Story: Yaw Takyi
US-based Ghanaian Professor of Economics at New York University, Prof. Yaw Nyarko has underscored the need for government to allow the indigenous Ghanaian businesses the space to grow and take charge of the country’s economic development with support from state institutions .
The Economics Professor made this observation whiles speaking at a lecture in Accra organized by Old Achimotans
The annual leadership lecture which was on the theme; “Ghana-A Country in Crisis, Defining a New Economic Direction” attracted many old Achimotans, including Dr S.K.B Asante, legal luminary and statesman who is also the paramount chief of Asante Asokore.
Prof. Nyarko said, government should not choose who should not be winners.
“Government should instead set the framework and allow the very good people of Ghana to decide what to do to grow the economy”, he said.
Two former banking executives, Naa Alhassan Andani and Frank Adu Jnr, who were also at the programme as panellists labelled the country as a nation in crisis due to what they described as systematic leadership failures and structural deficiencies over the years.
For Mr Adu Jnr, a former Managing Director of CAL Bank, the country had always had a leadership problem, which, he said, had plagued its development for many years.
“We have not had leaders, but rather rulers. Leaders provide a vision to galvanise the people to follow and achieve that vision.”
“In my 61 years, I don’t think that I have come across in this country a leader with a vision who has mobilised the resources and human capital to drive this nation forward,” he said.
Mr Andani, also a former Managing Director of Stanbic Bank Ghana, said the country had failed to fashion a systematic plan that would address the structural problems affecting economic growth.
“Malaysia and Singapore took some of their early development plan from 1Ghana. If we compare where they are and what we are doing today, then we are a nation in crisis. In Ghana, we spend too much time talking about economics instead of doing economics,” he said.
Sharing more thoughts on leadership, Mr Adu Jnr said the two major political parties — New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) — had come to the realisation that they would always be in power at some point.
In view of that, he said, they had become what he described as “laws unto themselves”.
‘We have politicians calling themselves leaders, who think of themselves first, family second, party third and if we are lucky, the nation fourth. If we do not fix our governance structure, this country will not work,” he said.
Mr Andani said some people give political power to politicians not because of development, a situation which had emboldened politicians to underperform.
‘We give them the power for every other reason other than development. We give them the power because we speak the same language with them, because we go to the same church or mosque with them or because they come from our area.
‘We must change the reason why we give the politicians power to push them to build strong, independent and powerful institutions that would hold them accountable and seek the interest of the country,” he said.
Mr Andani said the country must adopt a system of effective self-regulation or else it would continue to face further challenges.
“Another thing about us is that we do not like hard work.
“We are not patient everybody is looking for shortcuts for quick money,” he said.
For Mr Adu Jnr, the government must make a conscious and deliberate effort to allow industries to grow and develop a value chain for the country’s natural resources.
He also called for the abolition of multi-party democracy which had bred the winner-takes-all phenomenon, and rather adopt real representative democracy with emphasis on a national development plan.
We must have a single national development plan, where a President cannot change it but rather come to power to execute,” he said.