Monday, 22 January 2018
One year on, a good time to be Ghanaian

One year on, a good time to be Ghanaian

By Frank AGYEKUM
As the nation marked 25 years of continued democratic governance manifested through seven successfully held elections and four smooth changes of civilian governments, Ghanaians must have every reason to be walking with a spring in their step and feeling, at least, one centimetre taller, indeed.

Twenty-five years of uninterrupted multi-party rule may not be such a long time in the life of a nation, but in Africa, and much of the developing world, it is a rarity.
In many countries, nearby and afar, the conduct of elections has led to civil strife and bloodshed, resulting in the loss of uncountable numbers of lives and the collapse of statehood.
In some countries, whole generations have passed without knowing anything but wars.
The ceremony also showcased the unique feature of Ghana, where members of different religious beliefs could mingle together, share pleasantries and propagate their diverse faiths on the same platform without any encumbrance whatsoever.
In many of the countries that we share a common standard of measure with on the international scene, and even in some of those placed higher than us, such a scenario could not be dreamt of. A bomb may have been blasted before the ceremony ended.
The presence of the various political parties, sharing in their usual conviviality, was the ‘icing on the cake.’ Their tolerance and forbearance have brought us this far.
But as President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo said, the best is ‘yet to come.’ That is a warning that we do not have to be complaisant as there are more heights to be scaled.
Implicit in that also is the need for us, all Ghanaians, to guard jealously and be even more resilient in our commitment to upholding the tenets of democracy and to deepen it further.
It has been said that ‘eternal vigilance is the price of democracy’, we need to permanently remind ourselves of this as we move forward.
In the silver jubilee year, which coincided with the first year of Nana Akufo-Addo’s government, and the second coming of New Patriotic Party (NPP), Ghanaians could count among their accomplishments the successful roll out of the Free Senior High School programme.
For once, every Ghanaian child of second-cycle schooling age can go to school without let or hindrance; all any parent has to do is to pack the luggage of their children or wards and send them off to school. Just like that. No excuse of ‘not having money.’
Children from poor homes no more have to go through the agonising and sobering moments of looking on as their rich colleagues filed into secondary schools while all they could do is stare in misery.
Many in the past lost out of schooling altogether and found space among the swelling numbers of unemployed youth living it rough on the hot tarmacs of the cities; many a lofty idea died that way; many a brilliant kid lost out completely on the good things of life.
In the process, the country was deprived of great inventors, professionals, academics, skilled men and women in walks of life, who could have propelled our society into prosperity and modernity.
Certainly, the programme has not been without problems, but I am sure nobody expected the roll out of such a programme on such massive scale not to have any hitches.
Then, there was the landmark decision by the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in favour of Ghana in their maritime boundary dispute with La Cote d’Ivoire, affirming Ghana’s ownership of the current sea boundary between them.
This judgement meant that Ghana was right to claim the large oil deposits in the area and did no wrong in offering concessions for prospecting by oil companies. A loss would have meant Ghana, possibly paying huge sums in compensation to these companies, and a loss of the enormous revenue that would potentially ensue from these fields.
And then, there was the thrashing by the Black Stars Team B of their arch-rivals, Nigeria’s Super Eagles Team B, in the finals of the West African Football Union (WAFU) tournament.
It was the first cup, of any sorts, to be claimed by Ghana’s senior soccer team in any football tournament in a very long time.
The intense rivalry between Ghana and Nigeria in tournaments, especially football, underscores the significance of the victory, especially because the margin of 4 - 1 was so big.
The recent developments really give credence to the fact that tremendous achievements are made when the NPP is in power.
President Akufo-Addo’s predecessor, President John Agyekum Kufuor, during his tenure eight years ago, that was before the advent of the NDC II administration, beat all to implement free school fees at the primary level; one free hot meal a day for every pupil; free bussing for school children; free maternal care for pregnant women and the National Health Insurance Scheme to ensure prompt delivery of healthcare to the citizenry.
No wonder by the time President Kufuor exited the scene, Ghana had risen from the misery status of a Highly Indebted and Poor Country (HIPC) to a middle income country.
As President Akufo-Addo has promised, he is in ‘a hurry’ to get Ghana into the upper echelons of development. The signs of the times show he can do it; we must all pull together to make it work.
After all, it is part of the DNA of the NPP, which he now leads so to perform. Great times await us as a people. This must be a good time to be Ghanaian, indeed.