Sometimes I am hunched with emotion anytime I hear advocates of the Fix The Country talking as if governments that have come and gone did nothing to fix the country and the one in power today is doing nothing to fix the country. It has been over six decades since we had our independence and so when we talk of fixing the country, the young man today who is actively involved in the Fix the Country advocacy was born too late when the country was being fixed until the Khakii Boys came to turn the apple cart upside down.
In reality, I do not blame anyone who wants the country to be fixed, but I blame those who think it is only the Akufo-Addo-led administration who should fix what has taken more than fifty years to destroy at a go by referring to the success stories of developed countries like the US and Britain. The time has come for us to put the blame of our sorry state on the doorsteps of the Abongo Boys and together say never again should we allow ourselves to be ruled by soldiers who know nothing about governance. I have had cause on so many occasions to write in this column that we need to always look back like historians do even as we trudge on. It is not for nothing that historians look back. If you fail to look back, you will not be able to see what went wrong and how to fix what went wrong.
I, therefore, invite the youth in particular who are more vociferous in the Fix the Country advocacy to travel along with me down memory lane to see what went right and what went wrong. Immediately we had our independence, the first president of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah set out on an ambitious programme to industrialize the country. He started by building roads, bridges, schools etc., before he set his eyes on the building of industries. In Takoradi alone we had the Cocoa Products Factory producing cocoa butter, cocoa powder, chocolates among other products from cocoa beans produced in Ghana. The Paper Convention Company was producing toilet rolls, tissues and others from raw materials produced in Ghana. The Takoradi Veneer Company was producing plywood from trees logged in Ghana. The Flour Mills was producing flour made from corn for our bakers. (Do you know Ghanaians used to eat corn bread?) In the same Takoradi the Cement Factory was producing cement in Takoradi as it is doing today. We had the Pioneer Tobacco Company producing cigarettes for home consumption and export with raw tobacco leafs produced in Ghana. The Chinese Factory was producing iron rods, iron sheets, cups, pans and many more products. All these factories were located in Takoradi alone. In the same Western Region, we had the Tarkwa Bonsa Tyres Factory and the Rubber Plantation Company, producing raw materials for the tyre factory. Ghana was not importing second hand tyres. We also had the Aboso Glass Factory near Tarkwa producing bottles, glasses and other glass products. There was the Samreboi Plywood Factory in Samreboi in the same Western Region. Meanwhile the Awaso Bauxite Company was mining bauxite to feed the Volta Aluminum Company (VALCO) in Tema which used to produce aluminum and other products for export as well for home consumption.
Dr. Nkrumah built the Tema Food Complex Cooperation, the Tema harbour, the Tema township, the Tema Cold Stores and many more. As for Accra, factories were dotted around the capital city. In Kumasi, we had the GIHOC Shoe Factory at Kwamo, the Jute Factory which produced sacks for our cocoa farmers and many more. In fact, no region was left behind as far as the building of factories was concerned. Do you know we were not importing matches in Ghana? We had the Kade Match Factory operating at full capacity to the extent that Ghana was not importing matches. The Nsawam Cannery was the first of its type in West Africa. We had the Akosombo Textile Factory and the Juapong Textile Factory, all producing quality textiles for home consumption and export. In the then Brong Ahafo Region, we had the Scanstile Furniture Factory and the Mim Timber Company, producing furniture and other wood materials for export and of course the Wenchi Tomato Factory producing canned tomatoes, canned garden eggs, pepper puree, canned snails, caned mongo juice, canned palm nut soup and canned mushrooms. We also had the Bolgatanga Meat Factory in the Upper Region, producing the Volta Corn beef and the Pwalugu Tomato Factory. In the Central Region, there was the Saltpond Ceramic Factory, the Citrus Producing Company in Cape Coast and the almighty Komenda Sugar Factory. For the nearly four years that the soldiers usurped power from Dr. Nkrumah, they never built a single factory but rather left what was built to rot away. Instead of encouraging president Akufo-Addo to keep his promise of building one factory in each district like the way Nkrumah did, look at what nation wreckers are doing, as if it is impossible to achieve. God is watching.
When Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia took over, he started revamping the factories that were abandoned by the soldiers. It was Busia who built almost all the Health Centers in Ghana and it was the same Busia who opened up the country by building feeder roads to hitherto inaccessible villages in Ghana. That was why he was nicknamed Kofi AyiAkwan (Kofi the road builder). He also built schools, low cost houses for workers and colleges and even made sure “Achimota Sandals,” produced by the IHOC Shoe Factory were supplied to school children in the rural areas who used to go to school barefooted. The gentleman ruled for barely two years before he was overthrown. General Acheampong who overthrew Dr. Busia ruled with empty slogans and can only be remembered for the introduction of the Operation Feed Yourself programme. Fishermen along our coasts experienced the largest bumper harvest of fishes in the history of this country during Acheampong’s regime but because there were no cold stores, fishermen had to sail back to sea with their catch to jettison the fishes. Sad story! It is noteworthy to mention here that, to improve foreign trade, Dr. Nkrumah established the Ghana Black Star Line Shipping Company with sixteen cargo vessels and when Dr. Hilla Limann too took over, he purchased four more cargo vessels from South Korea to add up to what the Osagyefo bought. He too built schools, colleges and improved agriculture and transport but as things started going on well, Rawlings and his marauding indiscipline soldiers came storming in a matter of two years after handing over power to Dr. Limann. The result was the sale of all the factories built by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, all the ships bought by Nkrumah and Limann and topped it up with the destruction of the Ghana Airways, the national airlines.
It is not for me to tell you what Mr. Kufuor did for the eight years that he ruled the nation because you are a living witness to the exploits of the the gentle giant who was leading us to the Eldorado until the same (P)NDC came on board. What happened during the eight years rule of the Mills/Mahama administration is ‘current’ history. Let me remind the youth of this country who are kicking as if Ghana is the worse place to live that it is always easy to destroy than to build. The Akufo-Addo-led administration is gradually building a firm foundation for the nation. Not the type of foundation built on straws by the Mills/Mahama administration. Those who are calling for the government to fix the country should be made to understand that Rome was not built in a day. As we took one step forward, the soldiers pushed us two steps backwards. That is why we are still fixing the country. If you inherit a father who could not make it in life, you have a Herculean task to perform. It is particularly difficult when your father tells you before he dies that he has eaten all the meat, leaving behind only bones. Because we have nowhere to go, we must all stay here and fix the country together in our own small way instead of running away to be employed as cheap labourer abroad, washing dishes in restaurants and cleaning toilets and sending back videos of good roads and buildings to show us how those countries have developed. You now understand my caption today, don’t you? There is no other way for human beings to sit but on the buttocks. We shall overcome. Someone to help me say AMEN!!!
I nearly burnt my pillow last night when I felt asleep while puffing away my Aldo Gassiah custom made cigar. That is the price you pay when you become addicted to cigar. Clap your hands for me for dodging death!!!
By Eric Bawah