24.02.2014 Feature Article


24.02.2014 LISTEN

Dear Mr President,

I trust that the better Ghana agenda is bettering you. Like my fellow Ghanaian, Bukom Banku said “When a vulture shake their waist, it is cover their sons.” – I am writing with a desperate concern for Ghana and the future of the generations after us.

In case those around you haven't told you, not many people in or from Ghana are very happy with current state of affairs. I figured since we voted your party and all the others before you into power and yet things are still displeasing, I should at least, try and help you get some of it right.

I haven't been president before, so I don't know about its daily workings. What I can say however, is that in the Bible book of Exodus 18; Jethro was not the leader of 2.5 million Israelites, he did no miracles before Pharaoh, neither did he part the red sea; yet, it was he, who taught Moses, the first ever system of democratic governance, which by refinement, we enjoy today. I simply wish to communicate here, some truths; truths I believe will benefit your leadership personally, and deliver some prosperity to Ghana eventually. Some relate to your governance, others to national policies, insights into the future of the world, and yet some, purely philosophical.

You may not accept everything I say here; luckily, my sole responsibility is to communicate these truths to you. Pardon my directness sir, it's been with me from childhood! Now let us start.

Pay The Devil As An Advocate:
You may have heard the term “Devil's Advocate” as one, who, in any argument, takes a position s/he doesn't necessarily agree with, but for the sake of a debate's wholesomeness. In order words, s/he finds all the supporting justifications to say “No” to a deliberation even when 99.99% of the team says “Yes” – it ensures that everybody who said yes, gets the opportunity to judge their decisions from both angles. I am only recommending that you actually employ a knowledgeable, independent, non-party affiliated person to be your permanent devil's advocate. Why you may ask? Because you are surrounded by too many people who would gladly say yes, or no to you, as long as it satisfies their stomachs and not the people of Ghana.

One Logologo Line Of Direction:
Sir, we both know Ghana has cocoa, gold, timber, oil, tourism, etc. and yet we have a zero winning edge in any of these trading lines – that's why we don't “count” on the world stage. Why? – we are spreading our efforts too thin on everything and not focused on any. My suggestion sir is that we ought to focus on three or so trading lines, then, redirect every energy, resource, technology and policy, to back them and make them our winning competitive portfolio – this is basic economics. Sir, I would even dare suggest that education could be one of them (brain power). It is not a traditional option, but it could mean we're consistently producing very high calibre human capital. It will not only support Ghana's own development, but make Ghana a skilled resource hub for Africa and international businesses. Yes we can export “brain power” and believe me sir, it is the only export item that exponentially rises in value the more it is used.

These Econo-Comic Gurus Of Yours:
I know you have a lot of economic gurus plaguing you like leeches both internally and externally; each touting their economic models and policies as the best for Ghana. I don't envy you sir – but I would prescribe a simple 4-tier mechanism by which you can minimize the error of selecting the wrong economic policies incessantly presented to you. Faced, with economic policy decisions, please always consider the following: (i) if the policy is based on demand and supply, question how the demand has been arrived at. Sir, most are likely to equate demand to the needs of the people, but the truth is, demand is “need” backed by the availability of purchasing power to satisfy those needs. If most Ghanaians do not have the means to satisfy the needs being referred to by the policy, it is NOT demand, and it is NOT a sound policy. And let no man lie to you sir – that purchasing power can be created by printing money all the time – no, that is called, printing inflation. Purchasing power must be earned, not printed. (ii) For any economic policy placed before you, question whether or not their benefits are for the short term, long term or both. If most of its benefit is for just the short term, it will fail in a few years, because it is short-sighted. (iii) All economic policies must answer the question whether the benefits they profess is for a few Ghanaians or most Ghanaians. If this data is missing, unsupported or vague, it is not a well thought-out policy. (iv) Is the economic policy “double-ended” or a “one-way-street”? If it is a one-way-street policy, it will not be sustainable. By double-ended, let's take an everyday example. An double-end economic policy is like a farmer. One end of his success involves buying seeds, hoes, fertiliser etc. – suppliers to the farmer earn and thus remain in productivity. The other end of his success is that when his maize is harvested, he sells to the kenkey seller who also uses it to produce kenkey, selling to farmer and fertilizer seller, etc. The productivity or earning cycle never ceases. There are other economic policies that operate like the real estate industry; one man builds houses, rents it out to the farmer or kenkey seller and it ends there – neither of the latter, can use the house as an input to increase their own productivities. If anything, it takes away their earnings Only the landlord has productivity. Sir, hopefully, now, you can spot a seeming good or seemingly not-too-good economic policy. It won't be that easy, but at least you have an idea.

Let's See By Hands The Professionals:
Sir, I have to be very blunt on this one – I feel the practice of appointing party-faithfuls to man the core national sectors and ministries, is doing more harm than good. It doesn't apply to only your party, I must say, but in any case, you are in power now so I am telling you. They have “chopped some” so please, now would be a good time for the incompetents to go. If they have no proven knowledge, business orientation, or managing skillset for their areas of respective appointments, then they genuinely have no business being in those positions. You can't expect these departments to deliver value to Ghana, when the women in their driving seats do not thoroughly understand the “value-creation” process themselves. Sir, if you hold on to this “party-faithfuls” agenda and they fail in their roles, believe me, your party or the Ghanaian people will “faithfully” dispose of you too – it is not a threat sir, it's a promise. Ghana does not lack professionals and you know that. You know that very very well. Wo nim paaaa!

Education, Innovation, Entrepreneurship:
Sir, our educational system has got to change. It's bluntly as true as that. The teaching focus has to shift from the theory and history of problems that have existed and solutions that have been found, to a more proactive and technologically infused focus which teaches our students “HOW to anticipate future needs and HOW to create solutions to them.” Our teachers have to be trained to accept that real teaching is in helping students to be curious enough to challenge all thinking and accepted truth, including that of the teacher. The future competitiveness of the education we're giving our children today should not be measured by their ability to think what everybody else is thinking, but rather, their ability to lead future solution-oriented thinking for everyone else to follow. If we do this, they, won't come out of our educational systems, feeling the only option they have is to look for jobs, but will confidently create their own employments in Ghana and beyond, by being providers of solution to a world that no more has barriers. This early and continuous entrepreneurship psyching is what creates strong economies – creating enabling environments and support for all citizens to become solution givers. Believe this truth sir – it is entrepreneurs and creative thinkers that create jobs, not government. Your only business is to be the forceful and friendliest enabler of entrepreneurship, not its manager.

If Only You Will Believe In Ghana:
Sir, I am not being sarcastic OK. I know you are the president and all, but, you need to believe in Ghana more, beyond the paper-based “better Ghana agenda”. That means, believing that the solutions you need to reset this great nation on course, can be found within Ghana and in Ghanaians. It also means sir; you must be bold to insist that some of the rules (written and especially unwritten) must NOT favour foreigners more than it does Ghanaians. Yes sir, it means listening a lot less to all those external consultants who claim to know more about Ghana and its workings than Ghanaians themselves. Sir, finally, it means saying no sometimes, where you have to choose between the good of Ghana and international, party or diplomatic isolation. But in whatever shape or form, you have to show yourself strongly as having only Ghana's interest.

Indiscipline Is Not Good Enough:
Sir, discipline and indiscipline are both like eggs – the difference is, one is fried and the other is boiled. There are too many things happening in Ghana that is making us an international laughing stock. I know you are a nice man, but as a president, some crocodile skin helps. I think you need to exert some hard discipline and tough love throughout the nation. From the cabinet, ministries right down to citizens. The whole corruption in public offices; parliamentarians wasting public money debating about “Tweaaaa”; indiscriminate pulling down of toll booths; Chinese citizens mining illegally; workers at Tema harbour intentionally delaying clearances; right down to distasteful defamations on media airwaves; and the citizen who drives on the pavement – it all comes down to this fact: they are happening because we tolerate and reward indiscipline. It's about time you are HARD sir. That's one of the pecks of being the Commander in Chief – Hard! The nonsense is just becoming too much, and it's beginning to stain your shirt.

Finally, sir, I wish to bring your attention to certain directions in which the future seems to be headed. I feel, that understanding them will help guide your personal governance decisions. I will make them short and snappy:

1. Traditional competitive-advantages no more exist with natural resources – that's why we need to start thinking beyond export of raw materials only. Technology and innovation is wiping out the level playing field. As such, we need to be strongly combining heavy technology with our traditional competitive asset lines and make them more valuable.

2. The only two defining factors about the world today and the future ahead of us, are “uncertainty” and “fast-pace.” And neither of them will stop anytime soon. The only way around them, is to define, carve and create OUR own futures.

3. Survival and safety can no more be found in simply being part of the African Union or by creating economic alliances with other countries. Survival and safety will only be found in aspiring to position Ghana, not where everybody is headed (it'll be too late by then) but rather where everybody wants to be. We need to find ways of being ahead consciously.

4. Our future can no more be planned by counting on the past and its glories. Our modern world seems totally disconnected from the past. It is worrying, but it is equally an opportunity for us to create a brand new tomorrow that can work for us. We can't just sit down for tomorrow to meet us, else, it will be a tomorrow someone else has created. I suggest, sir, in the light of this, that you get together a team, whose ONLY duty is to LEAD thinking on ways in which Ghana can be in the future before other African states do.

5. In the future, the only way to saving money will be to “make it” – that's the reason why you need your ministers to be witty and very business minded.

Again, as my exemplary citizen of the year, Bukom Banku said “A talking plenty cannot let dead man ear you” – You are not die yet Mr President so please, I am ope that you ave ear me.

Mr. Marricke Kofi Gane
[email protected]