Ghanaians adopted western-styled multiparty democracy hoping that it would be the best way we can manage our country and provide a means for our people to make their dreams and aspirations come true. That is, democracy would bring development.
Over a decade now, we are happy about the fact that we have elected presidents and MPs; we have a Supreme Court and a whole array of state and civil institutions such as the press and CHRAJ. We exhibit these entities as evidence of our democratic dispensation and take pride in them.
However, where are the results of the functions of the realms of state? It seems we have allowed the institutions we have created to become the end, and not a means to an end. For, the plight of our people continues to decline. From one government to another, our leaders have not made any bold attempt to put our economy on a sound footing. Ghana continues to export raw materials and import finished goods including ones we can easily produce at home. They have opened our borders wide to almost anything while other countries are using all means to protect their markets. They continue to maintain an archaic local government system that has no connection with development, just because it serves their interest. Our healthcare and educational systems are dysfunctional. They have not made any serious attempt to check the brain drain and the erosion of our social values. Indeed, they continue to maintain most of the old structures, which the colonialists had set up for their own purpose.
Yet, we have set up a system of government that is supposed to find solutions to our problems so that we can move ahead in development and prosperity. Obviously, this system is not giving the required results. Our leaders have not kept their part of the deal. They seem to be more concerned about the positions they hold and the benefits they get rather than the number of people they have lifted from poverty or disease or ignorance. In short, the benefits of democracy have eluded us. It is only the structures we see.
If our democratic experiment does not help to translate people's aspirations into agendas, projects and development, which will make their lives more meaningful, then the process is useless. It will, as we have seen, worsen the plight of the ordinary man or woman and create more avenues for the privilege to dupe the people. In the end, it will create a certain hopelessness that will drive our people to accept their fate as divine damnation.
However, this need not be. The tools for development are available to anyone to learn and adopt. South Korea, China, and lately India, have shown that development and prosperity are not the preserve of any one country. With the right polices and good leadership, it is possible to transform a poor underdeveloped country, where nothing works, to a prosperous one where almost everything works. Indeed, nothing is impossible.
Ghana can boast of some of the best brains in the world. Nature has endowed us with lots of natural resources that can only be envied by other countries. Indeed, we seem to have all the factors of production, yet we do not produce. We do not produce because we lack ingenious and selfless leaders. It takes a leader with these attributes to better appreciate our present predicament and be able to chart a great course ahead for us.
What we need to do now is to set up a non-partisan presidential commission to bring together all stakeholders and eminent persons interested in transforming our country, to brainstorm on all the issues we are facing. Their recommendations would then be diligently implemented. In addition, Ghanaians need to look out for that new kind of a leader who is far beyond rhetoric. Taking these steps will put us on the right track and our democracy will bring the development and prosperity we so desire and deserve. Chris Van-Lare www.geocities.com/cavanlare Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.