Some months ago, the revered statesman and international business mogul, Sir. Sam E. Jonah, raised concerns about the culture of silence which has almost gained currency in the Ghanaian society – despite the worsening insecurity marked by violence, homicide, kidnapping, aggravating youth unemployment, corruption, lawlessness, and others.
He insisted that as notable men and women of our society, it is time we rise up and voice out these ills in our society and douse the sparks before it catches flame – for which we may not be able to contain the inferno.
Recent coup d’états in our West African sub-region are mostly due to most of the problems as stated above. As Ghanaians, let us be guided and remember the words of the German Lutheran Church Minister and theologian Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) who made these profound statements which was an act of courage par excellence in the midst of dictatorship during the Nazi era in Germany:
“First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me”
It may appear that the political unrest in our neighboring countries are far-fetched from Ghana, but the social injustice is getting more intense by the day and we must not choose the path of casual indifference. As Theodore Roosevelt once said: ‘Justice consists not in being neutral between right and wrong but finding out the right and upholding it wherever found against the wrong’. It is time for government to wake up and smell the coffee rather than putting on blinders to the problems of our society.
While countries are admirably recovering from the effects of COVID-19 and are putting in place sustainable economic measures and responsive structures to rebuild their economies, the government of the day in Ghana keeps patting itself at the back for the evidently mismanaged and debt-choked economy which has escalated the growing levels of inequality.
Even though we must acknowledge some intentions of government in an effort aimed at revitalizing the economy, these intentions with the past serving as a guide may only remain a paper tiger. Ghana’s debt to GDP has reached unsustainable and worrying levels, revenue to debt ratio and cost of servicing our ballooning debt for example is a cause to worry for majority of Ghanaians but, sadly not for our government.
We have to draw the attention of government that economic policies and economic initiatives instituted by government are failing to translate into improving the welfare of fellow Ghanaians. A working and flourishing economy that is spurring economic growth and prudently being managed as we are made to believe will not offer public sector workers a paltry 4% increment in their salary as against the rising cost of living. The economic reality on the ground is, many of our fellow country men and women are struggling to survive.
The efficiency in managing the machinery of state does not lie in the use of a large force of ministers, some of whom have poorly defined job descriptions. We should however acknowledge the marginal decline in the size of government as a result of the reduction in the number of ministers. This will surely save some money for the state.
Governance and development at the local level is hitting a snag as a result of the long delay in appointing MMDCs despite the defense and continual denial by government that development is not being affected. We should call on government to treat the appointment of MMDCs with a sense of urgency to give life to our local government system and make it properly function and responsive in addressing the needs of local people. Much is yet to be seen in terms of development after the creation of the new regions.
As against the promise given by government to expeditiously bring development to these newly created regions, the conditions of the people have remained the same and in some cases worsened. It is worrying to know that many infrastructural projects inherited by the government in the newly created regions have been abandoned and left to rot. Government must be empathic to the suffering of Ghanaians living in these regions who need these projects completed to improve their livelihoods, but not the making of perfunctory statements and promises.
Available statistics indicates that this government, under President Akufo Addo, has recorded the worse performance on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in six years. And the recent Afrobarometer Report indicates that 80% of Ghanaians believe the Office of the Presidency is corruption. Indeed, this is aided by the accusation made by Mr. Martin Amidu, the former Special Prosecutor who famously stated that “Akufo Addo is the mother serpent of corruption”, Mr. Martin Amidu adds that “the only regret he has in life is to have trusted President Akufo Addo in such sheepish manner as to have allowed him to have conned him into agreeing to be his Special Prosecutor in a naïve but sincere belief on my part that he was intent on fighting corruption.”
There is no doubt that corruption has existed in past governments. But the current situation is troubling. To the extent that Diplomats and Ambassadors of foreign states have a cause to worry about the endemic nature of corruption at the Presidency. For instance, to our utter dismay, rather than protecting, government is using COVID-19 as an avenue to loot the public purse. The recent conduct of the Health Minister in the contract of sale of the Sputnik-V vaccines further weakened the integrity of this government to the lowest level.
Crime and insecurity
The increase in sophisticated crime, its occurrence and the pace at which it happens deserves a holistic and combative approach in addressing. There is a feeling of general state of insecurity in the country with the increase in robbery cases, murder, and rape and ritual killings on the rise.
The affluent lifestyle and insensitivity of government to the plights of Ghanaians, unemployment, corruption, and the decrease in morale of our men and women in our various security institutions are contributing to the rise of crime in the country. Government should be concerned about this growing phenomenon and help provide a lasting solution rather than always engaging in petty politicking.
The conduct of the 2020 elections were fraught with some challenges. To consolidate our electoral and democratic credentials as a country and improve future elections, it is important that the challenges identified are holistically addressed by the Electoral Commission, political parties and other stakeholders.
The independence of the EC does not imply absolute influence and control over actions as an election management body to somewhat violate the rule of law. As the two leading political parties in Ghana, it will be of good interest for the NPP to sit with the NDC on a roundtable to discuss these reforms with the EC rather than trying to rebuff the proposed reforms.
When people are ensconced in their comfort zones they usually think that there is no other world and everything is going on correctly for other people too. But this is a tragedy. This epitomizes the French revolution when King Louis XVI asserting his absolute monarchy said, ‘L’Etat, c’est moi’, to wit, I am the state. And when his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, upon being told that the irate peasants had no bread, she said, ‘let them eat cake’.
The story reflects both the king and queen frivolous disregard for the starving peasants and their poor understanding of the plights of society. Their reign unfortunately came to head in 1789 when they were publicly executed.
I want to believe that Ghana will continue to be the beacon of democracy and good governance by recalling the lessons from our history. We should stand by our conscience and speak up the wrongs in our society. It is only through this that Ghana can be a better society for all of us and subsequent generations.
>>>The author is a research assistant at Center for Data Processing and Geo-Spatial Analysis (CEDPA). He can be reached on [email protected]