UPPER WEST MUSIC DESERVES CRITICAL ATTENTION.
THINKING IS THE GREATEST INVESTMENT.
NPP Keeps On Contracting Itself On The Activities Of Government After Elections.
It is not for nothing that Ghana is largely considered the beacon of democracy in Africa. As such, the actions and inaction of political actors must be adding up to the growth of our governance. If our actions are ultra-vice to existing constitutional principles then clearly, we are in a path of retrogression and that is a threat to our young but enviable Democratic dispensation. I write to vehemently disagree with those, largely the New Patriotic Party, who think that governance must come to a standstill after elections.
I see governance as continues process in every democratic system and elections or transition cannot and must not impede that process. The constitution by its wisdom, mandate the incumbent government to continue to perform its duties until 6th January mid night. The new government then takes over on the 7th of January. In my view, the constitution seeks to avoid any gab in the governing process. So it is absolutely a nonstarter to argue that government cannot discharge certain legitimate actions because of transition.
Again, people who try to justify their positions on this matter introduced morality orientation into the debate and that makes them sound ridiculous and hypothetical. Who said the constitution and its framers didn’t integrate morality into the legality? Would you in that subjective view, demand that conventions, legality and democratic principles be compromised for that “morality” to satisfy one group? Governance is a serious business and rest on numerous constitutional principles and not just what is ordinarily perceived to be wrong by somebody. It sounds more of a fuzzy concept to narrow the debate to morality. We are in a democratic state and any decision by government or any group must be grounded on the supreme law of the land, THE 1992 CONSTITUTION OF GHANA.
There is nothing wrong for the government to make certain appointments that are apolitical to relevant state institutions in as much as our constitution exists. Those who do not like it in its current state can rather push for the amendment of sections of the constitution.
Then again, when government granted the proposal by National Service Scheme for an increment in their allowances, some people especially the NPP and its allies have viewed the decision with political binoculars by postulating that it is bad faith on the part of the outgoing government. Others are of the view that the outgoing government wants to put a burden on the incoming government in the management of the economy. For God’s sake, the proposal from the NSS has been under consideration as far back as July of this year.
In any case, the increment is going to improve the lives of young people contributing their quota to national development. How can the improvement of the lives of section of our youth who are the future human resource of the country be a burden on the economy? Is the NPP government not coming to improve the lives of citizenry? Such pedestrian analysis of issues makes me skeptical of the commitment of the incoming NPP government to improve the lives and conditions of the people. Whether you like it or not, labour shall make legitimate demands for salary increment in the near future and if that will cause any inability of the NPP government to deliver its numerous promises, then I can say without any modicum of doubt, that the NPP have failed in advance.
Let me also use this opportunity to touch on the increment of the emoluments of article 71 holders as stipulated in the 1992 constitution. Frankly speaking, I am one of those who argue that the above article must be scrapped to create a level playing field for all officers and workers to be under the Single Spine Salary Structure managed by the Fair Wages and Salary Commission. I am also of the view that the income of such officers as currently in the said article must be taxable like mine as a poor village teacher.
I was expecting those who think any increment in allowances of salaries can put a burden on the public purse to engage in a constructive debate by the recent increment in the emoluments of these officers largely the Executive and Legislature. The President elect, Nana Akuffo Addo shall be the biggest beneficiary of these increments. Ironically, the NPP is silent about it after all, their Members of Parliament who are to form majority in parliament soon, clandestinely endorsed it since it is in their selfish interest. I am particularly disappointed in the national house of Parliament especially the minority caucus for demonstrating such a level of double standard. When it is in their favor, there is no banter between them but when it is in the larger interest of Ghana, they play their delay tactics around. The Right to Information Bill is one of such important bills before the house for so many years now. The minority have been against the passage of it in recent times but quick to endorse humongous increment in their emoluments including gargantuan exgratia. Isn’t that a shame?
I think that civil society groups must push government hard in the coming days to ensure that this issue of article 71 holders is pragmatically dealt with, to save the public purse. I think the politicians are playing a “pillow game” with the ordinary Ghanaian worker. Enough of this aggrandizement!
As long as we continue to pursue the journey of democracy and want to model it to its best form, we must not remain polarized and partisan on every national discourse. Such moves only paint national policies with partisan colors and that cannot move us forward in any quest to sustain our developing democracy. Political actors should revise their notes on democracy and constitutional law well and stop confusing policy with politics. I know people as usual are going to bastardize me for coming out with this article but let the truth be told that nation building goes beyond political party affiliation.
WE ARE KILLING THE GOOSE THAT LAYS THE GOLDEN EGG.
This year’s farmers’ day will be celebrated on Friday 4th November 2016 and a fair, passionate and objective minded columnist like me, would certainly make time and space to celebrate our gallant but poor majority farmers. Farmers spend all their time in the field even under hostile weather conditions just to ensure that there is abundant food to feed our ever increasing population. My piece today aims at critically dissecting some major pertinent issues on the agriculture sector of our economy.
It is indisputable fact that agriculture remains the backbone of our economy. In 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO) estimated that 54% of Ghana’s working population is employed in the agriculture sector. The national average is estimated at 76.1% in the rural areas. In the three northern regions (upper west, upper east and northern region), I can comfortably state that about 95% of the people engage in various forms of agriculture. I try to let you know, that the role of agriculture is indispensable. We must therefore take the sector seriously and treat it as the foundation of our economy. Until we build a strong foundation, poverty and unemployment will continue to greet us every now and then.
Interestingly and lamentably, many of our farmers engage in peasant farming and have few or no opportunities to venture into large scale commercial farming. Farmers remain poor and in many cases, unable to pay the schools fees and other expenses of their families. The cost of inputs is relatively high whilst unfavorable rainfall patterns continually worsen their already pathetic situation. In fact, there are limited irrigation facilities to ensure all year round farming. As for the unpropitious prices for agriculture products, the least talk about it the better.
Despite all these conspicuous predicaments, we sit aloof and throw our hands in despair, perhaps awaiting a day or an era famine will befall us. Are we really serious? Anyway, such a calamity, if befallen us, would teach us a lesson to realize that indeed, agriculture is the goose that lays the golden egg. We must a matter of urgency; devise a comprehensive agriculture policy to swiftly move from the hand to mouth agriculture, to mechanized large scale farming. That is the only way the farmers’ poor condition could be ameliorated and to pave way for any meaningful industrialization which is being preached by the Ghanaian politicians as we march towards the polls in December. The fundamental truth is that agriculture is the vehicle for industrialization.
Notwithstanding the destitute nature of our agriculture sector, it is still a pillar of the economy. Between 2007 and 2016, the agriculture sector has averagely contributed 3.5% to GDP and that is not a mean contribution from a typical deprived sector. The figure could have been humongous if we had been thoughtful over the years about improving the sector. That is quiet embarrassing. Isn’t it?
Look, it is very difficult for African economies to be competitive in the global agriculture market not because of race or geographical position but because we appear to throw in the towel in the competition. Countries like Thailand and Vietnam have occupied a niche in rice production. It is as a result of their long standing commitment to their agriculture sector. No wonder we cheaply import most of our rice from these countries and that is thwarting the efforts of our few commercial rice farmers. Believe me; Ghana can do better if we are committed to capturing that height.
The youth and the educated elite of the current generation largely despite agriculture and consider it as business of the village illiterate. Let it go not unnoticed that unemployment continually escalates with our unrepentant quest for non-existent white collar jobs. I am of the strong conviction that agriculture is the ultimate salvation to our galloping unemployment situation. We have vast land for agriculture yet we remained choked in the cities struggling for survival. This growing misconception about agriculture must stop. Many politicians both in government and opposition take advantage of the situation and preach salvation but when they get there, there have many excuses for underperformance. I will personally not blame them. We live in a country where the formal sector employees through their labour unions parade along every route in town to demand better salaries. The poor farmer continues to be in the farm and has never demonstrated or gone to strike. Such a patriotic leniency should not be considered as a weakness by our farmers. To me, the most patriotic citizen in Ghana in terms of work is the Ghanaian farmer.
What I expect government to do is to institute a state farming policy which was implemented by the late Gen.I. K Acheampong. This will help us improve the sector. Our industries would get adequate raw materials and also to ease the unemployment situation that bedevils us as a country. Our national service personnel could be posted to such farms to enable them provide critical services in that area. That could be a possible way of curing the growing misconception about the sector. We also need to set up more marketing companies and agents to protect farmers’ interest in the agriculture market. Let me loud the efforts of COCOBOD on that score. Many farmers go through frustration in the market especially during bumper harvest seasons.
In celebrating our gallant farmers in such an important day, let me pause my lamentations here and salute all farmers across the country for their wonderful contributions to national development. I specially dedicate this article to all farmers in the Daffiama-Bussie-Issa District as they celebrate this years’ event at my lovely city, Daffiama.
Long live the Ghanaian farmer.