Wednesday, July 25, 2012

10 things every Ghanaian must do in honour of the Late President John Atta Mills

The president is gone to his village. He has gone to be with the ancestors. His work among mortals is done. The country is in mourning, still trying hard to come to terms with the tragedy. July 24, 2012 will remain a day never to be forgotten in our history. It is the first time a sitting president had died and he died in the country.

The first President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah died in exile in Romania in 1972, Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia, Prime Minister in the second Republic died in London on August 28, 1978. Military leaders Gen. Kutu Acheampong and Gen. Frederick William Kwasi Akuffo were executed by firing squad in June 1979. Dr. Hilla Limann, President in the third republic died January 23, 1998 in Ghana.

As we mourn our loss, there are a lot of things we can do in honour of the departed President, as our dear nation and posterity need us, and I believe the Late President will be happy wherever he is now if we do.

1. Do not weep

It is customary for us Ghanaians to weep when we lose a beloved one to death. It is psychologically soothing, but we can't spend all the time weeping as we need to save some energy to get back to work.

2. Examine ourselves

Self examination is necessary for us at this time as a nation. We must look deep inside ourselves and ask ourselves if we have been true to this country, as politicians, professionals, fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters and workers.

We need to look into ourselves as the President would have wanted us to, to determine the depth of our commitment to the country and its future.

3. Stop the personal attacks in our politics

While personal attacks in politics are inevitable sometimes, making personal attacks a regular feature of political activities and discussions is not productive and can easily lead to conflict.

I believe the departed President who has not been known to have openly attacked his political opponents in his campaigns and speeches would love to see us do politics devoid of the personal attacks and insults that only make the perpetrators less dignified than they sought to portray themselves, besides, it breeds indiscipline, leaving the young with no good example to follow in decorum and respect for others. No matter how divers our views on issues are, no matter how much we disagree, we should learn to make these views known to our opponents without insulting them.

4. Live in peace

The Late President Mills while he was alive, always insisted he was a man of peace. He preached peace and lived peaceably with all. He has been known to have stretched the olive branch to some of his sworn detractors. He made efforts to maintain peace in his political party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the nation as a whole. I remember his victory speech when he was elected president after a tensely fought general elections in December 2008. He said the election was over and Ghanaians must live as one people.

5. Be productive

We can honour the departed President by doing our duties productively. So many of us Ghanaians spend too much of our time deceiving ourselves that we are working, and yet our productivity levels are so low, and too embarrassing to talk about.

During his lifetime as President, Ghana's cocoa sector, which for a very long time was the country's main foreign exchange earner produced one million metric tonnes of cocoa.

We can be productive if we work hard instead of working 'smart'. We must follow laid down procedures of work, and be creative.

6. Love the country

The manner in which some Ghanaians use their political positions, connections and privileges of office to loot from the national coffers is nauseating. No one or group of people who love their country will take food out of the mouth and healthcare out of the reach of the majority who can't afford. The monies that few people siphon from the nation and share among themselves, if used for development or used where they ought to, life will be better for many Ghanaians.

Public officials who demand bribes from citizens before they do their work, would not do so if they love the country. Policemen would not take bribes or manipulate evidence for or against another citizen just so they can twist justice in favour of people from whom they make money if they love the country.

The President would be very happy wherever he is if we love this country and do right at all times.

7. Put Ghana first

Ghana is more important than any individual or group of people. We must therefore, put the country first. The President has passed on, but Ghana is still with us. Ghana is the country we all derive our collective identity from. If the country matters to us first, we would not engage in acts that set the country back, if we think of the country first, we would be selfless as the President did, despite his health status. He was brave. Despite being unwell, he continued to serve the country to his own detriment. He put the country first. Not all of us are unwell, and it would please the departed President to see that we put Ghana first.

8. Speak the truth

We can honour the President's memory, when we pursue the truth. Being truthful is a virtue that humanity everywhere acknowledges. Lying in the name of the country does everyone little or no good.

Being honest and sincere in our dealings with one another is the greater good we can do for the country.

9. Respect his memory

No matter what our differences are, when someone dies it is said that no one should speak ill of them. We can honur the Late President by not denting his image. He is not here to defend himself. That doesn't however mean, that we should no have records of objective perspectives about his life on earth. He was mortal like all of us and he had his faults. We should speak of him as we would love others to speak of us.

10. Remember his family

The Late President had a family. He left behind a beloved wife and a son. Let's remember them in this moment of grief. It's our duty to support and comfort them, let them know their loss is our loss too.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Writing about my travels, writing about Ghana

A new friend I made recently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia while I was attending an Experts Group Meeting on Statistical Data Flow Architecture for National Systems in Africa asked me if I had a blog. I said yes. And he said I should blog more about my travels.

Yes. Indeed, lately I have been doing some travels, work related travels as a journalist taking part in meetings, training and covering events and conferences.

I would very much love to write about my travels, as I have done occasionally. But more importantly, I would like to blog more about Ghana, my motherland. This great country appears to be in crisis, despite the façade of the kind of democratic culture that the country has been practising for some time now. The peaceful democracy in Ghana has won the country great respect and honour around the world. I know that because my frequent travels gives me the privilege of meeting people from all over the world who are impressed by Ghana's democracy and peace. The country has been described as a peaceful oasis in a turbulent West Africa, looking at Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

But beneath the admirable political calmness is a surging decadence unprecedented anywhere in a decent democratic culture. The culture of impunity and naked robbery perpetrated by the ruling class are not only nauseating but poignantly disturbing.

A stable democracy is all any people anywhere needed to pursue social and economic development - but not so in Ghana. Instead, it is all the political class needed to loot the national coffers. They are exploiting loopholes in the law to execute well crafted evil schemes to siphon urgently needed funds for development for themselves and their cronies.

The phenomena of 'Judgement Debts' have become the 'legitimate' means to steal from the public and share! Both ruling party members and the opposition party members all get their share, once the monies reach the main recipient.

There appears to be no such thing as raison d'État, what the French call the national interest any more.

While the President, his cabinet, and other public officials swear by the supreme law of the land, the Constitution, to uphold the law in the national interest, they turn around to protect the interest of the political parties on whose tickets they stood to win political office. The nation can go to hell! They seem to say.

Ghana is a great country with great potential, but poor, weak and short sighted leadership is making this country mark time instead of moving forward.

And sadly, the media is not playing its role effectively in checking the system because playing that role is precarious and financially unrewarding. Advertising revenues won't come in or might shrink for any news organisation that dares to hold the politicians accountable. Indeed, it is not only politicians but corporate bodies which are also cashing in and taking advantage of the inefficiency in the national systems of checks and balances to make huge profits. News organisations that demand good governance and accountability are effectively 'punished', by being denied audience or advertising.

Ghana is bigger than any one, businesses or political parties. No nation, will survive any economic mismanagement, corruption and graft. Recent developments in the US and the Eurozone are indisputable evidences - no nation will escape economic and financial meltdowns if the rogues are allowed to steal unhindered.

The crisis has gone to the point where majority of the people have lost confidence in leadership. This development can deteriorate if the system fails to correct itself and Ghana will be closer to a dangerous breaking point.

While most people are talking about the disgusting rot in the system, others are praying for solutions. All these can't be discounted as some sorts of efforts to address the situation, but more importantly, some specific, measured actions are needed to save this great country from the festering decadence and social malaise brought upon us by the greed of the shallow-minded incapable few who are running the affairs of the state.