More than half a century ago, a group of honorable men and women, led by the famous Big Six, championed the liberation of our country from colonial rule. It was a pacesetting event for our continent. Everyone looked up to us, and they do keep looking up to us. Now, more than fifty years, let's reflect on what we've achieved: close to nothing! We still have a president who cutts sod for the construction of primary school blocks and boreholes and such basic stuff which should have be done a long time ago. These, and other problems, can be eliminated in few months if those who take the decisions are willing to do it.
Amongst our biggest problems is that of health care. Poorly equipped health facilities compounded with few medical personnel who end up leaving our shores to seek greener pastures due to poor conditions of service amongst other things. Our government conceived a brilliant idea many years ago; to import foreign doctors and pay them very good salaries that they will send back to their country so that our dear cedi will keep loosing value. And they keep doing that. This current government has won the problem solving competition by deciding to train 250 Ghanaian students abroad. ABA! Has anybody asked under what terms and conditions another country will train 250 DOCTORS for us? It's certainly no free! If our leaders are reading this, please whatever amount of cash you'll be using for this, keep it inside of Ghana and use it to build a medical school in one of the regional hospitals. It will serve more than 250 people. Had we known the conditions under which these people would do their training abroad, we would have thought twice, and kept our dear cedi to ourselves. “All that glitters is not gold”.
Back in primary school, my teachers taught me how to count. I have been counting the ins and the outs of our economy. I think the outs are more that the ins, and I think that's not very smart. We borrow so much money, to the extent that in the last 3 years our external debt has doubled, to build classrooms and roads, and other things that no one sees! On these loans, we are going to pay so much interest. So at the end of the day, we loose lots of money. Who will knock his chest and admit that he took these dumb decisions on our behalf? With primary school math, you can see what is happening, yet those who take these decisions are very learned personalities with Ph.D.'s etc. So I ask, is it that our leaders are trying to play smart with us, or that the foreign “development partners” are playing with our leaders ignorance?
The sovereignty of country, in my opinion, depends on how much she can do for herself. In this modern day and age, almost all of this power depends on how much cash the country has. We have a lot of power in our industries (mines, etc) and services (provided by our people). Did you know that we earn just about nothing from our minerals? Because some very smart persons gave them all up to foreign investors, when they were supposed to have negotiated on our behalf. I think if such endeavors wouldn't bring any benefit to the ordinary Ghanaian, we should leave it untapped than to give it away for free. At least we can keep it intact until me can mine it ourselves.
I'll like to use a few countries us examples: Venezuela, a country the size of Nigeria, with about 30 million people, is one of the world's leading producers of petroleum. Yet for a long time, this country didn't benefit much from this product. Not until a visionary leader came along a couple of years ago and turned this round. Now in Venezuela, the Venezuelan is a priority. As for the United Arab Emirates, I would leave it to you to analyze. If we start to think properly, we can do a lot with the very little we have. It's up to those we elect as leaders; in other words, it's up to us, the electorate, who elect them.
As for the quality of our leaders, I don't know, but I think we vote for the wrong people all the time. They keep taking sick decisions on our behalf, and take us for a ride, because we seem to be ready to die for them. They count on our votes, and surprisingly we give it to them. I think we have some really serious leaders who are willing to turn things around and yet don't get the chance because we don't give it to them. Unless they join the two big parties, they may never win elections. We must break this cycle if we have our country at heart. Vote for individual competence instead of parties. Next time you're going to leave your thumbprint on a ballot paper, remember the National pledge, and decide wisely. It's a guess you are taking by voting for whoever you want to vote for, if that person ends up messing up our country YOU are to blame as well. So please choose wisely.
On the issue of patriotism, I think we don't have the value inculcated into us. That to me, is the root of all our problems. Once we put our country first in all our endeavors, we should begin to see progress. And we fail to recognize those few who put the country first. Public service should be a sacrifice not a gold mine that it has become today for those who want to get rich quickly. To do this, the conditions around such positions should reflect it as such, reduce the conditions of service and see how many will be willing to serve their country. When it comes to leader who commits a crime or any such thing, sacking him is not a solution, as happens frequently. Taking him to court and retrieving lost assets (where the case applies) should come first. After all, it he steals and he's sacked, he'll still be a happy (rich) man.
Think about this funny scenario: we give our mineral reserves to foreign investors almost for free. They mine, take the money away and stash it in their banks. When we need money, we go and borrow what used to be “our money” and before they lend to to us, they give us very strict conditions that benefit them at the end of the day, and our learned leaders quickly accept these terms. They say “it is only a fool whose testicles are stepped upon twice”. How many times have we had ours stepped on? We've lost count. I think Dr. Kwame Nkrumah will be very disappointed at what we've done with the country he left for us.
God Bless Our Homeland Ghana.
Andrew S. Dzebu,