Earlier this year, there was an article in The Economist that flew under the radar which would have filled any Ghanaian with an insurmountable amount of dread had they just given its headline a cursory glance. It said boldly in no uncertain terms “Ghana Is Planning to Sell Most of Its Future Gold Royalties”. Although any discerning reader knows headlines can often be misleading, this one was no different because upon perusing the article you find that the truth of the matter isn’t as bad as the headline will lead you to believe, it’s actually much worse.
The piece in The Economist exposes in frightening detail, how the incumbent government in broad daylight planned to auction off to the highest bidder, all future profits that have yet to be realized from Ghana’s chief bargaining chip, our gold. It detailed how they planned to take even more loans from foreign bodies and by so doing, dig us even deeper while giving away the very tool we would have used to escape the hole we were worsening. In a nutshell, left unchecked, this government is poised and ready in just one short presidential term of four years, to rid us of our gold in the same way they had done with most of the rights to our oil.
The story of Ghana’s oil is a tragedy like none other. A little over a decade ago, Ghana discovered an expansive oil field which led its citizens to believe that the west African nation’s ever rising fuel prices would finally become manageable at the very least. Many years later, with the advent of a viral pandemic that brought international economies to their knees, Ghana’s fuel prices are still rising at a steady rate with no sign of slowing down.
The answer to why this is our reality is simple. Mismanagement, brought on either by officials who are greedy and selling us short to keep the proceeds for themselves or even worse, completely out of their depth and don’t know what they’re doing. But the result remains the same, at the end of the day it is the citizenry that will all suffer for it. Because if in one short presidential term, they have managed to rid us of our oil and already set to work on taking our gold from us, what will there be left to sell off in another 4 years? We mustn’t take a risk and find out the hard way.
In the age of the “new normal”, as the world looked for ways to survive in the wake of COVID-19, Ghana stood tall among her peers, touted as a beacon of excellence in how to manage the virus the right way. With our international borders closed fairly early, a Centre for testing & treatment and a constant stream of communication established to keep the citizens informed on testing, infection and recovery rates in order to maintain the peace, we expertly handled the situation.
This was followed by a stringent “no mask no entry” policy enforced nationwide and some utility bills being subsidized or waived in order to help the masses get by. We quickly became the toast of the international community for how seriously we took the matter and rightfully so. It appeared the government was putting the needs and lives of the people first.
But this was not to be the case for long as the government shortly after decided to abandon all progress in a very crucial moment when we should have been doubling down to fully rid ourselves of the virus. The lockdown was canceled under the guise of “people need to work” only to quickly be followed with an announcement of a new and widely deemed unnecessary voter registration program. Our airport was opened shortly after with claims that there would be an obligatory COVID-19 test on arrival for all visitors, but the contract for said testing somehow passed over the Ghanaian based Noguchi Institute, which had already been tirelessly conducting all tests in the country so far, and instead opted for a newly formed Dominican Republic company which lacked credibility. Furthermore, these tests which only cost $2 were overpriced at the airport at an outrageous $150, making them the most expensive in the world by far. Presently, we are bracing ourselves for a second wave as the number of cases has skyrocketed.
So where did it all go wrong? How could they undo such abundant goodwill with such inept incompetence? It’s been long said that the road to hell is paved in good intentions and judging from the how well-paved and hot we currently are, it doesn’t take a genius to guess where we’re headed barring a change of direction.
In recent times, many democratic governments the world over have shown their hand as being tyrannical to some degree. Worldwide protests of human rights abuse and aggressive abuse of power by law enforcement bodies are being met, ironically with even more force by these same militarized police and sometimes the military themselves. Lives are being lost needlessly simply because of ideals that are not at all controversial such as #BlackLivesMatter #StopKillingUs & #EndSARS. We have seen these acts play out enough times to be able to predict them almost with perfect precision.
It almost always begins with an inciting event, someone recounts a story of how someone close to them was abused or killed, this snowballs into others sharing their experiences which leads to physical congregation when the online petitions are met with a deaf ear. The government almost always responds with force denying the protestors who are almost always in that moment simply marching or protesting nonviolently and it just gets worse from there on. This formula for predicting the exposure of tyranny is nearly a science at this point, but there are aspects that people fail to recognize.
Sometimes the government sees it coming ahead of time and takes steps to silence the people “before they get too confident”, sometimes they militarize the police ahead of protests, sometimes they even mobilize the military into vantage positions so they can more easily carry out whatever genocidal motives they may have. Many Ghanaians think our government is a different but when you look closer at the recent mobilization and presence of the military in civilian spaces so soon after the horrors that have befallen our neighboring Nigeria, it raises a single question. What is the government planning to do which needs the army involved? Why have they been sent to the Volta region en masse?