INDEPENDENCE DAY MESSAGE TO GHANAIANS BY FOUNDER AND LEADER OF THE ALL PEOPLE’S CONGRESS (APC), DR. HASSAN AYARIGA
Fellow Ghanaians, I greet you. Congratulations on attaining 61years of self-determination. We in the APC join you to celebrate this Memorial Day today. We are proud to have wrestled freedom from colonialism; to have gained the power to manage our own God given resources in the past 61 years and counting. As our first Prime Minister and President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of blessed memory said before: ‘the black man is [ads1]capable of managing his own affairs”.
Indeed we are capable of managing our own affairs but we also need to appraise this capability and the management it produced thereof. As the first country south of the Sahara to gain independence, it should be expected that we will lead the way in development. We therefore need to compare ourselves to peers like Malaysia, Singapore, Egypt etc as well as our followers such as Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa etc.
Our country had many great leaders in the past who pursued various visions to drive our quest for development. The great Nkrumah is always remembered for his 7-year Development Plan which aimed at industrializing the country, educating the people and modernizing our economy. This plan produced the massive infrastructural development in the country including many factories and state farms.
His vision was cut short by greedy coup makers among us. Then came the myriad of gunmen with their parochial display of force. We began retrogressing from then. The civilian governments that interspersed the coups were no better than the juntas. The result was the economic abyss we descended into in the 1980s before we returned to constitutional democracy in 1992.
Since 1992 we have travailed to return to those fledgling days of the immediate post-independence era. We cannot compare to Malaysia who learned palm production from us. Today we need to find out what is the state of our industries. The Twifo Oil Palm Plantation (TOPP) cannot provide palm oil for the whole country. Neither is the Ghana Oil Palm Development Company (GOPDC) able to expand its operations effectively.
Our railways have deteriorated while we struggle to develop new lines. Nowadays there is no rail line linking Accra through Koforidua to Kumasi. Just imagine the impact of such a rail line on road accidents on the Accra Kumasi stretch alone. It will massively reduce because most cargoes will use trains which are safer. Even in our capital we can only boast of Accra-Nsawam and recently Accra-Tema lines. They are not even functioning effectively as we speak.
Many factories built by the visionary Kwame Nkrumah have all been out of use. Is this what our capability to manage our affairs means? These things we abandoned are the ones we are now craving for; the so-called one-district-one-factory. Folks this is a nice idea but so far we are showing signs of our capability to mismanage them if we are able to build them at all. We planned to build 51 factories in 2017 and managed to build none. We have planned to build 108 this year evidently on paper. The problem has been the lack of feasible plans for these policies.
On our education front we have not fared better. The post-colonial time was a promise of quality education free of charge or at affordable rates. Our 4th Republican constitution mandates us to make education progressively free. Today we managed to misunderstand this mandate and reduce it to lip service. We are talking of implementing free senior high school without any road map. The trial and error approach has exposed our mismanagement.
We are not able to couch precise curriculum for basic education in this country. Is it not a shame to cram 12 subjects in poor children at this stage and have them examined in 5days? What kind of confusion are we putting them through?
This mistake is evident in the universities. Students are given course combinations that they make a mockery of. The University of Ghana still runs a Classics department in this IT age. We need to revise the courses taught in the universities to prepare our young ones to fit in the job world. Industries have complained severally about the raw graduates produced for the job market. This is the time to change it. Why do we think our children are rushing abroad to further their education? Let us manage to find out.
Operation Feed Yourself by Acheampong is well-conceived but where is it now? We have successfully managed to shed off our agrarian drive to a nonexistent white collar. Agriculture should have been a preoccupation for most of our youth today. However sadly we managed to educate them to think farming is demeaning while we indoctrinate them to take three square meals a day. Is it not paradoxical. There was Youth in Agricultural Production (YAP) in the 1990s. Now we are in planting for food and jobs without impact. We have been able to concoct 745,000 jobs through this program but we are not able to produce tonnes of food to feed the nation. We need to take a second look at policy implementations in the agricultural sector for effective food security.
Managing security is as become an insurmountable challenge for us. There is no safety anymore in Ghana. What are we managing with our laws? Naked daylight robberies are now normal life events in Ghana. We have managed to train criminals as political vigilante groups. They daringly engage in social vices and are protected by those who should punish them. We have now managed to mismanage our own security. How can we survive?
Fellow citizens it is no secret that unemployment and corruption are now brothers and sisters. Successive governments have failed to curb these social threats. We have refused to empower our institutions to deal properly with corruption in particular. While we blow trumpets that we are fighting corruption, government officials are busy misappropriating state funds.
“The elaborate celebration of our independence is meaningless unless we can show that we are dedicated to wiping corruption and investing public funds in the country’s development.”
Today as we celebrate Ghana @61, we are yet to tell how much was spent on Ghana@60! What have we achieved during the Ghana @60 plan?
Today Rwanda which went through the most heinous of civil wars has transformed fast into a beacon of hope. Kigali is the cleanest City now in Africa while Accra represents filth. We all know the impact on our health. And talking of health we are proud to build ultra-modern hospitals and abandon them. Sound investment.
The above and many other failures have challenged our capacity to manage our own affairs. Our reliance on foreign aid, especially from the Bretton Woods institutions, is an indication that we are not capable of managing our own affairs. The IMF has told us to revise our budgetary projections before we can get assistance from it. The IMF is thinking for us every time so how are we managing our own affairs? Every time we are begging for loans while exporting our raw materials to be converted and sold back to us at higher values. What is the gain when your own property brings you losses? It is better you don’t even have it.
To end it all my brothers and sisters, the time has come to give true meaning to the claim that we are capable of managing our own affairs. Let us now devote ourselves to sacrificing for the development of the country and not seek power for glorification. Posterity will not forgive us if these failures continue. At 61, we should have completed work on our development and be retiring to enjoy national social security. My humble opinion, why are we celebrating freedom every year, when we don’t have economic freedom ? I have no reason to only celebrate freedom attained many years by our forefathers yearly.
May God bless our homeland and help us to resist oppressor’s rule. HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!
Dr. Hassan Ayariga