It bears remembering that this is the year the President Rawlings-led 25-year development plan which was famously known as Vision 2020 was to have been achieved.
I recall the late J. H. Mensah describing Vision 2020 as having cataract in one eye and glaucoma in the other. And with that, after only five years of implementation by the NDC, the administration of President Kufuor abandoned Vision 2020 when they took over on January 7, 2001.
As we know, no formidable long-term development alternative was put forth.
Enter another Senior Minister, Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo; (Mr. J.H. Mensah and Mr. Osafo-Maafo are the only two statesmen to have held the rather amorphous position of Senior Minister). At Mr. Osafo-Maafo’s parliamentary vetting in responding to my question about the future of the new 40-year development plan (2018-2057) which was launched by President Mahama following a major recommendation by the Constitution Review Commission; the Senior Minister designate boldly proclaimed that the NPP would not be bound by it and that he does not believe in planning beyond 10 years.
That was the last time any serious attention was given to the 40-year development plan which the National Development Planning Commission under the inspirational leadership of Prof. Kwesi Botchwey and Dr. Nii Moi Thompson had toiled to formulate with extensive input from a wide spectrum of Ghanaians including the youth and all political parties.
A number of inherent contradictions arise from the current Government’s position: Ghana belongs to the African Union which in 2013 adopted a 50-year development plan for the entire continent known as Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.
Then there is the further irony of our President serving as Co- Chair of the Secretary General’s eminent advocates of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030), which as we all know is a 15-year NOT 10 or 5-year plan as Mr. Osafo-Maafo says the NPP prefers.
There is no gainsaying that Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah achieved the unparalleled tremendous results he did in the transformation of Ghana because he had and judiciously followed a long-term development plan.
The promoters of Vision 2020 some 25 years ago harbored the hope that Ghana will overtake Singapore during this period but this is where we are.
As I have stated in Parliament on a number of occasions since I respectfully disagreed with the current Senior Minister during his vetting, Ghana still needs a long-term development plan aligned to but in a more ambitious paradigm than the AU’s Agenda 2063.
We can have all the occasional ad hoc glimmers such as hosting the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, Year of Return, Beyond the Return, Ghana Beyond Aid and so on and so forth, however, without a bigger long-term plan where all these fit; sad to say, we are going nowhere and come another three decades we shall be lamenting what could have been if the 40-year development plan had not been jettisoned. While at it, other countries are not waiting for us.
I hope the citizens of our country, particularly young people who have a greater stake in the future of our nation stop exhibiting tolerance for the needless extreme partisanship and polarization that keeps recklessly abandoning long-term development plans without providing clear alternatives on the ambitious future Ghana deserves.
Party manifestos should be made to take direction from the national long-term development plan and not the other way round as is the case presently where party manifestos have become the be-all and end-all.
Ghana was a leader at independence with all other African countries and blacks in the diaspora looking up to us for hope and direction, it is not too late to regain our pride of place with visionary leadership that strictly adheres to a long-term national strategic plan regardless of our petty and sometimes destructive partisan politics.
The year 2020 and lessons from Vision 2020 should make us resolve that sustained long-term development planning, reminiscent of the Nkrumah era, must once again find a home in Ghana. 🇬🇭🙏🏼
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
[MP, North Tongu
Ranking Member, Commitee on Foreign Affairs]