"We shall measure our progress by the improvement in the health of our people; by the number of children in school, and by the quality of their education; by the availability of water and electricity in our towns and villages, and by the happiness which our people take in being able to manage their own affairs. The welfare of our people is our chief pride, and it is by this that my Government will ask to be judged." Broadcast to the Nation. 24 December 1957 - Osagyefo Dr.Kwame Nkrumah.
His Excellency, the Ambassador of Ghana to the United States, Mr. Daniel Ohene Agyekum; Her Excellency, the Deputy Head of Mission, Mrs. Edith Hazel; Distinguished Guests; Nananom; Friends of Ghana; Ghanamma – Ghana is fifty four (54)years old today and I welcome all of you to the grand celebration of her birth. My sincerest gratitude goes to all the honorable members of the Council of Ghanaian Associations (C.O.G.A.), for helping in this grand expression of LOVE to our nation.
His Excellency, the 2005 World Summit Outcome declared that democracy has a “universal value” that is “interlinked and mutually reinforcing” with human rights; the rule of law and development.
My fellow countrymen, there is one word that is known by all Ghanaians now – it is known by our grandmothers and grandfathers; our fathers and mothers; our sons and daughters. That word is OIL!! The Gas say Ghana ena oil eh! The Ashantis say Ghana enya oil ooo! The Fantes say wo se Ghana enya oil; The Ewes say Ghana fo eto me mi; the Hausas say Ghana……
The debate continues amongst all sectors of our society vis a vis the stakeholders. Hope is a wonderful thing indeed – the hope of the nation is to have the oil solve our problems immediately. Ghanamma, OIL as we know does not settle easily to the bottom of anything. It likes to stay on top of everything you cook it with.
Our development like our democracy and freedom can only be driven from within and below. Ghana’s democracy must serve the cause of our development. That is the social contract between our citizens and our decision makers. Without the necessary democratic ownership of the development process, STRUCTURES fail in society as we have witnessed in the middle-east these last few weeks.
Democracy is as important not only for realizing HUMAN RIGHTS and POPULAR PARTICIPATION in government, but also as the best Institutional and Political framework for Good Governance.
Ghanamma, democracy, however, is ONLY one component of Good Governance. Good Governance includes the absence of CORRUPTION; and the presence of RULE of LAW; TRANSPARENCY; GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCIES and the good MANAGEMENT of our FINANCIAL SYSTEMS.
The added revenue from oil is a great opportunity for a Marshall plan to be developed by a non-partisan body of men and women with vision and not the same cluster of people who have enriched themselves at the expense of the nation. This PLAN should usher Ghana into a new world that utilizes and develops the nation’s human assets in the areas of education; agro business; manufacturing; petroleum processing and engineering; health care delivery and infrastructure that bridges the communication gap.
Ghana must put in place a real Energy Policy on a macro scale. This must include some of the other energy forms being explored now. We must not become exporters of crude oil, we must become exporters of REFINED oil. We must ensure that a modern oil processing infrastructure is part of our vision. Ghanamma, we must not become victims of history. We must be beneficiaries of history. It will surprise some you to know that Iran exports about 70 percent of its crude oil and refines only about 30 percent. Tema Oil Refinery has been revamped at a cost of over $38m and yet our current capacity is only 45,000 barrels a day.
Ghanamma, none of these will take place without a judicious effort to appropriate funds to priority areas of national development and setting up the market conditions that invites investment from abroad and within.
Our Marshall plan should have as a priority to build the most technologically advanced refinery that has the capacity to refine more crude oil than we export. It will not only create and increase the standard of living of our people but allows us to capture the premium margins of the refining industry. A great model to study is the story of Norway which enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world thanks in part to its oil processing industry; the financial stability and investment in education that has come with it.
The country’s biggest asset – OUR PEOPLE – should be harnessed by developing an education policy that matches our 20 year development plan. Investors will come when the hi-tech factories can be manned by a pool of trained talent (e.g. similar to what now exist in India; Taiwan; Malaysia and South Korea). Might I remind you that Education is a pillar of democracy?
H.E. please ask our dear President to dream even bigger dreams because he has the power to do so. Ask him to lead our nation with those dreams, with bold action and without fear. Ask the President to utilize the vast talented pool of young men and women both home and abroad to drive his dreams. The youth in most developing societies seek to make a name through their contributions, whilst the “entrenched” seek to amass wealth at the expense of the people. How can a group of leaders make policy for the participants of that future? The youth should have a stake in this evolving democracy.
Ghanamma, the immigration laws of the land that does not allow dual citizenship holders to actively participate in our democracy is REGRESSIVE and without LEADERSHIP. Hiding behind the politics of ROPAL and its divisive laws is an insult to the Non Resident Ghanaians. I challenge our leadership to recognize the economic advantages and opportunities of the Non-Resident Ghanaians (NRGS) and to truly implement this law to its total transnational meaning if she is to harness the potential of citizens overseas. H.E we ask the President to have the political will, his predecessors did not have to change it. Ghana- now more than ever needs the participation of all its citizens, at home and abroad, in order to reach its full potential
Ghanamma, oil can be a curse to a developing nation. Our clear outlined vision should include an independent regional and world policy, a bold social and economic policy that deliver prosperity to all. That will be our DEMOCRACY in DEVELOPMENT. Ghana can and must use its democratic gains in its core development policies. I believe just as most you do that Ghana has great promise and its destiny will be shaped by all of our individual contribution to its development.
Happy Birthday Mother Ghana. May Ghana continue to prosper. May she continue to be the shining STAR of Africa. God bless Ghana! God bless the U.S.A.
Thank you and enjoy the evening!!!!!!
C.O.G.A. Chairman – A. Kofi Afful