Today, 6th March 2015, Ghana marks her 58th Independence Anniversary recounting its history, from the accounts of the struggle to independence, the successes in the early years and the failures that linger on, begging for lasting solutions.
last week when the President, John Mahama delivered the state of the nation address, he set the tone for the nation to once more dwell on history when he recounted that, “ … We have been in the pits together, at times in the past when our neighbours described us as the nation where people queued for toilet paper. In the early 80s hunger stalked our land and we were compelled to take raw kenkey home to cook ourselves because we were afraid we would lose out if we allowed the seller to cook it”.
It is difficult to relate this survival story in the 1980s to the state of the nation in 2015? Survival is not enough – There is the nation to be transform and capable incorruptible leadership is required to do so.
In his relatively short Independence Day speech today, the President rightly asked what account would be given, when this generation’s history comes to be written. He failed to provide the answer- which would be his vision for Ghana. Something all visionary leaders including Dr. Kwame Nkrumah would relish to share with their people on occasions like this. It is worth noting that Nkrumah, in almost all his speeches including the ones President Mahama loves to quote, talked about the future. Is it not time to think about the future?
The true state of the nation is the lack of vision. This calls for reflection that no longer dwells solely on history but destiny. The nation’s collective thoughts and energies must dwell on the future where there is a lot of catching up to be made to transition from third world to first world. This first world vision of Ghana needs to be cut, painted and shared with the people both home and abroad with a sense of urgency. It needs to occupy citizens’ hearts and minds like “Self Government Now” occupied the generation that fought to attain independence from the colonial masters 58 years ago.
Take for example, the first point on the Progressive People’s Party - PPP’s ten point agenda for change published in 2012, which casts a vision to “Create a just and disciplined society with a passion for excellence within ten years and with science and technology as the cornerstone, become a higher level middle income country. This will include modernizing agriculture and providing a market to sustain our farmers and fishermen”. Do Ghanaians have or know of a national vision they can share and relate to? That is the basic requirement for transformational development and it must be asked of the nation’s leaders.
Diversification of the Economy:
Teachers in Ghanaian primary schools who have no university degrees in economics keep teaching their pupils over and over again that, Ghana could earn more money to pay for its developmental needs on sustainable basis, if it diversified and or added value to its export commodities such as gold, cocoa, diamond, timber and lately oil.
Operating this simple primary school teachers’ economic model, despite the challenges, would increase the nation’s export earnings, settle the chronic balance of payment and trade deficits and save it from the imminent threats of economic breakdowns that send it running to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for bailouts while calling them (IMF) names.
The transition from third world to first world requires enhanced and increased productivity in all sectors of the economy. Again, just as the “Independence Now!” slogan motivated and sustained the struggle to attain it in 1957, “Don’t Pretend to Work” and “Don’t Pretend to Pay” slogans for employees and employers respectively should change the work ethics from the current anything goes, to serious diligent value for money productivity on all fronts to drive the vision if any.
Science and Technology:
Science and Technology is the way to attain first world status. Fortunately, there is no need to re-invent the wheel. Tried and tested technologies are now available to support and facilitate the implementation of the vision when we have one.
To make the most out of technology, creative schemes that make science and technology appear easy and rewarding need to be deployed to attract and catch young Ghanaian into the field. To that end, there is the urgent need to scale up teaching and learning infrastructure to make science and technology attractive and rewarding.
Welfare of Citizens:
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Single Digit inflation numbers have never been and cannot be a good measure of the welfare of citizens as successive governments have made Ghaians to believe.
So, if by God’s Grace, the IMF bailout restores confidence in the economy and GDP begins to grow and someone talks about GDP and single digit inflation as their economic achievements, insist on the national vision, diversification of our primary products for exports, increased productivity and scaling up of science and technology, as indicators for good economic performance that would lead to Ghana’s economic independence and paradigm shift which cannot be found in history but only in the future.