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25.08.2004 Feature Article

Our Ghana Airways mentality on display in Athens

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Watching Aziz Zakari quit 10 meters into yesterday's 100 meters finals brought back memories of other displays of national malaise at home and abroad. Aziz's Athens (and Sydney) “injuries” may be real or just an excuse. We will never know. The larger point, however, is the general lack of seriousness we often display in our approach to many national endeavors. It will not surprise me if Aziz (and other non-soccer Olympians) received little to no attention from the connection-minded, per-diem first fellows in charge of sports administration in Ghana today.

As shown by various Ghana Airways' (mis)management teams, many of our public officials often put their own interests ahead of the interests of those they're paid to take care of. That's our approach to many things—MPs award themselves fat car loans while entrepreneur-constituents have no where to turn to for seed-capital; government ministers drive about in big SUVs when there is no funds to get patrol cars for the police; and the state funds Council of State patronage jobs while parliament and the judiciary lack adequate resources to be institutionally effective—all pointers to our misplaced priorities.

Think of all that could be done with the thousands we waste annually on the Ghana Airways debt machine? How many more schools and clinics might have been built with the millions squandered on GNPC?

It was Jerry Pournelle, I think, who once said that “if a thing is not worth doing, it is not worth doing well”. In Ghana we seem to abide by an exact opposite dictum: spend more time on the vain and the useless but pay no attention to what needs doing.

So we spend enormous efforts on trivialities such as empty titles (from Nkrumah's “Osagyefo-Dr so and so” to Atta-Mills' “professor”---when was the last time Mills stepped into a classroom? Even Kofi Annan now has some “Busumuru” title, whatever that means). Not to mention the emotionally gratifying but economically unsound policy of funding a national carrier when babies are dying from simple diarrhea.

In contrast, how much effort has gone into major pressing issues such as education, health service delivery reform, and agriculture development? Most of our folks are still using slash-and burn technologies while ministers ride around in expensive SUVs. Forget colonialism and neocolonialism, South-South cooperation and all those other jargons our politicians have been spewing out ad nauseam since independence. Our Ghana Airways mentality alone is sufficient guarantee of our pauper status for eons to come. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Kwaku Nuamah
Kwaku Nuamah, © 2004

The author has 1 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KwakuNuamah

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