Reference library is an educational facility!
Chapter Six of the “The Directive Principles of State Policy” (Educational Objectives), Article 38 (1): “The State shall provide educational facilities at all levels and in all the regions of Ghana, and shall, to the greatest extent feasible, make those facilities available to all citizens.”
This is what the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana states. Thus, it is an obligation and it is binding on every government to ensure that she follows this directive principle to the letter. This piece is about the seeming refusal of the government to open the John Evans Atta Mills Presidential Library for the use of students, researchers and every other citizen who has the desire to learn.
The excuses that have been made so far are indefensible and untenable say the least. Reports indicate that the members of the Cape Coast Youth Development Association are up in arms and are threatening to stage a demonstration in the coming days. Do we have to turn the governance of this country into some political game? Do we have to make the people whose mandate we are riding on go on a demonstration before a legitimate constitutional obligation is met?
The members of the Cape Coast Youth Development Association are right; and in fact, they should not be discouraged in embarking on a demonstration. The forthcoming demonstration should be continuous, until those who have the power to ensure that the library gets operational yield. Once more, demonstrations are enshrined in the 1992 Constitution, Article 21 (1) (d) states: “All persons shall have the right to – freedom of assembly, including to take part in processions and demonstrations.”
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It is worthy to note that in enlightened democracies, governments don’t waste time otherwise perfunctory duties. In this country, it seems that the politicians are blinded in their political colours to the extent that even actions that inure to the benefit of the citizenry are not easily seen. This blindness reduces very important issues to partisan politics and then at the end of the day, the ordinary citizen loses greatly.
Currently, with the way things are going, it seems that there are efforts to ensure that the library is not opened and handed over to the University of Cape Coast. But how can we be so insensitive to ourselves? The library in question, when opened, will be used by Ghanaians; it will not be used by only the family members of Professor Evans Atta Mills of blessed memory.
Historically, there is a negative trend that has prevailed in this country since the first coup d’état that brought an end to the government of Dr Kwame Nkrumah. The trend is: Once a particular government does not hold the reins of power, every facility or project that government has started is not continued by a current government even if that facility has glaring benefits. It has transcended from the 60s and today it is worse.
Reference libraries are critical to the intellectual development of citizens. It doesn’t matter whose name it bears; what really matters is that it serves the intellectual and academic purposes it was constructed for.
It does not speak well of us when we’re blinded so much so that the most important facilities that promote our development are left to waste away. We can’t keep doing this to ourselves. We can’t keep creating a fertile ground for throwing good money after bad.
Again, the posture of the government in the whole matter leaves much to be desired. But those who have the power to ensure that this library gets operational should be guided by the Directive Principles of State Policy and not their party colours or any other parochial interest.
The government’s first obligation is to ensure that the citizens are served. This obligation is defined by the Directive Principles of State Policy. And in this regard, the library in question is an educational facility – one that Article 38 (1) obliges the government to perform.
Let the library be opened and be used for the core reason it was established; for its continuous closure is nothing but a breach of Article 38 (1).