Ghana’s #Fix-the-country protests | Tribune Online


LAST week, Ghanaians trooped out into the streets of Accra, the country’s capital, protesting against what they called the poor delivery of the dividends of democracy in the country. The protests were aimed at pressuring the Nana Akufo-Addo administration to create jobs for the youth, improve healthcare and education standards, and bring down the costs of living. The demonstrations organised under the social media banner #FixThe Country, a hashtag that has become popular on social media in the country, saw thousands of people wearing masks and carrying placards, and were apparently spearheaded by members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The protesters panned President Akufo-Addo’s handling of the economy and demanded justice for the two demonstrators shot dead last month. Waving banners with slogans such as “Everybody is Suffering, Fix the country” and “Ghanaians are dying, Akufo-Addo Wake Up!”, thousands of protesters took over Accra. President Akufo-Addo won a hard-fought second term in December, gaining only a small majority in parliament. Since that time, he has been increasingly under pressure from political opponents in the face of mounting economic woes worsened by the coronavirus pandemic. Two protesters were shot dead and four were wounded in clashes with security forces in the southern region of Ashanti last month, during rallies staged over the death of youth activist, Ibrahim Mohammed.

Truth be told, it is merely fortuitous that the entire African continent, from South Africa to Sudan and Algeria, and from Uganda to Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is not embroiled in protests right now considering the parlous delivery of democratic dividends and the quality of life. The situation of things across the continent is horrible. Of course, historically, Africa has been hobbled by both internal and external crisis, and the West cannot pretend to be innocent, being complicit in the continent’s political dilemmas. It was implicated in the assassination of arguably visionary leaders like Patrice Lumumba and Thomas Sankara, and continues to exploit Africa economically. There is also the issue of Africa’s stolen wealth stashed in the foreign countries, especially in parts of Europe and America.

But most of the problems lie within. The problem of good governance is apparently a big one. It is at the core of concerns by the citizenry. Much as Ghana is considered a fairly stable and liberal democracy, for instance, President Akufo-Addo is currently up in arms against the majority of the people who assert, rightly in our own view, that he has his priorities all muddled up, especially with his commitment to building a cathedral at a time when more important things in the country are being ignored. As David Vondee, a lawmaker representing the Twifo Atti Morkwa constituency in the Central Region noted, the project is a misplaced priority for the people of Ghana in the face of the rot in the education sector, with many schools lacking classrooms. Vondee’s comments came after the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, during his 2021 Budget Review Statement, urged Ghanaians to willingly donate at least GHC 100 every month to support the construction of the cathedral. Akufo-Addo has of course stuck to his guns.

It comes as no surprise that the African continent, although home to over one billion people, has no strongly felt impact on the global stage. Africa is home to the dregs of humanity: the quality of life is criminally and distressingly low. Against the background of the vast natural wealth of the continent, the heavy deposits of mineral resources, the political leadership on the continent stands condemned for subjecting vast populations of people to misery. Ghana aptly represents the African continent in form and content: leadership with a vision is still a dream. Civil rule premised on the foundations of poverty and corruption is nothing but an aggravation.

Many countries on the continent are, like Ghana, trying to make democracy work for them, but consistently making wrong choices. Africa today represents an embarrassment to the entire global space following the inability of the political leadership to harness the rich natural endowments and build a truly prosperous society. It is painful to note that even South Africa started to deteriorate with the expiration of the Thabo Mbeki administration and the emergence of Jacob Zuma. And Rwanda, the country that seems to be an exception on the continent, is currently being run in an ethnically insensitive manner, with the subjugation of certain ethnic groups threatening to create avoidable crisis in the foreseeable future.

African countries are really doing badly with corrupt, rogue leaderships and miserable followings. Vast portions of the budgets of the countries often end up in the private pockets of politicians and public office-holders, thereby stalling economic growth and development. Industrial revolution and development are held in abeyance and unemployment is a ticking time bomb. Ultimately, good governance on the continent must be consciously evolved from the patriotic zeal of the citizens themselves. They must make correct political choices and hold their leaders’ feet to the fire.

 

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