New president is building a better Ghana

Tamara Obeng


It is a whole 52 years since the Republic of Ghana was granted independence by the British and two months since John Atta-Mills became the new president. The country, previously called the Gold Coast because of its vast reserves of the precious metal, is on course to better itself under the new leader.

Although it is less than 100 days since Atta-Mills came into power, his approval rating stands at 79 per cent. A survey by   Policy and Strategy Associates, released on Saturday March 14, shows that a further 75 per cent of Ghanaians view John Atta-Mills as the proprietor of change, while 94 per cent say he is trustworthy.  

Here are some pointers to his popularity. In a speech at the University of Ghana, where he was once a student, Atta-Mills said:  "The youth are critical stakeholders in shaping the destiny of Ghana."

The president has committed himself to include younger people than usual in his administration. Controversial, or not, this is what the country needs. It is hard enough for a young person to find a job after university, but knowing that the Government now has a more inclusive employment policy   is surely a source of motivation.  

Judging by my numerous trips to the country and conversations with young Ghanaian citizens, what is certainly the case is their fascination with the West. My cousin thinks he is the next 50 cent US hip hop star and wants a  ‚¤100 phone. Why should they look to a country like Britain from which their forebears struggled to free Ghana from for influence? The root of inspiration should lie within the country itself, after all the Ghanaian culture is one to be proud of.  

That is what Atta-Mills is keen to promote. He said:  "We need you (Ghanaians) to put the knowledge and skills you have acquired to good use so that you contribute your quota to building a Better Ghana."

For instance, building a better Ghana does not include wearing attire in court similar to that of Western lawyers and judiciary; with temperatures soaring to more than 20 degrees everyday or copying anything else that does not make sense for us.

The problem is in distinguishing where to draw the line.What Atta-Mills certainly possesses is a passion for Ghanaian culture and hopefully this will be seen in his actions.  On Sunday it was reported that a teacher had allegedly caused the death of a 14-year-old girl  in Ghana by caning her. Although the accusations have not been proven, what this shocking story has done is shown that President Atta-Mills needs to focus on the education system.

Perhaps, the rise in criminal activity is due to a lack of law enforcement - criminals lurk most places because they know they are unlikely to be prosecuted. When you phone the police and are met with a  "How did you get our number," you know there is something seriously wrong. And that is a true story! When you are sitting in your car enjoying the summer breeze and a thief jumps in and steals your briefcase, you know law enforcement in Ghana is verging on the ridiculous.

Flaws and all, I still love the Gold Coast. But Atta-Mills has definitely got his work cut out if he wants to fulfill all his promises and stand as the leader who brings much needed change to Ghana. President Mills is right in saying:  "Ghana is the only home we have."

It's early days, but John Atta-Mills seems set to become the  "Obama" figure of "change" Ghana has needed for a long time.