Dr Sinto writes…….
The former US secretary of state Madeline Obright who once said that “no democracy can survive if the deep wounds and enduring legacies of systemic racism, misogyny and bigotry are allowed to fester”.
There are incidences of the sort happening in Ghana that are indeed shocking and unbelievable so much that propionate of democracy and the ordinary followers of democracy begin to question what has become of Ghana’s model democratic governance in Africa.
The current rendition of events happening economically in Ghana does not warrant the finance minister to allocate (GH₵ 152,000,000) one hundred and fifty two million Ghana cedis on the budget for population and housing census notwithstanding the policy direction population and housing census (PHC) will bring to the government. What is policy direction when there is nothing in the coffers to finance policies?
It startles my heart when I hear Ghana beyond aid when there is no value for money in government projects. The PHC comes in every ten years which means that every ten years we are going to be spending huge sums of Ghana cedis just to (count) list structures and enumerate human beings.
This may sound well but we can alternatively find a judicious way of doing this same vital exercise in a less expensive manner so that part of the money allocated could be channeled into infrastructural development and road construction. This is because there are deplorable roads in some parts of the country that need urgent attention. Mention can be made of Upper West Region which produces a chunk of the agricultural produce as well as some of the finest brains in the country.
However, it will dishearten one to know that the roads leading to or linking the major towns of the region are in deplorable conditions. It may also not be news for one to know that the predicament of classroom congestion in Upper West region is not a thing of the past. So, I honestly opine that part of the money earmarked for the population and housing census could be used for some of these things.
The population and housing census may just be an avenue or a platform for some few individuals who may consider themselves blessed to amass wealth, increase absenteeism at work places (both private and public sectors). The public sector situation is what is more pinching/worrying and alarming which therefore requires national attention.
It is not uncommon to find human resource officers, assistant headmasters/mistresses in charge of administrative/academic/domestic affairs all of Ghana Education Service actively participating in the activities of the population and housing census at the expense of their assigned duties just for money. As for the classroom teachers, the least said about their involvement in the exercise the better. So, I think that if that is the case, the census period should be a national holiday period (one month) for all workers.
In furtherance, in order to maximize production with cheap labour but without negatively affecting other sectors of the economy, Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) could liaise with the government to use National Service personnel for the exercise. Yes, arguably, the service personnel may not be enough but unemployed graduates and the senior high school leavers can also add up. From now to the next ten years, I opine that government makes frantic efforts to develop a national database of all the unemployed graduates as well as the employed graduates.
This will easily facilitate the conduct of population and housing census exercises and the like. When these groups of individuals are engaged to conduct some of these exercises, government ends up temporarily employing and increasing their income level which in no uncertain terms will undoubtedly reduce crime in society. For example, the National Service personnel who currently take a stipend of GH₵ 559.00 a month will earn extra income by close of the census period.
Again, lackadaisical attitude towards work and absenteeism at workplaces will be reduced drastically during such periods like PHC when the national service personnel and the unemployed graduates are engaged to conduct such exercises.
GES as an institution should be able to put some effective measures in place to ensure that some key officers such as human resource officer, the directors, headmasters and their assistants etc under GES whose roles are pivotal in the day-to-day running of GES do not take part in such exercises for love of money at the expense of their duties. However, if you are a worker in the Ghana Education Service and at the time of the exercise of the census, you are on holiday, nothing prevents you from partaking in it.
Also, Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) at the end of the census should not publish the analysed results of the PHC so that companies which need such data for purposes of production and marketing should obtain it at a fee so that government is able to defray part of the debt incurred during the exercise.
BY SINTO BALURI ABDULAI
from the upper west region, Ghana