New Ghanaian

Little Voice from the Forest – Behold Ghana (5) – akabenzer, breaking the eight and promises

Papa Badu Donkoh


20 November 2023

Akabenezer, Glorious Path of the Eight and Gargantuan Promises

Either way the eight will be broken: NDC will break NPP’s continuous eight years rule should John Mahama win the presidential election (same for Afranfranto’s  Alan Kyeremanten); NPP will truncate the the post eight year continuous rule jinx should Mahamudu Bawumia win. The ‘breaking the eight’ slogan sounds more appealing for the NDC’s (and other opposition parties) quest than NPP’s – whoever coined it for the NPP could have been a bit more creative with wording.

In the Kumawood comedy shows of the group led by Ebenezer Antwi (Akabenezer aka Dr. Likee aka Ras Nene), Akabenezer is fond of giving pie in the sky promises and telling concocted lies about his connections, wealth, and almost anything to wow and defraud friends, family, women, anyone he meets. Kyekyeku (Bismarck Ofori), the sceptic, is the only man in town who always interrogates these promises and exposes the fraud to the beguiled and swindled community. Point is, the election season is approaching with hurricane speed and politicians who develop hearing impairment when governing (Yentie Obiaa) suddenly have the impairment cleared by Bishop Obinim’s anointing oil and will respond to any complaint/agitation/cough of citizens, chiefs, businesses and so on, with policies and programmes that are unscrutinised and mostly unachievable (or when achieved do more harm than good). Reminds me of one this summer’s hot bangers ‘Now U Do’ by Confidence Man and DJ Seinfeld.

As customary to election seasons, aligned journalists, sponsored analysts, and party officials will resort to inflating the skills and accomplishments of their benefactors. But as sagely advised in Proverbs 25:19 (NIV) “Like a broken tooth or a lame foot, is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.” We need more ‘Kyekyekus’ (academics, journalists, civil society organisations and so on) to scrutinise and expose these gaseous promises and policies and push their purveyors to expose their vision for the country, the key priorities (and policies for these priorities) for achieving the vision, the timelines, the expected impact, benefits, and outcomes of these policies for the country and the average Ghanaian. Spare Ghanaians the post elections ‘medɔfo adaada me’ mood (Awura Ama Badu). Osagyefo had a vision with well thought through policies for key priority areas, which translated into work and happiness, at the street level. I remember Kwame Pianim’s simple and street level explanation of his vision (impact) during his ill-fated presidential campaign: everyone will be able to enjoy a bottle of beer after work. i.e. everyone would have the means to afford the basic necessities of life with some leftover to spend on leisure (enjoy life small).

These priority areas should not be more than six (if you commit to nothing, you’ll be distracted by everything – James Clear), all other issues could be tackled as business as usual. Even without new policies and programmes Ghana will be far better off than the status quo if existing policies and programmes were implemented well, with simple improvements made along the way. All accompanying policies and programmes from the priorities must be subjected to not only value for money (a very nebulous concept anyhow) but thorough impact analysis including social and economic (equal opportunity) value tests. For the inequality levels in Ghana – among people and communities – is deeply shocking. Travel outside Accra (or go to inner Accra communities) for an eye opener. Ghana is more than Accra!

One leading academic, from KNUST, is reported to have irked Kennedy Ohene Agyepong (an aspirant in the recent NPP presidential primaries) by saying that anyone without a degree in Economics is unqualified to be president. Nonsense. How many of the great change making leaders of the world had a degree in economics. Ghanaians put too much emphasis on academic qualifications. Little surprise that the political class is dominated by verbal text thinkers (see the works of Temple Gardin), who struggle to understand and respond to changing times. As pointed out by best selling author, David Epstein, multifaceted and divergent thinkers, who bring together all existing disparate information, beat geniuses in the real word.

Ghana’s political elites and the vast majority of academics think the same – no significant differences in their approach to tackling the giant needs of Ghanaians. They have become automatons of the IMF/World Bank steered economic settlement of the mid 1980’s – started from Rawlings’ era – epitomised by divestiture of state assets, privatisation of public services and over reliance on the private sector. This settlement has failed, big time, to achieve its intended purposes. It has widened inequality, not improved public services, eroded trust, destroyed industry, ramped up corruption and clocked little in terms of economic and social progress. However, the media and public intellectuals, most of time, resort to passivity and timidity in their attempts to be balanced or ‘fair’ – sucks. They present issues and responses given to them in press releases or presented on their platforms, by politicians and public officials, without any serious scrutiny and are want of going to the past to look for similar instances of failure under other government regimes to balance off any criticism or challenge to the ruling government’s failures. 

The academics tend be good at problem description and data analysis but less on thought out analysis and prescriptions informed by rigorous evidence and local context. Few examples to mention are the recent request for IMF intervention and the bullying episode at Adisadel college. Academics, civil society organisations, and leading politicians from the various parties were quick in urging the government to seek IMF intervention, while at the same time not forgetting to point out that Ghana has sought intervention from the IMF on seventeen different occasions. Meaning, IMF intervention in Ghana’s affairs has not had flowery returns. It would have been fresh breath for them to present detailed alternatives, including areas where government expenditure could be cut, the accrued savings generated from such cuts, impact of such cuts, and how the savings could be used to revamp the economy. This detailed plan could have been presented to the nation as an alternative. Whether the government would have gone for the proposal or not is another story but at least the public would have seen through the government’s backside. I suspect the government would have winced at cutting the enormous expenditure bill on financing the luxury tax payer funded lifestyles of government appointees (ministers, members of parliament, district chief executives, board members and executives of public enterprises, council of state) and senior public officers (senior army and police officers, civil and public servants, judiciary) and cited the usual suspect: national security, as reason for rejecting such proposal. 

Regarding the condemnable bullying incident at Adisadel college, leading academics and public intellectuals jumped on the bandwagon, citing the boarding school system as the cause of the perpetrators behaviour, and calling for its abolition. Ridiculous. Didn’t these commentators go to boarding? How is it different from their time at school? Do these sorts of behaviours not happen in day schools? Is it not rather a school discipline issue? Did these people reflect on the role and unintended impact of boarding schools in Ghana – bridging cultures, experiences and tribal sentiments, inculcating responsibility and team work and so on? Instead of nailing the big ‘osono’ (non-means tested free SHS, which is starving schools of essential facilities resources, eroding quality in education standards and widening societal inequalities), they found a back door: advocated downsizing or scrapping of the boarding system and making vast majority of schools day schools (non-fee paying) with only those who can afford allowed in as boarders. This will rather undermine equal opportunities and worsen the already growing inequalities problem. Oh and the media should not be showing faces of children in such situations – consider the physiological and safety implications for the victim and perpetrator, now and in the future.

The seventeen times of IMF intervention in Ghana is mind boggling – Argentina will soon have a companion. Different reasons pushed countries to seek IMF intervention and they get different results from the intervention. In 1976, the UK government was forced, $3.9 billion bailout loan from the IMF – the largest amount given by IMF at the time; Brazil got $30 billion in 2002, to avoid defaulting on its debts, but paid off the entire debts two years ahead of schedule after turning around its economy. Yes, Osagyefo requested support from the IMF in 1965. They had been secretly negotiating with the IMF until the negotiations were leaked by UK’s Economist newspaper. We will never know whether Osagyefo’s government would have accepted the IMF conditionalities and if so whether they would have been to turn around the economy, which had been severely impacted by drastic slump in cocoa prices. Even though, finance minister – Kwesi Amoako Atta – had vociferously rejected the conditions, to the chagrin of the governor of the Bank of Ghana – Albert Adomako – and the establishment senior civil servants at the finance ministry, – E.N. Omaboe, J.H. Mensah, Frimpong Ansah and others – the government had started implementing some of the conditions – cutting producer prices of cocoa and bits of the seven year development plan. These senior civil servants later constituted the economic powerhouse of the National Liberation Council, under Generals Ankrah and Afrifa, with E.N.Omaboe as the commissioner of finance. Albert Adomako wrote to the IMF soon after the overthrow of Osagyefo’s government to accept the IMF conditionalities. This did not stimulate the economy and by 1971, Ghana had accrued more external debts, than it had pre-1966, leading to the invitation of economists from the Harvard Development Advisory Service to take over the formulation and planning of economic policy at the finance ministry, by the Busia government – IMF  recommendation. So residences of IMF officers at the Bank of Ghana and Finance ministry are nothing new. The See Professor Kwame Akonor’s instructive book – Africa and IMF Conditionality (2006).

Industrial Science and Innovation Strategy

One area that should find space in the key priorities list of all political parties (and movements) is science and innovation – cuts across education, health, environment, food and agriculture, industry. It encompasses medicine and life sciences, agriculture, natural and environmental sciences, mathematics and engineering, computer science and artificial intelligence. This should be overseen by a council drawn from academia, industry, the various scientific research institutes with the CSIR as the responsible development and implementation agency. The aims should include making Ghana an attractive continental base for all big science and innovation industries and businesses; and facilitating partnerships between academia, research institutes and industry – skills development, research and development, technology transfer from academia to industry and start ups, research and development support for small and medium sized industries – traditional/herbal medicine businesses come to mind. Is it not a face in the palm disgrace when Ghana (and almost all African countries) cite the Russia – Ukraine war as key factor for food shortages, high inflation, and balance of payments crises? Because of shortages of wheat and fertiliser? 

Why has Ghana allowed itself to become over dependent on wheat and rice – are these traditional staples (albeit rice has gradually replaced the plantains, yams, cassava, sorghum, millet, beans). Sorghum and millet are reportedly good and healthier substitutes for wheat – go to the trendy health shops in Europe and see how costly they are. Again, Ghana spends extremely large sums in importing the unhealthy kinds of vegetable oil while it neglects developing the comparatively healthier traditional ones from the Palm tree family – coconut (kube), palm fruit (abɛ) palm kernel/nut (adwe)Yes, once again go to the trendy health shops in Europe and see the price tags of the varieties of coconut and palm kernel oils on display!  Attempts to encourage local rice production and rump up traditional staples including plantain, yam, cassava, tomatoes and others have been disgracefully bad. ‘Planting for food’ turned into searching for food. Ghanaian traders import all sorts of staples from neighbouring countries including the Sahel countries. Where is the coordination and partnership between the research institutes/universities and farmers (all the four big universities: Legon, KNUST, Cape Coast, UDS have huge agriculture faculties). It is reported that Ghanaian farmers overuse fertiliser and other chemicals hence the poor shelve life of locally harvested foodstuffs like tomatoes, plantain and unsafe levels of chemicals found in some leafy vegetables and tubers.  Done with the digression- needed to spit out.

Any science and innovation strategy would need to be adequately financed to make it achievable. A dedicated funding scheme/trust can be created by siphoning an agreed percentage from Ghana investment funds, and others. This dedicated scheme can provide

– growth and innovation financing to start ups and scientific business/industries;

– funding and resources for the various scientific research institutes under CSIR and others, and science and engineering faculties including those in research universities, technical universities (former polytechnics), technical institutes (e.g. Kikam, Aswanse, TTI, ATI). The natural and computer sciences laboratories in Legon will not be able to compete with those in secondary schools in some Europe, North America, China, South East Asia.

– funding for promoting STEM in schools including resourcing poorly equipped science laboratories, providing adequate textbooks and training teachers who can communicate science in simple and practical ways, and make science interesting and attractive for pupils and students. Don’t we all remember science teachers in secondary schools who made science too theoretical with little practical understanding that even top students had to resort to ‘chew and pour’? The current government’s plan to build new dedicated STEM secondary schools is all good but we already have dedicated STEM schools dotted around the country: GSTS – Takoradi, KSHTS – Keta, PRESEC – Accra, KSHTS – Koforidua, KSHTS – Kumasi, KSHTS – Kinbu/Accra, and senior high technical schools in Akrofoum, Adukrom, Agona, Asankragwa, Bawku, Bibiani, Bompeh/Takoradi, Obuasi, Walewale, Zamse. How adequately are these schools resourced? How about the all the other standard secondary schools – are their science departments and laboratories anything to write about?

Give Me One More Chance – Mahama Cries Out

Second comings are not unusual both in politics and business. Companies often bring back former CEOs in times of crisis because they have the track to assure employees and investors that they can bring the business back to good health. The famous comeback CEO is Steve Jobs. Recently Bob Iger, Michael Dell, Howard Schultz returned to Disney, Dell Computers, and Starbucks. Highly successful comebacks include: Steve Jobs (Apple), Michael Dell (Dell), Howard Schultz (Starbucks), Charles Schwab (Charles Schwab), Ron Shaich (Panera Bread), Stephen Luczo (Seagate Technology). Not all CEO comebacks have been smooth sailing for business. Less successful comebacks include these: Paul Allaire (Xerox), A.G. Lafley (Proctor & Gamble), Steve Ellis (Chipotle), Kenneth Lay (Enron), Mike Ullman (JC Penney). Reasons cited for unsuccessful comebacks are changes in the business environment including consumer preferences, competitors, suppliers, demographics, broader economy that differ significantly from CEOs first stint. Therefore, to be a successful comeback CEO one needs to be conscious of changes in the environment, a continuous learner, and be good at both the big picture and the details (shaper). As observed by the philosopher Eric Hoffer: “in times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

In the realm of politics comebacks, let alone successful ones, are infrequent. The roll call includes Grover Cleveland (USA), Matthieu Kerekou (Benin), Lula da Silva (Brazil), Denis Sassou Nguesso (Republic of Congo), Winston Churchill (UK), Silvio Berlusconi (Italy), Charles De Gaulle (France). Those who had more successfully stints were Winston Churchill (who put the Tories on a positive trajectory), and Charles De Gaulle (considered France’ iconic president who restored France as a global power and ushered significant domestic reforms). Lula da Silva is an open verdict, started his second coming in January 2023, but likely to be more successful than those who succeeded him after his first stint, given their terrible performances. None of these had post graduate degrees. In fact, Lula da Silva had little formal education, he got his education from the streets – trade unionism. Records of second comings in Africa have been dismal: Sassoon Nguesso remains in power since he came back in 1997 and there is nothing glowing to write about the Republic of Congo. What made some political comebacks successfully? Likely to be similar to business comebacks but as they say in politics processes, relationships and engagements matter hence the disappointing records of CEO/business leaders who venture into politics. 

In his historical study on leadership, Arnold Toynbee notes that people yearn and vote for conviction leaders in times of existential treats but in comfortable times they vote for savvy ones, who present smooth sound bites and promises easier life whether achievable or not. However, if the challenge is too great for a people they will fail however great the leader. To be fair conviction leaders and shapers (those who can visualise and actualise) are rare. Finding those who possess both is rarer still – Ghana has not discovered one since Osagyefo. Point is who will John Mahama be? What does his track record and character tells us? Over to you, Ghanafo!

I Want to be Free – Bawumia Vents  

Dr Mahamudu Bawumia’s triumphant victory at the recent NPP presidential primary election was no surprise. He had the backing of the party establishment together with the state resources they controlled. Garnering 61 percent of the votes cast is decent, by any standard, so the spin been put out by party apparatchiks that it is the biggest percentage win achieved by any first time contender of its presidential primaries is bewildering. Record for a first time aspirant it is but the comparison is faulty. Previous first time aspirants winners were neither in government nor vice presidents. His team should rather focus on his track record and character. It is not astonishing that Dr Bawumia declared that he is a man with his vision and answerable only to God, to squash the lingering thoughts that he will be controlled by a cabal of puppet masters. Remember same remarks being made by ex president Professor Atta Mills in response to similar thoughts? 

Dr Bawumia has his work cut out for him. He was economics personified whilst his party, NPP, were in opposition looking for power and consistently berated the ruling party at time, NDC, for their poor management of the economy. His fusillades against the NDC included the vertiginous fall in the value of the Ghanaian currency (Cedis), the over dependence on foreign assistance, widespread mismanagement and corruption, and the intervention of the IMF. These issues are pervasive now than they were when he was pontificating. As chair of the government’s economic management team (customary of Ghanaian’s governing practices) he is accused of being missing in action (expecting rescue by Chuck Norris) whenever major economic issues came up, only surfacing once the commotion has abated, like a naughty boy hiding from a stern headmaster. Dr Bawumia does not shy away from flaunting his digitalisation crest in his speeches but strangely say less about the economy, his hitherto much peddled prowess. He was silent on the controversial e-levy, precipitous depreciation of the Cedis, and the request for IMF intervention. Of commendable note is the zeal with which he has pushed through the digitalisation agenda, leading to the rollout of the national identification cards. Here, the problematic rollout (many outside cities have not been captured), and the fiasco of SIM card re-registration (lack of coordination between the National Identification Authority and the Communications Ministry – cost and security implications) are missed opportunities. Dr Bawumia comes across as an affable gentleman, with a unique belly up laugh that can shake any room. Has he irreparably dinted his economic messianic and competence badge? Has he shown the leadership needed to tackle Ghana’s enormous challenges? Does he have the character? Over to you, Ghanafo!

I Have Something to Give – Alan Kyerematen Bellows

Alan Kyeremanten, popularly called by his first name – Alan, has decided to heed the advice of the great martial art sage, Bruce Lee, on pushing one’s self: “Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” He left the NPP after the first stage of their presidential primary election, complaining about unfair practices among others, to form a new movement – Movement for Change, with the monarch butterfly (Afrafranto) as emblem. Critics, mostly his previous party colleagues turned foes, were quick (and acerbic, at that) to ridicule his Afranfranto emblem and his person, dismissing him as an entitled wannabe with little following and one whose time has passed. They referenced antecedents. That similar resignations to form new parties have been unsuccessful, new (third) parties don’t win elections, parties not movements are needed to win elections. They misrepresented history and may be wrong in their dismissals.

Charles Wereko Brobbey (aka Tarzan) was not known outside the corridors of the political class and Accra, when he left the NPP to form the United Ghana Movement party, in 1997. The NPP was in opposition at the time and opposition supporters, who were yawning for change of government, had coalesced around J.A. Kufour, the presidential candidate of the NPP, irrespective of party differences. The two big opposition parties (NPP and PCP) had formed an alliance, with J.A. Kufour as their presidential candidate, to contest the 1996 elections but segregated after the elections. This made it easier for Kufour to appeal to opposition supporters. Wereko Brobbey had little imprint on the minds of electorates at the time.

Goosie Tanoh, a young Turk of the NDC, at the time, was little known among the NDC supporters, let alone the general public, when he left the party with his cabal of close friends to form the Reform Party. His power base was the cadre movement. The NDC and other groups in the progressive alliance (EGLE and NCP) equally laid claim to the cadre movement. Again, the Reform Party didn’t have the resources to mount a meaningful nationwide campaign.

The nearest comparison to Alan’s exit is that of William Ofori Atta and his United National Convention (UNC) of 1979, a breakaway from the Danquah-Busia group. William Ofori Atta (aka Paa Willie) was a heavy weight in his own right and appealed to people who would not have voted for the Popular Front Party (PFP), the main Danquah-Busia group, because of the groups historical antecedents, irrespective of its presidential candidate. Paa Willie had become less partisan, seen as statesman (as clean, hence the party’s ’eye clean’ slogan) and had close links with Christian organisations. So the argument that a united Danquah-Busia camp would have won the 1979 presidential elections is highly flawed. The votes the UNC got is untransferable – interrogate the Volta and Greater Accra votes. It is doubtful that Peter Ala Adjetey (Kpeshie) and Harry Sawyer (Osu) would have won their seats under a united Danquah-Busia banner  – same for the five seats UNC won in Volta region (Anlo, Aflao, Avenor, Keta, south Tongu), even with the support of statesman Komla Agbeli GbedemahHarry Sawyer won his seat as an independent in 1969. It is worth knowing that the Nkrumahist front was equally divided – People’s National Convention (PNC) led by Hila Limann, Action Congress Party (ACP) led by Col. Frank Bernasko (former minister for central region, and agriculture, who led the ‘operation feed yourself’ during the Acheampong regime), Social Democratic Front (SDF) led by Ibrahim Mahama (a kingpin of Tamale), R.P Baffour (independent candidate – first chancellor of KNUST and confidante of Osagyefo). ACP concentrated on the central and western regions and competed fiercely with the PNC there. It won seven seats in the central region, leaving the remaining eight to the PNC; and won the three big towns in Western region (Sekondi, Shama, Takoradi). SDF won the three seats in the greater Tamale area.

Regarding the viability of independent candidates in winning presidential elections, Emmanuel Macron (France) and Patrice Talon (Benin) are worth mentioning. Emmanuel Macron, an MP, senior adviser to then sitting President Hollande and later Minister for the Economy, resigned from the Socialist Party and Hollande’s government to form a new movement (En Marche). He won the 2016 presidential election. The movement was turned into party to field candidates for the subsequent year’s parliamentary elections. Patrice Talon, a businessman and ex-financier of the president (later fell out with him), won the 2016 Beninois presidential elections. He came second to the sitting prime minister in the first round but won the second.

Alan, like Paa Willie,is colossal in his own right, and appeals to a section of the populace. His striking appearance and announcing presence can be cherished qualities in such contests. He has been proactive in producing a detailed blueprint, named the Great Transformation Plan (GTP), and is anchoring his campaign on the youth (how effective that would be is another matter). He may need to develop an abridged version of the GTP to make easier to read and access.

His NPP frenemies downplaying his likely impact on their electoral fortune would be well advised by the story of the cat, camel and horse, as told by Bob Cole (Kwesi Twewe), as told in the pioneering Ghanaian film ‘I told you so’. It goes like this. Cat reproached Camel for his misbehaving tendencies whenever he was satiated and warned him that if he didn’t take care he would bring big trouble to the community. Camel dismissed the concerns of Cat and accused him of being a thief. Cat run to Horse (Camel’s pal) to complain about Camel’s misbehaviour and pleaded with Horse to counsel him. Cat warned Horse that he would bear the biggest brunt should any misfortune befall Camel, as he would be the only one that could run faster or carry Camel. Horse, like his pal Camel, accused Cat of being a thief and asked him to go away (in Fante krakye tone). The end: misfortune happened, Horse and the community suffered enormously, as Cat had predicted. Has Alan got the track record, and character to tackle Ghana’s enormous problems? Is the GTP sufficient and appealing? Does he have the resources for a nationwide campaign? Over to you, Ghanafo!

The Very Curious Decline of Sekondi-Takoradi

A visit to Sekondi-Takoradi metro reminds one of Liverpool and Manchester (UK) of the 1980s and 90s, under the Tory governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major.  During these eras the terms strategic retreat, strategic abandonment, managed decline, were used interchangeably, although not in public by the government, to refer to the misdirection of funding from these areas to more ‘promising’ areas. These areas were considered inauspicious, ‘making water flow uphill’ types, and left to precipitously deteriorate. Manchester and Liverpool have now become buzzing areas, courtesy of the Blair government’s placed based strategic push and investments – BBC relocated huge chunk of its activities to Manchester.

Takoradi used to be a centre of industry. The industrial curve, which started from east Tanokrom junction (opposite the mall) through the Liberation and Sekondi roads, right down to Effia Nkwanta hospital roundabout has faded. On the east Tanokrom end of the curve there were Animens industries (manufactured acoholic beverages like gin and schnapps), Multi Paper Sacks,  owned by the J. A. Addison, one time bankroller of the NPP (manufactured packaging for industries including that used by Ghacem); on the Liberation road stretch there were Pioneer Tobacco Company/British American Tobacco (manufactured cigarettes and sponsored Embassy Double Do beauty pageant – Ms. Ghana- and dance championship), CFAO, SCOA motors, PWD park, assorted government departments; on the Sekondi road stretch there were the manufacturers of aluminium products including pots and pans (a Chinese company – hence the name of the bus stop), Takoradi Veneer and Lumber Company, West Africa Mills (WAMCO & TASKI – both cocoa processing companies), Primewood, and others. The beach road also had some industrious. These were big industries not small ones. They have all disappeared. The harbour has lost its bustling self – agents have relocated to Tema. The land of seaman can no longer swing nor swim.

The Takoradi – Axim/Tarkwa road is deplorable, filled with massive holes and other traps. Heavy trucks carrying goods (timber, cocoa, minerals), which used to be transported via rail, to the Takoradi port, compete with passenger vehicles, night and day. This is an international road linking Côte d’Ivoire to Ghana and other West African countries. Going to the beautiful hotels and resorts dotted along the Ahanta and Nzema coasts is a deadly hustle. How can this boost tourism?

Nananom of the Western region what happened? Nana Kobina Nketsia IV (late Essikadohene – a pioneer of Ghana’s independence movement, adviser to Osagyefo, first chair of the university of Ghana) will be turning in his grave. As for the political leaders the least said the better – arrogant, clueless, inept. Why should the head office of GNPC be in Accra, and a corner office (condescendingly called operational headquarters) be built in Takoradi? Takoradi should be the Texas of Ghana, where all oil and auxiliary industries are based. Night life in Takoradi is nonexistent. As DJ Owusu, of the defunct Bruit Sounds (Takoradi based competitor of the Accra based sounds – Willie Chii, Moon Dogs, Roots, and so on) used to say before playing the last ‘asɔpɔ’ tune: ‘agorɔ no pɛtɛ  anyedo’ (the vulture has dumped on the party). Nananom, don’t let the vulture dump its waste on Sekondi-Takoradi. Speak out.

Ghana seriously need to consider placed based strategies to level the widening gap between Accra (centre) and the other regions (peripheries). The ingrained British colonial oriented centre – periphery thinking where everything is based in Accra has contributed to the rapid growth in Accra’s population and unpleasant conditions in Accra (everyone comes to Accra to seek employment, connections). UK is an outlier in Europe, when it comes to big regional gaps, because of the entrenched centre-periphery mentality – sharp contrast with Germany, Netherlands, China, and US. The lack of opportunities outside Accra traps talented people who don’t have the means or connections to move to Accra in unproductive activities. This denies the country the benefits from these untapped or underutilised talents. Why should the head office of Cocobod be located in Accra? Why should all government departments be based in Accra? Place based strategies demands deliberate thinking and actions to boost economic and social development and close disparities among regions. The gluttonous centre (Accra) eats everything approach should stop. All citizens, deserve equal opportunities irrespective of where they are born or live. It is not enough to open the gates of opportunity, all citizens must have the ability to walk through the gate (Lyndon B. Johnson, former US President). Ghanafo should ask all political parties (and movements!) to capture this in their policy statements