The political system we have in Ghana is reminisce of the aristocracy we inherited from the British. There are people in positions of power with its accompanying perquisite. The rest of the people are living in poverty without any form of privilege.
Most people who have been in power in recent years are people who have what my friend, Zai, calls “Gold Coast money”. Gold Coast money simply means they are from families that benefited from the British rules. That they have long been positioned to do better in life than the rest of us.
Take for example, President J.J Rawlings. Papa Jay was sold to us beans and gari eating soldier who rise through the ranks to get to where he is with sheer hard work and courage. Now, that characterization is true but he had a wife who came from Gold Coast money. His wife’s father was a manager in a British trading company, UTC, and later a manager of a similar company under Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. He could have benefited from his in-laws’ Gold Coast money.
The National Liberation Movement (NLM) was started in President John Kuffour’s childhood home. That is a testament to his family’s influence at the time. He became a Deputy Minister under one of the man who used to frequent his house as a kid.
President John Mahama’s father was a minister under Dr. Nkrumah. Ras JM’s grandfather’s chieftaincy was the reason his father was educated enough to become a minister.
We all know about our current president’s relationship with the Big Six and his father’s presidency. Some of us believe his obvious attempts to dismantle the legacy of Dr. Nkrumah is a carry-on of issues from Gold Coast days.
Very few people have risen to position of power, real power, in this country without a familial relationship with someone in power. That is the Ghanaian aristocracy. Of course, some people have risen through friendships but that is still being part of the aristocratic system.
The problem with the Ghanaian aristocracy is the hypocrisy of the people who benefit with it. They act like they are like us but in reality, they are playing us. Whenever they address us, they make it sound like we are all in the same struggle but we are not.
Now, I don’t think there is anything wrong with having privileges as a result of power. The privileges that come with power is so people in power can be free to focus on making important decisions. The president should not wasting time, sitting in a hospital OPD. He should be worrying about getting ambulances for our hospitals. The minister of Works and Housing shouldn’t be worrying how to get the tap in his house to flow. He should be brainstorming about why Accra is always flooding but the taps in Accra don’t flow. Privileges exist so the privileged doesn’t have to worry about themselves but worry about the underprivileged.
That is why what I heard on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo on Tuesday, May 21st, 2019 angered me. Hon. Eugene Boakye Antwi, the Westminster-educated Deputy Minister of Works and Housing, sat on radio to complain about the flooding problem in Accra. Someone whose party is in power and is a member of government is sitting on radio complaining about the problem we voted him to solve.
Do you know who he blamed for the flooding problem? Engineers. He said since the creation of KNUST, Ghana have produced many distinguished engineers but none of them has been also to find a solution to Accra’s problem. Since the MP has refused to think and find solutions, let me help him.
Nothing drives innovation like money. Genius has itself, but nothing drives innovation like money. I learnt this from a podcast I have been listening to on the history of ICT. Most inventors who created anything enduring had financial backing outside of themselves. Someone made sure they weren’t hungry and all they had to do was spend hours in the lab experimenting until they find a solution to a problem. Sometimes the backers will tell them the problem that needed solving and left them for years to think about the problem and come up with ways to solve them.
If the government will set up an engineering think tank (not talk shops like Danquah Institute) and a lab, It employ young and hungry engineers and empower them with limitless resources, you think we will not find homegrown solutions to our problems?
Sitting on radio to discuss a problem is not what will generate solution, not when you are under the political obligation to sound relatable. Empowering experts in a room and allowing them to make trials and errors is how lasting solutions are created.
We give the men with power the privilege they have not so they can come and sit on rant like the rest of us. We rant because we have no hope and no means to solve our problems. The men we believe we gave power should find us solutions, not join us in ranting. They may not know the solutions themselves but they are in the position to find them and take the credit for it.
Can our leaders stop ranting like us and find us solutions? We need leaders, not chorus singers.