The Auditorium of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was filled with joy and admiration last Thursday, when three Distinguished Scholars of Africa (DISTINSA) were honoured.
The three, Professor Nana Oppong, Prof Martin Gyambrah and Prof. Nicholas Nicodemus Nuamah, were honoured for their extraordinary talents and contributions to the development of the African Continent.
The trio was honoured by DISTINSA, a group made up of African intellectuals with the aim of building the capacity of individuals in both private and government sectors, for socio-economic development.
Receiving the honours, Dr Oppong said that Ghana had a problem of intellectual poverty dominating almost every institution. He said there were a lot of people who masqueraded themselves as intellectuals just to get power, and when such powers had been given them, they create confusion, which retards the growth of the country.
Linking this concept of intellectual poverty to recent happenings in the country, especially the 2022 Budget brouhaha in Parliament, Dr Oppong opined that portions of the 1992 Constitution clearly stated that “the Constitution shall be interpreted for the welfare of Ghanaians,” and questioned if the heated arguments that had ensued between the Members of Parliament would inure to the welfare of the citizens.
Speaking specifically on the Electronic Levy (E-Levy) component of the Budget, the Distinguished Scholar said he didn’t believe that the government should take money from the citizens when there were no jobs to even put monies in people’s pockets for them to pay these taxes.
In his view, what the government should focus on was the creation of jobs, so that the citizens could work and earn incomes to live decent lives, and then pay taxes without grumbling.
Clearing the notion that the government needs such taxes to develop the country, the astute lawyer indicated that it was not only money one could use to develop a nation. He said what the nation needed to do now was to cut down on incompetence and corruption, and use competent people to develop the country.
“I don’t agree that the government should be taking money all the time from the people. E-levy or no E-levy, we are tired. We need jobs. Are the jobs coming so that people can get some to do and be able to pay taxes? the answer is no. So government should take it easy on Ghanaians. We want the government to come and help to develop and not to make us tired and confused. So I will say no levy at all, let us relax… Let’s learn to collaborate and work together because no one person can make change on his or her own. ”
Prof Nuamah, on his part, indicated that the woes of Africa is as a result of bad leadership.
According to him, any good leader should be able to know what the people want as well as what will lead to the development of the country and opined that it’s prerequisite for the practice of democracy.
He explained that if a democratic leader doesn’t know how to discern and know the wants of the people, such a leader becomes autocratic in that he or she decides what the people want.
He indicated that this has been the problem of the African since time immemorial. He, therefore, called on African leaders to change the narrative and let Africa become the continent that God has in mind.