WHY GHANAIANS VOTED FOR A CHANGE

WHY GHANAIANS VOTED FOR A CHANGE

 

Gabriel Mwini

9thJanuary, 2017.

 

In the lead up to the 2016 general elections in Ghana, the chorus was almost the same; everywhere people were heard singing “Change, Change”.

From the northern part of the country to the southern part, the rhythm was almost the same “Change, Change”. 

Ghanaians living in both the western and Eastern part of the country were all part of the change chorus, even in the strongholds of the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC).

But the question many people have refused to ask was, why were many Ghanaians clamouring for a change of government?

I can still freshly remember the huge change sign made by residents of Kumasi in the face of the president of the republic of Ghana John Dramani Mahama when he went to Kumasi to help mourn with the Asantehene on the departure of his mother. Embarrassing for a sitting president right?  That single incident showed how desperate many people were yearning for a change of Government.

The Kumasi incident was not the only one, the president on his tour to some constituencies in the Greater Accra Region was also greeted with the same change slogan by hundreds of supporters who thronged the streets of Accra to catch a glimpse of him.  Did he know his time was due? Despite the numerous projects the NDC government touted itself of being executed across the country.

There may be several reasons why most Ghanaians were opting for a change of government, but the most pressing and important issues that triggered the change button were only two.

Massive Corruption and high level Arrogance on the part of some government appointees, the ones the founder of the National Democratic Congress Jerry John Rawlings will call “Babies with Sharp Teeth’s”.

The NDC government under the leadership of president Mahama became synonymous to the word corruption, operating against the very principle on which the party was founded “Probity and Accountability”.

The daily reports of inflation of government contracts, dolling out state funds to cronies in the name of judgement debts, and the chronic looting of public funds by both government appointees and public sector workers with impunity over the past four  six years  exacerbated the change movement that spread like wild fire across the country.

While the aggrandizement of public fund was going on, millions of Ghanaians were being slapped with increased utility tariffs, taxes and fuel, thereby worsening their living standard of the ordinary Ghanaian without any social protection from the state.

The poor management of the power situation by the government became the last straw that broke the Camel’s back, since the few Ghanaian and foreign firms had to shut down operations due to the high cost of energy and worse of all, inadequate power supply.

The situation saw thousands of Ghanaians losing their jobs and some business operators re-locating their plants to other countries, thereby worsening the already unemployment situation in the country.

The outcome of the 2016 elections taught us one thing, and that is, Ghanaians abhor corruption and expect elected public officials to champion the collective interest of the state instead of their own personal gains.

The Akuffo Addo led government is however expected to live up to the hopes and aspirations of Ghanaians by rooting out corruption and channeling national resources equitably to the various sector of the economy  to enhance the living standard of Ghanaians.

As with the high level of arrogance by appointed NDC government officials, it will be a subject of discussing in another article. But the message is clear and concise, humility is the key. For absolute power comes from the people.

 9thJanuary, 2017.

 

African Governments Killing its Citizen Slowly with Cheap Imported Fuel

 

The African continent produces millions of Barrels of crude oil in a day, and yet, African countries are at the receiving end of the dirtiest and dangerous parts of refined fuel especially diesel to power plants, machines and vehicles with unimaginable expected respiratory conditions among its citizens.

One would have expected that Africans should have been enjoying the purest and finest part of fuel drilled from its off-shores and lands, but that seems to be the opposite.

Recent reports by Swiss firms have criticised African trade in diesel with toxin levels that are illegal in Europe.

Campaign group Public Eye says retailers are exploiting weak regulatory standards in Africa

Fuel Regulations in Africa still gives room for the use of fuel which contains high level of sulphur, exceeding the standards set in Europe and other developed countries.

According to health experts, the sulphur contained in the fumes from the diesel fuel could increase respiratory illnesses like asthma and bronchitis in affected countries.

Nigeria which is the largest oil producing country in Africa with the number 11 oil producing country in Africa, Ghana are the worst culprit involved in the  buying of rejected dirty fuel from Europe for its citizens, knowing well the health and environmental implications.

I was however surprised to have  heard the Chief Executive Officer of Ghana’s Bulk Oil Distribution Company Senya Hosi on Citifm defending the act of importing dirty fuel for Ghanaians, with the reason that “highly refined fuel are expensive and that, if Ghanaians want less sulphuric contained fuel,  they must be prepared to pay for more”.

As the popular saying goes “Cheap Thing are costly”. Are African countries involved in importing dirty fuel counting the cost of their action?

Aside the health and environmental implications of using dirty fuel, the lifespan of vehicles using such fuel is reduced, with both plants and animals also at the receiving end of the emission of the combusted fuel by heavy industrial plants and vehicles.

As the old adage goes “What is good for the Goose is also good for the Gander”.

 Why Should European governments ban such fuel for use in their countries and we think it’s best for us? African leaders have taken its citizens for granted for a long time and the time for action is now.

How can Africa be producing millions of barrels of oil in a day and can still not supply quality fuel for its citizen? It’s a shame.

What happened to all the oil refineries dotted around African oil producing countries which was built with millions of tax payer’s money?

Why won’t refined fuel be expensive for Africans if it is transported from thousands of miles away? The poor African is expected to pay for transportation cost and taxes on these commodities drilled from their own backyards.

Why won’t our refineries work for our dear brothers in Africa to also enjoy the best part of oil dug on their own land? This will reduce shipping cost and taxes and allow the African also purchase quality fuel for their plants and machines and at the same time reduce the risk of contracting respiratory diseases from inhaling dirty fuel imported from Europe.

Africans must rise up and say to its elected leaders that, enough is enough.

In my next article, I will like to explore the question “Who benefits from Africa’s fuel imports”.

Source:  Gabriel Mwini. Apex News

CURRUPTION IS KILLING GHANA, THE NEED FOR ACTION IS NOW!

Ghana on one hand, since its return to democratic rule in 1993, has experienced a continuous growth in consolidating its democracy, leading it to be one of the most referred to success stories of democracy in Africa. On the other hand, corruption continues to be a problem in spite of the several proclaimed measures by governments to curb it. Several people have tried to find out why corruption still persists in Ghana despite the various anti- corruption laws being formulated and implemented in the country all aiming at curtailing the growing canker.

 

The causes of corruption are myriad; and they have political and cultural variables. The Centre for African Democratic Affairs (CADA) has recently observed that there is a strong perception that seeks to establish a link between corruption, social diversity and ethno-linguistic fractionalization.

CADA has noted with a great amount of concern that corruption today has become widespread in most African countries including Ghana. The culture of corruption of the Ghanaian society has made almost every citizen more prone to corrupt activities. However, CADA is of the view that the fundamental factors that engendered corrupt practices in Ghana include: great inequality in the distribution of wealth; political office serving as the primary means of gaining access to wealth; conflicts between changing moral codes; the weakness of social and governmental enforcement mechanisms; and the absence of a strong sense of national community.

My observation as a growing child of Ghana over the past two decades has however changed my idea on why corruption seems to be gaining grounds in Ghana. I rather see corruption striving in the country due to the refusal of individual citizens to abhor the practice by reporting individuals they percieve to be corrupt to the appropriate law inforcement agencies for investigations and possible prosecution. Despite the blantant refusal of anti-corruption state agencies like the Commercial Unit of the Ghana Police Service, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), The Economic and Organise Crime Office (EOCO) and the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to fullfill their constituational mandate by fighting acts of corruption, the active participation of citizens in the fight against the corruption canker will be a panacea to ending the corruption menace currently existing in the country.

How many of us Ghanaians have ever called the Economic and Organised Crime Office or the Bureau of National Investigations to report a public official who spends more than he or she earns in a month or a year? How many of us try to question the source of wealth of the so called "rich men and women" in Ghana? All that we do is to glorify them and thier filthy riches, and give them front seats in churches or mosques, titles and accolades that make them small  gods and goddesses in the country.

Members of parliaments in Ghana who are paid a gross salary of  90,000 Ghana Cedis annually are sometimes seen expending more than 100,000 Ghana  Cedis within a month on projects they claim are funded from thier pocket money. You then ask yourself, where did they get that huge amount of money to spend if their annual salary is nowhere near the amount spent in a month. Do we ask where the extra money came from?

We need to start asking questions. The more we ask critical questions about people's extravagant spendings and lifestyles and report them to anti-corruption institutions for investigations, the more perpetrators of corrupt acts will begin to think of minimising thier evil trade, if not ending it.

The first president of Ghana was asked what he is doing to fight corruption and his response was amazing. Let me paraphrase what Nkrumah said "Until we begin to build a strong public opinion against corruption, it will be difficult to fight it". This was said over fifty years ago when some ministers of Nkrumah's government were accused of recieving bribes and dolling out juicy contracts to foreign companies.

It is estimated that about $500m of public funds are embezzled or misappropriated every year even when over 40% of the people in Ghana  live below the poverty line ($1.25/day). The majority of Ghanaians do not have electricity, clean drinking water, and access to primary health care. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) inquiries since 2000 have seen billions of dollars of state money misappropriated with no recorded prosecutions and negligible success in retrieving this stolen cash. Corruption destroys development and we all, I believe, want our country to develop to become an advanced society with just opportunities for all. Dissipation of national revenues through corruption has left little legacy of development.

It is time for every Ghanaian to wake up and be a citizen vigilante against acts of corruption.

Ghana is yet to elect a leader who will be ruthless to acts of corruption; those elected have all played the rhethoric by promising to fight the menace but end up promoting the act in thier administration. I have the strong believe that Ghana can wean itself from financial aid if we are able to plug all the corruption loopholes within both the public and private sector of our economy. How can we go in for an IMF bailout of 900 million dollars when we lose more of such amounts of money to corruption annually.

Ghanaians should not be concerned about electing leaders who will build schools, hospitals, roads and other social amenities, but be concerned with those who have shown demonstrable ability of weeding out corruption to its minimal level in the country, for if corruption is reduced to its bearest minimum, the provision of those basic social infrastructural amenities will come by itself.

I must confess that I have been disappointed with the current NDC administration's handling of acts of corruption committed by individuals and organisations over the past seven years running into millions of Ghana Cedis with little or no prosecution. Reading through the 2014 Auditor General Department reports from the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, Public Boards and Corporations, state agencies and pre- tertiary schools on financial malfeasance and misappropriation made me shed tears whilst in the aircraft travelling from Ghana to Germany.

I will for once disagree with US president Barrack Obama when he said "Ghana needs no strong leaders but strong institutions". The case of Ghana is different; Ghana indeed needs strong leaders with strong public institutions. As we speak now, almost all the public insitutions in Ghana need "medical resuscitation" since almost all including the anti-corruption agencies are in a state of "COMA".

We need leaders who will show strong positive commitment to fighting corruption.The country desperately needs leaders who will say enough is enough by showing  examplary leadership and paving the way for all others to follow. If the leader is compromised, all others are. We are now left with almost seven months to elect leaders who will lead us to shape the destiny of this country to where we all dream to be. Ghana's problem now is not the lack of water, dumsor, poverty, poor roads, but corruption which is endemic to all spheres of the country like cancer, eating to the moral fibre of the population.

According to Karl Kraus, "corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country".

We have a duty as citizens to resist all forms of corruption and fight it till our last breath, for that will guarantee us the real jobs, the needed social infrastructure, quality education, quality health care and opportunity to rub our shoulders with the rest of the world.

Your neighbour in the Western world will pick a phone and report you to the police if he or she suspects that you are spending more than you are earning, but the story will be different in Ghana. Remember, "There Are Two Ways To Lead A Life, 1. Do Nothing And Suffer The Consequences, Or 2. Take The Responsibility To Change It". Ghana is our home, we have nowhere to go if it is destroyed.