Our unity worth celebrating - Prof. Nana S. K. B. Asante toutes nation's credentials
A constitutional expert and statesman, Professor Nana Susubribi Krobea Boaten (S. K. B.) Asante, has touted the country’s unity after 66 years of independence.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Daily Graphic, he said the unity of the country was worth celebrating, especially as other countries had failed to achieve that after many years of existence.
Better known as Prof. S.K.B. Asante, he said before and at the time of independence, the country was not a nation, but a fusion of different ethnic groups assembled by the British to serve its colonial interest.
Therefore, it was an achievement to have remained united for so long without any civil war or split.
“We have survived as a national entity and that is an achievement, especially considering the challenges some countries had during independence.
We are not torn by civil strife or by extreme ethnic, tribal or religious strife.
We must celebrate that,” Prof. S.K.B. Asante said.
He added that there was a split among some countries after independence, mentioning India and Pakistan, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as the civil war in Nigeria for secession, commonly known as the ‘Biafra War’ that nearly tore that country apart, and Somalia which had become a failed state.
“We should be excited because we have done well as a nation and we are still together,” the eminent traditional ruler and legal luminary said ahead of the country’s independence anniversary parade today.
The national parade is being hosted by the Volta regional capital, Ho, with the Volta Regional Youth Resource Centre, located at Adaklu-Tsrefe, near Ho, as the venue.
The celebration, which started about a week ago, is on the theme: “Our Unity, Our Strength, Our Purpose”.
The interview centred on the evolution of the 1992 Constitution, his role, how the constitution has helped the development of the country, whether there was the need for a review of the constitution and our journey as a country since independence, among others.
Prof. S.K.B. Asante, who was the Chairman of the Committee of Experts that drafted constitutional proposals leading into the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution, said the independence of the country was also worth celebrating because of the country’s democratic credentials.
He said for more than 30 years, the country had organised many peaceful elections and changed the baton of government without destroying its fabric as a nation.
“In terms of democracy, we have had our ups and downs.
We had periods of instability but for the past 30 years, with all our faults, we are still seen as a pacesetter in Africa and as an oasis of constitutional democratic stability in a very turbulent region.
We must be proud as a nation,” he said.
However, Prof. Nana S.K.B. Asante, who is also the Paramount Chief of Asante Asokore, said the country had failed to develop economically and that was a blot on its independence.
According to him, it was a puzzle that the country could not become an economic powerhouse when all the criteria for economic transformation were available.
The country, he said, had an enviable democracy, political stability, natural resources, highly capable human resource and the goodwill to become great economically, but unfortunately, that had not been the case.
He noted that after 66 years of independence, the country still had the same economy as it did during the colonial period, which relied on the export of raw materials to industrialised countries.
“Even now, how come we are not able to add value to most of our raw materials?
It is a puzzle because Ghanaians are capable of achieving that when they go to other areas,” Prof. S.K.B. Asante said.
“It is not because of any intellectual inferiority.
We also have natural resources, we have the human resources.
But somehow we have not been able to utilise all these advantages,” he said.
Prof. S.K.B. Asante, who is a former Deputy Attorney-General and Solicitor-General in the Second Republic, attributed the country’s economic woes to many factors, including the lack of meritocracy in the country.
He explained that the system of patronage and winner-takes-all had made it impossible for the country to get the best out of people, especially those who had no means or have decided not to be part of a system not based on merit.
He said even during the colonial period, things were done by merit, and cited an example of his admission to Achimota School, saying that there was no way he would have made the cut to the school if not for merit.
According to him, the current system in the country allowed for concentration of power, wealth and decision-making in the hands of a few, a situation he described as not conducive for the development of the country.
“I think our problem is that we do not rely on meritocracy.
All the Asian countries became great due to meritocracy.
Merit is the basis of everything.
We have a situation where people get things not by merit but by connections,” he said.
The Asante Asokore Paramount Chief, therefore, advocated a system of power sharing government that allowed all views to be heard and people appointed to positions based on merit.
“Our elections have become a matter of life and death because everybody knows that once you are in, only your people are in.
Government is a major economic player in this country and therefore this tends to affect our economy,” Prof. S.K.B. Asante added.
“It does not matter in America because whether it is the Democrats or the Republicans, the economy will thrive and people will have opportunities,” he observed.
Another factor inhibiting the growth of the economy, Prof. S.K.B. Asante said, was the educational system of the country, which he said had failed to build the foundation for industrialisation.
He stated that although the country had made efforts to promote science education, that had not materialised into helping economic transformation.
“Our system of education is also problematic.
How come that after so many years of science education, we have never been able to translate our science into technology?” he asked.