On Friday 6th March, 2015, Ghana turns 58. That is quite a milestone, in terms of age. But in terms of achievements, she falls far below her peers with Malaysia and Singapore miles ahead of her. Just imagine Ghana as a 58 year old human being, with only two years left before retirement, the situation will be dire if not bleak. What does she have to show for the many years of running round in circles? Absolutely nothing. It means the only investments she can boast of are the many times she spent at a bar, alcoholic beverages eating away at her beauty. And with a figure like a malnourished child in a displaced refugee camp, she still thinks the two years left offer hope.
Though I concede that two years can change the fortunes of an individual, I don’t see that happening in the person called Ghana. If you can’t fix your life in fifty-eight years, what else can you do before your 60th birthday? That’s the more reason why I think we should be mourning on Friday instead of celebrating. What is there to celebrate?
This country was and is blessed with resources and has the capability of being as successful as those she started life with; countries such as Malaysia, South Korea, and others.
Ghana and Malaysia took off at the same time in 1957. Those who were in that era said we were ‘blessed’other countries looked on us with envy. Natural resources and skilled men and women were in abundance. We were the pride of Africa, if not the world. We had everything needed to become a wealthy country. Our wings were strong enough that we could fly for hours without getting tired. That was in 1957.
Fastforward to 2015 and the situation is pitiable, to say the least. Malaysia is miles ahead of us in terms of economic success. According to a report in the British Financial Times newspaper, “The Malaysian economy expanded at its fastest rate in four years in 2014, with a GDP of 6 per cent outpacing economists’ estimates,” adding further “Malaysia benefits from a low unemployment rate of 3. 1 per cent and a growing middle class.” That is Malaysia, a country we started life with but now wouldn’t mind receiving assistance from.
I am not, by this, suggesting Malaysia hasn’t got her own problems, no. She does have issues including human rights abuses of perceived political opponents. The imprisonment of the leader of the Peoples Justice Party, former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, in what most critics describe as ‘trumped up’ charges still remains a scar on the country’s conscience.
But Malaysia’s troubles are greatly overshadowed by a resilient economy, reduction in unemployment and a sustainable power supply. Ghana @ 58 is suffocating under enormous economic difficulties; rising unemployment, inflation and corruption. Ahead of the anniversary, the country is crawling to find a solution to a worsening power crisis which has resulted in job cuts particularly in the private sector. People are losing their jobs at a rapid rate because employers are unable to retain them. Each redundancy has implications for families, too.
The power crisis is now in its third year and, despite the many assurances from government, it doesn’t look like the solution will be found today or tomorrow. The Minister for Power, Dr. Kwabena Donkor, declared at a press conference in February that he will resign if the situation doesn’t get rectified by the end of this year. But I wonder how many employers and those affected can wait that long to have the situation rectified? A single day without power is hell enough, in itself, not to talk about asking for another year to resolve it. One more year? An entire 12 months more? Employers would have long asked workers to go home because they can no longer pay them for no work done; because a large chunk of the money goes into buying fuel to power plants for production. Obviously, the current NDC administration cannot single-handedly be blamed for all the problems in the power sector. Previous administrations didn’t do enough to fix the situation during their tenure. Rather, all they did was apply a plaster on a sore hoping it would heal by itself. Sadly, it festered and is still festering.
However, when a government campaigns on the slogan of “A BETTER GHANA”, then Ghanaians deserve to see exactly that being delivered. What we have doesn’t suggest anything BETTER, hell no! Unless my understanding of the word “BETTER” is different from what the Government has been trumpeting for the past 6 years, since they assumed office.
At the age of 58 years, this country is suffocating from pervasive corruption. People tasked with the responsibility of using their positions to improve lives have found dubious ways of fleecing the state of millions of Cedis. In some cases, people willfully misuse monies given to them to improve the living conditions of those at the bottom of the economic ladder. A case in point is how millions of Cedis went down the drain under the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA). SADA was said to be the panacea for resolving the gut wrenching poverty in the northern part of Ghana and those tasked to lead it, on paper, had glossy academic qualifications and shouldn’t’ have encountered any difficulties achieving results. Sadly, they not only failed their own kinsmen but the entire country. Monies were spent on useless and hopeless investments including the planting of trees in the dry season. The sad state of SADA and its saga is well known to most of us.
At 58 years of age, the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) is facing serious challenges. It is unable to pay debts owed to hospitals servicing those who signed onto the scheme. The Ghana Medical Association (GMA), in a statement made on 3rd March, 2015, said the NHIA scheme owes several hospitals across the country millions of Cedis. The debts, according to them, could either collapse the scheme or force operators of the medical facilities to go back to the ‘Cash and Carry” system. Contrary to the NHIA’s inability to settle its debts, the Auditor General released a report in which it says millions of Cedis allocated to the GYEEDA programme ended up in private pockets.
Just a few weeks ago, a senior officer at MASLOC was indicted for stealing millions of Cedis meant for the poor. Before him, the then MASLOC boss freely pumped the scheme’s funds into her husband’s private business. We just talked about it, she was relieved of her position and we moved on. Has she paid back the money?
At 58, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital is unable to raise an amount of US$250,000 to bring donated equipment from the Walter Reed Military Medical Hospital, in the United States,, to cater for brain tumor patients unable to raise enough funds on their own to save their lives.
At 58, some doctors in the country’s hospitals have been forced to use either torchlights or lights from their mobile phones to carry out complicated surgeries in the operating theatres during power outages. How much worse can it get?
At 58, Parliament has become an open space for shouting bouts by MPs who have failed to deliver to their constituents. Members of Parliament are happy holding on to their titles of “HONORABLE” when they should be holding the Executive accountable. Depending on which government is in power, and has the majority, every piece of legislative ‘crap’ put before the MPs is okayed, without the details even being read. Some MPs appear to spend their time in the chamber either screaming or just snoring, while proceedings are ongoing. No wonder some of them exhibit dead ideas when they get the chance to speak either on the floor in the media. In effect, Parliament has become toothless.
At 58, the International Monetary Fund is here to give us money to put into our pockets. Our self inflicted mess as a people is unimaginable and so what are we celebrating on Friday? Shouldn’t we be wailing instead of packing school children, workers and security personnel in the sun in the name of celebrations?