Let the systems work

Ghana appears to be at the crossroads. The country is experiencing mixed fortunes. While the economic indicators show positive signs, the society itself appears to be heading for instability or so it seems.

Most of the systems in the country do not work efficiently. The state security apparatus, despite doing so much, are now under so much pressure to do more and better.

The health system, education sector, utility services, like electricity and water systems could be better. There have been some considerable improvements in the country’s road network systems, but traffic rules have gone to the dogs, and this is resulting in carnage of unimaginable proportions on our roads.

The public is always complaining about the civil service and public service processes. They do not appear to work for a majority of Ghanaians.

There is a joke in town these days. It is said that when anyone goes to seek for services from government agencies, some officials would tell them “they should give things that alleviate poverty to them.” In other words, they ask for bribes.

The central government has initiated a lot of laudable programmes, and one government initiative that in my opinion is one of the best things to happen to Ghana, is the establishment of the Northern Development Fund.

I just hope that the systems to be set in place to manage this initiative would work efficiently. Nothing should be allowed to clog the wheels of this development strategy. It is a remarkable concept that must work at any cost. If it works, it has the potential to bridge the gap between the north and the south.

Like a pain in the neck most of the systems in the country just don’t work well. For the ones that work, they work painfully slow. It is not uncommon to encounter officials working in public institutions in this country who have very little information on and knowledge about how the system they are part of works, and their attitudes add up to the frustrations of clients.

Most ordinary people, who often do not know where to go for help, and those who are able to identify the organisations that offer basic public services, are exploited.

Looking at the jerky manner in which the systems in Ghana work, one is often tempted to make a blanket conclusion that the systems do not work. Indeed, my good friend, Alhaji Abubakar Saddique of Radio Univers always says it in another way, “the systems are a non-system,” he says.

I remember some years back, a failed American politician Pat Buchanan had the tenacity to refer to Ghana as “a failed state.” Most Ghanaians including Komla Dumor did not take kindly to the statement at all, and they lambasted Buchanan and called him names. I certainly agreed with all who attacked Buchanan and tore him into shreds.

Let me tell you just a bit about him. Buchanan is an American politician who attempted twice but failed to win the Republican presidential nomination. He failed in 1992 and 1996. And each attempt, he failed abysmally. He went on to stand on the ticket of another party, the Reform Party in the 2000 presidential election in the US and he lost so badly as well. That was why most Ghanaians didn’t think he was competent at all to call Ghana a failed state.

We don’t need failures like Buchanan to call us names. We as a country must examine ourselves and have the courage to admit our weaknesses and act accordingly to correct them.

While the country has achieved some considerable economic gains which have attracted applause from the international community, not many Ghanaians appear to be benefiting.

The upsurge in crime, and particularly the types of violent crimes and the manner in which the state security apparatus responds doesn’t build any confidence in citizens. Friday morning June 27, 2008, Mr. Kofi Quantson, one of Ghana’s foremost security experts said on radio that crime levels in the country now have reached proportions where even the security of the state is threatened.

And while it is expected that the state would act swiftly to bring the situation under control, our leaders are doing what they know best – indulging themselves. A typical example is the national awards saga. It is unthinkable that the chaff and the wheat could be mixed together on such a prestigious platform.

And true to suspicion, the obstinacy of the government is unbroken, in spite of the genuine public uproar against the unforgivable act of reducing a national honour to such ridicule. I thought by now, the government would gracefully review the list to reflect national honour and dignity.

The common excuses that one often hears are that our systems are not well resourced. But our systems can work sufficiently and efficiently, with or without the so called resources, because we can improvise just as we can be creative in our responses, but we simply refuse to.

Let’s get serious as a nation, and make our systems work, because no one would do it for us.

Authored by: Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

Email: edogbevi@hotmail.com