Ghana President, Akufo-Addo

…as Nigeria takes opposite direction, writes Adebayo Obajemu

Only three years separate their Independence dates; Ghana attained flag Independence in 1957, while Nigeria achieved hers in 1960. That’s where the comparison ends, as observers of the two countries are won’t to agree that Ghana is far more advanced than Nigeria if indices of development were deployed to measure progress in two former British colonies.

In the area of education, Ghana has not lost the glory of her past educational excellence.  In the past decade, Ghanaian universities have always come before any Nigerian universities in the World Global Ranking of the best 1000 universities. While the University of Legon has traditionally been ranked in the space between 400 to 500, the first Nigerian University on the list normally occupies space around number 800.

Most of the Ghanaian universities like the University of Education Winneba, the University of Legon and the University of Cape Coast have been adjudged the best in Africa along with South African universities and University of Nairobi and Makerere University in Uganda, while Nigerian universities tail behind.

The problem according to associate professor David Fiki of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, “is the issue of funding, as successive Nigerian governments have abandoned public universities while they enrol their children abroad, including neighbouring universities like Legon and Yaounde.”

In January, three universities in Ghana, including Legon came to Lagos to showcase what they have. At the Eko Hotels event, deputy vice-chancellors of the three institutions addressed Nigerians who trooped to the event venue on the benefits of attending Ghanaian universities.

In terms of infrastructure, Ghanaian universities are not overstretched. The toilet facilities, water,    journal subscription, accommodation are better than in Nigeria, according to the survey conducted by BusinessHallmark in a recent visit to Ghana.

The police is a vital institution of modern democracy and society. When this reporter visited Ghana recently, he was struck by the politeness and general comportment of the police. None of the police monitored carry AK47, yet they exuded authority and have little need for a gun as Ghanaians are law-abiding citizens who are ready to make sacrifices to build their country.

A taxi on its way to Korlebu screeched to an abrupt halt when the traffic light changed to red. Asked why he did not continue since he could still have escaped undetected; Kofi, the taxi driver told this reporter that he would be arrested and charged with breaking traffic regulations, in spite of the fact that there were no policemen on sight.

He said the traffic light has an inbuilt camera that would ‘report’ his offence to the headquarters capturing all his data. At exactly noon, Kofi headed to Car Wash. It is compulsory for commercial vehicles to keep their vehicles washed on a daily basis.

Throughout this reporter’s stay, there were no foul exchanges between commuters and transporters, unlike Lagos where badmouthing between commuters and transporters is a daily staple.

This writer could not say the colour of the Ghanaian military, as no soldier was seen in the township. They are all in barracks, unlike Nigeria where they can be seen everywhere, most time extorting and harassing innocent citizens.

On the issue of Coronavirus, Ghanaian authorities were alive to their responsibility. Unlike Nigeria where the president did not address the nation on time, the Ghanaian case was different.

How it started

In Ghana, the Ministry of Health had earlier issued an alert and guidance in January 2020 to all the 16 regions in the country about the outbreak of the Coronavirus in China. Attempts were made to ensure that Covid-19 would not enter Ghana. So the international airport in Accra was provided with logistics to ensure enhanced screening procedure for passengers returning from China.

In February, the exercise was extended to inbound flights and all entry border points in the country. Despite the measures, on Thursday, March 12th Ghana confirmed its first two cases of Covid-19. The two cases were both imported. A few days later, the number of imported cases had increased to 11 and as at 26th March, the number stands at 132, with three deaths.

Contact tracking/tracing indicates that several hundreds of people have had contacts with the 24 diagnosed cases. By August, the number had reached 2590. The burden of the epidemic so far is within the Greater Accra region, with some cases reported in Kumasi and Tarkwa.

 Politically, the President did address the nation four-time – announcing measures that could help improve the situation, which included social distancing, closing down of educational institutions, fumigation of some markets in the cities, among other things.

On the issue of educational institutions, some of the Senior High Schools have resorted to online teaching, where lessons are sent to their students through Youtube and other forms of digital communication. The University of Ghana had earlier also activated its virtual learning programme, intended to reach students with the planned academic programme. Ghana did well in its response to pandemic

There were few testing centres, namely the Tema General Hospital and the Ridge Hospital were designated to handle issues related to the disease, even though most regional and district hospitals have also been encouraged to be on the alert and to handle cases of such nature.

A 50-bed unit was constructed in Korle-Bu to also specifically handle issues of Covid-19. Useful as the interventions might be, there are a few issues that are also of critical concern. The testing centres so far are very limited in Ghana: one in Accra and the other in Kumasi. The limited nature of the testing centres compelled the Ghana Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists to advise the government to resource the teaching hospitals to test suspected cases of Covd-19, rather than focusing on only the two centres.

Since testing is a fundamental ingredient to addressing the spread of the virus. The hospitals in Ghana are unique in that unlike Nigeria, the nurses and doctors are polite and courteous.

The borders of Ghana with neighbouring countries are well policed. Once it is 12 am in the night, no one will be allowed into the country, and in the thick of the pandemic, every person coming in was tested right there at the borders.

Accra is a neat city as do other Ghanaian towns. Ghanaians have made it a way of life to be patriotic and loyal to their country in spite of the fact that there are tribal issues there though not as pronounced as in Nigeria. The fact is that whatever your tribe, loyalty to the land outweighs primordial sentiments.

In Nigeria, we seem to be indifferent about the need to protect local businesses, but the result is that today Indian, Chinese and Lebanese businesses have dominated our retail business also.

In Ghana, it is a deliberate policy to protect Ghanaian small and medium scale concerns.

The ongoing trade dispute between Ghana and Nigeria is as a result of the treatment of Nigerian traders in Ghana over the issue of protectionism.

Ghanaian political life is much more developed than Nigeria. After Rawlings administration, there has been smooth succession and transfer of power from one administration to another through elections that are free and fair.

Another round of election is coming in December. Unlike Nigeria, where the election is done or die affair with violence and killings as major challenges, there is no such in Ghana. Elections are not as contentious as in Nigeria, as there is no room for rigging or manipulation in the country’s political culture.

The ruling party does not rig elections to stay in power against the will of the electorate, thus it has joined Benin republic in maintaining smooth succession and democracy.

Ghanaians are more security conscious than Nigeria, once any foreigners enter any locality they are placed under constant watch, and if they are identified with untoward behaviour they are immediately reported to law enforcement.

Ghanaians are not beset by religious crises in spite of the fact that they have a sizable population of Muslims, but the religious difference does not lead to any crises. The reverse is the case in Nigeria, and this has been one of the factors drawing back the progress of the country.

Ghana has proved a better manager of the economy than Nigeria. World’s fastest-growing economy is located in Ghana. Ghana’s economic strength soared in 2019. Many other African countries lagged far behind, the IMF said.

 What’s the secret behind Ghana’s success? Why was it more successful than Nigeria?

Ghana’s economy is skyrocketing. That is what the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted for this year.

The IMF in 2019 talked of a growth rate of 8.8% in its World Economic Outlook, which would make Ghana the fastest growing economy in the world in 2019.

In 2018, the country’s economy grew by 5.6%, putting it in the sixth position. Where does this new impetus come from? And in which sectors is Ghana doing particularly well?

Dr Olufemi Omoyele of the Redeemers University told BH that the main source of growth is the oil sector

“Ghana has discovered new oil fields. Companies have started operating,” he said. “They have intensified their operations.”

 In the list of the African countries growing most rapidly economically, Ghana is closely followed by its neighbour Ivory Coast, with 7.5%, and Ethiopia, with 7.7%.  It is interesting that the growth rate from 2018 to 2020 of those two countries appears to be consistent, while Ghana’s growth is predicted to decline again in 2021. “

Oil is not the only factor driving Ghana’s economy. “The nonoil sectors, agriculture, manufacturing and services, they are also picking up. Now they are all growing positively,” Omoyele said.

Like Nigeria, the Ghanaian agriculture sector has received a major boost over the past two years, thanks to a strong focus by policymakers on food and jobs. For example, 200,000 farmers received improved seeds and fertilizers in 2019, according to BusinesssHallmark’s findings.