DAILY GRAPHIC TUESDAY JUNE 22 2010, PAGE 10
BY PRF. AGYMAN BADU AKOSA
Ghana’s middle class are by and large predominantly first generation. Most of them had illiterate parents and were the first to get a university or tertiary education. Most of them lived on the villages or little towns where they were born till they left for secondary school.
We all recollect students who appeared in secondary schools without sandals or slippers or who had carried their trunks from the lorry station liked they will do a load from a farm. The secession to make education free and compulsory by the CPP government of Osagyefo Dr. Nkrumah when he became leader of the government business was a ,master of stroke that was to transform the lives of many, if not all the members on the government and the opposition benched in the house of parliament, moving them from the lower class into the middle classes.
There are many including Perter Omari, author of the book “Kwame Nkrumah the anatomy of an African dictator” who contend that has anybody else become the leader of government business and subsequently the first prime minister, they would have continued with the colonial policy of education for a few, creating an elitist society. The examples are clear in cote d’Ivoire and Togo.
In 1979, we were told by a Nun in Berekum that the difference between a Ghanaian and an Ivorian was that the Ghanaian had been most things before and therefore complained if denied. The Ivorian on the other hand, had not seen anything before but the day they are able to see there will be chaos.
That prediction 32 years on, has been the conflict in cote d’Ivoire. She most certainly was not speaking about Ivorian elite but of the average person in cote d’Ivoire where only few has privileged and many were denied access to education.
A member of parliament had been told that if she had lived under a regime of founding fathers of her political tradition, she, mostly from her background, would probably have had to go to school and would probably have about 10 children most of them malnutrition. Such has been the transformation to the Ghanaian society.
These days of describing ordinary Ghanaians in demeaning words such as flotsam, popinjays, veranda boys and girls are no more. These veranda boys and girls of pre-independence days have their children in parliament and most of them hold key positions in Ghana today. Interestingly we see few of the progeny of the then elite.
There has however been a set back in proportionate terms with many of our young ones not progressing in acceptable manner. The proportion of tertiary levels in education is less than 20 percent of their cohort they started school with.
Ghana’s middle class had many jilts which probably have affected the way they think and behave, making more and more greedy, selfish and arrogant. They appear to have inherited the worst form of capitalism and individualism. But what good has that done for our community and country.
The periods of military rule in Ghana derailed the country’s progress to stage where today less than 10 percent of graduates for our universities and polytechnics walk into a job.
The days when graduates get a job and a car are long gone. Many are unemployed and are struggling to exit the country, for the grass appears greener everywhere and anywhere else than their god-given country.
What is important is how many good Ghanaians have under the pretext that politics is a dirty game, allowed many of the not too good ones to go into politics which affects very aspect of our lives.
We do not want to go into politics but spend over 80percnt of our own private time talking about politics and its impact on our lives. Politics in Ghana must change but it can only be done by a critical mass of men and women of credibility and integrity prepared to sacrifice for the common good.
In Ghana unlike the developed countries it is all about who becomes the president and the policies he or she initiates, whereas in the developed world systems have been created which works regardless to who is president or head of state.
In the developed world, politics at best influences about 5-10 % of activity whereas in Ghana it affects everything. Politics directly impacts on 100 percent of our fairly lives. So how can good people shirk their responsibilities and not participate and yet allow politics to consume them through complains and moans.
Politics affect the ingredients in their soup whether it can be an all creatures soup or limited in range and repertoire to mono-species soup.
There needs to be a new breed of politicians in Ghana people who have excelled in their chosen professions and emphasise with the lot of the ordinary Ghanaian an not people who are only prepared to alleviate the poverty themselves and the seventh generation of their children yet unborn people who balance courage and consider think win-win seek first to understand and value the differences people who would put the interest of others first, knowing that in solving their problems he or she would also become content.
For the present day politician in Ghana you begin to ask whether they spare a though for all the young men and women on the streets; where they sleep what they eat and what the future opportunities are in store for them? Has Parliament and the cabinet ever discussed ‘streetism’?
Some politicians have clearly indicated it is not the role of government to provide jobs and that, that is the sector in Ghana. Meanwhile the Ghanaian private sector does not get any assistance even the governments in the developed world, the architects of capitalism and free market ideology give to their private sector. Others have also stated that Ghanaians are lazy and presumably cannot be helped.
The irony of all this is that we deny Ghanaians opportunity and ye turn back to castigate them.
It is the wish that every policy that goes from cabinet to parliament to be passed into law answer three basic things. Does it provide jobs for Ghanaians? Does it improve knowledge of Ghanaians? does it improve the skills of Ghanaian If it deos not answer in the affirmative to all 3 then the policy need not progress in parliament.
If the middle class are not keen on going into politics, what can be their contribution to the change in national consciousness?
One area that deserves critical appraisal is the roe of the civil service and the public service. The inability of these two services to complete each other leaves the country at a gross disadvantage.
The civil consultancy services to the country for a fee.
Some work almost with the singular purpose of courting international jobs and do their work to suit those organisations in this country rather than loyalty to their employer.
The hydra-headed corruption in the public and civil service must be addressed. Conflicts of interest is so prevalent it is untrue. Procurement is skewed to help foreign companies and people keen on paying up irrespective of its total cost to the country, the procurement law notwithstanding.
The ministries must all be a general platform and staff of all various ministries must be in constant flux, crisis-crossing at all times. No member of the staff of any ministry must be kept there for more than five years. Institutional memory must be properly documented and available so as not to be relevant on the memory of long serving staff.
The idea that some ministries are technical is neither here nor there.
The technical arm of any ministry must be separated and placed in the public service but must work closely with the parent ministry and the civil service.
The ministry of health and its relationship with Ghana health service and all its other agencies should be an example as is the case of the ministry of education and Ghana education service. The relationship must be based on an effective collaborative nature and not a boss/subordinate status as many in the ministries would want it to be. Directors in the ministries must be tenured.
Performance in the first two years probation will guarantee the tenure. Such tenured directors could even retire on salary as part of the means of retire on salary as part of the means of appropriate compensation. If such an individual is however found guilty of corruption or understanding or misdemeanour, there shall be loss of position and entitlement. The prize of corruption must be made so high that you walk down that route at one’s own peril. Conflicts of interest rules and regulations must be compliant.
The awakening of the middle class as part of civil society vanguard or watch dog will lead to the compliance of many public office holders. In Ghana, one of our worst draw backs is the lack of a vibrant civil society fighting for our rights and respect for us Ghanaians. Many organisations take customers for granted and they include the mobile phone companies. The services they provide are mediocre but there are no groups holding them accountable. Glad to see the consumer society of Ghana flex their muscles recently.
Utility companies in Ghana, electricity and water, also provide very poor services.