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Culture of impunity: How can we help?

BY: Benjamin Kwame Amankwa
The writer
The writer

I was walking through the bustling streets of Tudu-Accra the other day when a young woman threw an empty water sachet right in the middle of the road.

I stopped and turned around for some time to see if the other women selling around would ask her to pick it up. None did.

I walked to the woman and asked her to pick the sachet up. Of course, not gently, I have no patience in such situations.

She hesitated, but realising that I was more than determined to get the sachet picked up, she grudgingly picked it up.

To the onlookers who looked askance at me, it was a normal practice to litter, and I seemed to be overreacting.

Even in buses and cars, everyone looks askance at you, when you ask an over-speeding driver to slow down. The culture of impunity is alive and well.

Daily, we blame our political leaders for the challenges we face as a nation. From unemployment to choked gutters, the government especially is blamed for the woes of the citizens.

The paradigm has been that government accepts responsibility for almost everything. Even the basic things that we can do as citizens to help develop our country, we are quick to shed the responsibility on the government.

Money that could have been used in building hospitals, schools and providing drinking water is diverted into drainage and sanitation.

Phenomenon

This phenomenon has burdened the government with unnecessary expenditure leading to huge debts.

What are we doing as citizens in the smallest way possible to help develop our country?

At the national level, we are quick to hold leaders accountable for their actions and inactions that negatively affect the development of our country.

Ironically, the vim and verve with which we do this at the national level is lacking in our localities and communities.

The real power for national transformation lies with the citizens, not the few leaders who are elected or appointed.

Learning to take responsibility for the development of Ghana as citizens, at the local level might be the missing link working against our development.

Our leaders are a reflection of our society as a whole. They are products of society and perhaps instead of blaming them for our woes, we should start looking at how to re-lay the bricks of nationalism and patriotism at the local level.

Local level

Traditionally, chiefs and other local authorities have helped to promote development at the local level.

Unfortunately, the authority and power of the chiefs to summon recalcitrant and morally corrupt persons and punish them to serve as a deterrent to others has been relegated to the background. This has led to a legalistic society with too much focus on the courts to solve our problems. However, as the focus of the courts is not ethics and morality, we are gradually becoming a nation of unpatriotic citizens, morally corrupt and smart thieves who pay attention only to things that promote our self-interest.

Our traditional governance system is robust and tested. The time has come to re-empower traditional authorities in our local communities to take charge of the seeming morally degrading society we find ourselves.

The basic social activities of communal labour and community contributions to build schools among others are now history.

The government has become synonymous with a magic wand, expected to perform miracles to solve the challenges that we face.

All hands

Arguably, no development can be achieved in this manner. It is an all-hands-on-deck kind of thing when it comes to development. No single individual or group can do it all.

Given the above, we must look at the introduction of subjects such as nationalism and nationhood in the curriculum at the basic level of our education.

This will help ignite the fire of patriotism in our young ones, where they put Ghana first and realise that promoting self-interest without a safe and developed country for protection is in vain.

This must be done, if it is not done, we are done.

The writer is an English Language Tutor, Mampong Presec.