Papa Owusu Ankomah - “To the Castle” in 2008
The decision by the Kassena Nankana District Assembly in the Upper East Region of Ghana to build a modern library facility for the people of the region and students of the University for Development Studies is a brilliant idea.
For a long period the people of the region, especially the youth have been neglected by various governments, thus depriving our sons and daughters of the region the knowledge and the opportunities that would equipped them to make a meaningful contribution towards our goal of achieving middle income status in 2020 (Vision 2020).
Apart from Dr Nkrumah's introduction of free education in the North, the region have not seen any tangible investment in production or commercial agro industry and it is now perceived as the most deprived region in he whole country. Due to the constraints placed on ex-President Rawlings' NDC government by the Bretton Woods institutions, and the get rich quick by some investors, no serious investment was directed to the region.
Like Dr Nkrumah and ex-President Rawlings, President Kufuor came to office with a pledge to see that every region in the country receives its fair share of investments. Thus on assumption of office the President embarked on a mission to solicit for investment funds for the country. The President have been criticise unfairly by a section of the media, with the ongoing “Per Diem” issue as a case in point.
The President, like the previous 4 elected leaders before him, namely Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Dr Kofi Busia, Dr Hilla Limann and ex-President Jerry John Rawlings, did not sought office to amass personal wealth for themselves but to serve and leave a long lasting legacy that future generations can remember them for. And as the President's second and final term draws to an end, the young and telegenic minister for Home Affairs, Papa Owusu Ankomah, is well placed to capture the Presidency and continue with his reforms.
Those who understands the dynamics of Foreign Direct Investment would appreciate the huge disadvantages that faces sub-Saharan Africa (including Ghana) when it comes to Multi national corporations choosing which region or country to invest in. Lack of physical infrastructure, human capital, inhospitable climatic conditions, conflicts and poor governance all places Africa at the bottom of the priorities of investors.
Yes Africa is blessed with rich resources, but it is how to get those resources and its proper management that matters, plus Africa's continual reliance on her colonial masters (through no fault of theirs) also contributes to her lack of progress. Of all the regions in the world, sub-Saharan Africa is the most vulnerable and her people the most poorest of the poor.
In 2000 a group of World Bank economists published a book entitled “ Can Africa Claim the 21st Century?”. In their analysis the Bank economists argued that by implementing the reforms that had been prescribed by the International Financial Institutions, that Africa can make a turn around in the 21st century. The question that needs to be ask are:
1) If the developed World are not prepared to open up their markets to sub Saharan Africa produce at competitive prices then how can Africa claim the 21st century?
2) If they keep poaching the brightest of Africans and use draconian policies to keep out the unskilled, then how can the sub continent claim the 21st century?
3) If they turn blind eye to the billions that was looted and still being stolen from the continent and deposited in the Banks in the West by the corrupt African elites like Arap Moi, Mobutu Sese Seko, Sani Abacha and others, then how can sub Saharan Africa claim the 21st century?
Strangely, the G8 leaders were mute when an African journalist from Nigeria raised the issue during the last day press conference.
4) If they do not invest in research and development in sub Saharan Africa using our home grown researchers to research into how we can help feed our numerous hungry people (majority go to bed without food….this is a fact, not fiction), help find cure for malaria and HIV/AIDS etc, then how can sub Saharan Africa claim the century?
One of the common tenets used by the West policy makers are “lack of accountability, corruption, wasting money on white elephants, lack of good leadership”. Now that Africa have good leaders (Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, John Kufuor of Ghana and others) whose sole aim is to see the development of Africa (albeit with their hands tied by the constraints of debt repayments) and have whole heartedly embraced the NEPAD initiative (Really?), what would be the next excuse?
With such magnitude of handicap facing the continent, people should rather use their energy to help the country position her self to become the country of choice when investments start to come our way rather than targeting the President. Thus visionaries like the Emmanuel Chegeweh (Kassena Nankana District Chief Executive) should be encouraged and supported in their quest to put infrastructures in place to help with the development of our human resources. Those who are marvelled by the “Chinese Miracle” should examine the processes that the Chinese use to developed their human and infrastructure capital before their take off.
The President is creating an enabling environment that would encourage other visionaries to come to the fore and thus help our country move forward. This writer is non political and is not the mouth piece for the NPP, argues that but credit should be given where it is due. The issue of leadership has been debated time and time again, in terms of pursuing policies that can benefit the people rather than the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. This writer, in one such debate, argued that Ghana's lack of progress was not due to her lack of leadership (and cited the abrupt end to the Busia and Limann administrations as classic examples) but the frequent interruptions by the military in Ghana's history was what robbed Ghana of development.
When it comes to competent leaders, Ghana have them in abundance but sadly due to instabilities during the 1970s and 1980s coupled with the economic crisis of the 1980s (the lost decade) many Ghanaian professionals and skill manual workers (over 99% at the period in question were in their prime) left the motherland. Ghana was the only African country to lose majority of her skill labour. Ghanaian doctors and nurses trained at University of Ghana Medical School, Legon, and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Medical School, Kumasi, are deemed to be the best trained African medical professionals and can be found working in many prestigious Teaching hospitals in the Europe, North America, Australia and many Middle Eastern countries. Today, sadly, there are only 1 medical doctor to population of about 10,000 people in many Ghanaian cities and towns. Due to their dedication to hard work and professionalism Ghanaian doctors and nurses are poached by many Western countries including oil rich Middle Eastern countries as soon as they come out of medical schools and universities. Why one may ask?
These professionals are trained with the little resources that Ghana have, but due to lack of good facilities and lack of proper incentives they have no choice but to migrate. From this writer's recent interview with a group of medical professionals in London, Chicago and Washington DC this summer, it emerged that majority migrated not because of the monetary rewards that they can command in the West, just like their Western counterparts, but lack of research facilities and the essence of not having the opportunities to develop their skills further was the notion behind their emigrating. Most stated that they would be willing to return, provided the facilities are there to enable them to serve the very people whose taxes were used to educate them. The question to ask is: “ which candidate for the 2008 elections can create an enabling environment to entice these nationals back?”.
As these professionals' remittances now forms the 3rd largest foreign earner for the country (at the last World Bank/IMF, 2004, released, Ghanaians in Diaspora are remitting on average a billion dollars or more home yearly) their return would encourage more investors to relocate more of their African operations in Ghana. There are very competent Ghanaian executives running multi million businesses in most Western countries and in Ghana, thus the issue of leadership should not be a stumbling block when it comes to running corporate Ghana. People like Kwame Pianim and Ken Ofori Atta are case in point. In a related essay about the role of the Diaspora in national development by Jermaine Nkrumah and a group of our North American compatriots “ Diaspora Vote: It's Our Land Also ( Yensoso Yasaase Ni) Ghana web feature article 28.07.2005”, Jermaine argue passionately about the need for the policy makers to engage with the Diaspora community, including extending the voting franchise to the Diaspora and gave some brilliant examples as to why the Diaspora community still think about home by stating, “Our own adage says that travelling outside home is done for the purpose of bringing something good back. Ghanaians abroad have done just that. There are thousands of Ghanaians today who choose to like peasants in developed countries just so they can send as much as possible back home. When you contrast their lifestyles to those of their immediate neighbours or co-workers, you see the magnitude of the sacrifice that has become their lives.”
In another related article on the question of leadership and what should be the qualifications of the next President of Ghana, Bonna Okyere (Ghana web, 13.06.2005) wrote,
“ I challenge all of us to start identifying the good candidates amongst us study them and get to know them better. We need to know them, at least, two years ahead of time to give us time to know what they believe in. Ghanaians should be tired of Old and Armchair Politicians who have no solid achievements to run on nor have they exhibited any love for Ghana. Ghanaians would be doing Ghana a great dis-service if they still hang on to the idea that it is only those remnants (old politicians) who have been dis-stabilising Ghana and sending it backward who are fit/qualified to lead. Anyone so elected to be President in 2008 must prove his or her worth in a constructive debate; and that one must make every effort to contribute some positive ideas towards Ghana Vision 2020 (i.e., the desire to transform Ghana into a First World country by 2020).”
On the political front the current Home Affairs minister, Papa Owusu Ankomah is fast emerging as someone who can galvanised the talent (both at home and in Diaspora) at Ghana's disposal to drive the developmental agenda through. Papa shares the same sentiments as expressed by Jermaine and our North American compatriots and believes that every Ghanaian in Diaspora (including second and third generation Ghanaians) should be encouraged to contribute towards the development of our great nation. Papa believes our national anthem should be the rallying point to energised all Ghanaians living everywhere to contribute towards the nation building ( Efie ne Fie……literally meaning “There is no better place than home”).
( God bless our homeland Ghana And make our nation great and strong, Bold to defend forever The cause of Freedom and of Right; Fill our hearts with true humility, Make us cherish fearless honesty, And help us to resist oppressors' rule With all our will and might evermore. Hail to thy name, O Ghana, To thee we make our solemn vow: Steadfast to build together A nation strong in Unity……). The lyrics of the national anthem are not just mere words but exemplifies the unity of our country that has stood the test of time and still strong in uniting the nation. The qualification of the national soccer team “The Black Stars” to play in the 2006 world cup in Germany was rejoiced not only in Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi, Sunyani, Tamale, Ho, Wa, Bolgatanga, Navrongo, Cape Coast but among the Ghanaian communities around the globe. For once Ghanaians in Diaspora were proud to put on the colours of the national flag (Red, Gold and Green with the Black Star in the centre) in support of the national soccer team, the Black Stars.
Papa Owusu Ankomah, from the very early age dedicated himself to the service of his country. As results Papa have forgone all the opportunities that came his way to amass personal wealth and rather pledged himself to server his motherland. As a young lawyer and lecturer in his home town of Sekondi in the late 1980s and 1990s, Papa became the voice of the voiceless and champion of the working men and women of his home town.
Papa placed much emphasis on education and poverty reduction in his hometown of Sekondi and would form the back bone of his policies nation wide. Coming from the liberal wing of his party, Papa understands that success should be spread equitably and that every section of the population and every region of the country must be developed.
Education, better health care, commercial agro industry, poverty eradication, opportunities for all irrespective of background or tribe, gender equality and job creation are at the fore front of Papa's developmental agenda. Papa knows and understands that having a well educated and united workforce would place the country in a pivotal position when it comes to enticing potential investors to the country.
Papa would also encourage many Ghanaian businessmen in Diaspora to come home and invest by liberalising the arcane investment and employment laws, thus making it easier for employers and employees to foster a good working partnership. Like the current President, Papa knows that Ghanaians in Diaspora are great source of human capital for our country and would ensure that the liaison between those at home and the Diaspora community are improved to enable the Diaspora community to transfer their skills to their counterparts in Ghana. Papa would also reward innovators.
Researchers in every field would be given the resources and support to come out with innovative ideas to help solve numerous medical problems and food crisis that periodically hold our country back. Before the country embarks on her last leg of development towards the Vision 2020 goal, Papa wants the nation to be self sufficient in food production, being able to feed herself without relying on food aid nor experience the shortages of recent past. Like President Kufuor's Presidential initiative, Papa would be encouraged by his supporters to embark on drastic agricultural and land reforms by giving prominence to commercial farming and to give incentives and training to farmers as well as making finance available to them to enable them concentrate on farming to feed the nation. Thus institutions such as Ghana's 4 big Polytechnics (Ho, Kumasi, Takoradi and Accra) would be given the resources and accreditation to enable them trained specialists in agro industry and fisheries to help and support our farmers and fishermen in commercial operations.
In his quest to see his beloved country achieve middle income status in 2020, Papa Owusu Ankomah in the coming months leading to the primaries for the selection of the Presidential candidate for the ruling New Patriotic Party, would set his vision and agenda as to how he would want every section of the population to embrace his developmental and poverty reduction strategies. Although Papa has not made his intentions clear as to whether he would like to contest for the flag bearer of his party, his friends and supporters wants to encourage him to do so….he is our best hope for the country. He is young, bright and places duty before personal enrichment……… his God is his guiding principal. He is a great patriot.
God Bless our Motherland Ghana. Peter Nee Jeffrey London. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.
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