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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.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

NDC and NPP must stop underdeveloping Ghana

Since the attempt by first president Dr. Nkrumah to industrialise Ghana and his demise in 1966, no genuine attempt has been made by successive leaders to transform and industrialise Ghana. Successive leaders (particularly those that belong to the NDC and NPP political tradition) who came after Nkrumah have all worked for their own interest to the neglect of the country and its people. Instead of visionary ideas, positive transformative thinking, strategic and long term policies and programmes, and better skills of state-crafting that will transform Ghana into an industrial powerhouse, all that Ghanaians have witnessed since 1966 and particularly since 1992 has been insults, corruption, mismanagement and waste.

While countries that gained independence with Ghana in the same period including Korea (1945), Malaysia (31 August 1957), Singapore (9 August 1965), are proudly exporting durable goods like ships, mobile phones, computers, television (LG, Samsung), cars (Hyundai, Daewoo), solar panels, washing machines, microwaves, blenders, toasters, air-conditions, bicycles, baby-carriers and other smart technologies, Ghana is still majoring in minor things: KVIP, importing used clothes and exporting cocoa beans, cashew nut etc.

While Koreans, Malaysians, Taiwanese and Singaporeans are sending satellites to the earth's orbit to boost telecommunication, improve national security and enhance weather forecasting, Ghana is still struggling to feed itself with constant food donations from Japan and United States. Additionally, while South Korea and Taiwan are launching ballistic and cruise missiles and building war ships and other strategic weapon systems to protect the territorial integrity of their countries, Ghana is busy importing all kinds of throw-away electronic waste from Europe and America, leaving the country's borders and coastal waters poorly protected.

After 55 years of independence, Ghana's economy is still structurally weak and deficient. It is heavily dependent on export of few raw materials: cocoa, gold, timber and crude oil with little or no value addition making it vulnerable to the price volatilities that characterise raw material export.

Sadly the nation does not own the resources in the country. It is shocking to learn that Ghana owns just about 5% of Ashanti Gold with majority of the shares in foreign hands. It is also shocking to know that Ghana's share in the much talked about oil is not more than 20%. What is clear is that the leaders in Ghana have not placed the development and control of the fundamental instruments of wealth and power in the hands of Ghanaians but rather foreigners. Ghana too is a country that produces gold yet there is no gold refinery and every gold product in the country is imported from desert-stricken Dubai. Ghana produces crude oil for export yet Tema Oil Refinery has to import crude oil to refine.

One would ask what at all is the problem with NDC and NPP leaders? Is no one among them nationalistic and visionary enough to see the harm being done to the country and its people and therefore to plead the nation's cause?

Ghana with its more than 20 million people and abundant hydrocarbon resources has a total electricity generation capacity of 2185 megawatts, while Singapore with her population of about 4.6 million people and no hydrocarbons has a total electricity generation capacity of more than 8919 megawatts. Singapore with its population of about 4.6 million people has five oil refineries processing more than 1.3 million barrels of oil a day while Ghana with its population of more than 20 million has only one oil refinery (Tema Oil Refinery) processing not more than 50,000 barrels of oil a day. The last time I checked TOR was struggling to maintain letter of credit to import oil for processing, thanks to the mismanagement and the corruption of its leaders.

Thanks to the blind management of the TOR, there is information that TOR has now been turned into oil storage facility because it cannot raise the money to import crude for processing. When Nkrumah contracted the Italian firm AGIP to build TOR in 1963 his hope was that subsequent leaders would build on it and expand it to make the nation less vulnerable to energy shocks but today TOR is falling apart, thanks to the NDC and NPP leadership and TOR management team.

Ghana is still at the bottom of the world's progressive economies--thanks to the corrupt political system, the dysfunctional educational system and the corrupt and visionless political and technocratic leadership that stopped thinking many decades ago. The leaders in Ghana have sold and surrendered the sovereignty of Ghana to the World Bank and the IMF and are desperate to please them even at the peril of the state. Ghanaian leaders cannot do anything without seeking permission from the IMF and the World Bank and yet they say Ghana is a sovereign country. Recently President Mills celebrated the fact the IMF had given he and his government permission to secure $3 billion loan facility from China. Can you imagine a leader of a sovereign nation celebrating because a manipulative organisation somewhere has given him permission to contract loan that his people will be the one to pay?

The leaders in Ghana have placed all their hope in the IMF and the World Bank and have refused to learn or even think. Instead of moving closer to the Asia and learn from them Ghanaian leaders prefer to align themselves with the manipulative Bretton Wood institutions whose toxic economic medicines and conditional loans are part of Ghana's underdevelopment and socio-economic backwardness.

Meanwhile instead of treating technological backwardness, inferior industrial export, poverty, unemployment, social and economic inequality as their sworn enemy, the political parties and their politicians especially the NDC and NPP continue to insult one another leaving critical issues unaddressed with the gullible voters unable to differentiate the wheat from the chaff. Instead of unifying the country and mobilising all the people and natural resources for Ghana's total development, the NDC and NPP politicians prefer to tear one another with the most despicable and unprintable words they can ever find.

As for NDC it is very difficult to pinpoint what policies and programmes they have and what kind of strategy they have and which direction they want to move Ghana to. Everything they do or say is full of propaganda and not the things that will make Ghana move forward. To put it plainly the NDC are a bunch of parasites and vampires whose leaders continue to drain Ghana of its resources while doing nothing to help the country. I am being particularly harsh on NDC because of what its leaders have done to Ghana.

A book entitled “The Politics of Government-Business Relations in Ghana, 1982-2008” published in 2010 and authored by Darko Kwabena Opoku has documented how in the 1990s the NDC leadership and their cronies used Ghana to secure loans, sold hundreds of state owned enterprises to themselves and refused to pay the state and also squandered the money that was paid. The Chapter Six of the book headlined “The Changing Face of Ghanaian Business: The Rise of P/NDC Stalwarts” has a long list of NDC gurus who have moved from rags to riches by scandalously acquiring properties built by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. They include the Ahwoi brothers (Kwamena, Kwesi, Ato), Kwame Peprah, Peter Peprah, Tsatsu Tsikata, Kojo Tsikata, Fui Tsikata, Vincent Assiseh, P. V. Obeng, Agyemang Konadu, Ebo Tawiah, Kofi Totobi Kwakye, Edward Addo, Augustus Tanoh, etc. Paragraphs on pages 147 and 149 of the book read:

“…The Ahwoi brothers (Kwamena, Kwesi, Ato), who were key figures in the PNDC and later the NDC, were among the first NDC stalwarts to enter private business. Unlike many others, their business activities were quite open. Prior to entering politics, all three were civil servants with no business background. Widely said to have received a state-guaranteed loan of $30 million as starting capital, they steadily built an economic empire. This included a waste disposal business that enjoyed a profitable contract with the AMA; a hotel near their hometown in the Central Region; and a haulage company called Comstrans. A confidential interviewee revealed that they had also acquired large tracts of land, hoping to invest in real estate” (p.147).

“…Tsatsu Tsikata, Rawlings' closest aide, who held a long and unaccountable stewardship of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) also tried, unsuccessfully, to conceal his business interests and vast fortune. In 1994, the government wrote off $124.7 million owed by the GNPC (World Bank, 1995). Finance minister Kwesi Botchwey questioned Tsikata's judgment and his handling of GNPC finances and resigned partly in disgust over Rawlings' apparent tolerance of this. Tsikata was convicted and served time for the embattled GNPC's debt, totaling several hundred million dollars. Just as Mrs. Rawlings used the DWM as her personal vehicle, so Tsikata used the GNPC, effectively personally controlling the GNPC's 20 percent share in Westel, a telecommunications company” (p.149).

These are the people who have prevented Ghana from becoming the likes of Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia. After 55 years of independence Ghanaian women and men still wash their clothes with their hands, carry goods on their heads while the women still carry their babies on their back in the scotching sun. Does it mean that Ghana cannot build common baby-carriers to relieve the nursing mothers from this unnecessary burden and punishment?

Thanks to the visionless leadership Ghana is now a dumping site for cheap foreign goods. Everything in the country is now imported including those that it has the ability to produce. Ghanaian leaders are in love with V8 and other expensive four wheel drive vehicles that cannot even be found in Japan and Germany yet they will not develop and implement policies and programmes that will enable Ghana to produce some herself.

The NDC and NPP leadership must think like Dr. Nkrumah and put the interest of Ghana and Ghanaians first for the betterment of all her citizens.

Lord Aikins Adusei politicalthinker1@yahoo.com

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