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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Corruption Is Putting Ghana Out Of The World Map

We have to make it a sustainable process on the part of the individuals themselves.
So what really is the problem? Why is leadership capacity and effectiveness such an elusive virtue at levels of our social and political life? How do we begin the process of reform that could be embedded into all relevant aspects of our national experience? I have wrestled with these fundamental questions, given its far reaching implications for public policy, quality of governance and the soundness of our collective psyche as a people searching for true freedom and economic advancement. This article therefore, is an invitation to a place of solemn introspection in order to challenge the state of the Ghanaian mind as reflected in our political leadership, the materialistic church, the dysfunctional university system and a youth demographic that is slipping fast into an abyss of moral decadence and social media addiction. In the wake of deep factionalism in the New Patriotic Party (NPP), policy credibility issues with government, and the proliferation of churches without commensurate social transformation, it is a critical imperative to have this discussion now, in order to provoke a renewal of commitment to growth and collective responsibility. For the purpose of this article, I find it quite useful, the trait-based approach to leadership definition since it provides insight into the attitude and behavioral component of leadership. Within a democratic context, essential leadership qualities needed for good governance may include, but not limited to - responsibility, strength of character and emotional maturity. Fiscal discipline, timely policy adjustments and human rights protection are all under girded by these essential competencies.

Cultural and Cognitive Gaps 
Part of conducting any root cause analysis of a problem, is to start from the symptoms and trace back to the roots by following or using the why-why fish bone approach. It is a well-known principle in psychology that our words and actions betrays our belief and assumptions about important aspects of life. In subsequent paragraphs, I have recapped some views of certain highly placed personalities who I deem to have sufficient decision-making authority in their respective fields of endeavor. My goal in rehashing such publicly reported views, is to demonstrate this claim of words and actions expressing belief and assumptions, as a basis for making an argument for change. The theme of my argument clearly suggests linkage between the state of Ghana’s socio-economic progress and the pattern of thought that has influenced public policy in Ghana within the last fifty-seven years.
 The subsequent comments are expression of views on a broad range of policy issues:
While plying the motorway on the Accra-Tema side of traffic one Monday morning, I flipped through radio channels searching for inspiration in order to change the texture of what was clearly threatening to be a morning of blues and stone-cold lethargy. Many things had happened leading to the week ending August 22nd 2014 that had power to evoke a spectrum of emotions in any attentive observer; emotions that ranged from bewilderment and amusement to confusion and hopelessness. As I continued my scanning spree, fate will have my restless misery rewarded with yet another news item of the Vice President of Ghana, putting boots on the ground to champion a charge against garbage dump sites from Agbobloshie to Kokomlemle. “Lord Jesus, please give me good news today”, I desperately pleaded, all the while contemplating the nexus between my private stress and public policy. The discussants, bawling through my radio frequency were debating whether Vice President Amissah Arthur’s action were to be interpreted as micromanagement, leadership by example or just another example of leadership failure at all levels; the political executive, local government, the church, traditional leaders and at community level. Being a student of critical thinking, my thoughts raced to inquire of all known theories and models in a bid to contribute intelligently to this important policy debate. In the wake of cholera outbreak, sanitation seemed to be the immediate flash point of this debate, however, upon deeper inquiry, other development gaps that have erupted throughout our national experience in the area of education, energy sufficiency, and food security amongst many, seem to provide an inkling into a curious phenomenon that I have termed, leadership bankruptcy.

The Leadership Lacuna
Leadership has become yet another platitude of management literature that is bandied around with little appreciation for its true character as a complex construct and strong catalyst for political change, economic transformation and social progress. One hardly needs to closely examine our civic interactions at any level to draw a conclusion consistent with the refrain that “our attitude as a nation needs to change.” Indeed the Vice President was reported by the Daily Guide’s online news on August 6th 2014 as having affirmed that view point, asserting that as a people, we have to manage ourselves and our sanitation. Attitudinal change is required On Government Succession
Former President J.J Rawlings is reported to have made the following comments during the launch of Nsawam Food Cannery that was bought by Carridem Development Company (CDC), a limited liability company, for 2.9 billion cedis in 2000.
“Had the government continued from where we left off in 2000, quite frankly, I don’t think Ghana will be in the condition she is today.”

On WASSCE Results for 2014
CITI FM through their online portal reports…, “A Deputy Minister for Education in-charge of tertiary, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has described the 28.11 percent pass rate in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination WASSCE as one of the best performances by Ghanaian candidates in the last decade.”
 meanwhile, the Acting Director of the Ghana Education Service, Charles Aheto Tsegah also told Citi News that it is not automatic that all students who graduate from the Senior High School (SHS) would make it to the university.”

On Intra-party Conflict
The Crusading Guide newspaper reported on August 22, 2014 that Dr. Arthur Kennedy, a leading member of the New Patriotic Party, blamed Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo for the current trend of in-fighting the party was experiencing. According to Dr. Arthur Kennedy, It is obvious, upon reflection that these hooligans – from [President] Kufuor’s house, through Tamale to the party headquarters are being organized, encouraged, inspired and motivated by or on behalf of the 2012 Presidential Candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.”

There are many more instances of such views, skewed in my view, from academia, religious circles and regular folks, which essentially point to gaps in thought patterns and character weaknesses which are inconsistent with the pre-requisites of good leadership.

So what is the Problem, Really?
In all of the aforementioned instances, there may be arguments to support their validity or even the speaker’s democratic rights to take those positions, and yet all of these instances, without exception have done very little to provide sustainable solutions as a way of addressing the policy questions that they sought to comment on. That, essentially is a common denominator of leadership purpose; problem solving. A common thread in all of these comments (essentially policy-related) is the woeful lack of personal responsibility being taken for events and situations, be they crises, ill-conditions, losses and the like. Competitive pressure and fear of ceding ground to opposition are few of the destructive influences that is re-defining responsibility as democratic virtue into a strategic nonsense. In order words, there is no virtue in taking responsibility if it devalues one’s political power, dents your credibility and compromise your electoral fortunes. I am truly convinced, that every one of these examples presented a unique opportunity to demonstrate remarkable leadership by accepting responsibility and saying “yes, government has not done well in this area, but we have recognized our gaps and limitations and have renewed our commitment to solving this problem by taking these specific steps; a, b and c.
President Kufuor’s administration, notwithstanding the remarkable performance record, missed it on corruption. Former President Rawlings, notwithstanding his record on national security and rural development, I will argue, also missed it on the same count and more. The policy response of current political administration to exchange rate depreciation, fiscal deficit and political governance, to name a few, is suggestive of the proposition that the lessons of Rawlings, Kufuor and the Mills administration has not found its way into the policy cycle. The urgent imperative for a new kind of leadership in our politics cannot be overemphasized.

In The Next Issue …
Contrary to the popular refrain, that too much politics in Ghana is our problem, I am persuaded beyond any shred of doubts, that politics is the solution. My reasoning is simple; politics is a higher order discipline and practice, out of which social order, secular peace and economic opportunities evolve. A rational and growth-centred political philosophy is a major step in creating a free and just society. If our politics is right, all else will fall in place. But our politics cannot be right, if civil society actors refuse to, or are lukewarm about engaging the political establishment to demand reforms and the exercise of Godly values and responsible leadership in the administration of our common wealth.
In the next edition, a sequel to this piece, I shall attempt to analyze the work of the Constitutional Review Commission and how its seminal effort to engender structural alignment would help correct some of the hindrances to governance and the exercise of proper leadership in our current political dispensation

Monday, August 4, 2014

Should Ghana Be Under Military Rule

2012 presidential candidate of the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) Dr. Henry Herbert Lartey is calling for a return to military rule as the surest way to accelerate the development of the country.
He believes if the nation was under military rule, rampant corruption in the country would not be in existence for the nation to experiencing economic challenges. 
The leader and Chairman of the GCPP, Dr. Henry Herbert Lartey believes a return to military rule will instill some discipline in Ghanaians who steal the country’s resources for their personal benefit and that of their friends.
He also took a swipe at government for mismanaging the economy. According to him, Ghanaians are feed up with the current economic hardship bedeviling the country which he said keeps worsening by the day as he puts the blame squarely at the doorstep of leadership.
Dr. Henry Lartey in an interview said the leadership needs to think about an innovative way to deal with corruption to save the country.
“Leadership is not rulership. Leadership is not kingship. Leadership is when you have creative mind. Leaders need to think on their feet and bring out sterling ideas to change lives”, he said.
He also cited the rising cost of transportation, accommodation, food among others, resulting from the sharp fall of the cedi against the major international currencies as a major problem that needs to be tackled.
Dr. Lartey said the present economic doldrums are having adverse implications on the salaries of workers, which demands an immediate intervention from the central government. “Ghanaians are facing difficult times; I think urgent steps are needed in solving these problems,” the 2012 presidential candidate asserted.
He lamented: “Sadly, the managers of our national economy have chosen to ignore the advice of the local professionals and many other brilliant suggestions that have been put forward by civil society organizations. Instead, those in charge of our economy have chosen to rely on the economic policy advice of experts at the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.”
He reiterated the need for a policy of domestication that his late father, Dan Lartey preached as the long term solution to the country’s economic woes. “Eat what you grow. Grow what you eat, stockpile and export. Domestication can end the dollarisation of Ghana’s economy,” Dr. Lartey said.
“We have to earn more from our exports such as oranges, pineapples, pawpaw, mangoes as well as other fruits and vegetables by value addition. Ghana cannot rely on cocoa alone for a lifetime at the expense of other products”, he advised.
He said: “We should encourage the large production of rice, maize, palm oil, rubber and sugarcane for the production of sugar”, and warned that: “If we don't promote domestication to change our current import and export orientation, then the light at the end of the tunnel will continue to elude us”.
He explained “When the total dollar value of a country's imports exceeds the total dollar value of its exports, the county has a trade deficit. This means the country is exporting fewer goods than it is importing. When a country's trade deficit increases, the value of that country's currency depreciates against the currency of its trading partner countries.”
Despite all these suggestions on how to deal with the problems of the economy, Dr. Lartey maintained: “A short-term solution to Ghana’s woes is returning to military rule.”
On how the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) is faring, he said the party has begun strengthening its structures at the grassroots level as part of the party’s preparations ahead of the 2016 elections.

IMF (International Monetary Fund) To Support Ghana’s Ailing Economy

The government of Ghana has directed the Ministry of Finance to open discussion with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to support Ghana’s ailing economy.

The Ghanaian currency, the Cedi has been continuously depreciating against most of the foreign currencies despite measures from Bank of Ghana to save it. 

In its annual review of the Ghanaian economy, the IMF in May warned that under current policies, the fiscal deficit would stay at about 10.2 per cent this year and 9.3 per cent in 2015, far below the official target.

If you may recall, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, 2012 running mate for the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) on March 25, 2014 at the Distinguished Speakers Forum organized by Central University College, stated: “Mr Chairman, in conclusion, I would like to repeat without exaggeration that the Ghanaian economy is in a crisis. It is time for serious action. If government does not take the right decisions and soon, then Ghana would likely have to approach the IMF for a bail out before the end of the year.

This statement however created various controversies and criticisms from government.

However, a statement issued and signed by Communications Minister, Dr Edward Omane Boamah indicated that government has decided to go for an IMF bailout.

Read the statement below

President John Mahama met the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Economy on 1st August, 2014 at the Flagstaff House to reflect further on the range of issues affecting the Ghanaian economy.

The Committee’s discussions focused on measures aimed at restoring macroeconomic stability, promoting growth and improving the living conditions of the people.

Arising out of the deliberations, the President reaffirmed the Government’s continuing commitment to a liberal Foreign Exchange regime that provides, among others, incentives for Ghanaians, both at home and abroad, as well as Foreign Investors to invest in Ghana.

The President further decided that as a matter of urgency, measures must be taken to stabilize the Cedi in order to bring about greater predictability to the business environment.

With respect to the energy situation in the country the President directed that urgent measures be taken to expedite the coming on stream of domestic gas supplies to provide cheaper fuel for power generation as well as minimize the foreign exchange burden of crude oil imports.

Lastly, the President directed that immediate initiatives be taken to open discussions with the International Monetary Fund and other Development Partners in support of our programme for stabilization and growth.