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Insist on Your Right to Education

Uneducated citizenry is like a pitch any game can be played on it. Illiteracy is what has given the politicians in Ghana the chance to fool so many people for so a long a time.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Do we have to vote for NDC and NPP in 2012?

By Lord Aikins Adusei

Previous presidential and parliamentary elections had always been a contest between the ruling National Democratic Congress and the opposition New Patriotic Party with minor parties such as Convention People’s Party and PNC playing the role of king makers. There is no doubt that the 2012 elections will be a contest between NDC and NPP and many in the country who are very passionate of NDC and NPP will go heaven and earth to defend them even to death whether or not they have access to water, electricity, jobs or not. However it is abundantly clear that these two major parties which have ruled Ghana for most of her 52 years of independence have woefully underperformed and have failed to deliver Ghanaians from the tentacles of poverty. In short these parties have shown beyond all reasonable doubt that they do not care about the plights of Ghanaians.

NDC ruled Ghana for 8 years and NPP has also done the same but did any of them help to make Ghana a developed country? Did any of them solve the unemployment and housing problems in Ghana? How about electricity, education and health? Look at the poor nature of roads in Ghana. Do we deserve that? Can Ghanaians recall anything extraordinary that the NDC did before it was replaced by the NPP in 2000? Or anything remarkable that the NPP did before it was replaced by the NDC in 2008? And since taking office more than one year ago has the NDC done anything tangible to alleviate the suffering of Ghanaians? Any person who has been to Europe, Asia or America can say for sure that both major parties have not done much for Ghanaians.

Look at the state of Ghana's manufacturing sector. What do we produce? Close to nothing. What do we do with the cocoa that we produce? Don't we export the raw beans for peanuts? How about the gold and the diamond and the many minerals we mine? Aren't they exported to Switzerland and Dubai before Ghanaians go there to buy the wedding rings and bracelets to sell to us? Computers, cars, mobile phones, fridges are made in Europe, Japan and the US and they are affordable there but Ghanaians cannot buy common chocolate even though the vital raw material which is cocoa is produced here. And the same is true about gold and diamond. We cannot buy products made from them even though they are mined right here.

Look around yourself and see if any of the goods you see are made in Ghana. I mean the mobile phones, computers, televisions, cars and all the flashy things that Ghanaians are crazing for. It is sad to note that almost all the raw materials needed to build these phones, cars, plasma TVs, camcoders, satellite dishes are obtained from Ghana and other African countries. Has the NDC or the NPP helped us to build any of these things? No.

The reason why we are unable to convert these rich natural resources into finish goods to benefit ourselves is the poor manner in which the NPP and NDC have managed our country. Don't forget it is government that must take the initiative, provide the necessary environment and policy direction and resources for a strong manufacturing sector to take root. Look at the policies of both major parties and see if they can even put Ghana on the level of Korea, Taiwan or Hong Kong in the next 20 years. Ghanaian business men and women are frequenting Dubai and China importing every good you can think of. Investigate to find out how the Chinese and the Koreans did it and whether any of the parties can help Ghana do the same. Didn't the NPP throw the NDC Vision 2020 Document that was supposed to make Ghana a middle income country into a dust bin? And do you think the NDC is going to implement Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy II (GPRS II) prepared by the NPP? This is the politics that has brought us no development but unemployment, poverty, hunger, misery and hopelessness and divisions.

So do they care, I mean NPP and NDC and do we have to vote them in 2012? Look at the state of Ghana's infrastructure: energy, roads, harbours, telecommunication, health, education, rail system, market and airport. What are the records of the two major parties on infrastructure? Have they been able to add anything to what Dr. Nkrumah built? Haven't they even neglected the few that Nkrumah built to decay? If you think I am not making any point just look at the state of our railway sector. Most of the tracks have been left to rot to the extent that there are no train services in many parts of the country which once relied on that vital means of transport. For decades that sector received no investments and no modernisation to the extent that it now takes about 10 hours to travel by train from Kumasi to Accra, a mere 200km. Compare that with a train service in Japan where it takes one hour to cover more than 270km. Despite having the advantage of being cost effective, cheap, reliable and business friendly 11 years of PNDC rule plus 8 years of NDC and another 8 years of NPP did not help the rail sector and our country except turning former poor soldiers and politicians into billionaires at the expense of our nation. After 52 years of independence and more than 28 years of (P)NDC and NPP rule our trains still run on engines that are 50 years old.

NDC and NPP have neglected Ghana's infrastructure needs for years, yet we have forgotten that no nation can develop without investing in infrastructure and technology. That is why Democratic Republic of Congo has every mineral you can think of yet it is one of the poorest in the world. That is why Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong have developed and that is why President Obama is talking about building US infrastructures because they are the engines that run the economy. You cannot export if you do not have harbours and airports to support it. You cannot attract tourists if you do not have airport, hotels, well developed roads and other infrastructures that support it. You cannot move goods from centres of production to centres of consumption if you do not have roads, rail lines and inland water infrastructures to deliver it. You cannot supply the industries with doctors, architects, bankers, lawyers, planners, engineers, teachers, nurses if you do not have the educational infrastructure to deliver it. And you cannot run an efficient and vibrant economy if you do not have the energy and telecommunication infrastructures in place.

Look at the state of Akosombo dam. Ghana is shut off anytime it refuses to rain yet we have had parties and their political leaders who have promised us so much yet have delivered so little. Ghana has been experiencing serious disruptions in the energy sector for years and no political party has seen any wisdom to solve it. As a result factories are folding up and are laying off workers and we are waiting for nature to help fill Akosombo Dam before we rectify the problem. Will these do nothing approaches to problem solving help our nation? What are we doing with the abundance of sunshine in the country? We have not taken advantage of it, have we? We have sunshine 365 days and we have not tap into solar energy which is cheap and more reliable than hydro.

In a situation that mimic problem facing the entire African region, the Finnish president on a visit to Nigeria in March 2009 asked, “Nigerian people have so much sun and wind, why don’t they use it for the generation of light for cooking and every other thing”? She queried, and added that “we do it in Finland for our renewable energy”. Source: www.dailytrust.com, 12 March 2009. The sad story is that Finland and most of the nations in Europe are locked up for most of the year by cold winter but take advantage of the short summer to convert the little sunshine they receive into solar energy while here in Ghana we have sunshine most of the year but do nothing with it. Dwindling rainfall has limited the ability of Akosombo dam to produce the needed energy to support the economy. It is another indication of the useless institutions that we have and lip service paid by the various political parties and their leaders to Ghana's development.

There is entropy of organised traffic disorder and inefficient transport management system, poor public transport service in Accra, Kumasi, Tema, Koforidua and many major cities in the country. Road transport in the country is dominated by rickety trotro and accident prone taxis and buses. Many travellers travelling in our cities have to endure huge delays due to traffic congestion. In the evening between 5pm and 8pm travellers from Accra to Teshie-Nungua spend not less than three hours in traffic in a journey that should take them less than one hour and in the morning suffer the same fate. Those going from Accra-Circle to Achimota and Ofanko, and Accra-Circle to Legon and Adenta undergo similar traumatic experience. But the NDC and NPP governments that have ruled Ghana for most of her 52 years existence as an independent nation have done very little to ease the situation despite persistence protest by the people. The NDC and NPP and their so called policy makers have refused to solve the traffic problems in the country because they drive in and around the country in four wheel drives assisted by dispatch riders and sirens and therefore do not experience the difficulties that ordinary Ghanaians go through daily.

Look at the state of the agricultural sector. How many of our farmers have their own tractors and farming equipments to produce beyond the level of subsistence? Virtually all the important equipments needed to make the agric sector viable and productive have to be imported and how many of our farmers have their own resources to buy even the basic machinery to expand their farms? Today after 52 years of independence our farmers still depend on nature for water for their economic activities despite the availability of irrigation technology and what has the NDC and NPP done so far to help them? Aren't they still using cutlasses and hoes to plant and harvest their crops, technology our forefathers used before they were enslaved and colonised? Aren't they still relying on nature to plant their crops in this 21st Century? Aren't we still importing rice from India and China after nearly 53 years of self governance? We cannot even feed ourselves after 17 years of NDC and NPP rule. Where are the food sufficiency policies of the two major parties then? What are the many directors at the ministry of Agriculture who enjoy fat salaries and bonuses doing? Although we are in the 21st Century yet our farming practices indicate that we have still not moved beyond the 19th century. Fishermen are always faced with the constant shortage of premix fuel despite the pledge by both parties to help them. This is the more reason why we continue to hunger even though rich soils abound in Ghana.

It is common to hear Ghanaians say that 'Malaysians got their palm fruit seed from Ghana'. Well Malaysians use the oil they get from the palm fruit as fuel for a number of engines including cars, something they accomplished through research and we what do we use the oil for? It is sad to say that Malaysia got independence about the same time as Ghana but they have made great strides economically, while we have been marking time courtesy NDC and NPP. While the rest of the world is moving forward scientifically and technologically we are still marking time because of corruption, poor leadership, poor governance, and bogus agricultural and economic policies, politicisation of every national issue, tribalism, ethnicity and military incursions into our social, economic and political life.

If Agriculture which provides us about 35% of our GDP is bad, then can our educational sector upon which the development of the nation rest be any better? Aren't the NDC and NPP toying and playing politics with our secondary school system. The SSS (now SHS) was a three year programme when it first started. When the NPP replaced the NDC in 2001 they changed it to four years and now the NDC is considering reversing it to three years. Who are they fooling? Is it not Ghanaians, our economy and the future well-being of students who are going through these ill conceived education policies of NDC and NPP?

Is the entire educational system anything to be proud of? Just look at the world ranking of Universities and see where the first university falls. Of the about 9,760 Accredited universities in the World, Ghana's prominent universities including University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology only managed to place 5,702 and 6,703 positions respectively in the World University Ranking. Even in Africa, our own backyard they only managed to secure 43rd and 63rd positions respectively. (Source: topuniversities.com/2008) Can we afford to develop the nation with ill-prepared graduates not to mention the millions of illiterates and semi-literates who roam around the cities and countryside?

Dr. Ave Kludze, a Ghanaian born top NASA Scientist in a rebuke of our leaders and our education system said in an interview with the CNN "no empire has ever achieved greatness without technology and the earlier the leaders realise this the better". He later told BBC that, "But where African schools have a problem, is that they focus heavily on theory, whereas [universities in the west] focus on the practical - solving real world problems.” Source: bbc.co.uk, Thursady, 12 February 2009.

It is abundantly clear that our education system is not producing the architects, engineers, planners, bankers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, social workers, nurses and the scientists that we need in the 21st Century. That is why every major architectural and engineering activity in Ghana is undertaken by foreigners and foreign companies especially from USA, Japan, China, India and the European Union.
An illustration of how bad the situation is was captured in a news report by Ghanaian Times headlined:

"Water Shortage: Experts Coming From S. Africa" which reported that "Experts from Ballest-Nedam, the Dutch company that installed the control panel at the intake pump station of the Weija Headworks are expected in Ghana on Thursday morning from South Africa to help repair the machine. This follows the inability of local experts to get the damaged electronic equipment fixed for the pump to function again. Mr Stanley Martey, Communication Manager of Aqua Viters Rand Limited, disclosing this to the ‘Times’ yesterday said AVRL was in touch with other experts in London and Holland for support in getting the engine to operate”, Source: Ghanaian Times, 09-Feb-2010.

Another news item reads: "Straight-talking Charles Kofi Wayo has poured scorn on engineers working at the gutted Tema Oil Refinery, asking if they qualify to even be called engineers when they cannot manufacture common bolts and have to wait for three months for foreign expertise to fix the minutest of problems. "If you have engineers there why is it that one small bolt you have to wait for a white man two, three months. You can’t even make your own bolts…You can’t even tool anything down there, even gasket - common gasket when it blows, you shut down the RFCC and stuff like that so where are the engineers? Where are the engineers? Source: www.myjoyonline.com, Thursday, 21 January 2010.

The simple truth is that our students are not able to invent neither do our experts able to repair even broken machines and experts have to be brought from elsewhere. We cannot blame our universities for failing to produce high quality graduates and experts because they have mounting resource problems. The Universities lack well trained lecturers. They lack modern facilities such as state of the art libraries, laboratory simulation facilities, studios, computers, projectors, internet facilities, constant energy supply and books. They lack them because we the NPP and NDC governments have failed to invest and build them; we cannot build them because the curricula have not prepared our students to build them. As a result we have to import the equipments and books from countries that have done their home work well and have invested heavily in education notably in science and technology.

In many of our universities, Polytechnics and secondary schools lecturers/teachers are still teaching students the same way the 19th century academic institutions taught forgetting that we are in the 21st century. The same notes given a final year student four years ago are still being given to first year students with no addition or subtraction. Lecturers cannot write books for students because they do not have the resources to carry out research that form the basis of any academic material.

Whereas students in advanced countries get their hands on books immediately they are released those in Ghana have to wait 4 years or even more to get the same books. What is more the academic facilities including libraries are in a state too appalling to describe. Not a single of our universities can boast of a million volumes of books in their libraries. Even the few text books that they have are so old that information contained in them are useless. Very few books have been published by Ghanaians. Due to this most students have to rely on the notes that lecturers give them. In Kwame Nkrumah University of Science Technology as it is in many of our higher institutions of learning students do not have access to proper accommodation, food and shelter. Room which once housed one student at KNUST officially houses four students and that is when a student is lucky to have his name shortlisted by the authorities.

This is state of our universities and the little I say about our Polytechnics and secondary schools the better.

And who do we blame other than NDC and NPP governments that have received billions of dollars in loans, grants and taxes and yet cannot invest some of it to develop and transform it into our education sector. Nothing get discussed in the country without NPP and NDC die-hards injecting politics into it and Ghana has paid a huge price as a result of that. Our higher institutions found themselves in this bad situation because for decades the NDC and NPP have been talking left while walking right playing politics with anything that matter to the nation.

The streets of Accra, Kumasi and other major cities in the country are swarmed with children selling ice water, bread, chewing gums and anything that can be hawked. Children head potters are visible every where in Kumasi, Accra, Tema and Koforidua, a clear manifestation of the misery and hopelessness that the NDC and NPP have brought to Ghanaians. These are the children who are supposed to be in the classroom and be trained as future leaders but have to abandon the classroom and scavenge for food because the NPP and NDC do not care about them.

When they drive in their expensive tax-payers' Land Cruisers do the NPP and NDC MPs, ministers, Vice Presidents, the Presidents and their advisors see the children who live, sell, and are taught by the street in Accra, Kumasi, Tema, Takoradi and Koforidua?

Do you know why NDC and NPP keep toying with Ghana's education? Because they want to keep the people in darkness so no one will rise up to challenge their corrupt and useless administrations. Ask the President or his vice or their ministers where their children are schooling now and you will understand why they don't give a damn about SHS, Poly or University education. Their children are schooling in expensive universities in Europe and North America. And as to how they pay for those expensive fees your guess will be as good as mine.

When their children finish their education overseas they stay there and work. They only return to Ghana when there are big contracts where they would make millions of dollars for staying away and doing nothing for the nation, and what do the poor Ghanaians who could not travel to study outside and had to pass through God knows what get? Nothing - no contract, no retirement packages, just poverty.

Our research institutions have achieved very little because they are underfunded and the researchers do not have the expertise and the facilities to carry out any meaningful research. A case in point is Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) located at New Tafo in the Eastern Region. Despite decades of its existence we still export raw cocoa beans for peanuts. No value has been added to the cocoa. CRIG has not been able to come up with other ways in which to use the beans to benefit Ghanaians despite the mounting evidence that the beans have several potential uses.

Have you visited Korle Bu or Komfo Anokye or any of our hospitals lately? Didn't you see patients lying on the floor even though they are sick and are suppose to be receiving care? If Korle Bu and Komfo Anokye hospitals are crying for resources then you can imagine the situation at Donkokrom. And where is the NDC and NPP that you want to die for or support so blindly? Where in Ghana are mosquitoes not widespread? Are we not still dying from mosquito bites and other minor and preventable diseases? Despite NDC and NPP pledges, our hospitals are without the basic essentials needed to run a hospital not to mention the advanced technologies that save millions of lives in Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Europe, Japan and America. And NDC and NPP what are they doing? According to peacefmonline "888 out of every 100,000 pregnant women in Ghana who visit the hospital, end up dying. Another expert, whose statistics were even more frightening said, out of every 1,000 pregnant women about 451 die". Source: peacefmonline.com, Thursday, 23 July 2009.

How about the state of the housing infrastructure? A visit to any village or town gives the same picture of poor housing and poor quality of public service. People are living in mud/thatched houses with bamboo/raffia leafs as roofing sheet with no electricity, potable water and clinics. They live in a subsistence environment without social security, health insurance and are condemned to poverty, desperation and hopelessness. Those living in urban areas are without jobs, without mortgage, and face high utility bills with poor public services. They face constant barrage of water and energy disruptions everyday. In every region the situation is not different. Go to Nima, Agbogloshie, New Town, James Town, Sodom & Gomorrah and see the kind of living conditions and environment in which fellow Ghanaians are living in this 21st Century. People are living in squalid conditions not even fit for animals yet we have NDC and NPP always promising to build us castles, swimming pools and what have you.

The problems of waste management in the cities and the associated health effect on the people need no telling. Accra and Kumasi Metropolitan authorities and other city authorities are struggling with waste management issues due to lack of vehicles, waste treatment plants and inadequate personnel capacity. Sewerage in the country is almost non-existent, with only a portion of Accra, Tema, Kumasi and few regional capitals enjoying piped sewerage services. There is no centralized wastewater treatment system in most of the cities and households and commercial premises generally have no onsite flush latrines. Within Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Tema and most of the cities and towns solid waste is unhygienically burned, disposed; and indiscriminate dumping of waste is creating health problems. There are few cities and towns with reliable piped water supply. Many residence of Accra do not have access to good drinking water and many households have to resort to extreme measures to be able to cope. In short the infrastructures to deliver water to the people do not exist courtesy NPP and NDC.

Majority of the people in Teshie and Nungua have no access to toilet facilities and have to use the coast as places of convenience and even in those places where there are few toilet facilities you could hardly stand the stench. Please you can verify this by going to where Dutch Hotel is situated at Nungua and witness how people troop to the coast in the morning to attend nature's call. On the other hand the NDC and NPP MPs, ministers, vice president, the president, their cronies and families live in total luxury with mansions, sport utility vehicles, bodyguards, fat salaries, fat bonuses, house servants and they have all the resources of the state at their disposal. When they leave office they propose special emolument packages for themselves yet they claim to be serving the poor. How can it be?

I can continue all day but it is a fact that both the NDC and NPP are bunches of hungry politicians with no concrete economic and social agenda to move Ghana beyond the level of importing used computers, used cars, used televisions, used underwear and any used thing you can think of. What are all these telling you about Ghana, the NPP, and the NDC? Do we have any option not to vote for them in 2012? Why should Ghanaians continue to die and suffer for such people who only think about their stomach? These leaders and their parties always play on the ignorance of the people promising them heaven but failing to even provide them earth. Until we have leaders who have vision like Dr. Nkrumah and are committed to industrialise Ghana beyond agro raw material production and export, Ghana will continue to be classified as a developing and poor country and even though we will continue to vote we will continue to wallow in abject poverty as we have always done.

I want to urge every Ghanaian to seek education and knowledge which I believe will help us to question our leaders and demand accountability from them. I also want to challenge the various TV and radio stations to devote money and resources to embark on documentaries on what it really means to live in poverty in Ghana under the NPP and NDC, documentaries and programmes that will show Ghanaians the living conditions of the people in rural areas and expose the lies of the NDC and NPP. And to the parasitic NDC and NPP I say 52 years is enough for us to see real development in the country.

Lord Aikins Adusei

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