The current cabinet is a real mixed-bag of good and not-so-good ministers. With the endless snipping from the sidelines, by those National Democratic Congress (NDC) members, who sadly, seem to have forgotten so soon, that their party spent eight long and painful years in the political wilderness, surely, the time has now come for the president to reshuffle his cabinet? Perhaps one can use the STX deal and a few other examples, as case-studies, to illustrate the mixed bag of good and not-so-good ministers. Although he did not initiate it, the determination with which the hardworking Hon. A. S. K. Bagbin, the water resources, works and housing minister, has gone about ensuring that the STX housing project takes off, as soon as practicable, certainly needs to be commended. As a consensus politician, he has done all he can, to try and get the minority benches in Parliament, to back the project: so it is a truly national project. Sadly, the perfidy of the hardliners in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has resulted in their trying to delay it, purely for political ends.
On the other hand, unfortunately, one would find it difficult to say the same positive thing, about the deputy finance minister, who has responsibility for the financial aspect of that deal. Not too long ago, I was taken aback, when I heard him say that we were being asked to pay that outrageous and astronomical sum for insurance for the STX loan, because this was Africa: and there were political risks to take account of. Can he not see the positive side of our country, I ask? Perhaps the question one ought to pose is: Just what is it about our educated urban elite, which has resulted in so many of them becoming individuals, who are completely bereft of any original thinking? After the global credit crunch, do those members of our political class, who are now in power, for example, still not understand, that it is not slavish adherence to “book-long” economic theories, but creative thinking, which will bring about the “Better Ghana” that the NDC promised Ghanaians?
Has it not yet dawned on that well-educated deputy finance minister, that it was lateral thinking, which prevented the Western world from falling into the abyss, during the financial meltdown that led to the global credit crunch – not slavish adherence to economic theories? Did he not see how those selfsame Western nations that are always telling our leaders to sell off valuable state assets, whenever the opportunity for companies from their nations, to grab such state-owned entities cheaply, comes along; were themselves pumping billions of their taxpayers’ cash, into collapsing privately-owned businesses in their nations, such as banks? Was that not done in order to save many of their corporate icons from going under – and tipping their national economies into a deep recession? Was even the venerable General Motors, which is now making profits again, after it filed for bankruptcy protection (the so-called Chapter 11!), not bailed out with a cash-injection by the U.S. administration, at a certain stage, dear reader?
No doubt, if such events had occurred here, members of our political class, many of who do not appreciate the fact that in order for Ghana to prosper, we must move out of the shadow of conventional economic thinking, would have done the exact opposite. Why does the deputy finance minister, for example, not think of simply telling the Koreans, that there is no political risk whatsoever associated with an African nation, which is admired globally for its enduring stability? Why, is this not a thriving multi-party democracy, with one of the most vibrant media landscapes, anywhere on the planet Earth, into which even the canny Chinese are sinking billions of dollars of their hard-earned cash, I ask? Why, then, should Ghana have to pay that unrealistic sum, which the Koreans are said to be demanding? Why does he not think of pointing it out to the South Koreans that they ought to follow China’s example – and put up Korean government money for the project?
If that were to happen, could say ten of Korea’s leading construction firms, not partner the leading Ghanaian construction firms in each region, to build those government houses for the security agencies and other public servants? Would that not enable the delivery of the houses to be speeded up considerably? Will the outrageous and absurd figure (of some US$ 200 millions!) for the loan insurance that the STX deal stipulates, if given instead to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), for example, not give it a much needed vital shot in the arm – and turn that crucial but woefully under-resourced state institution’s fortunes around dramatically? Secondly, the energy minister of an oil-rich African nation aspiring to become Africa’s equivalent of the egalitarian societies of Scandinavia, has no business being heard telling interviewers on radio news programmes, that the days of cheap energy in Ghana are over.
Why does it not ever occur to that genius that he should rather suggest to the government, of which he is such a prominent member, that the Ghana Embassy in China should be instructed to invite Mr. Liam Casey, of PCH International (aka “Mr. China”), to visit Ghana? If that were done, will they not be able to get him to help Ghana find and negotiate with China’s global leaders in the fabrication of giant wind power plants, to partner the Volta River Authority (VRA) in joint-ventures to build the world’s biggest collection of wind-energy farms off our entire coastline? If such a mega project, to deliver say 20,000 megawatts of renewable power, came off successfully, would that not ensure that we become an attractive destination for green-conscious international investors - seeking to take advantage of our abundant and cheap renewable energy: to set up sundry manufacturing plants here, and enhance their green credentials globally, that way?
Would the rest of the world not sit up and take notice of our marvellous and unique nation (now the beacon of hope for Mother Africa!), I ask, dear reader? With respect, surely, that would be a far better use of taxpayers’ money, than the idiocy of pouring such funds down the financial equivalent of a black hole, which the so-called “Brand Ghana Office" represents: with its raft of daft and self-serving "Alice-In-Wonderland” marketing theories and advertising compaigns – cleverly labelled “nation branding” to fool the unwary? There are far too many “way-too-ordinary" intellects, amongst those currently leading our country, for comfort – and President Mills must reshuffle his cabinet as soon as it is opportune for him to do so: so as to reinvigorate his much-criticized administration. The time has certainly come for him to bring many more world-class individuals, into an administration, which, sadly, is currently bereft of much lateral thinking.
Finally, why does he not get Mrs. Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings to show Ghanaian what stuff she is really made of – by making her a minister in his regime : and then promptly instruct all his ministers and their spouses (in addition to him and his wife, and the vice president and his too!) to publicly publish their assets? Will that not be an effective way of preventing and fighting corruption in their government’s ranks? Would that also not be one less issue for Mrs. Rawlings and her husband to criticize the current NDC government for? Since the Rawlings' are so keen to see the Kufuor-era crooks of yesteryear behind bars, will they not rejoice that he has finally availed them of the golden opportunity, to let the world know precisely what they have accumulated in assets, over their many years of sacrifice, in the service of this great African nation, which they so obviously love, more than the rest of the Ghanaian population, put together? The question is: Will the president do so? Well, one certainly hopes he has the nous and the gumption to do so – for all our sake. A word to the wise…
Tel (powered by Tigo – the one mobile phone network in Ghana that actually works!): + 233 (0) 27 745 3109 & the not-so-hot and clueless Vodafone wireless smartfone.