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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mr. President It is time to reshuffle

Mr. President knowing how to read and write alone does not make a minister qualified to end poverty in a poverty stricken nation like Ghana. It is time to reshuffle and bring in people who can think outside the box and change the situation in the ministries and across the country for the better.

Think carefully about Agriculture. Our farmers do not have the necessary accoutrements to produce to feed the nation let alone export to bring in the needed revenue to finance infrastructure and development programmes. What is the role of the Minister of Food and Agriculture and what policy or policies is he implementing to make Ghana a food sufficient nation? Our farmers are still using cutlasses and hoes to farm in this 21st century and do you think giving the size of our population cutlasses and hoes can help us to feed ourselves? We need robust agricultural policies and if all that the minister can do is to sit in his office while millions are on the verge of starvation then you know that it is better to allow one person to go hungry than the whole nation.

Think about education? Can you say for sure that performance at both the basic and high school level is any better? Again what role is the minister of education playing to make our educational system the envy of Africa? What is the minister doing to make sure we are not producing half-baked students who cannot even write their own names? Ghana deserve excellent educational policies that address many of the problems facing our teachers, students and the schools in general such as classrooms, accommodations for teachers and students, transport, libraries, computers, internet facilities, laboratories and what have you. If all that the minister can do is to sit in his air-condition office without thinking about how to improve the situation on the ground then it is better for him to be sacked than the whole nation going to suffer from manpower deficiency.

Minister of employment is a disappointment. He has no idea how to coordinate with the various institutions in the country to create jobs. That is why unemployment is rising. That is why people are agitating against your government. Sack the minister and bring in someone who can think and I mean can use his brain to change the unemployment situation in the country. The era of non-performing ministers running around and failing our nation must be over. Ghana is not going to make it if all that you can do as President is to appoint someone who can only read and write but cannot apply or use his or her brain to think to change the poverty in the country.

The minister of Environment, Science and Technology is there to solve environmental and technological problems: waste generation, pollution and many more. Residents of Accra, Kumasi, Ho, Tamale, Takoradi, Cape Coast, Koforidua, Wa, and those in the rural areas cannot live in filth when a minister and her deputies are being paid huge salaries and bonuses. Sack them for non-performance. If you think there is anyone in the country who can help your administration to achieve real results forget about party politics and use him or her. Nations are built through the contribution of all its citizens.

Your administration is constantly being referred to as ‘Team B’ because of non-performance of your ministers. Every minister must show real talent and demonstrate that he or she has the talent and brain capacity to move his or her ministry from the doldrums. Otherwise sack him or her. Ghana does not have time for experimentation. We cannot experiment with our development. It is not enough to appoint someone as minister because he or she campaigned for you. No it is not enough. You must demand daily briefing from your ministers. Let them go out and see what is being done on the ground. The poverty situation in the country and the climate of economic down-sidedness warrant a different and sharp approach.

Never tolerate corruption in your administration. It is a cancer that can bring down your government. Make sure if anyone has anything to do with corruption do not hesitate to fire him or her and call for his or her prosecution. As a Professor of Taxation you know how difficult it is to raise taxes on people who are already suffering. That is why every effort must be made to ensure that every penny earmarked for the ministries and departments is spent well for the benefit of the country. The corruption allegation involving Northern Regional Minister and the NDC regional chairman must be investigated if you want your government to be seen as credible. Do not behave like the rest of your colleagues in Africa who give no ears to good advice, complaints and constructive criticisms. Save the next government that will take over from you the task of having to set up so many committees to investigate corruption allegations against members of your government by dealing with corruption issues as expeditiously as possible.

And finally put your council of economic advisers to work. They must be made to figure out what needs to be done to salvage the rapidly deteriorating economy from final collapse. You know very well that Ghanaians are really suffering. They need food on the table. They need jobs. They need roof on their heads. They cannot continue to live in poverty. Gather the engineers, architects, and planners in the country to figure out how we can build our cities, build affordable houses, build bridges, and improve rail lines, roads and the general infrastructure in the country. This is the path Malaysia took by mobilising the people and the internal resources to build infrastructures that finally propelled her to stardom.

You cannot fail Ghana and Ghanaians. No not this time when so much is as take. Remember the joy and happiness that the Satellites brought the whole nation when they won the under 20 World Cup. They worked as a team and their determination paid off. All Ghanaians irrespective of political, tribal and ethnic affiliation celebrated their victory. You and your team of ministers have the same mandate and responsibility to bring joy and gladness to the millions who live in abject poverty both in the cities and the countryside. With Jehovah God on your side you can win the battle but you must be bold, you must be brave to take on the challenges and stop blaming Kuffour and his administration for the woes the country is in now.

By Lord Aikins Adusei

What is wrong with African leaders?

By Lord Aikins Adusei

Corruption and embezzlement are a way of life for African leaders. From South Africa to Egypt there is no country where corruption is not endemic.

In Equatorial Guinea where oil export has earned the country billions of dollars, the 600,000 people living in the country continue to live in poverty while Teodoro Obiang Nguema and his cronies continue to siphon the oil revenue with no accountability.

Nigeria, Gabon, Congo and Angola all of them Oil exporting countries are noted for high level of corruption among the ruling class. All four countries are ruled by a cabal of corrupt leaders and their associates who masquerade as the representative of the people: presidents, senators, MPs, ministers, government officials and the list go on and on... In fact, the type of government in all four countries can best be described as Kleptocracy.

In East Africa Kenya is ranked the most corrupt country in that region. Many MPs, ministers and their associates in that country stand accused of accepting bribes and allowing companies to do as they pleased.

Since oil was first discovered in Nigeria about 50 years ago, several billions of dollars have been realised from its but today the whole population continue to live in abject poverty and the country has nothing to show for it.

Between 2005 and 2007 several state governors and their immediate families were arrested by Scotlandyard in London on corruption and money laundering charges. Among them are James Ibori of oil rich Delta State and his wife Theresa who had their 35 million dollar asset frozen by the English court.

Mr. Ibori earns about a thousand dollars a month but during his eight years as a state governor he managed to acquire wealth to the tune of $35m and was a key financial contributor to the campaign of the current Yar'Dua. He owns a private jet and lavish London home.

Another corrupt governor is Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, governor of oil-rich state of Bayelsa who was also arrested in London for money laundering charges. Mr. Alamieyeseigha broke his bail conditions and evaded capture in Britain by dressing up as a woman. When Police conducted a search in his London home they discovered one million pounds worth of cash in his home.

In Ghana over four ministers and government appointed officials have been implicated in a corruption scandal involving the British bridge construction firm Mabey and Johnston.

In countries such as Nigeria, Egypt, Cameroon, The Gambia, Sudan, Uganda, Libya, Zimbawe, Tunisia a Kleptocracy class of people have replaced anything democracy. In these countries very few people continue to remain in power and the people have no say in the way their country is governed or run.

According to the Africa Union (AU) around $148 billion are stolen from the continent by its leaders and civil servants.

Now think of this. What do you think will happen if instead of stealing the money and banking it in Switzerland, Monaco, France, Britain, Cayman Island and the rest as the governors in and the leaders in Africa have been doing, the money is invested in training teachers, doctors, engineers, invested in infrastructure-roads, telecommunication, harbours, hospitals, schools, research institutions? What do you think will happen if every school has library with the right kind of books that will enable students to get the knowledge and skills they need? What do you think will happen if the money is invested in generating electricity for those living in the villages, towns and cities?

What about if the money is used to build water treatment plants to supply the people with potable water?

What do you think will happen to standard of living if the money is invested in agriculture, build canals, irrigation facilities and storage facilities, buy tractors for farmers so they can produce to feed nations?

Are African leaders happy when every negative thing in the world is associated with their countries: poverty, wars, corruption, AIDS/HIV, illiteracy and starvation? Are they happy when children die of diseases that can be eradicated?

What effort are the leaders making to eradicate poverty apart from just stealing monies that could help develop the countries?

Why don’t they use the money generated from the sale of oil, gold, diamond to invest in education, fast and efficient transportation systems that could help increase business activities, create jobs and raise the standard of living of their peoples? Is it because they do not care? Is it because they not know what development is about? Is it because their only aim of seeking the mandate of the people is to steal and mismanage what becomes of their loot?

The whole of Africa South of the Sahara is rife with poverty. What makes the leaders in the continent to have a negative attitude towards development and poverty eradication but a positive attitude towards corruption and embezzlement? When they travel to Europe, America, Korea and Canada don’t they see the roads and the airports? When they visit their children in these countries don’t they see the infrastructures there and what prevents them from doing the same in their countries?

What makes Yahyah Jammeh of Gambia an expert in killing journalists but not the slightest idea on how to end poverty in his poverty stricken country? What makes Nigeria Senators and Governors so corrupt as to even steal money meant for the development of their own country? Is it lack of patriotism or is plain selfishness? Is it a genetic problem or is lack of vision and foresight? Is our politics that breed nepotism, cronyism and blind patronage to blame? What makes the leaders in Africa not to think beyond corruption and embezzlement? Why do they always take away poverty eradication from the equation? Why do they substitute development with corruption? Why do they ignore investment in agriculture, sanitation, water, health, education, roads and energy? Why do they refuse to take advantage of solar technology to supply electricity to millions of people who live in rural areas? Do they get satisfaction in seeing millions die of hunger, if no then why do they steal the very money that could end the misery, hopelessness and desperation among the people?

What is Ghana’s Professor Atta Mills doing to end poverty and raise the living standard in his relatively peaceful country?

Is something wrong with our leaders and do they suffer from some genetic deficiency that make them power drunk, corrupt but less interested in fighting to end diseases, wars, hunger, starvation and poverty? What makes Gaddafi so power drunk as to rule his country for 40 years? What makes Dos Santos, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Yoweri Museveni, Hosni Mubarak, Obiang Nguema, Robert Mugabe, Mamadou Tandja and their cohorts to be interested in power and financial benefits that go with the office that they occupy and not the building of institutions and economies that will make their countries and people to be recognised as civilised members of the world community of nations?

What makes African leaders to get it so wrong everyday, every week, every month and every year and every decade? What makes African leaders to have gotten it so wrong in every aspect of human endeavour? What makes it so hard for Nigeria and Ghanaian leaders to use their huge natural resources to build successful economies like those of Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong? What makes it so difficult for Somalia and DR Congo leaders to end the wars that have devastated their countries and driven millions into poverty, starvation and death?

Why are the leaders in Africa only interested in exporting raw materials like cocoa beans, coffee, cotton and uncut diamond and gold and not process them to add value to them before export: a process that could create millions of jobs and fetch the countries billions of dollars?

Why do African leaders shun investment in science and technology and yet would want to use mobile phones, laptop computers and the latest sport utility vehicles?

What makes the leaders to avoid investment in education? Why do African leaders find it difficult to have economic and social policies that will make them self sufficient and less dependent on foreign aid?

Of the over fifteen countries in West Africa not a single one of them has efficient, modern train network or system, not even Nigeria the so called super power in West Africa. The situation in Central and East Africa is not different from the one in West Africa.

So what is wrong with the leaders at all? I mean what makes African leaders intellectually blind, morally bankrupt, and ethically diseased? Why are they so different from all the leaders in the world? Of the over 50 presidents and prime ministers in Africa not a single one of them has been able to build an economy comparable to that of Korea despite some of them staying in power for more than forty years. You want to know why Mo Ibrahim refused to give the five million dollar award to the nominated leaders? Don't you think the corruption and embezzlement that took place under their administrations as well as their indifference towards eradicating poverty might be a factor?

Why do they fail to react against challenges such as HIV/AIDS, food shortages, malnutrition, hunger, homelessness, wars, climate change and the cancer of corruption? Are they all sleeping behind the wheel?

Please don’t blame colonialism because Korea, Malaysia and India were also colonised but they have shaken themselves off the shackles of colonialism.

When will Africa leaders ever shake themselves from the colonial mentality that makes them subservient? When will Africa leaders ever shake themselves from the colonial mentality that makes them to think that they cannot do anything without France and Britain? Will Africa leaders ever grow up, pull themselves together to end the relationship that allow French, British and American Companies to have control over the resources of their countries, destroy agricultural lands, pollute rivers and put millions of Africans at risk? When will Africa leaders dismantle the corruption and bribery infrastructures that allow multinational corporations to pay bribes and then rape and loot African countries of their resources? When will African leaders put the corrupt multinational corporations in the dock for the pollution, bribery that continue to fuel corruption and poverty throughout the continent? When will Africa leaders stop conniving with multinational corporations to steal from their countries and deposit their loots in the banks of their former colonial masters especially France, Britain and Spain?

Can’t Ghana do with the huge gold, diamond and other mineral deposits without going begging in foreign countries for loans that have done the country no good? Can’t African leaders find ways to raise revenue without incurring heavy debts that continue to be a yoke for all the people?

Will African leaders for once put on their thinking cap, build strong institutions, build infrastructures, develop local talents, local businesses, end poverty, wars, starvation and stop depending on foreign aid, and allow democracy and rule of law to function?