Some political analysts believe that the truncation of all the development plans and programmes, following the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah’s regime in 1966, which also saw the end of the First Republic, was influenced solely by ideological considerations and not because there were any superior alternative plans to fast track our economic development.
In the current Fourth Republican dispensation we have not changed much. We speak against it but we have lacked the courage to put a stop to it, even when we know the unwarranted discontinuity leads to wastage of public funds and in many instances causing financial loss to the state.
One of the important developments that has taken place in our 25-year-old 4th Republic is the opportunity given to the people to assess the effects of the operation of the 1992 Constitution on national development. And one of the important recommendations from the engagement of the people by the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) was the need to develop a national development plan with a long-term view, among other critical features.
Consistent with a good governance approach, the constitutionally mandated National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) embarked on a nationwide consultative exercise to seek the views of citizens on the development gaps to be filled and how they could be filled from the perspectives of respondents. This took place between 2015 and 2016.
The results of the consultations – current aspirations of the Ghanaian people, which cost an awful lot of resources both human and financial, guided the NDPC in cutting a draft long-term national development plan for Ghana. Some of the Ghanaian brains behind this plan include Ghana’s longest serving Minister of Finance, Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, Economist, Nii Moi Thompson, immediate past Director General of the NDPC and a host of other fine Ghanaian brains who have excelled in their various fields of calling.
Since the plan was submitted to the current administration for review, validation and possible implementation in September 2017, there has been a deafening silence on the plan, which gives me cause to worry.
Between that time and now, key policy visions such as the 2018 budget statement, the president’s State of the Nation Address to Parliament, Ghana Beyond Aid agenda etc., have been put forth without mention of the 40-year development plan and what it contains. It surprises me a great deal.
Short-term development plans:
Between 2003 and 2005, we implemented the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS1). From 2006 to 2009, the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRSII) was implemented. The Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA I) was operated between the year 2010 to 2013 and the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA II) was implemented from 2014 to 2017.
Obviously, these short-term development policies do not transform a nation. If they did we would have seen and perhaps experienced the dividends for their implementation in the past 15 years or so; which justifies the need for a long-term development plan. At least we know what long-term planning has made China and our peers at independence. Is there any justification to put the plan on the shelf to gather the proverbial dust?
No. not one! The thinkers were mindful of our politics and took care of that in the consultative process by involving leading members of the various political parties in the country. There were two representatives each from political parties in good standing. They took part in the facilitation of the nation-wide consultation. And in every regional engagement regional executives of the various parties joined their national officers to articulate issues from their ideological perspective if any.
The 2018 to 2057 plan:
According to the long-term national development plan 2018 to 2057, when Ghana celebrates its 100th independence anniversary, we “should be ranked among the high-income countries of the world, with an industrialised, diversified, and export oriented economy that is resilient; an economy driven by Ghanaian entrepreneurship and characterised by high-value services; a dynamic globally competitive manufacturing sector; as well as an efficient agricultural sector capable of feeding the nation and exporting to the global markets.”
If planning was the only thing required to make Ghana a high-income country, I would hold my peace, stop bothering everyone with these writings, go to sleep and expect Ghana to become the Singapore of Africa when we celebrate Ghana at 100. But it does not work like that. The plan needs to be shared, implementation strategies need to be developed, relevant leaders need to be found to lead implementation in the various sectors, financial resources need to be generated/found and deployed to make things happen etc.
Unfortunately, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who must take charge and lead this vision—a sure way to begin the process of transforming Ghana to a best world country given that he has term limits, for someone else to continue, is yet to indicate he has bought into the vision.
Those of us, who have had the privilege of contributing to the plan, know that it is our last chance! Last bus! Our “Kumasi blue train.” If we miss it, our children and their children would blame us for 100 wasted years in 2057. That should not happen to us or to our memory if we happen to be dead and gone by 2057.
Ghana as a nation is noted for the development of wonderful plans and policies in response to any need under the sun. Our collective weakness however, is our inability to execute. Such a shame! But Good governance is on our side.
According to the CRC report, majority of Ghanaians want the 1992 constitution amended to have District, Metropolitan and Municipal Chief Executives MMDCEs elected by the people through universal adult suffrage, a reform that would make local government accountable to the people. This singular reform would bring colossal benefits to Ghana’s socio-economic development.
But the executors of the policy are not in a hurry at all. In fact the previous administration, which set up, the CRC also set up the Constitution Review Implementation Committee (CRIC), and left it in coma. The current administration is playing delay tactics to avoid implementation of the reforms. Per the time lines they have given, election of MMDCEs will not take place in this first term of the Nana Addo administration.
I can understand the apprehensions! Election of MMDCEs means taking power from central government and giving it back to the people at the local government level. But that is exactly what we must do for rapid development to take place simultaneously at the basic units of development – the district. What are we waiting for to execute?
The Last Uprising
…with William DOWOKPOR