Things That Matter - Yaw Boadu Ayeboafo Writes
Last Friday, the Daily Graphic carried a short but insightful letter written by Mr Samuel Esson Jonah (Sir Sam Jonah), the Executive Chairman of Jonah Capital and formerly of AshantiGold.
The letter titled, “These things matter”, stated: “At 28, Ghana sought China’s financial help in the construction of its National Theatre. The Theatre was inaugurated in 1992 on Ghana’s 35th anniversary.”
“At 50, Ghana sought and obtained China’s financial support in the construction of offices for its Defence Ministry.”
“The facility was completed on Ghana’s 52nd anniversary. In the same Jubilee year, Ghana sought and obtained financial support from India for the construction of presidential offices and a residential complex.”
“At 52, Ghana sought and obtained China’s financial support for the construction of a new Foreign Affairs Ministry. At 53, China constructed and donated a new office complex on the premises of Ghana’s Embassy in Beijing to house the Defence Attaché.” “At 55, Ghana sought and obtained China’s assistance in digging a grave to bury our President. So what next?”
Mr Sam Jonah merely cited these, but they point to how far we have become dependent on donations. We seem to have lost our sense of being, dignity and independence and have become vulnerable.
That is why a government could be chided for not leaving any money behind to carry through projects funded from Government of Ghana sources, from the Consolidated Fund. Ghana has become so dependent that we go out to beg for millions, but are willing to dole out billions for the crafty few.
Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s faith in the Ghanaian to lead independently and think through their development processes and the demonstration of the capacity to govern themselves appear to be in shreds. Indeed, Ghana which, even through the days of the Cold War and Non-Alignment, could raise loans to build the Akosombo Dam, Tema and Takoradi harbours, Tema Motorway and the Ghana Education Trust Schools as well as Job 600 now has to turn to alms to cater for certain basic needs.
Sir Jonah has touched on a pertinent issue. How can we guarantee that we could conduct our affairs without anybody eavesdropping? That is no fluke. We must have the capacity to take loans without strings and give the money to Ghanaians to provide infrastructure.
We must not forget that when Laurent Gbagbo felt ensconced in the Presidential Palace in Cote d’Ivoire, he might have forgotten that the structure was constructed by the French and therefore they knew the in and out of the place. Inevitably, he was smoked out.
Compared to Libya, because Libyans built the palace, the enemies could not trap Gaddafi inside and if it had not been complacency and the life of splendor, he could have escaped from Libya.
These are no concoctions. It has been established that the US government had to pull down its embassy building in Moscow when it was realised that the Russian artisans engaged in the project had managed to fit tapping instruments into the structure. It is also further noted that China had to return a presidential jet it acquired from Boeing because it was realised that behind that seat for the president was a listening device.
So, should it ever be strange if after losing minutes of meetings or records at any of these sensitive places, we are salvaged with eavesdropped copies from the largesse of the donors who might have inadvertently listened in to discussions because of the possibility of bugging devices.
No one is saying that we should denounce genuine gifts. But, as Ghanaians, we should not forget that sometimes gifts are offered to undermine others. There have been stories of gifts that were intended to eliminate the recipients. There are instances where people on receiving gifts have also donated them to others, to escape bad omen.
As things are turning out, because of the numerous gifts we have received from China, our ability to deal firmly and decisively with deviant Chinese nationals, particularly those involved in illegal activities such as retail trade and galamsey, has not been potent. We should, therefore, not deride ourselves that there is nothing wrong with gifts.
As Marva Collins points out, when we think that we cannot do it ourselves and that we need others to do it for us, we must understand that we are failing and doomed.
We need to find out what has gone wrong, since in the early days of our statehood we even made donations to other countries. Instead of building upon what we inherited in 1957, we appear to be going down the hill.
The time has come for us to ensure that Ghanaians take the commanding heights functionally in all areas of national endeavour; but more importantly, as a nation, we must initiate policies that would empower us to be in charge of the sectors of the economy that would promote wealth creation.
We have come to the point where local resources must be invested in infrastructure development that could serve as catalysts for sustained development and these must be financed from local taxes, rather than from loans.
Our dependence on donor support, including financing of our democratic process, especially elections, must stop. We need to have priorities and insist that as much as possible those areas would be funded from our own sweat and toil.
Mr Jonah asks a pertinent question as to what next, as we have to review our approach to development such that at the end of the day, we do not end up cutting our noses to spite our faces.
In international diplomacy, intelligence information gathering is very critical. And how do we safeguard information when the potential for mischief exists.
These are some of the issues we need to focus attention on as we deliberate on this short but insightful letter by Dr Sam Jonah, one of the most influential Africans of our time. Our eyes must now be open. We have to discriminate about what gifts we accept or seek because some gifts undermine rather than enhance our being and dignity. For as one expert has noted, “the best helping hands that you will ever receive are the ones at the end of your own arms.”
The Chinese and Indians may mean well, but ‘it is ours and it is mine are not the same.’