PKB Asks:”Can Ghana Ever Develop?”

A year ago, I lost my sweet octogenarian grandmother to medical negligence; a term that has gained currency in our beloved country due to the many instances where preventable deaths have led people to their graves at the instance of health practitioners. I also lost a sister from another mother just when we were preparing to ‘Cross Over’ into 2015. She’d just delivered a bouncy baby boy the natural way than she started complaining of stomach ache. That was all!

Anyway, so we held Maame Efua Ansaba’s first anniversary earlier in the month. Due to pressure emanating from different quarters, I celebrated her with a rather unkempt hair. So on the Sunday of the celebration, I visited my most trusted barber after the memorial and thanksgiving service, for a trim. Upon reaching the salon, I met two childhood friends of mine waiting their turn to trim theirs too.

About 15 minutes into our conversation, one asked the other: “So can Ghana ever develop?” My eyes and ears were fixated on my other friend to hear what he had to say. “Kai…for the where? The individuals dey develop, but the nation di33…Yaa Mutu!”, was his response. I couldn’t stop laughing. On my way back to the reception grounds after I’d had my hair cut, I was still thinking about that response, trying to ascertain its veracity or otherwise. Dear readers, I readily concurred after about a minute or so, and I’ll tell you why.

When it became evident that our towns and cities were engulfed in so much filth making breathing and habiting in certain communities very difficult, and cholera reaching a crescendo, the government through the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, instituted the National Sanitation Day. This vehicle was to get all of us to help make our communities cleaner and safer by way of communal labour. Various media houses advertised this for free, ensuring that every Tom, Dick and Harry got wind of it. But what did we see on those Saturdays? Traders busily went about their dealings and looked on whilst few non-traders de-silted choked drains right in front of the shops. Try as the ‘labourers’ sought to make these business people see reason why they should join them, they simply couldn’t be bothered at all. These instances have incurred the displeasure of DCOP Kofi Boakye, the Ashanti Regional Police Capo who has vowed to make non-participation a criminal offence. I fully support him in this quest. The IGP should roll it out to the other regions to ensure that we all get involved in building our motherland. This is one example of how individuals (traders) in the country are developing, but the nation isn’t. Blame must also be laid at the doorstep of the Flagstaff House for failing to provide refuse bins in many of the communities. How do we sustain the cleanliness of the community after the cleanup exercise? Do we wait for the ‘death’ of another moon? Lord, have mercy! 

The Dr Kwadwo Afari – Gyan led Electoral Commission is scheduled to hold the District Elections in March of this year. This is an exercise that many have taken keen interests in to see how the EC implements the electoral reforms ordered by the Supreme Court when it upheld the results of the general elections challenged by the NPP. The quest for power has seen many people from all walks of life picking up forms and announcing their candidature. Incumbents are telling their success stories as one way of ensuring that they are retained by the electorates, whilst the other candidates are trying their best to discredit these alleged achievements. One of such incumbents is the Assembly Man for the Bubii Electoral Area. His proponents are distributing leaflets cataloguing his achievements to everyone in the area. One of such achievement captured in the leaflet is the construction of culverts for a drain in the community. Apparently, this was constructed by a family during the burial of a loved one. The interesting thing is that very few people know this fact but are unwilling to broadcast same to their neighbours to shame this candidate. From results of a poll conducted by a research and ratings agency, sadly, he’s expected to be retained. Unfortunately, he’s not alone in this practice. His colleagues in other electoral areas are doing this on a much higher level than he is. The MMDAs may give these assembly members funds to undertake developmental projects in their respective communities, but sadly, our taxes end up in their deep pockets. Now how can the country develop when we have such people at the helm of affairs in various communities?    

Most external auditors are doing the nation a great disservice by their actions and inactions. One of their functions is to ensure that entities they audit present true and accurate information for their stakeholders. One of the reasons for the collapse of business giants such as Enron and Worldcom was as a result of under-dealings which Arthur Anderson (an audit firm) failed to disclose to stakeholders year after year, apparently in exchange for some financial reward. Here in Ghana, companies make huge taxable profits each year, but with the connivance of the auditor, they end up paying paltry sums as corporate taxes, thereby robbing the state of several millions in taxes. It is one of the reasons why a 17.5% VAT has been introduced on some banking transactions. You see, the partners of the audit firm will grow their practice through an increase in audit fees, but how will that poor widowed peasant farmer’s son in Zabzugu Tatale be able to sit in a classroom built with brick and mortar and be taught by a ‘satisfied’ teacher? That’s perhaps another social misfit being trained as a result of their deceit.

Dear readers, how can Ghana ever develop when some personnel of the Police Service expect their palms to be greased before investigations are conducted into reported crimes? They’ll park the cars bought for them for their operations with our taxes and expect the victim to charter a taxi to and from the police station to make an arrest. How can the nation develop when people who have sworn to protect us with their lives turn round to rather inflict bodily pain on innocent victims who just try to expose their ignorance of the very law they are supposedly upholding? How can one expect the nation to develop when perpetrators of heinous crimes are allowed to go scot free in exchange for a white A4 envelope? But why won’t they collect these bribes when ‘ghosts’ represents the majority of employees on the government payroll system? Efforts aimed at ridding the system off these non-existent employees are met with one fierce resistance or another, costing the state several millions of cedis. How can the nation save some money for those of us in dire need of scholarships to further our education and contribute our quota to the nation building exercise? It’s one of the reasons why our students furthering their studies abroad are struggling to fend for themselves. My people, how can Ghana develop when the administrators of the Ridge Hospital think GHS 5,000.00 is propitiation enough for the life of a young lad lost through the negligence …uhm…check that….wickedness of a medical officer of the hospital, and not a withdrawal of his license, or perhaps a long vacation to Nsawam Prisons.  

But be that as it may, immediately after these thoughts rushed through my mind, I started to smile as I saw light at the end of the tunnel. Thankfully, it wasn’t the light of an oncoming train. It was the seemingly sudden awakening of the populace from our deep slumber over the years. We now live in a country where almost everyone seems to be interested in how the economy is being managed. I’m thankful for the emergence of civil groups like Occupy Ghana, NERA Africa, Mad4Change etc… as they give me hope. They bend over backwards to ensure that institutions of state work as they should. They keep government appointees on their toes, although most of them pretend not to be perturbed, but deep down, they are very cautious of their dealings now. The ‘noise’ these groups make have already started yielding results, and I applaud their efforts. Let them turn it up a notch and I’m pretty certain we will get to our destination sooner than we think.

I’m an optimist by nature, and I do believe Ghana will develop…only if we all play our roles in building her.

The writer is a deputy finance manager at Multimedia Group Limited, and a founding member of NERA Africa. He can be contacted at pkbwilliams@yahoo.co.uk. Click here for other articles he’s authored.