A better approach is for government to spend a couple of years focusing on the creation of the necessary conducive environment, especially within the insurance industry. This would allow private sector resources to provide the services that the NHIS is expected to fulfill. Let’s face it, how many people in Government today have run successful businesses and how many truly understand what it takes to develop and operate a commercial business, let alone running a complex nationwide system like NHIS?

Folks, I feel sorry for the President. He is creating too many cracks in his own strategy and he will end up undermining himself. I say this without malice but with the hope that this message will awaken God’s call within him to UNITE this country and make his mark as an outstanding leader.

Raymond Archer
Raymond Archer, © 2003

The author has 27 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: RaymondArcher

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