Read Time: 5 minutes
Flag of Ghana - Wikipedia

Published in the Catholic Standard

When Ghana was born on March 6th 1957, I had then been a police corporal for two years and an instructor at the Ghana Police Training School, Tesano in Accra. Some of the recruits I trained that later rose to the rank of Commissioner of Police (C.O.P.), included the late David Walenkaki, the late W.K. Aboah and others. At midnight before the birth of Ghana, I was among the policemen who were detailed to control the crowds which had assembled to witness the birth of Ghana at the old Polo Ground (which now has Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s mortal remains and his statue).The occasion was truly festive, joyous or even ecstatic.

At our independence in 1957, Ghana and South Korea were at comparably the same level of economic backwardness. Today, with much less natural resources, South Korea is highly developed and a self-reliant economy, while, with much more natural resources, Ghana is the opposite. Nonetheless within nine years of Ghana’s independence, our first government under Dr. Kwame Nkrumah achieved phenomenal results that included the construction of Tema Harbour and the township that has since become a city (and should have been named after him), the establishment of at least 400 industries, the construction of the reinforced concrete Tema motorway which was planned to be extended to Sekondi-Takoradi, many senior high schools, Cape Coast University, the Kumasi-Based University of Science and Technology (later named after him), The Kwame Nkrumah Institute of Economics and Political Science, Winneba, Central Region (which was stopped in 1966),

an atomic reactor at Kwabenya, Accra, for basic research, the Black Star shipping line, Ghana Airways, the Tamale international airport (later reduced to a city airport) and the list could continue. Thousands of scholarships were awarded to citizens to train abroad in a very wide field of vocations (clothing design, head dressing, footwear manufacturing, catering etc) and academic pursuits for earning from bachelor to doctorate degrees. Adult education was advancing so fast that UNISCO sent a delegation to come and learn from Ghana’s experience.

Future African leaders such as the late Dr. Kamuzu Banda, the first President of Malawi, the late President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, etc., referred to in those days as freedom fighters were here to learn from Ghana’s experience. Mugabe later used his Ghana experience when he introduced into his country, free medical care and schooling. Today the population of Zimbabwe is more than 80% literate while that of Ghana is at least 70% functionally Illiterate.

Unfortunately ever since the 1966 joint military-police overthrow of our first post- colonial government, Ghana has been functioning under various reverse gears. For those who are interested, my book, Fixing Ghana, has practical and feasible recommendations for getting rid of most of our current economic problems and thereby speeding our national economic progress. It cannot be disputed that the most serious economic and social pandemic in Ghana has been widespread and ever- deepening endemic corruption. That is what has led to the current situation in which we prey on each other.

Meanwhile in all institutions of our public sector, most employees at every level use their positions for self-service rather than for justifying their salaries through national service. A very simple questionnaire administered on the random sample of our business men and women would readily reveal how frustrating it is to establish, run and grow any business in Ghana. In my previous foreign travels I came across potential investors who were turned away by some chief directors and ministers who demanded various huge sums of money, before they could endorse applications.
For those of us who witnessed the birth of Ghana and its promise of sustained prosperity for all citizens into the indefinite future, this future which has since unfolded and is continuing has been thoroughly frustrating and a nightmare for most of our citizens. Given the enormous natural resources and potential wealth of the nation, it is inexcusable to have so much poverty, unemployment, hopelessness, rural blight and a bleak future for our youth who form the majority of our population. Whether in the public or private sector of the economy, if each of us individually commits to work 20% more productively and less corrupt, Ghana in one year and thereafter will be a heaven on earth.
Using myself as an example, I returned home in 1971 from the USA, after I got appointed as the chief economist, Bank of Ghana for a salary that was less than 25% of what I previously earned as a professor of economics.

For the first three years after the Acheampong coup in January 1972, additional responsibilities assigned to me enabled me to reverse the then prevailing serious economic anemia and to make conditions to boom without any foreign aid whatsoever. This was unprecedented. For the first time ever since our independence, educated persons from all walks of life got involved in farming, backyard and frontyard gardening etc., that Ghanaians fondly remember as “Operation Feed Yourself” (OFY). Although Acheampong and his military regime remained in power for a few more additional years, the reason for this brief burst in prosperity not being sustained was because I was switched to other equally important national responsibilities. Obviously, the officials who took over from where I left off were unable to sustain the OFY programme. I shall leave the details to be dealt with in my autobiography that I plan to publish probably in a year.

As I stated earlier, Ghanaians hardly work. Most of this, as also stated above is due to the scramble to harvest when this has not been preceded by sowing. However a good part comes from the fact that, especially in our public sector institutions, the few who are committed to be highly productive, sincere and honest risk being victimized by persons in authority.

For example I was once such a victim. On that occasion that ended my career in Ghana, I was intentionally and abruptly made unemployed by being informed that I had resigned, while there were no supporting proofs for this allegation. This was because, despite all that I had done in service to my country, the powers that be were more expeditious in obeying neocolonialist instructions from my removal than recognizing my obvious contribution that I had made and was continuing to add to the economy.
After three years of trying and failing to be employed in Ghana I was forced to return abroad. Indeed the first job for which I applied wasted no time in offering me salary and related conditions of service that were ten times better than those I used to have as the chief economist at the bank of Ghana. It was almost 30 years after I had been forced into unemployment that my services to Ghana were recognized through a presidential award the Grand Medal, Order of the Volta (civil division) one of Ghana’s highest honors.