The deputy Minister for Local Government, Mr Elvis Afiriyie Ankrah, is reported to have said on Radio Gold, a day after the IEA Presidential debate that Nana Akufo-Addo sounded more like a preacher or a motivational speaker.
He probably meant this as a put down, but really if that is what President Mahama’s Campaign Manager can say about their main opponent, then it is complimentary. It means Nana Addo succeeded in engaging Afriyie Ankrah’s attention, as a good preacher would do, and even motivated him. I thought being able to motivate is one of the requisite qualities of an able leader! But seriously if you survey the mess that is Africa, and hence Ghana, why would you not preach?
We have a country that is ruled by a collection of individuals who think that to be successful as a government; you only just have to follow the minimum that the Constitution prescribes. Thus their only act in government is to collect revenue, make the statutory allocations to the Get Fund, District Assemblies Common Fund and the Road Fund, among others, and then sit back and enjoy the perks of their offices whilst these funds provide some disparate infrastructure.
Come election time this is supposed to provide the evidence of delivery. It does not matter to them that energy supply is not reliable; it does not matter to them that they have not invested the national income in areas that would multiply it to add to national wealth; and it does not matter to them that our outdated, opaque, corrupt and inefficient delivery systems have not seen any reforms. In such circumstances, we surely do need more preachers to tell us some home truths.
If a country as resource-rich as Ghana is, after 55 years of independence, still exports raw materials with no value addition; if we sit down and allow ourselves to be swamped by Chinese nationals, who are polluting our rivers and damaging the environment, with no action on the part of government; someone needs to preach to us for a change.
If after 55 years of independence, we cannot finance the construction of even 1 kilometre road without recourse to loans, we need to be told some uncomfortable truths. After 55 years of independence, if government bragging rights are all about success in obtaining the highest loan from the IMF or $3bn loan from the Chinese, then something is seriously wrong that merits the call for change in direction.
Annually we consign close to 200,000 15-year olds to a lifetime of hopelessness and ignorance. Instead of putting our thinking caps on to determine how to re-arrange our priorities or identify the means to generate additional national income to educate these children, we give the flimsy excuse that the country cannot afford.
We are rather relaxed in seeing to it that the ruling classes enjoy lives of comfort, ride in the most comfortable and latest of cars whiles our rural folks, who work hard to generate the national income, live wretched lives characterised by ignorance, poverty and disease. In such circumstances, do we not need preachers to drum home to us that we are charting the wrong course?
Despite our plight, we will not appoint able and experienced Ghanaians (within and without the country) to help lift the nation up. Rather, due to extreme political partisanship, you will find clueless party appointees in charge of ministries and serving on important state boards, in whose hands the fate of 25 million people has been placed. Why would preachers not appear from everywhere?
The people need to be given messages of hope, lest they end their lives. It has not been uncommon in recent times for very young persons, who should have been looking forward to long and fruitful lives, taking their own lives.
The level of incompetence in government will make anyone justified to preach. Who ever thought that a government of Ghana will dole out GHS51 Million to an individual who had had no dealings with the state? Is it not embarrassing for a government to be in court claiming it had been defrauded by an individual, using a largely unsophisticated means, where all that was required to prevent such payment was a little more diligence?
In the light of all these, if Nana Akufo Addo establishes a church, and if the sermon is about transforming our nation, educating our children, and opening up the workings of government to make them transparent, I will be amongst the congregation.
I will not be following him blindly though, for the preacher must practice what he preaches and I will be ready to criticise if he does not deliver. But at least his preaching for change is preferable to someone defending the status quo. Ghana must move in a different direction and in that quest we need more preachers and motivational speakers to get us to change the current course!