“I am mindful of the next generation and not the next elections” –Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana
When former president of the US, George W. Bush, left office and he was interviewed by the CNN on the legacy he wished he could leave behind for generations to come to be proud of him, this was what he said, “The fact that I was not able to kill Osama Bin Laden while I was in power, is a legacy I wish I could leave behind for generation yet unborn” In this part of the world, the word legacy is treated lightly and some of our leaders do not care a hoot about leaving behind one, so that long after they have gone children yet unborn will point their fingers at and say, once upon a time our former president did this or that.
Many years after the overthrow of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and his subsequent death, Ghanaians who were not born when the man was in power can point to some of his legacies, like the Tema Harbour, Tema Motorway, the Akosombo Dam, the Job 600, the introduction of free education in the Northern and Upper regions etc. The man dreamt big and did big things for Ghana. No wonder Ghanaians remember him with nostalgia long after his death. Gentlemen like former president Dr. Hilla Limann, former Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, former President John Dramani Mahama, Alban Bagbin, Haruna Iddrisu, countless number of formers and serving military and police officers, professors and top class business men and women etc, benefited from the Osagyefo's project. Ex-President John Mahama's father was a cabinet minister in the Nkrumah regime but he saw the need to take his sons to the Northern Region to enjoy free education. That was why I wet my pants with urine when I laughed at Mr. Mahama when he kicked against the proposed free Senior High School in 2012.
Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia ruled the country for a little over two years but what he left behind as a legacy is enviable. During his time, many villages in this country were not accessible because we had no roads leading to such villages. Instead of concentrating development projects in the big cities, he decided to open up the country by building feeder roads across the length and breadth of Ghana. That was why he was nicknamed 'Kofi Ayiakwan” (Kofi the road builder). If the good old professor were to be alive today he would have cried anytime Accra, the capital city was flooded. He had initiated a comprehensive underground drainage system which would have absorbed all the water anytime it rained. If the Khaki Boys had not overthrown him and killed the dream, that would have been his greatest legacy for Ghanaians. Successive governments did not go for the blue print to continue with the dream and so here we are, struggling to survive any time the heavens open up for the rains to pour.
By the time Rawlings handed over power to the late Dr. Hilla Limann, almost all essential commodities in the country had been sold at give away prices. Rawlings and his Abongo boys introduced what was called “control price” and all the goods on the shelves in the stores and supermarkets were sold out. When Limann held the reins of power he and his able men and women introduced what was called Trade Liberation Police which allowed Ghanaians to import goods into the country without paying taxes. He then ordered four brand new cargo vessels from South Korea to add up to the existing 12 vessels bought by the Osagyefo to facilitate the importation of goods into the country. In a matter of six months, the markets of Ghana were flooded with assorted commodities and the people begun to smile again. If you go to the markets in Ghana today and see assorted essential commodities and other foreign items on display, you must thank Dr. Limann. Like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, former President Limann also planted various types of fingerlings in the Volta Lake and in less than a year, the lake was full of various varieties of fishes imported from Russia. Anytime you cook 'koobi' and enjoy it, thank Dr. Limann and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. It is noteworthy to mention here that Limann was the first president of Ghana to construct an asphalted road from Accra to Takoradi. His minister of Roads and Highways was Colonel Zuarungu who did a yore man's job.
Yes, indeed, Rawlings ruled the country as a de facto military ruler; he did his best and left some enviable legacies. It was Rawlings who introduced the District Assembly concept which allowed the citizens to decide any matter of development for themselves at the district level instead of waiting for the central government to decide for them. The guy also introduced the Junior Secondary School concept which has been able to withstand the test of time. I don't want to use the construction of school , clinics, bole holes, markets etc as a legacy because every government that have come and gone did their part in these areas and as a developing country we will continue to build them. I am talking about “unprecedented legacies”
From the days of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to Dr. Hilla Limann, Ghanaians attended hospital free of charge. It was Rawlings who introduced the Cash and Carry system of health delivery. During the 1996 electioneering campaign, candidate Agyekum Kufuor promised Ghanaians that when voted into power he will do away with the killer Cash and Carry system. When he held the reins of power in 2000, the first thing he did was to introduce the National Health Insurance Scheme on pilot basis. Before he left office the whole country was enjoying the NHIS. Today few people know what is called the Mass Metro Bus transit system. At least my old mother doesn't know what is called Metro Mass Transit. All what she knows if “Kufuor bus”. In fact old men and women as well as school children used to ride these buses free of charge.
Candidate Nana Akufo Addo promised Ghanaians that he was going to introduce free SHS in 2012 but the NDC went to town to “poo poo” the proposed project, saying it will not be possible. NDC apparatchiks who were a little charitable said a free SHS could be possible in 20 years time. Today students from forms one, two and three are attending SHS free and to add sugar in the honey, day students eat one hot meal at launch time. Mr. Okudjato Ablakwa told Ghanaians that the programme would collapse in five years time so we are waiting for the five years to come. If in five years time the free SHS is still operational, Okudjato should quickly go for a crash helmet because what will be coming from the sky will crash his little head.
Our colonial masters built railway lines from Takoradi to Kumasi and from Takoradi to Awaso all because they were exploiting timber, manganese and bauxites from those areas. Subsequent government could not continue building railway lines and Rawlins finally collapsed the Ghana Railway Co-operation. Enter President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the railway lines are on their way to Paga. If finally it becomes a reality (and it will surely come to reality) that will be an unprecedented legacy and the name of the man will be written in gold. Can anyone help me ask Mr. John Dramani Mahama to tell Ghanaians any legacy he left behind for the eight years that he ruled the nation? I know two and they are corruption and incompetence. And this is a man who is staging a comeback!!!
By Eric Bawah