“About 1,500 housing units, built under the Saglemi housing project near Tsopoli in the Ningo-Prampram District in the Greater Accra Region, have remained unoccupied almost two years after the facility had been inaugurated.”― Seth J. Bokpe on March 16, 2018 [www.graphic.com.gh].

Ghana is not a poor country. It only has poor managers. Our country should never survive on grants and aids because we have every resource to be a donor. Ghana is not a third world country. Our managers are just not ready to do what the first world people do!

Ghana beyond aid? Really? Can our beloved nation ever do without foreign support? Maybe it is just one of those mantras because there’s no country that will ever wean itself off aid when it is not ready to cut down on its waste.

In Ghana, many state buildings are abandoned; utterly unoccupied. A lot more state cars are either lost to politicians or left unused; left to rot. Year after year, avoidable judgment debts are paid. Many facilities are built with outrageous budgets while a lot more are left middle way. We spend our wealth each day on wrong priorities like a national cathedral. Waste! Waste! Waste!

Ghana has never been a poor country, as we have been made to believe. We appear poor courtesy waste. We are experts of waste; experts of negligence. We don’t give a hoot about good maintenance practices. After all, our superheroes will always come to our rescue with their grants and aids. Can this Ghana ever be one beyond aid!?

At 61, the unemployment rate is worse. At 61, our TV content has been hijacked by foreign telenovelas when our local industry rots due to lack of funds. At 61, we’re almost importing the same commodities as we used to at 20. At 61, we are still battling the same headaches our ancestors had. Still at 61, our state coffers are badly leaking. Thanks to the greed of others.

Our priorities are almost always wrong― always misplaced. At 61, we are still notoriously religious. We will rather build a national cathedral when others can’t even afford a three square meal, not to mention snacks. We will rather sponsor pilgrimages when our children elsewhere study in some death traps of a classroom. We want to make it to Heaven but others are already in hell here!

At 61, we still perish through needless floods. Housing projects completed at the tune of millions of cedis are left to rot when a lot of Ghanaians have no decent accommodation to call their own. We waste anything that looks like capital. We waste waste when others recycle such into energy. Did you just say “Ghana beyond aid”? Maybe not yet. Maybe we ought to wait for a century more!

When our priorities are misguided, our needs become our wants… and our wants, needs. When a country has no regard for priorities, it will continue to be addicted to aid because its existence depends on it. Aid will never be a thing of the past when we have not consciously made any effort to cut down waste.

What we spend a chunk of our wealth on tells a lot about us. It tells whether “Ghana beyond aid” will be just another mantra or a reality. What we spend on points a great deal to our priorities. Until we get our priorities right, our nation beyond aid will only be a bluff. Until we redirect our priorities to humanity, Ghana will be centuries away from anything that looks like external assistance with strings attached.

A nation that will invest millions into a football coach when its people share drinking water with animals has questionable priorities. It is obvious that a state that will rather spend on pleasures and not the wellbeing of its people has no focus on humanity. Fact is, we are what we spend on.

If we make humanity our priority, we will focus on the betterment of their lives… and more particularly, providing them with their basic needs. What is great entertainment to a man dying of great hunger? What is the essence of great infrastructure when those for whom such were made can’t even access potable water in this 21st century?

When we make people our priority, their needs become our need. We avoid every waste as much as possible to provide them everything they need to make their existence not only possible but also fruitful. An empowered people make a nation that lives beyond aid.

When we prioritize the life of every Ghanaian no matter where they are in this country above every other desire, schools in grave-like classrooms become a thing of the past. Bad roads will belong to history. Every citizen will matter, no matter their political identity.

Cutting down on waste cuts down aids and grants because we will have enough in our coffers. If we spend on only our needs, we will save enough and have nothing to do with grants. Otherwise speaking, cutting down on unnecessary expenditure and losses is what a Ghana beyond aid will look like.

Ghana beyond aid is not a mere tagline. It is hard work. It is an uncomfortable rearrangement of our priorities. At 61, we can’t still be drowning in dependence instead of independence.

A Ghana beyond the reach of foreign aid begins with getting our priorities right. The Ghanaian is the priority. If it is not his need, it is not a need of the nation. The more we focus on our needs, the more independent our nation becomes. A Ghana beyond aid is a Ghana beyond bad priorities and avoidable losses!

The writer is a playwright and Chief Scribe of Scribe Communications (www.scribecommltd.com), an Accra-based writing company which provides all writing services.

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