The recent catastrophic disaster in Ghana will have a long lasting devastating impact on Ghanaians, both at home and abroad. It would be imprudent and irrational to apportion blame and make any individual or group of persons directly responsible for this disaster.
However, if hard enduring lessons are to be learnt and a long lasting solution to the drainage problem that has confronted and bedevilled Accra and other cities for generations can be found, then it is absolutely essential that the issue is put under microscopic scrutiny.
The symbolic flags at half masts and the declaration of three days mourning for our deceased brothers and sisters, albeit a step in the right direction, hardly resolves the perennial problem of a drainage system which is not fit for the purpose in the 21st century. On News File programme on Joy News on 7th June, the highly respected Abdul Malik Kweku-Baako, Managing Editor of the New Crusading Guide, produced compelling and cogent evidence of a gargantuan drainage problem that has been known by successive Ghanaian governments for generations.
The harsh and bitter truth and reality is that no Ghanaian government has found it necessary, right and morally justifiable to make this issue a priority, tackle and resolve it.
Apparently, the current wisdom on the serious drainage problem, that is apparently seemingly irresolvable and insurmountable, is that dangerous levels of environmental pollution appertaining to improper waste disposal methods have been largely contributory to the accumulation of waste products which have clogged up the drainage system. The logical conclusion of this line of thinking is self evident.
It is clear that whilst this allegation may be partially true, it is the absolute responsibility for governments to ensure that Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarian principle of actions, initiatives, policies etc. that benefit the general good and interests of the body politic must be the regulating ideal of every government that is truly committed to bring to fruition policies that benefit the mass of the people.
It is morally imperative that president Mr John Dramani Mahama issues an unqualified apology to the nation on behalf of predecessor governments relative to the highly unacceptable abnegation of responsibility to matters of interests to our society –particularly in the serious failure of successive governments to address and resolve the perennial drainage problem in Accra and other environs.
The national remorse should also be communicated directly to the families of the deceased and the numerous victims of the recent heart rending floods. Additionally, a national compensation scheme must be set up to compensate families for the loss of their loved ones and victims for material deprivations.
It is okay to have befitting funerals and organise memorial services across the nation and abroad but the surviving relatives and the victims who have been maimed emotionally, psychologically and financially must receive practical financial assistance from the government.
Let me salute fellow Ghanaians, for their heroic and commendable efforts to bring holistic relief to our brothers and sisters who have suffered immensely from this horrific disaster.
I do not feel that mudslinging, diatribes and maligning any party, individual or group resolves any problem. However, total honesty, openness and a decisive intention and action to do the best for our country should motivate every Ghanaian especially those to whom we have entrusted to serve the country politically or in any sphere or realm of public service.
By virtue of their election to the governance of the nation, it is unquestionable that the NDC Government under President Mahama has the primary responsibility to ensure that as trustees and guardians of the national interest, assiduous and relentless efforts are made to improve the realistic socio-economic expectations of the electorate.
The ultimate determinants of who governs our country resides in the people of Ghana. Ghanaians have an absolute right to demand the highest service from those who have been entrusted to take care of the national resources to act with total integrity, sacrificial selflessness and an unswerving commitment to endeavour to meet the diverse needs of the people.
It is clear that there are extremely serious endemic, institutional and systemic problems which seems to countervail against the raison d’etre of our politicians, public servants, traditional rulers and other office holders who seem to act with unconscionable disdain regarding meeting the real interests of the people.
Our current system of democratic governance which glorifies the winner takes all approach does not make an all-inclusive government possible. Our democratic practice is in my well considered view, ‘ballot box democracy’.
Representative democracy is a misnomer as members of Parliament are rarely accountable to their constituents. It is an open secret that some of the parliamentarians visit their constituencies only during funeral celebrations and election times.
How on earth can they serve the interests and welfare of the constituents? It is obvious then that most Members of Parliament represent their own interests rather than the interests of the electorate.
It is shocking how in a so called democratic dispensation party apparatchiks and political appointees can flagrantly flout constitutional guidelines regarding the conduct of their public duties.
Ghana is an ethnically heterogeneous country but we are one nation. Presently, ethnic divisions which are extremely harmful to the body politic have been deeply pronounced. There ought to be a categorical imperative for the Government to be seen to be actively pursuing national harmony and unity in governmental appointments at all levels of society.
The current perception is that ethnic balance is significantly missing at the top echelons of power structures. It is clear that such a situation does not augur well for national cohesion.
Undoubtedly robust systems are in place to ensure that financial expenditures and accountability are observed at all administrative levels. It is an open secret that corruption is deep-seated and endemic in our society.
The existence of this serious malaise equates to terminal cancer in the body politic. Verbal espousals and public denunciations of this destructive condition will not expunge corrupt practices from our nation. It affects every institution in our society.
The persistent existence of unmitigated corruption in the fabric of our nation constitutes a mortal threat to the very survival of our country. It must be considered as public enemy number one and corrupt individuals found at any institutional level of functionality must be made to face the full rigours of the law.
Our inability to confront head on and eradicate and eliminate this debilitating condition means that any commitment to national development will be purely semantic and tokenistic.
Much has been written about the ‘dumsor’ menace. It has been a protracted continuing problem in our beloved nation.
Unfortunately the ‘dumsor’ saga has been exacerbated and accentuated under the political watch of President Mahama but we need to realise that after all, the Akosombo dam was meant to serve a population of not more than 6 million people.
I am by no means not saying this to exonerate the NDC Government from the temporal resolution of the energy crisis.
A determined and sustained effort must be made to diversify our energy sources and particularly seriously ascertain the real possibility of solar energy for national usage. Indubitably, the benefits to the nation will far exceed and outweigh the huge outlay of financial investment.
I am astonished that Ghana is not the bread basket of the West African sub-region and a major exporter of agricultural products. Our educational structure is too oriented to academic achievement. It is not functional to our national needs.
It is my firm belief that a radical green revolution will transform our socio-economic fortunes. The condition of the mass of unemployed and unemployable young people could be positively improved and enhanced with gainful employment in the agricultural sector.
It would require a seismic shift in our long term strategic planning which will place the agricultural sector as foundational to our economic prosperity.
Our political and administrative system is too centralised. The local government structure ought to devolve real power to local communities. The absence of real and genuine rural development is the bane of our society.
There is a constant drift of rural/ urban migration. A lot of young people migrate from all the regions in Ghana in search of non-existent economic largesse in the capital, Accra.
The myriad of problems which emanate from this area is not difficult to analyse – prostitution, armed robbery, social delinquency and a whole range of mammoth problems beset the future generation – it is as if they are forgotten by the society.
The economic heartbeat of Ghana is in our local communities. A proper and sustained rural socio-economic development plan could be implemented to make Ghana a real showcase of development in Africa.
By Alex Kwasi Kufuor