Feature Article of Thursday, 11 April 2013
Columnist: Atta-Boakye, Ken
Allow me to briefly contribute to the on-going debate about the rearing of Guinea Fowls and the Re-afforestation projects to boost economic activities in the northern sector by the government of Ghana and the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority. (SADA). This joint-project has received several criticisms from the Ghanaian general public. To prove their case, some Ghanaian media have followed the investment projects to report on their performances. As usual, the reports were not worth the monies invested by the government. It has been reported that the government invested about $13m dollars in the guinea fowl project. When the media investigators visited the farm, only 600 birds and a couple of eggs were found. For a $33m dollar re-afforestation project only a few trees had been planted. It was totally unacceptable. They blew the whistle!
The public is outraged and have condemned the initiative as another conniving scheme to sink money into the pockets of party stalwarts who have links with SADA. The operations are not transparent and there are no inbuilt checks and balances to produce efficiency. The secret operations lend themselves to speculations and suspicion. Rightfully, Ghanaians are unhappy with the inefficient ways state resources are administered.
Had the projects been implemented efficiently and correctly, they could have been beneficial to everyone. These were the right investments to turn the people and the environment around for productive ventures. Other benefits could include:
• The vast track of land in the north could be put into more productive use.
• They were investments that had direct bearing on the people and on the environment.
• It could rekindle the spirit of self-reliance.
• Producing birds in commercial quantities could adequately cater for jobs as well as provide the restaurants with more nutritious and richer livestock.
• The excess guinea fowls could be exported to bring in foreign revenue to help implement and deliver national programs.
The re-afforestation could also slow down global warming which is a threat to our survival. The benefits could also include:
• It would impede the spread of savanna grassland across the region and the fast extension southwards
• It could increase agricultural output.
• In the long run, the trees could be used as lumber and pit-props.
There could be much to gain from the projects but the propensity of the leaders to stifle the implementation process has always been the crux of all national initiative programs. The problem lies within the implementation aspect. As a matter of fact, the clandestine implementation of government initiatives has always been the root cause of our downfall. Proactively, searching and implementing proper solutions will open doors for advancement as a nation. We need strategies to shape opinions, inspire action and produce results.
After 56 years of independence, we have not been able to appreciably move the nation forward because the leaders do not do the right things. The leaders work by “the scratch my back and I will scratch yours” theory. They are unconcerned while state institutions fail under their watch. It might surprise a curious investigator (Anas) to find the rot that exists at SADA. The question then becomes why did the government team up with SADA if it had nothing credible to offer? Can’t an alternative arrangement with $13m dollars produce better results? Are we saying there are no Ghanaians with the right business acumen? I doubt it. The right businessmen could have submitted their business plans to be evaluated to see how they could manage the credit facilities. If we cannot trust our own people with integrity and empower them to lead in the business ventures we shall remain stagnant. The frequent industrial strikes and demonstrations are clear indications that things are not right in the country. Ghana is in a state of emergency and the government should act fast. There is too much rot in the system! We must remember, change is the mother of progress.
When individuals are given tools to succeed it transcends into national progress. The leaders are not ready to monitor and supervise state projects though there are internal and external auditors; the government should be strict on accountability while enforcing the laws to instill discipline in the people. Not until the government becomes more vigilant and puts national interest first there shall be no progress in sight. Even if the progress is slow, we shall be moving forward.
Ken Atta-Boakye: Woodbridge, Virginia,
E-mail: kenattaboakye @gmail.com