When Africa's first elected female head of state, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was sworn in Monday as war-battered Liberia's new president, core to her inaugural speech was promising a “fundamental break” with our neighbouring country's violent past and pledging to rebuild.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's congratulatory message to Johnson-Sirleaf re-enforced this sentiment when he said she has a “historic mandate to lead the nation toward a future of lasting peace and stability.”
Even with unemployment around 80 percent, ensuring Liberia remains peaceful will be Johnson-Sirleaf's most pressing — and perhaps most difficult — task. To bring the issue closer home was the fact that US First Lady Laura Bush chose to spend her nights in the sub-region here in Accra but not in Monrovia, Freetown, Banjul or even Abuja. Commentators and journalists in America were unanimous in saying that their First Lady chose Ghana because Ghana is a haven in a troubled region.
A visit to Lome brings home how non-benevolent dictatorship can put off investors. A visit to Lagos shows how corruption can scare away many good people. A day in Freetown will tell you how a capital city ravaged by war can be overwhelmed with “Pan Body” (shacks). Drive a couple of hours to Monrovia and notice the challenges, like the country eastward of Liberia, of rebuilding a nation with about 70 percent people uneducated.
On your way back home, just attempt a quick stopover at Abidjan and see for yourself how a country with so much political and economic stability can lose it all to conflict in a matter of a single coup d'etat.
Ghana has not experienced a single successful coup d'etat since January 1, 1982. Better still, the Fourth Republic has endured and grown in the last 13 years.
That is not to say that the anti-social elements of destruction and instability are no longer with us. Security information available to The Statesman suggests that several attempts have been cultivated to upset the country's positive destiny with sustained development.
Mistakes of a ruling party, that should merely add to the basket of determinant issues in an election year, are flown about as reasons why Ghanaians should not wait until a government's four-year mandate lapses to vote their disapproval or otherwise.
There are unsung heroes. They include one personality who is hardly seen and usually only heard from the lips of Victor Smith or read in the pro-Rawlings newspapers. His name is Francis Poku. A man who has, with the help of committed lieutenants, maintained the peace and stability that we are increasingly taking for granted.
But, beyond the successful covert vigilance of our security agents, the greatest human element of influence on Ghana's stability today has been President Kufuor. His humility and tolerance have not been lost on the people he was expected to Lord over. He is the greatest influence against instability because the major condition that gives motivation to the agents of instability to strike is the people.
Thankfully, the people of Ghana have had the sense of mind to appreciate the progress being made. The people of Ghana know that when the floodgates of freedom are wide-opened they do not mean that the tributaries through which they can now freely flow have increased. New lakes of corruption and administrative failings have not been created. What has happened is that lakes that were compelled by the suffocation of freedom to dry up have now been hydrated by a nation that has confidently destroyed that man-made dam of suppression, oppression and repression.
We may say anything against the NPP, but we cannot say that the party in government has sinned against its motto: Development in Freedom. Unfortunately, rather than taking advantage of this refreshing environment of freedom, several Ghanaians continue to be misled by the relentless political campaign of pessimism and destitution pursued by the detractors of progress. Ghanaians, without a proper scientific comparison, have chosen to overplay the hit song: No Money Inna Pocket. But, while we sit and sigh, others with eyes to see are taking advantage of the record economic, social and political stability currently available.
A look at the banking sector and the rush of Nigerian players must serve as an indication. The Lebanese continue to expand their hold on the economy with more chains of shops. More and more foreigners are entrenching their foothold in the economy from telecommunications to restaurants.
If the indigenous people do not begin celebrating the opportunities they have brought about themselves through the ballot, they would have no one but themselves to blame. Our only plea with Government is to let its policies of giving a bias support to indigenous enterprises be clear, seen and felt.