Lao Tzu once said, “Knowing others is intelligence. Knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.”
This piece has become necessary because of the ongoing debate about the slogan ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’. Whilst those on the side of the government feel it is visionary, opponents of the government feel it is mere rhetoric. I have listened to both sides of the argument and I am going to attempt a passionate defense of the slogan because I believe it can only be good for the country.
The quote above can mean many things to many people, but in this instance, the reason why I began this piece with the above quote is because of the final sentence, “Mastering yourself is true power”.
For decades in this country, there has been chatter on the various conditionality’s attached to grants and so-called aid loans given to the country by our supposed donors and the negative effects and repercussions of those conditionalities. This quote means that one can truly have power if that person is in charge of his/her own affairs. Thus Ghana moving beyond aid, will give us true power and make us truly independent.
Many of those who surprisingly are opposed to this slogan are the latter-day Nkrumahists who often argue that the country’s reliance on aid from the West and intergovernmental organizations like the IMF and World Bank has been the bane of this country in relation to development. They argue that until the country weaned itself off the IMF and the World Bank there was no way the country could be developed. They go on to cite Nkrumah’s argument of Neocolonialism being the last stage of Imperialism and argue that Ghana is a neocolonial state because of over-reliance on aid from Western Countries and Intergovernmental Organizations headed by Westerners.
Alas! Then comes along president Akufo Addo who proposes an idea of a Ghana Beyond Aid and charges his appointees to work towards attaining that goal, and the very proponents of Neocolonialism are those pooping the slogan. I must admit that when I talk about the latter-day Nkrumahists here, I am not referring to the members of the CPP because I have head notable members of both the CPP and PNC hailing the slogan and its significance. In this instance, my jab is at the members of the opposition NDC who proclaim to love Nkrumah than members of his own party the CPP but clearly on this occasion seem to disagree with Nkrumah.
Dr Kwame Nkrumah of blessed memory is quoted to have said, “The result of neo-colonialism is that foreign capital is used for the exploitation rather than for the development of the less developed parts of the world. Investment under neo-colonialism increases rather than decreases the gap between the rich and poor countries of the world.” It, therefore, baffles me as to how someone who claims they believe in Nkrumah’s ideology will be fighting against a slogan “Ghana Beyond Aid”. To the best of my knowledge the slogan Ghana Beyond Aid is a rallying cry to all and sundry especially those charged with representing and protecting our interest to start working assiduously to move the country away from our reliance on Aid for development because of the many perks associated with Aid.
I know that many will say they are not against the slogan per se, but to them, the current regime is using the slogan as a mere rhetoric, but let me quote Nkrumah again, “Revolutions are brought about by men, by men who think as men of action and act as men of thought.” The first process according to Nkrumah in a revolution is thought. That is the very thought of moving Ghana beyond aid is a step in the right direction and that thought ought to be followed by an action for sure. But I dare say that without thought there can be no action. Because action without thought may result in plain stupidity. So even if the president is engaged in sloganeering, the value in the slogan lies in the thought itself and whatever action that may follow thereof.
The current USA ambassador to Ghana is quoted by almost all the major news websites today as saying, “Akufo Addo is more visionary than recent Ghanaian leaders” and based on this slogan alone, I must say I agree with the ambassador. Like I argued earlier, before action, there must be a thought.
This means that the president has thought first that what Ghana needs to be truly liberated is to wean itself of these donors who stifle our growth and who attach unbearable, and in some cases, negative conditions to the aid they give to us.
I can go into an intellectual debate on the benefits of Ghana weaning itself of the IMF and World Bank as well as other Western donor countries and more recently China, but that will be a boring argument for most. However, one obvious advantage which is there for all to see is that without such aid, bans on public sector recruitments can be lifted and the country will have much more freedom in determining how to invest our revenue for the best possible outcomes. The case has been made by the heads of several government institutions that there are vacancies in their various institutions, but for the ban on public sector employment which was occasioned by an IMF bailout, they cannot employ people to take up those positions. Everyone also agrees that the biggest challenge facing the country today is unemployment and thus, some people will get employed in the process. Although I must admit percentage-wise, it may be insignificant because the number of unemployed graduates alone is huge.
I am not saying that we should go back to old ways of overstaffing government agencies to deal with unemployment, but justified vacancies can be filled without these conditionality’s attached to loans and aid. Nurses, teachers and doctors can also be posted to their various stations if these bans did not exist. No one can convince me that we do not need to employ more teachers, nurses and doctors as well as policemen. We have a deficit in all these agencies but for monetary and budgetary constraints as well as these bans which is as a result of aid from IGO’s we are unable to employ and post people.
Indeed, Misheck Mutize a lecturer of Finance and Doctor of Philosophy Candidate, Graduate School of Business (GSB), University of Cape Town in an article on why South Africa should not turn to the IMF for help argued that, “First, historical evidence suggests that IMF administered rescue programmes are actually a recipe for disaster. They worsen rather than rescuing the situation.” The same is true for Ghana and most of Africa as well. This, therefore, means that the president looking at Ghana Beyond Aid is looking at finding homegrown solutions to Ghana’s problems. What happens with these Aid programs is that the donors come with a template of how to solve a problem and push it down the throat of the recipient country which eventually backfires because no two countries are ever the same.
Finding hoe grown solutions to our problems, therefore, is the best way forward for the country. And we can only do that if we are not receiving aid from any country or IGO.
I am a staunch supporter of the slogan ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ and all that it stands for. I must admit I cannot do justice to this topic in a single article because I don’t want to bore readers, but I encourage every citizen and resident in Ghana to support this noble idea. Our president’s vision of Ghana Beyond Aid is laudable and whether it is just of rhetorical value or not, it is a great clarion call and all must embrace it even the opposition.
God Bless Ghana.
The Author Albert Opare is a political science graduate from the University of Ghana and a social commentator as well as a social & political activist.