A Development Agronomist and statesman, Dr Abu Sakara, has stressed the need for politicians to prioritise the national interest rather than parochial interests at all levels.
He said meritocracy, equity, inclusion, integrity of service and empowerment of people, among others, were key ingredients the nation's forebears fought for, which should be restored and practised in full.
“Where Ghana has reached now, we need a political solution that allows us to reformat our programme for development so that it is consistent with the cardinal principles of nation building where we will have equity, meritocracy, inclusion and all those ingredients,” Dr Foster, a former Convention People's Party (CPP) presidential candidate, further stressed.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic to mark Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day yesterday, Dr Sakara shared his thoughts on how to leverage the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah and build on what the forebears bequeathed to the nation.
The executive director of the Rural and Agricultural Development Associates was emphatic that “when you have a system in which meritocracy has broken down and nepotism has climbed up, you begin to bury the soul of the nation and what we have now and what we must fight for now is to restore the soul of Ghana”.
“The extent of the damage done to our institutions and the fabric of our society and the vision of the nation means that we must now fight for the recovery of the nation,” he noted.
Dr Sakara said although Dr Nkrumah was dead and gone, he would be disappointed that his vision had not been achieved, stressing that, “we don't have to be like him to feel the sense of disappointment, missed opportunity and outright neglect”.
He said, for instance, that issues such as corruption, bribery, nepotism, tribal politics and the winner-takes-all politics were minimal during Nkrumah's era but were rife today.
The former presidential candidate asserted that all of those happenings were symptoms of “the abandonment of nationhood and the pursuit of partisan parochial interests as a standard”.
That, he noted, had brought about the winner-takes-all political system, which in effect, was another “symptom of a broken democracy and a dysfunctional democracy”.
Touching on the relevance of celebrating the day, Dr Sakara was of the view that it was relevant because of Nkrumah’s pivotal role in making Ghana what it is today — giving it the opportunity to become a nation and also a people that are pursuing their own development and aspiration.
“Any leader who gives the nation that kind of recognition needs to be celebrated because you are not recognising him as an individual but you are recognising what he did for the nation.
I think it is an important day to remember,” he stated.
Dr Sakara, who is also the Founder of the National Interest Movement (NIM), a non-partisan civil society platform that independently promotes an alternative to the winner-takes-all electoral system in Ghana, urged Ghanaians to desist from debates on who were the real founding fathers of the nation.
Touching on national development plans, Dr Sakara said: “The reluctance of political elites to adopt a long-term national development plan is just a reflection of their intent to put partisan and parochial interests above the national interest.”
“This is what has kept nations growing.
It is important to have a development plan because it sets your priorities as a nation.
We need to have those plans for a long period of say 30 or 40 years, then we begin to segment them into five or seven years development plans,” he advocated.
He said there were, at least, two national development plans under Nkrumah, the last of which was the botched seven-year development plan.
However, he noted that the penchant of new administrations abandoning previous plans for national development started with Nkrumah’s seven-year development plan.
Since then, Dr Sakara explained, it had become the normal business of the day not only to abandon previous national development plans but also major commissioned national projects already underway.
He identified the short four-year term tenure of governments under multiparty democracy as one of the factors that had limited political parties to adopt short and medium-term national development plans and partisan manifestoes instead of the long-term development plans.
He expressed regret that due to those challenges, “there are few or no traces of successfully completed transformational infrastructural projects such as the nationwide railway network, inland waterway transportation, large-scale fertiliser, agrochemical plants and machine tool manufacture to propel industrialisation.”
On what should be celebrated on occasions such as the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day, Dr Sakara said unequivocally that “we cannot celebrate national transformation because we have made insufficient progress that transforms us socio-economically”.
“Indeed, our sins of omission and commission based on politically driven miscalculations have landed us in deep economic crisis.
Our ability to recover is weak and will require brutal cutbacks in public expenditure, especially cost of government wage bill,” he further noted.