Intellectual bankruptcy among politicians – a greater economic threat than corruption



This article aims to confront the pervasive issue of politicians manipulating economic indicators and rhetoric for their own gain. A case in point is highlighted when the Vice President, Dr. Bawumia discussed nursing training allowances, eliciting a response from a young woman who revealed they hadn’t been paid.

This is noteworthy as the Vice President not only holds a prominent position in the ruling government but also serves as an economist and head of the economy team. Ghanaian politicians frequently embellish the success of their economic policies or projects to enhance their public image or secure political advantage, regardless of the actual outcomes. This trend extends beyond the Vice President to encompass members of parliament and party communicators who tout their adept management of Ghana’s economy.

Conversely, politicians often downplay significant economic challenges such as unemployment, inflation, or debt levels to avoid accountability or maintain public confidence. Some selectively manipulate economic data to present a rosier picture, concealing underlying issues or negative trends.

Furthermore, false promises during election campaigns or policy debates lack feasible implementation plans, particularly concerning economic growth, job creation, or poverty reduction. It’s disheartening when politicians shift blame for economic problems onto opponents or past administrations, deflecting accountability for policy failures.

Additionally, politicians may ignore expert advice or evidence-based analysis, preferring their own narratives, even if they contradict expert consensus. Moreover, some politicians engage in corrupt practices or mismanage public funds, diverting resources from productive economic activities and undermining overall stability and development.

The question arises whether this behavior is intentional or genuinely inherent. According to Professor Dr. Nana Oppong, a prominent legal figure in Africa, intellectual bankruptcy hinders individuals from fully utilizing their potential, leading to widespread hardships and adverse conditions. His assertion implies that without intervention, these challenges will persist indefinitely, underscoring the urgent need for initiatives aimed at inclusion, support, and empowerment to enable politician for example to speak the truth.

From my perspective, a significant factor contributing to poverty in Ghana is the lack of a culture that encourages intellectual and creative pursuits among the populace, including those with advanced education. Despite holding prestigious academic degrees, some individuals placed in leadership positions have demonstrated intellectual bankruptcy, highlighting the importance of blending academic knowledge with common sense in the realm of development.

The typical Ghanaian often appears intellectually and creatively deficient, not due to inherent faults but rather due to deficiencies in our education system. Our curriculum often emphasizes rote memorization and imitation rather than encouraging original thought or innovation.

For instance, the curriculum teaches that ‘A’ represents Apple, despite apples not being grown locally, which may hinder students’ ability to relate to their environment. Many graduates lack critical thinking skills, focusing on immediate concerns while neglecting broader, long-term perspectives. This intellectual deficit permeates various aspects of life, affecting housing, infrastructure, socio-economic issues, and cultural attitudes.

The prevalence of apathy and resignation among Ghanaians perpetuates a cycle of intellectual stagnation and dependency, impeding progress and development. Failed institutions and incompetent leaders who rely solely on rhetoric further exacerbate the problem. The notion that academic credentials are the sole path to success is laughable, as evidenced by the failure of appointing many so called economist or professors who have woefully failed in their leadership roles.

This lack of passion for knowledge and achievement hampers Ghana’s development and leaves it vulnerable to exploitation by external actors, such as the situation where we were told an IMF officers have desk in both the finance ministry and the Bank of Ghana. The consequences of this intellectual deficit are profound, affecting economic growth, social cohesion, and overall well-being.

The perceived lack of intellectual capacity among some Ghanaian politicians in managing the economy is the result of historical legacy of colonization in education, which may have left educational systems ill-equipped to foster critical thinking and leadership skills essential for economic management.

Additionally, a political culture prioritizing short-term gains over long-term planning may discourage investment in economic expertise. Resource constraints and weak institutional frameworks further compound these challenges, hindering effective economic management.

Consequently, the current economic models, which overlook the role of cultural and intellectual capacities, fail to effectively address poverty reduction on a significant scale. To rectify this, economic models must prioritize human creativity and intellectual mastery at their core, recognizing them as essential drivers of progress. Whether termed as a thirst for knowledge, a quest for superiority, or simply a hunger for improvement, this critical and inventive faculty remains largely dormant in the majority of Ghanaians.

While corruption undoubtedly hampers development, the intellectual malaise prevalent across Ghana can be even more detrimental. Unlike corruption, which primarily affects the allocation of resources, intellectual bankruptcy impedes the efficient utilization of resources and stifles potential. Without addressing this intellectual bankruptcy comprehensively, any efforts toward capacity-building or poverty reduction are likely to yield limited results.

True progress necessitates the cultivation of a culture that values creativity, intellectual exploration, and imaginative expression in all facets of life. By prioritizing the cultural, intellectual, and artistic well-being of the marginalized, countries can empower individuals to chart their own paths toward prosperity. It is imperative to recognize that sustainable development begins with nurturing the innate potential within communities and individuals. This principle should guide our actions as we strive for progress and prosperity for all.

To address these issues, comprehensive reforms are necessary, spanning education, governance, institutional capacity-building, and political culture, to equip Ghanaian politicians with the necessary knowledge and skills for sound economic governance.

The consequence of intellectual bankruptcy is the hindrance of harnessing potentially great capacities, thereby condemning millions of people to endure preventable hardships and conditions indefinitely, both in the present and in the future, unless decisive action is taken to halt and reverse this trend permanently.

There is a need also for a fundamental shift in mindset and approach, emphasizing the cultivation of critical thinking, creativity, and innovation from early childhood through various cultural and educational channels. Only when intellectual curiosity and creativity become ingrained values can Ghana harness its full potential for meaningful contributions to national and global economic development.

>>>the writer is a seasoned Financial Economist & Consultant with an illustrious career spanning 29 years across academic, corporate, and agribusiness sectors. His extensive professional journey includes pivotal roles at esteemed institutions such as UBA Ghana, SIC Financial Services, Empretec Ghana, and the Swiss International Finance Group, reflecting his profound understanding of global finance. Renowned as a pioneer in risk management, compliance, and corporate strategy, Dr. Tetteh-Dumanya has made significant contributions to the Ghanaian financial landscape.

He has been instrumental in spearheading initiatives in Venture Capital, business/financial reengineering, and fundraising, thereby playing a pivotal role in the growth and development of numerous entities. Driven by a fervent dedication to capacity development, Dr. Tetteh-Dumanya has offered consultancy services to a diverse array of local and multinational organizations notably GIZ, AGRA, SNV, DANIDA, and USAID among others. His expertise in financial and business domains is multifaceted, showcased through his adept navigation of complex challenges and his commitment to driving sustainable growth in every endeavor. For inquiries, Dr.  Tetteh-Dumanya can be reached at: [email protected]

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