Ghana needs a National Development Plan

By Maxwell Agyapong Ntra, Amsterdam, Holland

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (left), Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor (middle), President John Evans Atta Mill (right)

Ghana in the 21st. century claims to be the gateway to African development. Many nations and individuals outside continue to praise Ghana since Kuffour’s administration for good governance and transparency. Debts were forgiven in recognition of ‘the progress’ that was achieved in the fields of politics and economics.

But, the majority of Ghanaians who reside in the country do not see what the people and nations outside are talking about. To the ordinary Ghanaian, the so-called progress is a dream. It is a dream because ‘the change’ has not made any significant impact on their lives.

For example, how can the ordinary Ghanaian who wants to travel by car from Asokwa to Bantama through Nhyiaeso (two suburbs in Kumasi), be convinced that there is progress if a distance of less than twenty kilometers should take as long as five hours because of traffic jam? Thirty years ago, this same journey took less than ten minutes to cover.

How can the supply of electricity and water be disconnected on daily basis, causing not only discomfort to citizens but breakdown of electrical appliances. How come public schools are so poorly furnished with teaching and learning materials?

Ghanaians cannot understand why refuse is littered everywhere,  putting the health of every Ghanaian at risk, whilst modern technology is knocking at our doors to help turn this huge nuisance into a healthy asset, just to touch on only a few of the problems that face the nation.

Are we progressing? If not, then what is happening? Is this not a shame to all Ghanaians, especially to our leaders and politicians?

On the eve of Ghana’s independence, the late and first President of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah delivered an inspiring speech. In that address, Dr. Nkrumah said “…… we will prove that the black man is capable of managing his own affairs”.

managing our affairs

Today, whether this pronouncement has been proven right or wrong is anybody’s guess. Instead of managing our affairs in such a way as to enable us to at least stay where we were in 1957, our mismanagement has brought pain and suffering to Ghanaians. Frustration and depression have turned the nation into a killing field. Both the young and the old, the rich and the poor are dying like flies.

What can possibly be the reason(s) behind this backward movement? After asking myself this question several times, I came to one answer. That answer is the difference between the black man’s mentality and the white man’s mentality. It is the difference between selfishness and greed.

It is the difference between greed and national interest. It is the difference between good planning backed by commitment and lack of planning. It is the difference between developed countries and third world countries where Ghana has been placed since civilization started. Again, I ask myself: when will this label be lifted from the ‘face’ of Ghana?

Not long ago, to be specific, on the 23rd of September 2008, Ghana’s President declared that Ghana would soon become a first world country. Again, I asked myself how this can be. The answer that came was: how can a country achieve any meaningful development without a National development plan?

Is there a reason why people want to govern without a plan? Probably so.  Whatever good reason(s) there may be which the politicians and leaders may know, many of us truly believe that , a plan not only seeks to avoid or eliminate or reduce waste, it makes room for a fair and equitable distribution of the nation’s cake.

Ghana is one of the many countries, the underdeveloped third world countries, where the pace of development is dictated and directed by the party in government’s MANIFESTO.

We keep on going to the developed countries for help. But, we do not want to copy and learn from them so as to be at where they are. Israel and Holland are small countries; too tiny on the world map. They have virtually no natural resources. But, they are politically and economically influential countries.

Politicians in the third world countries are known for the ‘big’ promises they make to be elected. Most of them fail to deliver because the resources and the plan are almost always not available.

resources of Ghana

The resources of Ghana are simply more than the country requires for positive changes. At the moment, many have pinned their hopes on the oil discovery off the coast of Ghana for the country´s salvation.

Many are those who think and believe that after the year 2010, Ghana would be transformed. It is very good to be positively minded. But, that will surely not happen if our LEADERS and Ghanaians at large do not have the heart and passion for the future of our children and grandchildren.

National Development Commission

The constitution of Ghana establishes a National Development Commission. But this body is toothless because it oversees the development agenda of the ruling party. That means that the National Development Commission works with the manifesto of the ruling party. What kind of ‘politics’ is this?

In short, the National Development Commission cannot ensure that the national cake is fairly and equitably distributed across the length and breadth of the country, simply because the so called agenda is nothing different from the party’s plan.

This is the beginning of our ‘woes’ as a nation without a vision and a mission. Government comes and government goes, but a nation must have a plan that will ensure a continuous development.

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. P.V Obeng declared that Ghana’s economic development is directly linked to a ‘National Development Agenda’. To him (and supported by people of his like), this problem must be properly addressed if our politicians want to let the ordinary Ghanaian take them seriously.

Again, another prominent personality, in the person of Mr. Franklin Cudjoe, The Executive Director of the policy think-tank, IMANI Ghana, also criticized the Mills Administration for what he called: “unplanned developmental agenda”, while speaking on Joy FM’s News Night on Thursday 2nd December 2010

With many more people calling for a meaningful development plan, it is not surprising to read in the news that the Transport Minister, Hon. Mike Hamma talks about the Government designing “a 15-year comprehensive blueprint for the country’s rail sector’.
Here again, I asked myself a few questions: first, why such a plan for only the rail sector? Secondly, why not do this with all stakeholders (all political parties, prominent traditional rulers, academicians, etc)? Here too, one answer came to me: PARTY MANIFESTO is the basis and lack of political will.

One big problem that faces all of us is the sort of ‘dirty politics’ that is seen not only in Ghana, but all over the continent of Africa, as well in all developing nations. We do ‘dirty politics’ because ‘nothing good’ comes from the opposing side.

As a result of this all projects and plans started by the previous administration but not yet completed are discarded, rejected and neglected simply because the ruling party has not committed itself to whatever the opposition has begun which ends up in wasting resources. Is this not a pity? Is this good governance? This is what I mean by ‘dirty politics’.

Our politicians can not deny this fact. It is a shame to all of them. The only way to ensure continuity is to have in place a system where all who claim to have the future of this nation at heart and would want to rule, govern and bring about high living standards to coomit themselves to a program that will ensure it.

Soon after the current Finance Minister presented the 2011 budget to Parliament, Dr. Papa Kwesi Ndoum of the CPP gave his personal as well as his party’s view of the budget. In that commentary, Dr. Nduom said “….necessary to know what blueprint or road map the Mills Administration was using as one was not evident.

Some of the critics said we were being petty and that the NDC has a manifesto it was following and did not need any road map.

Now we have been vindicated.” Let our politicians and all who have the future of this nation at heart understand that a country without “Blue Print”, National Development Agenda (as Mr. P.V. Obeng calls it) or National Development Plan (as it is generally known), cannot and will not achieve any significant development.

Whenever this basic and fundamental condition is lacking, individuals as well as groups of people begin to make demands that are to some extend unreasonable and difficult to meet, like what we are witnessing from the Chiefs and peoples of the Western region of Ghana.

In fact, in the absence of a national plan, people complain of not having their fair share of the national cake.

Fellow Ghanaians, never trust any politician or leader who comes to promise unity and progress without a national plan accepted and approved by all factions of the Ghanaian society.

No politician in the developed countries ever talks about good roads, clean water for all, good and affordable schools, effective public transport system and things of this nature, before being voted into power.  Such politicians know that such things have been taken care of by the National plan so nobody uses this as campaign strategy.

Please Ghana, please Mr. President, all political parties and leaders, let Ghana have a NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN supported by all and sundry. In fact, make it easy to govern this beloved country. If you have something good for Ghana, do it now!

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