He Who Feeds You, Controls You...

Feature Article He Who Feeds You, Controls You...

Some few hours ago, I was in the Suhum municipality in the Eastern Region and chanced upon students of the Suhum Methodist JHS, busily marching and perfecting their steps in preparation towards the 66th Independence anniversary celebrations coming off this Monday 6TH March 2023.

It was a nice sight to behold I must admit, the school’s preparation is far advanced as they their arms and legs moved uniformly throughout the session, I could deduce from the number of spectating students that the participants were indeed the best of the crop;

The scenery evoked some memories in me and nearly got me emotional, this was because I once participated in the march past and as young lad then, being part of the team felt so great and induced a sense of patriotism and statehood especially when the drums are beaten for the march past to begin and when your leader shouts “eyes right” for all to salute the inspector of the parade.

“This whole concept of independence and march past seems to have lost it essence over the years”, I told myself, the question that lingered on my mind to this moment is, are we truly independent or have we been truly independent?

In trying to get answers, it is important to understand what it means to be an independent country , in simple terms a country is independent when it can fend for all or most of its needs without overly relying on help from other countries and is in charge of its own domestic and foreign policies , we must get it right here, that, because one country cannot have all resources in its geographic location, a 100% independence of other countries is a near impossibility, and so international trade through bi-lateral and multilateral cooperation is needed to obtain goods and services from other countries.

Drawing from the preceding paragraph, even though at some point we may need goods and services from the outside world, it becomes problematic and seriously impairs our independence and sovereignty when we become overly reliant on foreign goods and services.

The adage goes that “he who feeds you, controls you”, the use of the term feed means provision of food in kind and financial resources to provide purchasing power to feed yourself.

We can take a cue from Abraham Maslow’s theory of needs, the theory argues that the basic of all human needs are physiological needs (needed for human survival), which comprises mainly food, clothing and shelter.

The reader will agree with me and even most senior citizens will do , that, the promise we had as a manufacturing hub in sub-Saharan Africa and the progress to true independence was nipped in the bud on the very day the CIA aided three Ghanaian Soldiers to overthrow the government of Nkrumah. I write this article not to single out Nkrumah’s deeds, but I do admit that his fifteen (15) year reign brought about tremendous industrialization in the country, the fruits and remnants of his vision are available for all to witness even today.

It is unfortunate that over the years the long-term vision of our first president to create a Ghana that can feed itself, was abandoned and replaced by short-term policies brought about by highly volatile governments from 1966 until the 4th republican constitution where we have enjoyed stable change of governments for well over 30 years.

The last 20-30 years has seen a gradual but steady increase in importation of basic food, clothing and housing materials to a very worrying extent, Ghanaians shops, supermarkets and local markets have now been flooded with basic goods which hitherto would not have been imported in the country, take rice,sugar,chicken, oils, soaps, beverages, wooden doors for building, tomatoes, onions etc our economy have been sucked so deep into importation that we have ended up suffocating our local manufacturers out of business.

The risk we face is that, should producing countries fail to supply us with needed goods and services for varied reasons, it would create shortages locally and drive prices exponentially high; we have been battling with exchange rate fluctuations for decades and we still do today, the hikes we experienced in exchange rates at the latter part of 2022 is an attestation to the fact our country is so exposed to foreign shocks because of the over reliance on imports.

We heavily rely also on foreign monetary aid to cushion our budget, this is a regrettable occurrence for a country that achieved independence 66 years ago, we are witnesses to the amount of times governments have headed to IMF, the world bank and other foreign financial institutions for monetary aid in any form to take care of ourselves, its rather unfortunate that our current government has applied for help from the IMF to address fiscal challenges currently staring us in our faces; the cause of this has always been the same, government expenditure has far outweighed revenue and the deficit needs to be bridged through domestic and foreign borrowing.

It is clear that internally generated revenues from taxes across various sectors have been inadequate to cover expenditures for most fiscal years, this is attributed largely to poor revenue mobilization.

Its also worthy of noting and I must say worryingly that, a huge chunk of our expenditure goes into settling borrowing costs and payment of compensation to workers, what remains for capital expenditure is mostly nothing to write home about.

It is safe to say from the preceding paragraphs, that the dual problems of excessive imports and borrowing hampers our independence and sovereignty to a very large extent and thus, makes us handicapped in taking control of our own destiny as a people.

Yes, Independence Day is around the corner, political leaders will receive salutes from school children to security personnel and even market women, but just as it has been in years past, the event will remain only a march past if pragmatic decisions are not taken to strengthen our economy, make us strong against external shocks, improve terms of trade, reduce youth unemployment, strengthen the private sector to improve tax revenue among others;

it is when these are done that, we can observe our Independence Day with pride and a sense of achievement; knowing that, if we are able to take care of ourselves, no foreign power can decide for us and we cannot be threatened when we reject foreign policies that contradicts our constitution and our values.

When we feed ourselves, we cannot be controlled, we cannot be dictated to, only this can ensure our sovereignty and only then can we say, we are truly independent.

God bless our homeland Ghana.