10.01.2006 Feature Article

Charity Begins At Home ...

Charity Begins At Home ...
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The year 2006 has started on an interesting note with all sorts of sound bytes pervading the airwaves. As usual, we have both true and false prophets jockeying for the limited space within which the cacophony of deviant voices and noises seek to influence public opinion. This is sad for a country where endemic poverty remains an issue to be dealt with while we systematically dissipate the goodwill that has been lavished on the territorial space called Ghana through acts of omission and commission of those who in reality should be setting our development agenda. Thankfully and somewhat ironically, it is no mean a personality than the president who has sought to set a proper agenda for the coming year. Reconciliation This has been one my major themes in the past year. In an article titled "after the regional tsunami's what next?", I argued that change was coming in the form of political tornados. Those with ears and eyes took notice and adjusted their calculations accordingly while the ignorant arrogant continued to bask in their delusions of megalomania. History has borne us out; when old men in air-conditioned offices dare to take on the youth, they better tread cautiously. It is indeed prudent to exercise discretion when the times are uncertain and activists are furious!

The above is important to understand the nuances underpinning the president's call for a "focus on economic and social justice with justice for all and malice against none…eschewing cynicism…and unpatriotic conduct" in his new year address to the nation. Without doubt, this is the most conciliatory statement yet, coming at a time the nation so desperately needs such soothing words for a myriad of reasons.

Firstly, in the article I cited above, I emphasized the need for the president to look beyond his kitchen cabinet especially those returnees and civil servants among them who have created the "onka yån ho" syndrome to the detriment of our nation. These are the very people who allegedly fed the powers that be with all sorts of concocted custard about the chances of some candidates at the just ended NPP national delegates conference. How such people could be taken seriously in the first place beats my imagination for the simple reason that they are the very basis upon which the otherwise dormant party activists crawled out of the woodwork to unleash humiliatory defeats for some. Perhaps, their despicable acts over the years are in essence a blessing in disguise.

Secondly there are those who still harbour disappointments at the way they have been marginalized and treated by the present administration. Those of us who have decided to tell the truth irrespective of the repercussions on our livelihoods humbly appeal to the powers that be that party people are murmuring about perceived vindictiveness by which with the exception of the contestants in the 1998 NPP presidential primaries, all the brilliant brains that supported the likes of Dr. Apraku, Akufo-Addo and J.H. Mensah among others have been totally relegated from the scheme of things. It is interesting that the party took cognizance of these factors to vote the way it did at the conference. The truth of the matter is that the government would have performed better than it has done so far with these talented individuals in the scheme of governance. Those, I humbly submit, constitute the "we have the men" class of the NPP that was touted prior to assuming the reins of governance. Perhaps a reconciliation move would recognize this mistake and address it accordingly. Political Gymnastics Something very dramatic happened in Ghana just before Christmas which many political watchers obviously lost sight of. Ghana's biggest political parties have indeed reverted to their true owners. Whereas the NPP (as I argued in the article cited above) has returned to the people who form the party that gave birth to the government, the NDC has been returned to its owner- founder J.J. Rawlings- who as Dr. Kwabena Adjei stated in a recent interview is the true leader of the party, making he Dr. Adjei only a manager of the party's affairs. The implications of these cannot be overemphasized but one must add that it presents several dynamics for the 2008 elections.

Currently doing the rounds among political animals is an allegation that ex-president Rawlings intends going to the Supreme Court to seek a proper interpretation of Article 66 (1) and (2) of the 1992 constitution. Should Justice G.K.A. Acquah and his bench rule in favour of allowing ex-presidents to re-contest, maybe Dr. Ben Kumbuor might partner J.J. Rawlings to victory in 2008, leaving the learned and affable professor in the cold. That would also send Dr. Ekow Spio-Garbrah back to the cold comforts of Trafalgar in one cloudless hasty retreat. I am however inclined to believe that this is not on the cards, reason for which at a recent private function, I declined to ask Victor Smith about it, knowing very well that he would dismiss it as balderdash. All this is of course without prejudice to Obed Asamoah's confirmed departure from the party, together with his cohorts.

Similarly and yet somewhat differently, the NPP has to grapple with the spectre of those who believe the elegance of Alan Kyeremanteng is only a decoy for the real McCoy allegedly being backed by some powerful interests in this country. At the risk of marring the chances of an otherwise good presidential material, it is a mark of political savvy when some braggadocios keep their mouths shut. When some "businessmen" blew their trumpets at the NPP conference to the effect that "we have $10 million and another €5.0 million to ensure the election of our candidate", some of us hereby humbly advice them to consult Stephen Ntim about the political economy of delegate vote appropriation. In any case, party faithful amply demonstrated that "åyå odo, ånyå sika", showing that no amount of cash would sway the minds of the people: the party is truly not for sale.

As for the CPP, I am hoping against hope that their most astute and dynamic talkatives who are steeped in the art of mass mobilization do not get distracted by non-issues. After all, they were instrumental in getting Ghanaians into the streets in the Kume Preko days. It is a pity that in the Wahala series…your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps they await the ex-governor and the Komenda showboy's stillborn party without which their youth might chase them to the mausoleum.

What is factual however is that the year 2006 will pass away so fast, leaving aspirants with little or no time to get their campaigns up and running. Be that as it may, there is every indication that one fine Member of Parliament is home and dry even without initiating a major step. The results of the national delegate's conference of December 17 2005 attest to this fact in the first instance. Economic Field Both the World Bank Country Director and Mr. Ishmael Yamson have in diverse ways hit the nail right on the head. There is simply no excuse for us to remain stuck in the throes of relative deprivation in the midst of plenty; plenty money, excess but fast diminishing goodwill and a favourable business environment. It is indeed interesting that today our terminally "lazy" banks are offering car loans and other long-overdue packages for customers and ordinary people alike. Ours is a country where instead of growing a true business class and people, grants that are in essence free are given to banks to resell to the public. Support for innovation and new businesses are not even worth mentioning; it appears we still have miles to go before we sleep.

Key to the success of our economic growth however is the supervisory body that would ensure effective implementation. That, as Matt Karlson pointed out has been our problem. It is the hope of many that there would not be a repeat non-starter like the laborious work done by the likes of Asamoah-Boateng to register the unemployed only to be sabotaged by dint of the appointment of square pegs to preside over concepts they hardly understand. At any given time of day, that kind of move is a sure recipe for economic degeneration if not ultimate disaster.

I end this piece with free advice to decision makers in this potentially prosperous land called Ghana: the impending reshuffle should encompass the sensitive areas of the National Service Secretariat where one more embarrassing explosion is waiting to happen - the leadership and board need a total and comprehensive overhaul. More importantly, the National Youth Council should be radically shaken up. It is a pity that the council contains people who on a daily basis sit in judgment over the very government that appointed them while the national youth organizer of the ruling party remains far away from such a sensitive place. Sometimes you just keep wondering if…

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