Do we ever cut our coat to our fabric in this country? Already? I’m just stumped and need some serious answers. I’m worried. No, pissed off. Well, actually, I think I’m pretty damn irritated by the events! What the hell is happening ? Are we running out of things to do with taxpayers’ money? A country with 2,417 schools under the trees [261 at the kindergarten level; 1,167 at the Primary School level and; 989 at the JHS level] according to the Ghana Education Service? ; one that in 2020 had an under-5 mortality rate of 47.5 deaths per thousand live births? ; one in which roughly 23% of our road network is paved with about 61% of those paved roads themselves in poor condition according to 2019 data?
I just read random stories from some old editions of the Daily Graphic newspaper. Two of them piqued my interest. From Friday January 1, 1971, it is told how Prime Minister Busia, who was then in charge of affairs, warned members of his government that he would be ruthless “in the coming year” to enforce discipline and eradicate government corruption. company. Well, corruption in leadership today coupled with indiscipline is alive and well! Damn! These twin demons have even set up thrones among us. Everywhere you go, in all facets of our lives, indiscipline and corruption have taken center stage!
The second story, also from 1971, dates from Wednesday, May 26. In this article, Ghana organized a six-week low-cost housing exhibition to encourage Ghanaians to build their own houses within their economic means. Yet year after year and decade after decade, we have embarked on campaigns for affordable housing – which have done nothing to fill the gaping gap that must be filled. Very recently, in that same month of July, we heard how the Council of State was trying to talk to industry players about the high cost of goods and services. Yet looking at the cost of the land, of building even a simple two-bedroom structure, even on the outskirts of town or in the suburbs, you would see how history reveals just how hard our development efforts are. socio-economic in this country have been futile. !
Even here in Africa, other countries are making great strides in bridging the gap between rich and poor. But, unfortunately, in our homeland, the gap keeps widening.
Now let’s chew on some data, if you will. It might scratch you raw, so be prepared!
According to recent Oxfam data,
Â¶ Oxfam estimates that only one of the richest men in Ghana earns more in a month than one of the poorest women could earn in 1,000 years!
Â¶ The richest 10% of Ghanaians now share 32% of Ghana’s total consumption – more than what is consumed by the poorest 60% of the population combined, while the poorest 10% of the population consume only 2%.
Â¶ Despite significant progress, large health inequalities persist. Less than 2% of the poor are covered by the national health insurance scheme. A child born in Ghana into one of the wealthiest families is three times more likely to pass their fifth birthday than a child born into a poorer family.
Â¶ Almost a third of the poorest children in the Northern Region have never been to school, compared to only 5% of the richest. Girls, in particular, lose a chance for a better life, with the poorest girls in the most marginalized areas facing the greatest challenges.
And what were Oxfam’s conclusions on this critical issue? âThese disparities in income, consumption and wealth are NOT AN ACCIDENT. They are MUSEUM by the fiscal and socio-economic policies pursued over the years which do not do enough to fight against economic inequalities. They have, in fact, often REINFORCED it. To fight inequalities, GHANA NEEDS A HUMAN ECONOMY.
Note that in 2019, more than 2.4 million Ghanaians, representing about 8.5% of the population, lived in extreme poverty, according to the Seventh Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS) of Ghana Statistical Service. The number is said to have lived below the World Bank’s global poverty line of $ 1.9 per day. This is how bad the situation is! Yet we recently increased our national daily minimum wage to what? 12.53, a 6% increase over the 2020 figure of Â¢ 11.82?
Suppose you have no family, no dependents, no utility bills to pay, but all you have to do is commute to work and get back – at minimum wage. Considering the recent surge in fuel prices and freight rates, would you have enough to come and go as well as to eat? Ask yourself the question! But this is the fate to which we have condemned millions of people here! This is the harsh reality! So why wouldn’t a system like ours promote corruption and feed it like a long-awaited baby? Leaders, politicians in particular, fill their money accounts like there’s no tomorrow – because they can! So we say one thing and do something completely different in leadership. That is why!
As Oxfam stated in its 2018 Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, âtackling inequality does not depend on a country’s wealth, but on political willâ. Let it flow!
Rich, we are, as a country. However, it is the poverty of our minds and leadership that has left us where we are – in a desperate financial quagmire where even 55% of the very young, according to what Child Rights International recently revealed, see no prospect. positive for the future!
In this research, conducted between June 2020 and April 2021 and involving more than 11,000 children aged 12 to 17 in the 16 regions of Ghana, it was revealed that 55% of children in Ghana intended to leave the country. – and that 11% either stay in the country or leave. Have our leaders seen this report? What exactly are we doing about it? Maybe absolutely nothing! Maybe, just maybe, something’s going on. We’ll never know, probably! But do we care? Are we concerned that even children as young as these are abandoning our homeland, so to speak? Are we realizing what this means for the future of our country?
This is why the government’s unwarranted spending on arms leaves me in total shock – not to mention disgust! Do our first and second ladies need at least 30,000 GHS per month to get by? And that’s not all, we even want to backdate it? Ebei! Do they need these gargantuan sums which can pay, every month, up to about 127 Ghanaians at the minimum wage? We are a beggar country [not for lack of resources] whose leaders like to be treated as if they were the leaders of some of the richest countries on the planet. Look at us though! We live in misery, misery, disease and vermin!
Historically, especially under the Fourth Republic, we know that certain expenses of the wives of the President and his Vice in the exercise of their expected functions were financed by the Presidency – and that this convention was born under the Rawlings administration. But the point to emphasize is that it all still fell within the budget of the president’s office! So why do we now have to distribute such monumental sums – all in the name of facilitating the work of First and Second Ladies?
Oddly enough, even in the United States, the richest country in the world, the wives of the president and vice are not paid! The reasoning is simple: they are unelected! So I checked if the wives of the leaders of the world’s top 10 economies were paid anything. The answer, as far as my research shows, is A BIG NO! We have Article 71 of our 1992 Constitution as our guide – yet we seem to blatantly sidestep the very guidelines we have given ourselves for the governance of our country.
As for our parliamentarians and members of the Council of State, what can we say? $ 28 million [almost a $102,000 per MP] as loans for cars? And for those who have been in Parliament many times – and for the Council of State’s “regular clients” [CoS members are getting a separate $3.5 million] is the time now for more âmoney storageâ? And I guess their reasoning – “What’s good for the goose [the other arms of government] is good for the gander â- makes sense. After all, in a country where chop-chop is the norm, who would want to be left out?
I am aware that it is said that the money supposedly comes from a bank in the form of direct loans to parliamentarians. Therefore, it is only “facilitated” by the government. Until we have proof of it, however, I will stay in the unbelieving corner. And, by the way, even assuming this whole âbank loanâ thing is kosher, what happens when parliamentarians fail to make their payments? In 2017, for example, we witnessed this. So when that happens, does the state step in?
The reality of our national situation, financially, in addition to the fact that what Parliament claims to be an age-old practice of giving out these loans is actually not true, should prompt us to do better. Is this our national priority? Is this Parliament’s priority? Do good for people, and they themselves would push for more for you. If not, you can amass it all, but one day when you are called to account, whether here or in the Hereafter, you will be sorely lacking! There is a God, you leaders! Surely there is!
Leadership in this country, rather than aid, is reversing the trend I pointed out earlier in this article – the rich getting richer and the poor digging even deeper into poverty – instead decide to act as catalysts for the process. unhappy economic helplessness! We #Saigne! Until when will such a system prevail? I’m not saying it’s only happening now, be careful! But it’s getting even more targeted now, especially as we all wallow in economic hypnosis induced by Covid-19. Covid-19 has exposed us in multiple ways – one of them, the glaring shortcomings of our economic system and our efforts to create jobs.
But we still don’t learn from history. You see, as it was once said: “One day the poor will have nothing else to eat than the rich!” I am not a socialist, but there is a lot to be said about countries trying to create that socio-economic balance where all can struggle, survive and prosper – with dignity! Monkeys need to get up too – not just baboons whose girth is already oversized!
May God continue to bless Ghana and make her really #Strong and #Great!
My no asi!
Benjamin Akakpo is a patriot and host of the AM program on Joy News.