This is the final part of my article dealing with the dignity, pride and humility of our people “you make us proud”. The President has paid fulsome tributes already to the many millions who stood in the hot sun and rain, the young men who took the day off, the farmers and fishermen who lost their income for the day, the koko seller who forfeited her daily sales and the tro-tro mate who said to me “ it is hard to lose a day's wages but I will never forfeit my vote. We salute you. It is “payback –time” for the NPP administration.
The task is immense – make no mistake Sub- Sahara Africa is a desperately poor continent and Ghana is a poor country-a very poor nation. Do not be fooled by the trappings and mirage of wealth in some designated areas of our country- the vast majority of our people survive on less than a dollar a day.
For example: the 10 richest people on earth have a combined wealth of $255bn roughly 60% of the income of all of us living in Sub-Sahara Africa.
The world's richest 500 richest people have more money than the total annual earnings of the poorest 3 billion people on this planet the vast majority living in sub-Sahara Africa. GHANAIAN CONTEXT
I will not bore your readers with figures, just to say I do not need any book long nonsense on definitions of poverty. I have eyes and I can see. I have ears and I can hear and funny enough a little “brain” which can read and write.
I have traveled the breadth and width of my country and define it as you will, adapt it as you will, challenge it as you wish, deny it as you will the simple truth is “we are poor”. We are a poor nation not because the UN/EU/Obroni says so, but because the people of Nima, Maamobi, Kasoa, Abossey Okai, and Ashiaman etc say so. We are a desperately poor nation because all of us have eyes, ears, nose and legs.
If you cannot see the abject poverty that hits you in the eyes then at least you can smell it at the Odaw River. If perchance your smelling faculties are destroyed then please just ask the ordinary folks at Neoplan Station. However, if your tongue is shortened then when you arrive in your village, town ask your cousins, friends, aunties.
Finally, if you are so cocooned from reality that you do not see the real Ghana then there are many like you relaxing in one of our mental homes.
MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE FUND
I have no magic wand neither am I a soothsayer but there are some definite policies that the NPP administration can put in place, which will endear the President to the hearts of his people. First, it was a bold and brave decision for him to have embraced HIPIC
Second, as a nation let us just agree on achieving the targets set out in the 8 Millennium development goals Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty Achieve Universal Primary education Promote gender equality and empower women Reduce Child Mortality Improve Maternal health Combat HIV, Aids, malaria and other diseases Ensure environmental sustainability Develop a global partnership How can the President achieve his stated goal of leading his country into the middle-income group? I know he wants his legacy to be one of a bold statesman; a visionary a compassionate leader who helped shaped and changed the course of his countries future.
I am absolutely convinced that he can and will achieve his dreams if he gets the full backing of his team and the people of Ghana.
GOLDEN BOY OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
The good news is our country is seen as the place to do business. A different kind of Africa, a country where there is transparency and good governance. This is in part a tribute to all Ghanaians both the NPP/NDC/CPP and the other smaller parties al of them contributed in making the elections a success.
For example a recent report produced by Professor Jeffrey Sachs the eminent Harvard Professor who heads the UN Anti- Poverty had numerous recommendations. Among his numerous recommendations is a proposal that some well-governed countries including “Ghana “ should be selected for.
“fast track status to receive the massive increase in development aid in 2005 to implement poverty-reduction programmes”.
Those who matter the G8/Paris Club Members back his recommendations and are willing and prepared to back it up with Millions of Millennium development Fund.
Some of us in the Diaspora will ride on this good will and keep the momentum going. I will do my widows mite in ensuring that our country is seen, perceived and accepted as a well-governed nation.
MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION
On 26th January 2005, I hope to attend a lunchtime meeting with Mr. Paul V. Applegarth the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the United States.
Mr. Applegarth was recently appointed by President Bush to head the MCC, a newly established government corporation created to administer the Millennium Challenge Fund. It is a multi billion-dollar initiative designed to reduce poverty .The meting is being held at the CEPS Conference Room, 1. Place du Congress – 1000 BRUSSELS.
If any of your readers is around, Please do come and cheer for Ghana. There is safety in numbers. Many of your readers may ask what the hell has this Mr. Applegarth got to do with us? A lot, a lot.
Mr. Applegarth's organization has got “plenty, plenty, plenty development cash” He is going to outline his organization's approach to development. But wait for it he has already hinted that the MCC will use its huge financial resources to reduce “ poverty by promoting sustainable growth in countries that are ruling justly, investing in their people and promoting freedom.”
Why am I going- Simply to lobby for my country .The simple truth is the worlds richest nations have decided on the ground rules on which they will administer their Millennium Funds and I intend to lobby as mad (voluntary) on behalf of my country and people.
My role as an ordinary citizen of Ghana is to ensure that I understand the rules of the game and when I am in a position to assist – help my country to maximize all external form of revenues put up by the EU/USA/ and other International agencies
I will not blame any of your readers if they scream and say, “Do not waste your precious time or precious Euros as they are all the same? I will not begrudge any African or Ghanaian who says the cash will not end up alleviating real poverty? I do understand and share your concerns.
Some prominent and fair – minded politicians have expressed the same sentiments. I print some of their comments
Lord Desai renowned economist “ remove trade barriers as that will help the poor”
Sir Partha Dasgupta- Professor of Economics, - Cambridge University” Corrupt regimes would use extra cash to boost military spending”
Diana Coyle – Director of the Enlighten Economics Consultancy “it will end up being siphoned off into Swiss bank accounts and into building palaces”
Should we give up – No – for the sake of the:
“millions who stood in the hot sun and rain, the young men who took the day off, the farmers and fishermen who lost their income for the day, the koko seller who forfeited her daily sales and the tro-tro mate who said to me “ it is hard to lose a day's wages”.
ARE WE A DESERVING CASE?
The straightforward answer is yes. . It is given that the golden boy of the west “Ghana” meets the 3 criteria for the disbursement of the funds and 1 would lobby like hell to get Mr. Applegarth to give us the biggest chunk of the cash.
Second, let us also assume that the recommendations of Professor Sachs Head of the UN- Anti- Poverty Programme is accepted and Ghana becomes one of the recipients of the new global challenge fund – what next?
Assuming this goodwill is translated into cash what can the President do to make his people proud of him- to reciprocate?
Come 2015 will the skeptics be proved right or will the camp of the optimists (I count myself as one) be sharing a meal with Papa Kofi at his renovated house in Nima, water running, electric lights shining, his grandchildren well fed, clothed and educated
TIME FOR ACTION – REAL ACTION
I passionately believe that our country under President Kufuor can successfully act as the “Black star of Africa and the jewel in the crown of Sub-Sahara Africa ”. I have talked, lectured, argued, debated at every conceivable platform from the palm-wine bar at Nkawie to the European Commission and I have finally y come to the conclusion that our biggest problem is one OF DELIVERYAND PERFORMANCE
I wish to remind readers that the Marshall Plan was only successful because the German Government delivered its side of the bargain. It achieved its stated aims, hit all its targets and rose from a defeated nation to become the most economically powerful in Europe. It was all due to DELIVERY
DELIVERY, DELIVERY, DELIVERY
I will tell you my personal story. When I was at Liverpool employed as the Principal Regeneration Officer for the Borough of Knowsley, my wages was linked to a system of Performance Related Pay. In sum 10% of my wages was linked to a well-defined, measurable, specific, achievable target.
These targets were agreed between the Chief Executive and myself at the start of the financial year. There were no hidden targets, agendas or surprises. Nothing that could not be achieved by a well-paid Civil Servant or Local Government officer.
I am not ashamed to report that on two occasions, I failed to achieve my target and lost some cash. It hurt, but it made me to try harder . You see it was all about DELIVERY. Nothing more nothing less – DELIVER
DELIVER OR BE SACKED
Performance related pay must be the norm among all Ministers, Senior Civil Servants, Regional Ministers, District Chief Executives, and Chief Executives of all major public institutions. They must be judged, appraised and paid on how well they are working towards meeting the Millennium Development targets and the President's strategic aims?
The President's team must be able to track progress on the Millennium targets, National targets, Regional and District targets and produce a basket of evaluation indicators.
We must have a standardize system of financial reporting and strategic monitoring of the Millennium themes and the President stated aims. It can be done and it must be done. .
The NPP administration must be prepared to take radical measures to review our progress, make modifications and address our inherent weaknesses. No amount of lobbying that guys like us do at the European Commission/ US Millennium Corporation to increase funding to Ghana will improve our miserable lot unless there are real targets to aim for unless the team gets behind the President and are determined and willing to deliver..
The President must say it loud and clear – my second term is the “term of delivery”. There must be no compromise. DELIVER OR BE SACKED
His government must adopt stringent performance measurement targets. If Ministers do encounter barriers to delivery it is their duty to tackle the hurdles and overcome them. It is their role to inform, discuss, debate and convince. It is their role to turn weighty international /national strategic documents into simple action plans understandable by the ordinary people.
There seems to be a lamentable lack of linkage between Government strategic policies and Regional and District strategies. Some Regional/District Chief Executives are actually contemptible of their electorate.
Some do not have the confidence, impact, influencing skills and even the authority to implement good governance and policies emanating from the President.
I will even venture so far to say, some genuinely want the President to fail at the same time drawing their huge allowances.
There is no reason on earth why the President must continue to live with and sustain non –performers. In the end History will not judge the Ministers/Head of Corporations/Regional/District Chief Executives/it will judge President John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor.
REAL PRACTICAL SIMPLE STEPS
NATIONAL SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENT
The President must demand National Service Strategic Level Agreements with his Ministers. Simple 10 point agreements – one – liners. The President must have the tools to assess and measure their performance year on year.
Let us take a very simple National Indicator. 50% of Ghanaians have no access to good drinking water therefore one of the performance measurement for that sector Minister would be to increase that figure to 55% in 2006, 60% in 2007 and 65 % in 2008.
The same would apply to Housing Ministry. A simple target for of the Ministry of Housing would be to build 5,000 units of low-cost housing for workers and so on so forth. These targets are quantifiable and easily measurable. Folks is this- heart surgery? Cant' all of us understands it? Wont we be able to judge for ourselves?
These national Strategic targets must be translated down into regional plans then devolved even further down to local level.
REGIONAL LEVEL AGREEMENT
Regional Ministers/District Chief Executives must be asked to turn the national strategic priorities into regional and district action plans. Which are measurable and have been agreed with the community and the people that they serve.
All Regional Ministers and District Chief Executives must consult with their respective Local assemblies and come up with some very simple measurable targets.
For example in Kumasi the regional assembly could have a service level; agreement with the people to build 25 public toilets 2 libraries and 2 health care centers by 2006
DISTRICT LEVEL AGREEMENT
At Nkawie, our District Chief Executive in partnership with the Assembly could sign a service level Agreement to build 6 new boreholes, I health center, paved 6 feeder roads, by 2006.
Are our mothers asking for the earth? Are they asking for 4 wheel drives? As a nation we can we can Marshall our resources and energy and utilize any extra Millennium cash that comes our way very effectively.
WE CAN DO IT
We have the leadership, skills, abilities, talents and human resources to set measurable targets and start on the road to make absolute poverty history The Marshal Plan was successful because of the collective effort of the people of Germany. The German nation delivered we can deliver.
Our message to the International Community is Ghana is ready.
We have for a transparent government, a free press, multi-party system and a people determined to make poverty history.
On my part, I have decided to take a year's unpaid sabbatical from May 2005 to become part of this new Ghana. Our country are in very exciting times and there are great challenges and opportunities.
Let us all join the President to make his dream of making poverty history come true.
I do not know where I will be asked to serve my country but readers must rest assured like TT in “Taxi-Driver”- Ghana needs my services and wherever I am asked to serve. I am willing and ready.
God Bless. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.