Will You Build A Factory In Ghana, Mr. President?
In the piece, “Of school uniforms and other jazz,” we lamented the lack of shame that made it possible for African misrulers to go to international for and tout their smallish achievements to high heavens.
This is among what we wrote: “If the president is on a campaign stomp and decides to give those types of smallish accomplishment as solid achievements, I would have no problem with it whatsoever. The General Assembly of the United Nations is a World stage. It is the only time of the year that every nation is given EQUAL opportunity to stand before the world and tell its own story in its own words.
That explains why I am so anguished at how our president blew a golden chance to blow our trumpets. He is not on a campaign train for his political party; he stands there as the representative of the Republic of Ghana. Who cares about the provision of school uniforms at the General Assembly of the UN? There are agencies of the UN where such things like school uniforms might be appropriate but certainly not the General Assembly where more ponderous global issues are supposed to find attention.
China and India are nations that are of the same age group as our blessed nation. Can you imagine the president of China or that of India going to a world assembly and touting provision of uniforms as national achievements? Come, on! I say that it is time that we in this country start to get serious. As Shakespeare said, our ambitions should be made of sterner stuffs. Our president travels with his retinue of high officials and hanger-ons.
Can you imagine how much a presidential trips cost the nation? Even if our president is not receiving his own, the fawning officials in his entourage are going to get their per diem paid in dollars. We are not counting the flight and hotel expenses. Gosh! The presidency is such an important office that nothing but the most serious should ever emanate from it.”
That was written in the year 2011. Of course, no one paid a heed. As one Minister once put it to me, “Femi, we read all you write, but we can choose to ignore you because there are so few of you.”
African presidents continue to perform abysmally in the provision of basic amenities for their citizens. Almost sixty years of self-governance, our rulers in Ghana Inc. continue to douse us with plethora of useless statistics. They continue to tell us obscene lies about almost everything. They shower us with fanciful but utterly meaningless macro-economic jargons.
As we have said quite often in this column: those that misrule us should not think that we are deaf, blind and dumb.
There is no need to tell us how our economy is performing: we have the sense to register them.
It is useless for officials to engage in razzle-dazzle. No matter what presidents and their Ministers say, we see more and more of our youth selling bric and bracs in hot sun. We see more and more of our children turning to prostitution. We struggle daily for electricity and for water and for god transportation.
We see inflation inflicting agonies on us. We see the cost of living, literally and figuratively, killing us. And then, we also see that our presidents and their Ministers V8 Jeeps are gleaming. We see our officials continue to take every freebies they can get from the state. We see them continue to insult us by telling us that we lack the wherewithal to provide a common overpass because the IMF did not OK it.
We listened in sadness to the Minister of Labour tell us that he awaits “Friendly Donor Partners” to come to his aid to provide salary increase. We see all these things.
And then we have our President himself attend the 70th meeting of the United Nations General Assembly and tell us what every president has told us since the dawn of history.
However, the part of the president’s speech that left us bewildered was where he talked about his admiration for the modesty the current Pontiff displayed. Here is what the president’s speech-writers made him say: “We adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, we discussed how to establish resilient health systems, we held a summit on peacekeeping, and also strategized on how to deal with religious extremism.
We will take many memories back with us, but for me one remarkable image that made a huge impression on me in the early days of this gathering- was the Pope’s car. It was breathtaking to watch the pontiff as he greeted massive crowds and moved even government officials to tears in an open gallery; but nothing was more breathtaking than watching him entering and being driven through the streets of New York in a tiny Fiat 500.
It was a great metaphor for the times in which we are living, and a powerful lesson about the certain changes we must make to confront our rapidly changing future. There was a strange sense of solidarity that I felt with this small vehicle as I watched it cruise down the street, surrounded—and dwarfed—by such humongous sport utility vehicles. It reminded me of the plight of so-called developing nations in our relationships with the wealthier, larger, more established nations of the world. There is the sense of being protected yet also of being overpowered; of being guided yet also of being intimidated to stay the course that they are navigating.”
Did the president read the speech before he delivered it or did he simply failed to see the irony of it all?
What I do know is that no messenger in Ghana will ride the type of smallish car the Catholic Pontiff rides in.
How can a president that travel in a convoy of gleaming 4-Wheel jeeps go on world stage to proclaim admiration for someone using a Fiat 500?
Ok, we come in a round-about way to the meat of the current story – the question of who will come and set up factory in Ghana Inc.?
We have posited time without number in this column that only speculators will be interested in investing in the type of economy we have in Ghana. The reason is simple and no amount of presidential or ministerial or ambassadorial exhortation will change the fact. Investors are well-connected folks with access to very good and up to date information. They know what each and every country has to offer.
Their embassies are in Accra and, as Wikileaks informed us, they know a lot more than we ourselves know. So, presidents going on foreign trips to ask investors to come and build shops in Ghana and help change the current sad state of exporting materials in their raw states is simply a waste of time and resources.
What we can do is what other countries did – get the basics like good roads, adequate electricity and quality telecommunication infrastructure in place and investors will troop in of their own accord.
Were I to have the opportunity to interview the president on his call for investor to come and build factories in Ghana, my one and only question will be: “Mr. President, will you yourself build a factory in a country like Ghana?
Plug for Femi Akomolafe books
Femi Akomolafe is a Freelance writer, Author, Film & Video Documentary Producer, IT Consultant and Web-Designer.
His highly-acclaimed books (Africa: Destroyed by the gods,” and “Africa: It shall be well,” are now available for sales at the following bookshops/offices:
- Freedom Bookshop, near Apollo Theatre, Accra.
- The Daily Dispatch Office, Labone - Accra
- WEB Dubois Pan-African Centre, Accra
- Ghana Writers Association office, PAWA House, Roman Ridge, Accra.
- Nana Kwaku Nketsia, +233-27-8599250
They are also available on the internet. Here are useful links:
1. Africa: it shall be well: http://alaye.biz/africa-it-shall-be-well-introduction-in-pdf/
Africa: it shall be well is available for sale on Kindle books at this link: https://www.createspace.com/4820404
A FREE Chapter of ‘Africa: It shall be well’ could be downloaded here: http://alaye.biz/africa-it-shall-be-well-a-free-chapter/
2. Africa: Destroyed by the gods (How religiosity destroyed Africa) http://alaye.biz/africa-destroyed-by-the-gods-introduction/
Africa: Destroyed by the gods is available for sale on Kindle books at this link: https://www.createspace.com/4811974
A FREE Chapter of ‘Africa: Destroyed by the gods’ could be downloaded here: http://alaye.biz/africa-destroyed-by-the-gods-free-chapter/
Read a review here
Femi maintains a blog @: www.alaye.biz/category/blog
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Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Femi Akomolafe and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana.