When the Kutu Acheampong dispensation engendered very challenging socio-economic conditions in the country, forcing our youth, most of whom were elementary school dropouts, to join the ‘Agege Train’ in droves to Nigeria, we didn’t have the benefit of the job and skills training initiatives that we currently have.
A pale semblance of that was the work carried out by the Labour Department, which simply referred such dropouts to existing low-grade vocations in state corporations, or offered merely advisory services.
In the heat of the worsening level of maladministration, we had such youth around 1979 to 1981 adding up to the migration wave, with the more successful ones moving on to Malta, Spain and then Italy, Germany and the UK.
Tolerant, understanding youth
The urge for Ghanaian youth to do ‘an Agege Two’ in 1982 hit a crescendo when the nation, reeling under massive layoffs occasioned by the slump which had been carried over into the Hilla Limann administration and that of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), eventually went down on its knees.
It is still mystifying that under those circumstances, Ghanaian youth managed to understand the situation, and hoped that with the now awakening PNDC partnering the international development agencies, the modest effort at creating structures to strengthen the cedi was necessary in putting the ship of state on a robust pedestal.
These were the segment of the youth population who did not join the ‘AgegeTrain’. They included workers who had been laid off by the government under the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) and the Plan of Action to Mitigate the Social Costs of Adjustment (PAMSCAD).
Thankfully, it was at that point that Ghana began recording some modest growth of six percent under Kwesi Botchwey’s programmes before prodigal activities of state corporations like the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) began eating up all our growth gains.
Goodies under Nkrumah
It is still healthy politics for some people to go back and refer to development architecture like the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra-Tema Motorway and New Tema Housing Estates, under the Tema Development Corporation (TDC), which stand in Kwame Nkrumah’s name, for example.
We, however, tend to forget that it took resources that had been reserved for the country by the British Government, after Independence, to fund all those projects, and that the costs of similar projects that we would be desiring from then on would have to be shared between us and the government as is done in the countries where our youth tend to run to, when the heat is on all of us.
NHIS, Free SHS Programme et al
Again, when we cite the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the Free SHS programme, for instance, we tend to ignore the fact that these came from funds that government had built through prudent use of resources. Sustaining such programmes or initiatives implies that we augment the funding levels to ensure that more of our kids benefit from it. It is the same with job creation and skills generation.
That is why we expect the opposition National Democratic Congress to be fair in getting its organs understand the situation, as we all did in the 80s in sharing the burden of government to do what was needful under its mandate in aligning the economy for our collective benefit.
We must admit that in spite of COVID-19, the ruling government has not fared badly. Indeed, on the contrary, it has managed to steer a sturdy course, considering the several initiatives it set out, even without the benefit of any tight tax regime from 2001-2009 and from 2017-2022.
The President’s appeal
So, when the President comes to us for a little more to do more on the back of the magical developmental pieces initiated virtually out of scratch, we at the Daily Statesman believe it is imperative to extend that regard to him by embracing the E-Levy through our representatives in Parliament.
This is necessary because we can, through such burden-sharing responsibilities, make available here those basic conditions that push our youth to take dangerous trips through deserts to the other countries.
We therefore call on the youth and their mentors in the NDC to put Ghana first in this urgent call to support the novel electronic tax regime for our collective good. After all, the future is not for the exiting elders, but our leaders of tomorrow.
As we would all admit, the E-Levy, just like the VAT, if passed, would be a support system not only for the NPP, but for all of Ghana, including the NDC.