I have consistently held the view that Ghana, as a geographical entity, is a blessed nation which lacks nothing that any nation needs to hold its chest out. The problem the nation Ghana has is the attitude of the people put on the land called Ghana. Nay, others may argue that changing circumstances have changed the kind of people on this land called Ghana. In times past, the people on this land were so patriotic and nationalistic that everything they did was in the best interest of mother Ghana.
Ghana has been so sincere and honest with us such that it has offered us everything that should make us a proud people, comfortable in our lives among the comity of nations. Sadly, we have grossly maltreated this nation in a manner that has taken away its pride and sovereignty such that our international reputation is dwindling just as our assertiveness as an independent country weakens.
Over the past three decades and more we, as a people, have treated this otherwise great nation so badly that it seems there is no hope for the younger generation and the generation after them. To the younger generation, meritocracy does not exist in Ghana or they have never seen one. All they know are 'clannism', 'homeboyism', nepotism, who is at the top and which school he attended and which school you attended.
They have lost confidence in their ability to climb to the top without someone holding their arms instead of the structures holding them up. It is amazing how some sons and daughters of this beautiful country can be so callous in terms of ripping off this nation in a manner that further deepens our woes on an hourly basis.
Last week, we were told that the Ministry of Works and Housing awarded a contract for the construction of 5000 houses at a contract sum of $US200 million at Saglemi in the Greater Accra Region. This contract, we are told, was approved by the Parliament of the Republic and subsequently reviewed by the ministry under the leadership of the then Minister, Alhaji Collins Dauda (take note of his religious title) and the units of houses reduced to 1,502 for the same amount of money without recourse to Parliament. Strangely, the cost of the 1,502 units of houses remained $US200 million even as the nation, by that reviewed agreement, had lost 3,498 units of houses. Per my arithmetic calculations, 5000 units of houses at $US200 million works out to $US40,000 per unit, that is about GH¢200,000 per unit. Simple calculations will indicate that the reduction of the units to 1,502, should, all things being equal, have cost the nation $S60,080,000 or GH¢300,400,000.
We are told that the original contract sum of $US200 million remained the same, thus increasing the per unit cost of the house to $US133,156 or GH¢665,775 per unit. Unless it can be argued and proven that inflation within the period under discussion rose by over 250 per cent, then there can never be any justification for the unit price following the downward review of the units of houses originally approved by Parliament in the first instance.
It beats me and surely any patriotic citizen of any nation to sell a product worth $US60 million on behalf of his nation to a foreigner for $US200 million. What would be the motivating factor in this scenario? We live in a country where poverty is so rife, good drinking water is a scarce commodity for the majority of the people, children as young as five years lie on their stomachs to learn and take exams in what is classified as classrooms.
Filth has engulfed the nation in bountiful heaps, good enough for negative tourism. Out of this, malaria remains a first-class killer in our country, taking away people of various ages, particularly the poor in very poor communities. Drains are choked and seriously silted to the extent that an hour's drizzle of rains is enough to take away lives. And under a government, elected by the people and entrusted with the power and authority to use our collective resources to create 'Life and Living' for all of us, a decision is made by a minister to shortchange all of us in a manner that is everything but honesty, decency and patriotism.
I am very sure that Alhaji Collins Dauda, as a Member of Parliament (MP), has a lot of problems confronting him from his constituents, particularly in the area of potable water. Many rural communities have challenges of accessing potable healthy water and the constituency of the MP would not be excluded from this national need.
Can anyone imagine how many boreholes almost $US140 million could have provided for the poor farmers and workers in Asunafo south or north where he is the MP, assuming the nation decided to spend that much money to address the water needs of the good people in that constituency?
More still, if the money had been directed towards road construction in his constituency, can anyone guess the length of feeder roads within the constituency that would have been reasonably good enough for transportation to and fro for the poor farmers? It is such acts attributed to public officers above which push us into borrowing with pride. The other time, it was an expected $US3 billion by the Atta Mills regime; today, it is $US2 billion. We cannot even protect what we have here.
When at all are we going to have leaders who love this country more than themselves? Where are we going to go with the amount of stolen wealth when majority of the people on whose behalf they are in office wallow in want of the basic necessities of life? I have read and seen videos of Omar Al Bashiru of Sudan, who ruled for 30 years, being transported in trucks good enough for cattle to prison just a few weeks after his reign came to an end. Of what use would his stolen wealth that impoverished his people be to him?
Ghana's soul is diminishing on a daily basis – a nation built on the foundation of pride whose sons and daughters lacked nothing, as it were. A nation which other people prided themselves as its citizens is today begging for even the things that are available to us. By our own deeds, we have sunk into poverty and basic necessities have become luxuries for us.
So terrible is the situation that foreigners can walk into this country and break our laws with impunity and yet we lack the courage to even use our own laws to punish them. Well, the poor have no voice no matter how hard they shout; our poverty is self -inflicted.
Is that where we have gotten to – that when foreigners commit crimes in this country, because we want money from their countries, we are cowed into abandoning the enforcement of our laws to serve as a deterrent to others? How many Ghanaians have we not put in jail for engaging in illegal mining in Ghana? Ayisha Huang and her Chinese compatriots can commit crimes in Ghana and all we can do is to send them back to their country to enjoy their criminal loot?
Have we found out how many Ghanaians are in Chinese jails for breaking their laws there? Poverty, you are my child's woes. As a people, should that not be a lesson to all of us to love this country and be more patriotic than we have been so that our children's children do not suffer the ignominy of being maltreated by foreigners in their own land?
If public officers will go to the extent of selling the country for personal interest other than national interest, then Ghana's soul will be wailing and weeping on the outskirts of the land. Poor you, Akua Ghana! Daavi, give me four tots.
From Kwesi Biney
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