This is a best-practice measure that ought to have become the rule more than 20 years ago. I am referring to the fuel-efficient decision by President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to embark on a five-day working tour of the Asante Region with some Ministers and Deputy Ministers who reportedly traveled on two of the big buses operated by the State Transport Company (STC). While I was growing up in Ghana in the 1960s and 70s, and well into the 1980s, the initial capital letters of STC stood for the State Transport Corporation. The deletion or removal of the “C” of Corporation and its replacement by another “C,” which stands for Company, obviously connotes the fact that Ghana has moved from an economic regime or arrangement whereby the state controlled capital – that is, State Capitalism – such as prevails in many a socialist system of governance and economic arrangement was the norm, to a present system that encourages creative and progressive individual entrepreneurship of a Free-Market Capitalism.
Now, I don’t know that such change has made any heck of a great difference in the quality of life of the average Ghanaian citizen. But even so, just the very concept of a free-market economic culture or regime, to me, comes as irreplaceably refreshing. But, of course, even as the Dear Reader may have already realized at the beginning of this column, it is the noble and critical subject of progressive “money-for-value” frugality or fiscal discipline that I am interested in talking about presently. Which was why I could not have been more flabbergasted by the criticism by Mr. Prince Bagnaba Mba, described as the President of a non-governmental human rights organization called the Forum for Equity (FFE?), that ordering his cabinet appointees to board two STC buses for a working tour of the Asante Region was tantamount to endangering the very lives of these bona fide Ghanaian citizens who have sworn by solemn oaths to serve the people to the best of their abilities.
The rationale of the critic for making the preceding case is that putting a mixture of V8 Toyota Land Cruisers and SUVs in a convoy with two STC passenger buses is a risky venture, presumably because the smaller vehicles cannot be “programmed” to travel in synch or at the same kinesthetic rhythm or speed as the tour buses or vice versa. This, of course, is sheer poppycock. I, however, agree with the suggestion by another critic that such buses need to be made bullet-proof. Furthermore, Mr. Mba says that in many a rural community or enclave around the country, the roadways are barely motorable and are bound to take a considerable toll on the bodies and, one also presumes, the health of these cream or Upper-Class Ghanaian citizens. Ironically, Mr. Mba may not realize this, but this is precisely all the more reason why the President would have his cabinet appointees travel the very same substandard rural-community roadways as the rest of us wretched Ghanaian humanity, so that they come to the sobering realization of the imperative need for these roadways to be paved or fixed and promptly upgraded to first-class quality like the Accra-Takoradi Highway, which I have the rare privilege to enjoy just a couple of weeks ago.
I sincerely don’t think or believe for a split-second that the President of the Forum for Equity fully appreciates what the critical subject of Human Rights is really about, otherwise he would actually be commending President Akufo-Addo for so wisely importing and applying the cost-effective “Magufuli Principle,” or what may aptly be described as “Magufulism.” The latter as a political and/or ideological praxis has been known since time immemorial. However, it was not until Dr. John Magufuli, the President of the East-African Republic of Tanzania, made fiscal discipline the capstone of his agenda and began to rigidly adhere to the same a couple, or so, years ago, that this visionary development policy caught on with African leaders in other parts of the continent. If this savvy practice or principle of responsible and accountable governance becomes sustainable in Ghana, the country should be able to double its present development capacity, at the very least, within the next two years.
The leaders of many advanced democracies got their countries to where they are presently through the studious and sustained application of the Magufuli Principle, well before any dynamic and progressive postcolonial African leader appeared on the international political scene by the name of Dr. John Magufuli. Still, the latter is an admirable hero of our time, nevertheless.
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