Ghana Should Rethink Its Development Strategy

Published on 30th October 2007

Charles Kofi Wayo is fondly called “Chuck” in Ghanaian political, social and media circles. He is described variously as “one of Ghana's most entertaining politicians,” “irascible political whiner,” and “impertinent saber-rattler.” Chuck is known to associate himself with one of Ghana’s depressing slums, Nima, a suburb of Accra, the capital. In fact he is also affectionately called “Nima Boy.”


A bulky man with chubby jaws, Chuck will go more as a night club bouncer than politician. This might explain his fearlessness in taking on the democratic establishment, unearthing its inadequacies to throw at the face of the democratic players and institutions, and creating laughter all the way.


Chuck warned of a “civil war” if the ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) uses its parliamentarian majority to pass the Representation of the People's (Amendment) Bill, which will allow transnational Ghanaians to vote in future elections, into law. He sees the budding Ghanaian democratic system as a soap opera - with characters mired in sentimentalities, and episodic rounds.


A former transnational Ghanaian who resided in the United States and shuttled between Ghana and USA for almost 42 years, Chuck’s permanent return to Ghana during the dawn of multi-party democracy has made a system trying to avoid the mistakes of yesteryears, lighten up. His American accent distinguishes him out in the stuffy Ghanaian political terrain. He has almost dabbled in all the ideologies in Ghanaian politics and has equally been dissatisfied with their key players. He sees NPP as “bad” and the main opposition National Democratic Party as “greater evil.” Clearly egocentric, though he sees himself as having been born into the NPP’s Danquah-Busia-Dombo conservative capitalistic tradition, Chuck founded the United Renaissance Party.


Chuck appears more of pragmatist than an ideologist, with an observer describing him as “astute politician” and another as an “opportunist.” When the NPP came to power in 2000, Chuck lobbied to head the Energy Ministry or manage the Tema Oil Refinery. Frustrated, he not only left the NPP but has been criticizing the Kufuor regime and calling President John Kufour a “con man.” Chuck has taken on almost all known political players and policies he deemed unfruitful. He finds the celebration of Ghana’s 50th anniversary unnecessary in the face of deepening poverty. Some Ghanaian political watchers such as Moses Kofi Yahaya say Chuck has “relentlessly projected himself as the sole wielder of the magic wand for Ghana’s problems besides demonstrating an unabashed penchant for blather. Wayo’s doomsday scenario, reckless and irresponsible as it seems, is nothing more than the bombast of a sullen politician.”


Chuck believes that Ghana is under-developed because the citizens don't have commonsense. He doesn’t necessarily blame ordinary Ghanaians but their elites or leaders. Chuck has big plans. First, he will contest the 2008 Ghanaian presidential elections under his newly minted party. If he wins the elections, he will use his presidency to mount Ghana on the "right path to development.” 


However, attempts to resolve Ghana’s developmental tribulations need a detailed grasp of the challenges emanating from the schisms of the nation-state and the global system. Chuck has not demonstrated any grasp or resilience in his “renaissance” rants, not to talk of the flowering “African Renaissance” process. He should learn that for both historical and cultural reasons, Ghanaians’ so-called lack of commonsense, as he calls it, comes from their elites’ inability to understand and know their nation-state well enough and appropriate their cultural norms, values and traditions in Ghana’s development process. That’s why over 70 percent of Ghanaians in the informal socio-economic sector – where the bulk of Ghana’s wealth are located and entrapped - are not factored in when serious national development planning, consultations and bureaucratization are being undertaken. This makes it appear like Ghanaians are not intelligent.

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