Feature Article of Wednesday, 10 April 2013
Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina
The above caption sounds spookish. Perhaps, it echoes a satirical religious comedy reminiscent of Monty Python. Some may think it is the title of a science fiction story depicting an abandoned world where each one for himself and God more or less taken out. No! It is not; it is rather my belated Easter message to Ghanaian Christians. God is on strike; most probably he has taken a vacation, hence there is no one to answer our petitions and intercessory prayers. Well, we know that God is eternal, and his concept of time is measured in eons, so when God strikes or takes a vacation it might take a generation or two. He is definitely on strike, and I believe we are in for a rough ride.
The above title wouldn’t have crossed my radar if not for the pitiful Easter message of Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante, the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana that God will fix the Ghana economy. But for the comments it engendered I will not have attempted this sacrilege. Some serious contributors who expressed objection to the message were labelled as unbelievers, which for me is another way of stifling debate in the country with the potential of holding back our progress. Now, to think about the fact that it is not coming from some charlatan, but a well trained man of God with a professor attached to his name to blow such hot air scared me. What I would like to ask him is did he ponder over the question how does God fix an economy?
Economics is the creation of man. It is a discipline that the intelligence of man has created to manage the resources God has given us. Its dynamics is predicated on the commercial interaction of everybody in a given society to achieve a desired end for everyone. But we know that there are some people whose actions in every economy are questionable. For example, the activities of an armed robber can cause disruption, death, financial loss and fear to the deterioration of the general economy. Does God strikes the armed robber dead to the fix the economy? That is a food for thought.
God has given us fresh water bodies, and through our intelligence we make it safe for consumption. Think about this, if we allow unauthorised Gold prospecting activities ‘galamsey’ to wreck the catchment area of the rivers do you then call on God to come and fix it, or you stop those responsible from destroying it. Don’t you think calling on God is superfluous? Again, telecommunication is very important in every modern economy. God be so kind, we have companies providing such services. One of the main materials they employ in their operations – copper cables are being stolen from communication lines every now and then, and you say God is going to fix that? Are you expecting thunder to strike them dead, or the law enforcement agency will have to do their job well to fish these social misfits out?
On the political arena, our politicians are corrupt to the bone. They sell state own enterprises, like Nsawam Cannery, to their cronies who cannot do the job, and you have the incredible goal to declare that God will fix the economy. He will rather send down fire and brimstone to annihilate you, because he has given you infinitesimal brain power to solve your problems, and yet when he is on vacation you are disturbing him with your prayers.
To step outside and go further afield while not being cynical; in reality, when people talk about God fixing the economy what they mostly romanticise about is the discovery of more of our latest black gold. Compared to Nigeria, we have similar resources both in cash crops and mineral deposits. However, they have been producing oil in respectable quantities for the best part of forty years. I think they are the 12th largest producer as well the 8th largest exporter, but our per capita income is even better than them. What makes the difference is the way the resources are put to use. Officially, Umaru Dikko is reputed to have stolen 1billion dollars alone. His detractors claim he stole $7.5 billion. Think about it, if a common Transport Minister could do away with that amount what about the other big fish? Let me hypothetically assume that it is true, because he has vigorously denied it. Can you imagine what that 1billion dollars could have done for the Nigerian economy should they have used it to build, lets say, a power plant.
The Russian Steppes is one of the best grasslands in the world, and they call it Chernozem – The Black Earth Country. Before the Great October Revolution they were exporting grains, but they could barely feed themselves under communism, because of that abominable economic ideology they adopted. Do you call on God to fix the choices they made? No. they changed themselves by abandoning it.
God has given us the brains to think and make our lives better; working hard by burning the midnight candle and deferring gratification. The brain is roughly 2% of our body weight; however, it consumes 20% of our nutritional intake. There is a reason for it, and this is my take on it. God gave us the brain to make it work hard for us, because of the resources it uses. Natural resources don’t count for anything if you don’t have the brains to put it to good use. For the sake of this piece let me sing to their tune a little bit. When God’s intervention comes they don’t come in the form of manna, but through support from people like Bill Gates, grants from USA, Britain and EU etc. On the other hand, what do our leaders do with the money? They make sure that the health of their foreign accounts is catered for rather than the health of the people.
Finally, coming back to the title of the piece; why do teachers, doctors and for that matter all salaried workers sometimes go on strike. Though, some do it out of greed, but in most cases there are legitimate concerns of bad conditions of service, which triggers industrial actions. We are employing God to solve our problems, which is not a bad idea; nevertheless, there is a condition of service in God’s contract. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour etc. We are not meeting part of the bargain so God has decided to strike – he has blocked his ears to our prayers. He is not even looking at our direction until we put all these vices behind us. Until then, Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante do not delude yourself into believing that God intervene to solve economic problems. Preach your salvation message and stop making a mockery of yourself. God is not an economic agony aunt. He does not change the economy of the universe for the sake of Ghana. These sorts of pronouncements creates a lot of problems in the future, because you put in the minds of impressionable young people who will be the leaders of tomorrow that God is going to fix the Ghanaian economy. What if that doesn’t happen in a generation what happens to their faith?
There is an Akan saying, and I am going to paraphrase. There has been a terrible accident, and your jaw is dropping off. For your own interest, God tells you to hold on to it in order to make enough time for him to get you medicine, and you tell God please hurry if you don’t come on time I will let it drop. I need not say more. Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise, says the biblical Proverbs. The ant makes an instinctive choice to save when there is plenty. As human beings we are more than the ant and we have to do more through an intellectual leap. We don’t need to discover more oil. If we manage the little that we have we will be among one of the advanced nations in the world. Niger, sits on Uranium, one of the most powerful energy substances in the world, and yet they are poor. Do you think that the people of Congo don’t pray? What about the people of Rwanda who have the most churches per population in the world. Corruption is a disease that destroys everything it touches. We reap what we sow. when we sow the wind we shall reap the whirlwind. When we sow corruption we shall harvest economic stagnation. When we plant selfishness we reap hatred. The choices that we and our leaders make is what will fix the economy.
Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr.