14.10.2010 Feature Article


14.10.2010 LISTEN

I'm not happy. And you shouldn't be either.
What has me incensed is the fact that two former ministers are talking about wrong issues.

Oh lordy, our vision- impaired and ideas- deficit politicians never cease to surprise me with their diatribes and time- consuming insinuations.

It's beyond astonishing to me that two former ministers devoted their time to stir-up a debate --which doesn't give the country any dividend—instead of tackling some of our everyday issues . They're yakking while the plastic bags have choked up our sewage system, schools are mis-educating our children and unemployment is stealing our youth's desires and aspirations.

By now everyone knows the story of the Jubilee House brouhaha. Oh, how I wish our former politicians retire graciously and invest their skills and energies in writing good readable books—to pass on their ideas and visions to the next generation! But is not the case in Ghana. Controversies abound when it comes to our politicians.

Consider what Ghana would be like to have former politicians who are fully engaged in productive national debates, to improve the conditions of the poor. Or loan their skills and talents to the younger generation.

Well, I had just wiped away the last tears after reading about the surcharge the government just imposed on inbound international phone calls to Ghana .This is costing us an arm and leg, just to make calls to our loved ones we left behind---a surcharge which should go into providing an internet connectivity for every district capital and secondary schools. But, that will never happen! It used to be 10cents/min to call Ghana (to cell phone) from U.S .Thanks to the new surcharge; we now pay 21cents /min. I hope they're happy now.

As if that was not enough. My eyes have just caught on an article on the net, captioned: “Turn Jubilee House into a museum—former ministers advocate”. Yak. I almost threw up.!

Traffic congestion, security and public discomfort are some of their assertions for advocating; turning a 70 million Palace into a museum .If you believe that I have a bridge for sale in my village. By the way ,the White House is in the middle of Washington D.C, and the last time I checked there were more cars in DC than Accra. Security! What security? Oh, Puh-le-ze!

Well, the statement has ignited quite a bit of debate on the internet and on the blogosphere.

This is a hard one but let me see if I can dissect it delicately and prudently. I believe these two gentlemen were former ministers in the NDC government.

They were probably part of the turn- a- seventy- million- dollar- Palace –into- animal husbandry crowd, two years ago. Unfortunately, would they rather see President Mills living in a century old - slave Castle than a modern well- constructed palace which was paid for by Ghanaians? I'm confused!

Question: Which one of these two buildings really deserves to be turned into a museum, with its historical factors? So these two gentlemen never thought that the Castle can be turned into money generating machinery by being an international destination for tourists? If these men are all we have to rule Ghana then we're in for a long haul .No wonder, we're not making any head way.

Why stop there?
There are so many buildings and infrastructure we can easily turn into museums, apartment buildings for accommodation and playgrounds for our kids who roam around aimlessly with no sense of direction. We can surely turn some of the government's buildings into other things just for the sake of politics.

Let's turn the Akosombo Dam into a national Aquarium for Dolphins .The Parliament House can be turned into a learning center to teach tolerance and brainstorming techniques--- since our universities are not meeting our everyday needs anymore maybe we should turn them into centers to test all our politicians and policy makers to measure their empathy, competency ,patriotism and ability to have a vision for the nation.

As to the Motor Way, I'm thinking of turning it into a skating ring. The nation can surely use that to get rid of the obesity epidemic that will permeate our population in the near future. Let's get rid of the toll booths because they don't contribute anything to the national development.

Oh, I almost forgot the Nsawam Prison. Why don't we open the door widely and let the prisoners out and use it as a museum of the hard core corrupt politicians?

As for the Presidential jet I was against it adamantly from day one. I didn't see the need then, and I don't see the need now----'It is ahead of its time'. Buying two Presidential jets when an entire generation's future is at stake wasn't a smart move .However, I'm figuring out what we're going to do with it.

Oh I got it!! Let's loan it to ZOOMLION. The list is long, but I'm constrained by lack of space. So go ahead and add your own to the list.

By the way, I'm not writing as an NPP sympathizer and I don't have any party affiliation. All I need is anything that will make Ghana prosper —this is for those who care to know.

Did these two former ministers really mean what they say about turning the newly-minted Palace into a museum? Or are there more explanations for this bizarre, and out – of- touch statement ? .I can only hope that the statement was not a cheap publicity stunt intended to polish a battered and an elusive political image ahead of the next campaign .

One of the things people (especially, those in power) should know is that when there is a slow news day, making an insinuating comment about a national Pride (like a Presidential Palace )for a cheap political point is guaranteed to get the media's attention; which is not always favorable to the news maker. Such is the case with the two nice gentlemen. Yes, their hearts might be in a right place but their heads were somewhere else.

I am tempted to think all what these gentlemen were doing was to pollute the airwaves and choke the media outlets with their comments. Or did they just manipulate the media to gain maximum political exposure? I don't know! But, I have more prosaic reasons to be disappointed by their statements.

However, that is not to say that they do not believe in what they say or their objective was not authentic, else it won't get that coverage in the media. All I'm saying is that a statement like that doesn't make either economic or political sense to an average Ghanaian, who wants to see the country moving forward and worries about his children's school fees and food on the table.

Instead of turning the Palace into a museum, why don't we move the Presidential seat from the Castle into the Jubilee House and turn the Castle into a museum for the tourists' attraction? We can use the proceeds to finance our bright and needy students to be trained in new skills or study how to manage our emerging preventable diseases or take care of our elderly population.

What do you want: A former slave Castle or a newly –minted Palace? Unfortunately, politics has become an indoor non- contact sport with no rules and regulations.

I'm not a politician. I have no professional experience to speak to the current debate on the benefits of using the Jubilee House as our Presidential seat. What I do know is that using the newly-minted Presidential Palace will not only make us gain international respect in the diplomatic circle but, it will definitely increase the nation's self-esteem.

It's about putting the national interest above party politics. It's about getting dividend out of the painful history of colonialism and slavery. It's about making the right decisions. It's about national pride.

So Ghanaians are going to stand by and let few selfish individuals turn their seventy –million- dollar national pride into a museum---so as to keep their Presidents in a slave castle? By the way, the international communities are watching and calibrating our actions, inactions and reactions to this debate.

Right now Ghana needs leaders and policy makers, who have the vision to take us from the socio-economic doldrums. We surely need people with ideas (tons of them) to solve our everyday emerging problems, and create jobs for the able bodied citizens (particularly the youth).

We need leaders who think of the kids' welfare and provide playgrounds and after school activity centers for our youth--instead of engaging in alcoholic consumption and other vices to numb their pains and frustrations. Our youth need real leaders to give them the reasons to dream.

We surely need people who can revitalize our archaic educational system and make our students more competitive in the international arena.

The nation is hungry for leaders and people whose statements will inspire progress and economic momentum. Look, we live in a country that doesn't produce anything. We even import natural salt and toothpicks, but we worry about turning a Presidential Palace into a museum? What is the economic purpose?

Sadly we live in a country that doesn't even own a viable research and development facility or our own 'Silicon Valley' yet we're hooked on turning everything into museums. Any plans? I want to know!

The petroleum industry is taking off in two months but we don't even have the basic petroleum technology to be thought in our school system. Our school curriculum should address the intricacies of petroleum management in order to prepare our students for this once –in- a- life-time, God-sent blessing.

I have a headache and heartache for shouting out loud. Where is the media when we need it most? Is there any soul in Ghana who is not devoid of humility, humanity and agility to stand up and be counted for decency, prudence and not to put politics above everything else? Come on people, raise up your hand now. We'll no longer be at ease when things fall apart, and the burning bush consumes our lady (mother Ghana) in her prime.

Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi (Voice Of Reason)
* The author is a social commentator and a founder of The Adu-Gyamfi Disadvantage Youth Empowerment and educational foundation.