Ghana is a country in crisis. A crisis of good leadership. Good leaders who will build and promote growth. Bad leaders over the years have torn down and caused a decline and stagnation of the country’s economy. It is self-evident to good, patriotic Ghanaians that most of our have been atrocious leaders. The truth is Ghana will not survive any more years of incompetent leadership. We need leaders who will put Ghana first.
The next few months will expose the gross levels of ignorance of some politicians, for whom the oppressed/oppressor narrative has replaced reason, and expose a severe anti-wealth creation policy agenda. We watch the country continue to deteriorate and be overwhelmed by a tide of corruption and criminality of leaders who have failed to provide opportunities for all citizens. But then, the politicians get richer and richer. Politics pays! The majority of Ghanaian citizens suffer.
To understand the magnitude of Ghana’s decline, consider the illegitimate networks of politicians and their cronies that traffic in state contracts, and misuse the massive infusions of aid. Instead of finding solutions to our poverty and lack of economic growth, through positive state-building projects, the leaders we vote for waste their time drinking from the skulls of their opponents and offer nothing of meaningful debate about how to solve the myriad problems in our national healthcare, education, and legal systems, which have been reduced to mere shadows of their intended purpose.
Ghana’s development should not be like a pipe dream. Beyond exploiting their citizens, Ghanaian politicians oppress their people and persecute any opposition. Rife political corruption is a hallmark. Before independence, Ghana was a wealthy nation in Africa until Kwame Nkrumah imposed socialism. The Ghanaian economy collapsed and now some 90% of its citizens live in poverty, but they have no recourse because their leaders continue with fated state socialist wealth distribution policies, instead of creating wealth.
For a country like Ghana to thrive, we need men and women who can organise power to harness people and resources for development to happen. It is crucial to have good public infrastructure. Unfortunately, in Ghana, public infrastructure is politicized and in a state of disarray. The roads and transportation network are in serious disrepair, making it challenging to transport goods. Despite Ghana’s free education system, it fails to develop the necessary skills for a modern economy. Any serious country would ensure that education trains children for the job market, rather than just aiming to score propaganda points.
Ghana’s economic institutions are not inclusive and lack fairness. Well, that sounds all too familiar. Beyond hefty taxes, our governments exploit the people with profligate deficit spending. They just print money for whatever nonsense and saddle the taxpayer with the interest on out-of-control debt. Too many to list, our governments function poorly in pretty much everything, and there is little disagreement that our government disproportionately benefits our corrupt ruling elite. Look no further than the myriad blatant criminal activities of the politicians and their cronies.
The economy is heavily influenced by politics and favors those who are in power. This hinders economic activity and growth, as people are more focused on buying and selling rather than productivity. The general population lacks secure property rights, contracts take a long time to be enforced, and the freedom to contract and exchange is mostly dependent on individuals in government, further undermining economic development.
In essence, Ghana’s statist, highly taxed, and government-regulated economy has collapsed and become irredeemable. Rather than peddling baseless economic and conspiracy theories or pointing fingers at political opponents or colonialism and unfair world order, Ghanaian Leaders should accept the decline of the state and be bold to sever the bonds with the cycle of decline that has plagued this country since Nkrumahism ascended to power in 1957.
No matter what, the existing state-owned socialist system, where the state force-feeds the economy with loans, and grants that lead to corruption and more instability, cannot be saved. We cannot also continue to wait for foreign investors whose main interest now is in our mineral wealth, not manufacturing.
In response to this bleak political, social, and economic environment, 2024 should be a year of total transformation and renovation of the laws on property rights, in order to bring into the formal economy, the hidden assets of the poor into the mainstream economy. The greatest argument for the developed countries is that their societies are firmly anchored on the rule of law, an aspect to which politicians in this country are willfully blind. We should do away with impunity, exclusion, and the subjection of one person to the arbitrary power of another person or political power. This is the only way we can reverse the decline and boost productivity.
What we envision is a Ghanaian economy anchored in the principles of free markets, private property, traditional values, and the people’s love for individual action and entrepreneurship. Ghana needs a complete and total transformation and renovation of Ghanaian society and economy. We are not poor, is an understatement.
We should get our people out of poverty. There is nothing redeemable in our populist policies and those building blocks should be torn down. The only way to do that is for those who are jostling for political power in 2024 to go beyond compromising with the populist strategies and rhetoric that have historically failed this country. Reviving the rule of law, waging a relentless war against corruption, and assigning responsibility equally among the state and citizens is the only way to economic prosperity.
Renovation is precisely what is needed in our country whose national debt, universities, and public education system are in dire need of repair. Failing to renovate a government in need of more than a paint job to cover up its many flaws can lead to dysfunction (what we have now) and ultimate collapse, which will be our future if we do not act soon.
It is interesting to note that John Dramani Mahama, a former president of Ghana, is conveying a message of bringing economic stability to Ghana should he be re-elected in 2024. So are the others. During his presidency, all the factors affecting economic stability were negative. It is natural to question why he is seeking a comeback and what new ideas or plans he has to offer. These are the same questions that we should ask of anyone seeking our votes.
Like John Mahama, most Ghanaian leaders have not found innovative solutions to the economic challenges we face, from increasing debt to rising unemployment. Ironically, they are very clear about what they oppose but less clear about what they support. With the economy not growing as expected, it is essential to know how our aspiring presidents’ plan to address these mounting issues instead of vague generalities. It is about what we should do. It is not about who should do it, or who should be in charge. Regime change in our circumstances should be an agenda for reform, not a fantasy about seizing power on behalf of a faction.
Words are not enough. Ghanaians demand truthful answers, not rhetoric. This is the time we need to believe in the future and ourselves again. We need leaders who have a clear vision of the future. How do the youth come to believe in responsibility unless they are taught? Ghanaian voters should become intelligent and more demanding. They should let our politicians know that they reject the failures and betrayals, and would not accept the usual double-speak and rhetoric going into the 2024 election campaigns.
It seems we are repeating ourselves. It is necessary to repeat ourselves for ‘we the people’ to learn to understand the relationship we should have with our aspiring politicians; learn to strip away the veil of magic and mystery covering the art of politics; learn how to protect themselves from incompetent presidents, unsavory and corrupt politicians jostling for our votes; and above all demand and ensure that aspiring leaders put the concerns and the needs of this country above politics.
It is time to renovate the government. If that means amending the 1992 Constitution, so be it. This country and its citizens cannot go on like this. If we do, history says, a nation that ignores a cracked foundation is doomed to self-destruction.
Source: Kwadwo Afari
The Author is a former Acting General Secretary of the NPP