99 Problems…And Counting

Permit me to draw from the famous philosophy of the inspirational Martin Luther King Jnr, – I too had a dream…a dream of prosperity, a dream of ambition and a dream of revolutionary advancement. A dream in which my homeland Ghana, is the epitome of economic development and a beaconing light to a new emerging Africa. I eagerly watched as the transformation from dream to reality was unfolding. I even set aside my selfish ambitions and return home in order to add my might to the mounting glory. However, this was shorted lived, as greed, corruption and utter mismanagement continues to threaten the transition of wishful thinking into factual being.

The irony of textbook democracy- when the decision of the masses inadvertently derails the agenda for social progress and betterment; and embodies a deadly cancer that remains detrimental to the development of society and ultimately the well-being of the citizenry. A poetic justice; birthed by ignorance and misguided trust. Nevertheless, one would like to believe that hope is not completely lost – it is realized with the education of the masses and their ability to identify their misinformed folly of the past and to make the necessary strides to reset the course for change. There is, however, much cause for alarm if telltale signs point to the possibility of history repeating itself. The latter is not so far-fetched, when citizens put their faith in politicians and elected government official who gain confidence by spinning tall tales and promising the world, only to turn a blind eye to the worries and plights of the citizens who elected them in the first place.  However the question remains: is this just blatant disregard for the woes of the people or signs of an incompetent lot who have bitten more than they can chew… or a permutation of both?

My choice of heading….99 Problems – a famous song title by the talented superstar and rapper Jay-Z, best emphasizes  my frustrations with what is wrong with modern day Ghana. Surely Jay-Z had his own share of problems when he birthed lyrics to this title however I will bet my last pesewa that our current problems as citizens is definitely worth a song or two.. Ghana was once seen as the rising star of West Africa as she cultivated a future of opportunities and growth. However modern day Ghana is a ghost of its potential and stand as a dimming star amongst the international community. As a result of complacency, corruption, selfishness, mismanagement of resources by our elected officials, our future remains bleak!

Our current headaches as a country are testament to the lack of foresight of past and present governments alike.  Unfortunately, or fortunately – depending on your outlook of things – we live in a reactive society.  Proactivity is a concept lost on our religious beliefs that we need to cast our worries on the mercy of God to deliver us out of times of stress and discomfort. Not to say I don’t subscribe to the power of prayer and faith, however I like my faith and prayer accompanied with action. As the coined cliché goes, ‘God helps those who help themselves”. Planning, forecasting and determined action, coupled with faith is the more responsible and practical thing to do! We find ourselves in an ailing economy, with a continuing depreciating currency, ineffective policies and sub-par infrastructure due to the lack of earnest planning and targeted action. Our social amenities are deteriorating because in most cases we are still reliant on solutions and options provided decades ago, not taking into account that the demands of those times were just a mere fraction of the demands of today. One would deduce that our ballooned population would be indication enough to devise more innovative and forward thinking solutions to our demands and issues. But wait, our educational system is still trending in the pre-historic times, supporting our outmoded ways of thinking and in most cases we prefer to subscribe to copy and paste models. rather than copy and modify. I am no economist, but simple common sense necessitates the need to revamp policies and processes to mirror the current situation; however the key in doing this is doing it on a pre-emptive basis – before things get out of hand!  Instead we find ourselves running helter skelter and fumbling with short term solution and fixes that do not amount to anything but just compound our existing issues.

Our current power crisis is a textbook example of our lack of planning and targeted action, our complacency, our lack of foresight and proactivity to changing situations. It is mind blowing to know that over fifty percent of power generation in this country is still dependent on hydro-electrical power – a solution provided by our forefathers.  The irony lies in the fact that the population then was a mere fraction of today’s population. It is quite absurd to think that with all Ghana’s highly educated lot with their many accolades and countless degrees, we have not been able to devise sustainable alternative ways to generate power! Are we lacking in the revolutionary, change seeking, and innovative individuals or is our extent to idea generation limited by our greed for money and our inability to see past our own selfish advancement? If an idea does not fall in line with our personal wealth generation- despite the possibility of it jump starting growth and development on a national scale – sadly it seizes to be a viable option.

Now let me play devil’s advocate -; in the absence of economic indicators, let’s assume the signs were elusive and our top economists were clueless to the fact that Ghana was heading towards an energy crisis – surely the persisting power problem plaguing our neighbor Nigeria is something to be abated by. Best practices, information sharing and idea generation – aren’t these some of the fundamental reasons ECOWAS, AU and other international alliances were created? Or maybe I was misinformed – they are just platforms for African leaders to show off their personal wealth and make small talk on what is trending in their pop culture! It would be unfair on my part to assume that the incumbent government had no ‘intel’ that the power crisis would get worse, especially if it was a resounding headline in their manifesto to come into power and solve the power crisis. Dare I ask the question…” So what happened?”  I will give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that the eminent power crisis was not just a line item in their manifesto script in order to win votes, but a well-planned matrix with all the bells and whistles and a succession plan to boot. So what happened? Unfortunately, that is as far as my guessing would go, although I can only speculate that misappropriation of resources, lack of foresight, planning, subject matter experts and follow through action is what got us to this point of despair! Here’s a theory; their succession plans revolved around the promise of bountiful rains from the heavens above to sustain our hydro-electric power as the ultimate option to fall on. Unfortunately, even God cannot be bamboozled by the folly and indiscipline of man. Call it procrastination or complete negligence; fast forward to present day Ghana, in the 21st. Century, electricity is being rationed like UNICEF care-packs in a refugee camp!  A basic necessity seizes to be so basic, as local businesses are pruning staff or better yet shutting down completely and the quality of living for the average Ghanaian is gradually meandering to unbearable!

Addressing the woes of the citizenry has become burdensome or so the current government has portrayed as our complaints are only welcomed by further price hikes, inflation and insensitive, outright rude insinuations and comments by government officials who are quick to downplay how dire the situation really is. Instead they label us as delusional and ungrateful for the current mess we find ourselves in.

“A mess” is actually putting it mildly. Unfortunately, power is only one of the many failing sectors – the cancer is deep rooted and the result is wide spread. Permit me to take you down memory lane to look at some past government and how they etched their legacy into the history books. Past governments are known for their strong hold in at least one sector . For example the Nkrumah government propagated the importance of nationalism, self sufficiency and the promotion of social advancement as a country. The Rawlings administration adhered to a heightened level of security and strengthening of grass-root mobilization. The dawn of capitalism and investment promotion was birthed during the Kuffor regime. The influx of international investors and opportunities kept the economy afloat. However, the current administration seems to be lost in translation as it is difficult to pinpoint what industry they have mastered. A health check of the sectors in current day Ghana would reveal a failing grade in most, if not all. Education is an ailing institution in this country as students are deprived of the basic needs for school going children and the current curriculum is outdated and below par. Security is a joke lost on our boys in blue as they seem to have forgotten their pledge to serve and protect.  Instead they endanger the lives of motorists as they partake in stunt driving towards on-coming traffic and are a symbol of bribery and disorder. Unemployment is at an unprecedented high as young graduates cannot find sustainable employment and the power crisis is contributing to more layoffs as businesses are shutting down. Our hospitals and health systems are skeletons of what they need to be, whiles our young doctors are being slighted of their monthly due – but interestingly enough the ministers responsible for these institutions are being compensated ten times over. The quality of living in Ghana is in the pits. The citizens are paying for the failure and incompetence of government – amidst tax increases, sky rocketing inflation, the crippled Cedi and poor fiscal planning.

Now we cannot create such a mess and not draw from lessons learnt. Redemption lies in our ability to review the past and make important forward looking decisions. At this point it is pertinent that we envision a course for change. The truest form of Democracy is evident in the power of the people and making their voices heard. If the voice of the people is not heeded then we seize to be a democratic society. Currently we practice a hybrid rule of law where we may claim to be democratic but our actions are still in line with the practices of a traditional chieftaincy rule; where the people are humbled into silence and cannot demand their rights and keep those in power accountable for their actions. Not only is this problematic in theory but also very dangerous and detrimental in practice. As a people we need to commandeer our democratic rights and refuse governments that do not propel the interest of the country but rather hide behind a bunch of lies and smoke screens in order to promote personal agendas. The onerous lies on us the citizenry to demand what is ours; however we are far from this reality without the adequate amount of education on how democracy is supposed to work. That in itself seems like a big pill to swallow however, let us not be intimidated by the immensity of the task because there are ways around it. Everyone has to do their share – grass root informal education begins with educating those in your immediate environs who may not understand the issues. Propagate the word in plain language to the lay man on the street, to the illiterate family member, to the struggling workers who may not understand the power their vote has in a democratic society. We need to sit up and demand more for our mother Ghana because she deserves it. I would like to believe I am doing the little I can to communicate to the masses the best way I know how. Like a new conquest on the dating scene, let us put our prospective suitors (that is the running parties) to work. Carry your vote with pride and let them know that your vote cannot be bought by a measly pack of lunch on voting day or by a few Cedis that would probably not last you for even a tenth of the their tenure in office. Respect yourself as a voter and don’t sell your vote to the highest bidder but to the one with the vision to take the country to the next level in our development!. The current government has failed the Ghanaian people and the situation is dire but hope is not completely lost if we ground our decisions towards the greater good of our motherland!

Now a word of caution to incumbent and aspirant governments for 2016 – let us put our best foot forward but not with empty manifestos and flamboyant speeches. Back those aspirations with actual detailed blueprints and planning enforced with innovative solutions and expected results. The Ghanaian people will not be led blindly again so I implore you to start working now. Don’t come with half -baked plans that have not been well thought out. We want all the bells and whistles…the whole nine yards – short, medium and long term planning on how we will continue as a nation. We want foresight and forward thinking, practical applications – let us leave the theory and useless debates at home! Talk is cheap but action is divine.  Ghanaians will no longer tolerate incompetence and complacency amidst outmoded practices and stereotypical thinking. We want out of the box thinking infused with strategic goal setting. We have a tall list of demands, as such I will suggest you get to work NOW! Our motherland is sick and we are in the market for a medical team efficiently staffed with subject matter experts, innovative yet sustainable solutions to our 101 issues, and practices that will steer us to rehabilitation. We are looking for a government that is not afraid to cut out the cancers and that can hit the ground running. The history clock is ticking and Mother Ghana is way behind schedule! Lets all do our parts as citizens of this great country or else see it crumble into pieces.


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