Dear Mr. President

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In your maiden and the very infamous state of the nation’s address last year, you entreated and emboldened us to be citizens and not spectators. It is in this spirit that I write to bring to your attention some actions and inactions I would like to consider as structural violence against the teeming youths of this country.

Again, over the years, one of the many trainings I have received is how to use politeness principles and by extension, tact and diplomacy in conveying my thoughts in very clear terms but I would like to state here that you indulge me because I would be deviating from diplomacy, at least for today, in order to call a spade a spade and not a long spoon, for the purpose of this letter.

In 1989, The Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy, LECIAD, was established at the behest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One major reason for the establishment of the Centre was/is to train Foreign Service Officers, in order to better equip them and to improve their skillsets.

It therefore, means that since the inception of the Centre, people in the Foreign Service have enjoyed the privilege of bettering and improving their knowledge through the Centre, which in my esteemed view, is a good thing and not necessarily a bad idea. It is instructive to know that LECIAD also trains other non-foreign service personnel at the postgraduate level.

Earlier this year, I had the rare privilege of sitting under the tutelage of the Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for a seminar.

After the programme, a question was asked as to why the Ministry continues to employ people who do not have any background in international affairs and diplomacy and later spend huge sums of money to send those people back to school to acquire knowledge in those fields of study, while there are already hundreds if not thousands of people who have been trained in the skillset that the Ministry deems necessary, for which reason they send their workers to LECIAD and other allied institutions for further training? His response was that he would look into the concerns raised and get us some feedback on the matter.

Guess that was just a diplomatic answer. The thing is, every year, Foreign Service workers who are sent back to school still take their salaries and all their entitlements including payments of their school fees and accommodations while on campus.

I know the Ministry may have good intentions for which reason they want their workers equipped and well trained just so they are able to meet the growing demands of the diplomatic world. However, my argument is that if you already have people with the skillset that you require of your workers, why then do you continue recruiting people who do not have the requisite skillset that you want while you can save thousands of Ghana Cedis if you just absorb those people who have also sat in the same class with your Foreign Service personnel and have gotten the same training as them?

Would you want to look into this, Your Excellency, since simple steps could be taken to save thousands of Ghana Cedis for your flagship and ambitious programmes and at the same time achieve the same if not better results?

During the recent law examination that was written, there was a purported leakage of the said examination and so part of the paper was subsequently cancelled and a date was scheduled for rewriting the paper.

It was said that some students out of frustration decided to travel out of the country and so did not have the opportunity to rewrite the supposedly leaked paper.

The outcome of the rewritten paper was released and it was alleged that some of those students who got disappointed and left the country and so could not have the opportunity to rewrite the cancelled paper, were among some of the people who passed the paper while those who actually submitted themselves to the paper failed the exams miserably.

It was also alleged, Your Excellency, that most of the people who passed the exams had links with Jubilee House, otherwise there was no way people who could not submit themselves to the exams would have passed if not for the intervention of Jubilee House.

My questions are thus; would the narratives have been the same for those without connections with people in high places if they also had decided not to take part in the rewriting of the leaked papers just like their “connected” counterparts? What becomes the future of students who do not have anybody in high places like the Jubilee House, to speak for and on their behalf but also earnestly desire to become lawyers?

As it stands now, is it possible that someday the poor man’s son/daughter will trust the system to become the lawyer that he/she so desires in our dear nation? Your Excellency, I know this is not what you want for the least of any Ghanaian, the reason you made senior high school education accessible and truly free for every Ghanaian.

I believe this unfortunate situation, if it is indeed true, seeks to undermine your definition of education being truly free and accessible to all, no matter one’s background.

Again, Your Excellency, you may want to look into this as well since if these damning developments are not nipped in the bud, those who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to be in school but due to your ingenuity are in school, may face some of these structural violence in the-not-too-distant future and this invariably may defeat your long term goal of giving equal opportunity to every Ghanaian child, in order to have access and become what they want to become no matter their background and/or connections.

I have a couple of friends who attended universities in Ghana and wanted to join the Ghana Army but were on several occasions denied, somewhat because the system by whatever means felt they were not fit to serve Ghana in the army. A few of these friends of mine are now serving in the US Army, doing wonderful things for themselves.

I know for a fact that the Ghana Army usually have simulation exercises with the US Army and I am persuaded that it is only a matter of time and some of those “rejected stones”, who could not get enrolled in the army maybe because they did not have any “connections”, would be the ones leading the simulation team to train personnel of the Ghana Army. I think we can get more serious as a country than we are now.

In recent years, we hear people say the standard of education in the country is dwindling and a report by the World Bank this year validated our fears because per their analysis, quality and academic performance in the country would go further down by 56% in the coming years.

Quite frankly, most youths no longer have confidence in our education system because of some inequalities in the system, and this could account for the reason most have poor attitudes towards their studies. Some of them also feel left out by successive governments due in part to array of issues.

They are also tired of successive governments’ social engineering and rent-seeking approaches to addressing their problems and so have decided to take their destinies into their own hands. One of the ways they are achieving this is through cybercrime.

Interestingly, over the years, successive governments have become aware of the surge in cybercrimes in the country but seem quiet due to a number of reasons and in my considered opinion, two main reasons may have accounted for this loud silence from governments.

One of those reasons is that since governments are unable to employ the overwhelming number of students being churned out right from the junior high school level through to the universities every year and since they, the youths have found an “innovative” way of occupying themselves, governments on the other hand, seem satisfied, at least in the meantime.

The second reason successive governments are looking on and not doing anything meaningful to curb the issue of cybercrime in the country is the fact that if you look at the cybercrime pyramid across the globe, the most skilled and sophisticated cyber fraudsters are mostly at the top of the pyramid. They are more dangerous and can hold a whole country to ransom.

Fortunately and/or unfortunately, the Ghanaian cyber fraudsters are at the base of this pyramid, which suggests that their actions are not a major threat to national security and like the saying goes that the best way to keep the mule from kicking is to keep him busy pulling so that he would neither have the time nor the inclination to kick, governments find the actions by the cyber fraudsters to be convenient to look on since they are not making their governments unpopular and/or ungovernable. This is but a synopsis of the state of the cybercrime situation in Ghana.

The danger, however, to this posture of successive governments is the fact that the day there would be major blockades and disruptions to their cyber activities, then we may all be in danger because a lot of these guys now have guns for their so-called personal security.

A day that “business” would not be booming as usual could mean that the guns could be used for criminal activities in order to sustain their mostly now extravagant lifestyles. Again, in the case of these fraudsters possessing guns, it is only a matter of time and crime rates would begin to increase if care is not taking because these guns could be sold or hired to robbers as and when these robbers need them or the cyber fraudsters could engage in the actual selling of guns to some other miscreants, as an alternative business.

Just this week, a case was reported by Citinews about some cyber fraudsters who were arrested by the Ghana Immigration Service and this arrest brought scuffles between the service and the Ghana Police Service because the understanding was that one of the fraudsters called the Police to come to their rescue, which the police actually did and this resulted in brawls between these two government paramilitary personnel.

This case just goes to emphasize how powerful the fraudsters are becoming in the country. These developments could have security implications for the country going forward.

Your Excellency, to conclude, I am confident that you have Ghana at heart. I said so because just like former President John F. Kennedy of the US established the Peace Corps in the early 1960s, to among other things be an army of young adults, instill the spirit of patriotism in them and to make them bring their talents to bare, I believe it is in this same wisdom that you also introduced the Nation Builders Corps (popularly called NABCO), which has so far recruited a sizeable number of graduates, who would otherwise have been home and not be making use of their acquired skills.

You have also introduced the ambitious Free Senior High School Programme, to give opportunity to every school-going-child, among other programmes. You have more than demonstrated that you have even the least of the Ghanaian at heart.

I would, therefore, be glad if the foregone violations in the system could be given the needed attention with the urgency that they deserve.

Article By: Francis Kwabena Adjei
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