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My Expectations of President John Dramani Mahama’s Administration

January 14, 2013

The economy of Ghana is said to be growing at a faster rate than even most analysts have predicted. And this is to be expected mainly because of the commencement of oil production in commercial quantities. Ghana is more or less the darling of most Western nations, and even most African countries. We are seen as the beacon of hope in a continent that was described by the Economist magazine as the “hopeless continent,” and also by the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as the “scar on the conscience of the world.” Our democratic credentials are now, in my opinion, solid. Since the advent of multiparty constitutional democracy in 1992, Ghanaians have demonstrated to the world that our universal acceptance of democratic practices is not a fluke. We are the only country in Africa that has seen political power shifted successfully between the two major political parties on two occasions.

But does good and solid democratic practices alone enough to move Ghana from the Lower-Middle Income country to the Middle Income or even a higher status that most of us are seeking for? How do we achieve economic success that could place Ghana on the list of economic success stories of the world?

More than fifty years ago, Ghana was richer than South Korea and most other Asian countries that are today referred to as the “Asian Tigers.” During the 1950s and the early 1960s, most of these Asian countries were seen as hopeless and an economic mess. However, the Asian Tigers of today (Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore – the original Four Asian Tigers) are now global economic giants in their own rights. And the most interesting thing about these countries is the fact that they have no benefit of natural resources, at least not in any form of commercial quantities. So how did they get there?

In the case of Singapore, a country of just a little over five million people, the country built a financial centre of international repute and standard. Today, Singapore is the fourth leading financial centre in the world; one of the world’s top three oil refining centers; the world’s largest oil rig producer; and a major ship repairer. “The country is also the world’s fourth largest foreign-exchange trading centre after London, New York and Tokyo.” Without capital, or access to capital, no country can develop! In his book, From Third World to First: Singapore and the Asian Economic Boom, Lee Kuan Yew showed how the country was able to make the country the kind of financial centre that the country is today. He also showed how they built a fairer society; how they attracted and nurtured talents; how they managed the media; and how they kept the government clean. All these are not rocket science. Ghana can achieve same, and even do far better than the Asian Tigers looking at the population of our work force and the abundant natural resources of the country.

The election of John Dramani Mahama as the fourth President of the Fourth Republic of the Republic of Ghana has brought about a renewed hope and confidence in the people of Ghana, not least the youth of the country who I refer to as the iPad Generation. Ghanaians have very high hopes and expectations for President Mahama to deliver on his promises. After more than fifty years of attaining political independence, we still live in a country where majority of us do not have access to potable water; energy (power) is still a major challenge; shelter for majority of Ghanaians is still a pipedream; and food to eat is also a major problem for majority of Ghanaians. I keep wondering why a nation of less than 25 million people cannot feed itself; cannot provide electricity and water to its entire people; and why we cannot build affordable houses to the many Ghanaians who cannot afford to build houses of their own. Yet this is a country that has all the natural resources one can think of, and was the first country south of the Sahara to attain political independence.

For me as young man, I do not expect President Mahama to solve all our problems. In fact he cannot solve all our problems even if we give him a second term in 2016. However, like other Ghanaians, I have some great expectations from our new President and his administration.

First of all, I would like President Mahama to prioritize enterprise and commerce over and above all the other sectors of the economy. This might sound controversial and debatable but I strongly and honestly believe that what can move Ghana forward will not only be education, but also commerce and enterprise. Our ability as a nation to provide capital and access to capital to our entrepreneurs and business owners, and open up the business space will determine our success or failure. What I expect the President to champion is to use our oil and gas wealth to create a modern Economic City that will include a modern financial centre that will rival the likes of Johannesburg, Singapore and even London. The emphasis on enterprise and commerce should not be compromised. We should encourage the iPad Generation to see entrepreneurship and business as a worthy endeavour that will be highly rewarded. The business of government is not the creation of employment. In fact the only employment government must create are the people who work for and in government. The role of government is the creation of an enabling environment for all the other sectors of the economy to thrive. Government must focus on governing and the promotion of policies that will have positive bearings on Ghanaians.

My second expectation of President John Mahama and his administration is for the President to clean-up the system from bribery and corruption. We cannot run away from the fact that there is too much bribery and corruption in Ghana. The fight against bribery and corruption should be aggressive and intense. There is no reason why we should pay bribes or corrupt officials before we can get business done. This is absolutely unacceptable if we really are very serious about building a Better Ghana. We shouldn’t only fight grand corruption, but also pay attention to petty bribery and corruption on our streets, offices, schools, homes, and etc. Most of the countries that are doing well economically tackled the issue of bribery and corruption very seriously.

My third and final expectation of our new President is to bring about discipline in our societies, especially when it comes to road traffic regulations and keeping our environments clean. Statistics show that human errors accounts for most of the accidents on our roads. And it is about time we addressed this issue with all the seriousness it deserves. During my stay in the United Kingdom, I never expressed any worry or fear when traveling by road. Sometimes I even forget to pray when traveling because I know for sure that I will get to my destination. In Ghana, however, the story is very different. Most of our vehicles are not in good shapes, and most of our drivers drive carelessly causing unnecessary preventable fatal accidents.

It is also very unfortunate that after more than fifty years of independence we still cannot manage our waste products. Whereas in other countries waste products are used for the generation of energy and other useful things, we are still grappling with how to manage our waste product. And like I keep on saying, waste management is not a rocket science, and we can do it if only we are serious.

There are other equally important things to be expected of our new beloved President and his administration. The issue of education is also key, especially tertiary education. Our educational system needs serious reforms that can stand the test of the time. There is no reason why we should keep on sending Ghanaians abroad to learn about oil and gas management programs whereas we can build world class institutions or centers right here in Ghana. We can build the institutions here and invite the experts to train our people. That is the way to go.

Ghana can only become a better place for all of us if and only if each and every one of us will change our perceptions of our expectations of what government can do, and cannot do. Our expectations of government must be to create the necessary political and economic environment for all to thrive irrespective of our political, ethnic, religious or other considerations. Ghana becomes a better place when Ghanaian businesses are performing very well both locally and internationally. And this must be the focus of the new administration.

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From → Politics

3 Comments
  1. Kashaa Nuhu permalink

    This truly is a master piece by all standard. You have indeed cataloged the primariry issues bodering our nation Ghana and almost perfect solutions to tackling them. The listening Prez we have will surely take it up I beleive. Keep the good work up

  2. Gamel Mahama permalink

    I found this article well thought of and written too. And it raises serious questions with useful suggestions to address most of our numerours challenges in Ghana and Africa.I pat your backs my friends including Kasha for your great literary work!

  3. While I share some of the sentiments of the comments above, I challenge the tenet that we should concentrate on commerce and trade. Trade and commerce are avenues we can pursue to bring developmental progress to Ghana, but we must not pursue it to the neglect or relegation of education. On education, while tertiary education is important, even more important to me is early education (head start). Countless research studies buttress my argument for early education. Corruption at all levels, not just bribery, must be tackled and eradicated from our society. It must start with a change in mind set. The current thinking is that everybody does it, so……. Or if I don’t do it, the next person will do it to my disadvantage! We all know the “noko fio” syndrome.

    Another area that I think that H.E. President John Mahama should look at is SANITATION! Being a Nima boy and having descended in enough Nima gutters during clean-up exercises, I know a thing or two about this. And of course, the #1 thing JM must tackle is energy: power. Clean, reliable electricity will power the engines of industry to propel Ghana to the next level. How do we get anywhere without a reliable source of power?

    I am most excited and enthusiastic about contributing to Ghana’ development. We too can move from third world to first world. I know we have what it takes. But we must do it while keeping our culture and traditions intact. Indeed, Ghana’s best days are ahead of us. The best is yet to come. It will come even sooner if you and I and everybody else see it as our civic duty to contribute to Ghana’s progress. We will get there, insha’Allah.

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