One of the most profound development-oriented proverbs in Akan is the saying that; the one who climbs a good tree deserves a push.
In other words, a person embarking on any useful endeavour, whose outcome will benefit all, deserves to be encouraged and supported.
This thought-provoking adage, has been part of the daily Ghanaian lexicon, bequeathed to us by our forefathers, to inspire and encourage good deeds and profitable ventures in our societies.
However, on the national scale, the opposite has now become the case. Instead of supporting and pushing people who climb good trees, our society now, rather cuts down the tree to see the fall of both the tree and the climber.
The above scenario is the case in the commitment the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, to champion a digitized Ghana, using the Ghanacard launch pad.
Rather than providing a joint, patriotic effort to support the fruitful effort of Dr. Bawumia, some Ghanaians have become the proverbial crab that won’t allow any other crab to climb up the basin. Others are even cutting down the good tree Bawumia is climbing so that both the tree and the Vice President will fall.
For the umpteenth time in recent times, certain elements, within the media and political front, this week, launched a sustained campaign to vilify Dr. Bawumia – all because he enumerated the immense benefits of the Ghanacard, at the launch of the ePharmacy platform on Monday.
Among the benefits of the Ghanacard Dr. Bawumia mentioned, was its recognition by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), as a travel document, thus making it possible for Ghanaians, especially dual citizen Ghanaians with foreign passports, to be able to use the card to board flights to Ghana without requiring a visa, as was the case.
This unique and remarkable function of the Ghanacard is public knowledge, following public ceremonies in Canada by ICAO earlier this year, and public directives by state institutions such as Ghana Immigration, Ghana Airports Company and Ghana Civil Aviation, among others, that the Ghanacard has become a travel document.
In fact, Ghana Immigration recently held an event at the Kotoka International Aiport to officially announce the setting up of special booths to process Ghanaians arriving into Ghana with the Ghanacard.
Despite all these facts, and the reality that Ghanaians based home and in the diaspora, continue to return home using the Ghanacard, some people who ought to know better, including parliamentarians, launched scathing attacks on the Vice President and called him names, just for stating the true benefits and uses of the Ghanacard.
People are so eager and desperate to run down Dr. Bawumia and the Ghanacard that, they even went to the extent of deliberately misinterpreting the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, to create state that she had contradicted the Vice President on the Ghanacard being a travel document for Ghanaians to travel back home.
Rightly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement to set the records straight and also to confirm that the Ghanacard, indeed, can be used by Ghanaians as a travel document to travel to Ghana from any airport in the world.
Following the Foreign Ministry’s press release and Ghana Immigration releasing data on the number of arrivals with Ghanacard at the airport, will those who insulted Dr. Bawumia and called him a liar apologise to him?
If nobody will apologise to the Vice President, at least Hon. Sam George, who has earned the title of Hon. by being the representative of the good people of Ningo Prampram, must do what is expected of men with honour and apologise to the Dr. Bawumia for insulting him on his Facebook page on issues he Sam George was clearly wrong and has been exposed.
The Vice President has never stated anywhere that the Ghanacard can be used for travels to other countries. He has always maintained that following its recognition by ICAO, Ghanaians, especially dual citizen Ghanaians with foreign passports, can use it to board flights back to Ghana without needing a visa.
It was therefore disingenuous and mischievous for a whole honourable member of parliament to launch public attacks on the Vice President and call him names for something he has not said.
Indeed if we were in a decent political environment, Sam George in particular, and all those who joined him to insult Dr. Bawumia and bastardise the Ghanacard as a travel document, would have apologised, the moment the Foreign Ministry issued a statement to expose them.
How people take delight to bastardise the ongoing digital transformation in the country is amazing! But one has to understand the political critics. It is Bawumia leading it so since he will be credited for it, let us vilify him and also condemn the innovation, even if its benefits to the country and the people are immense.
That is what is happening! Attack Bawumia, vilify him and attack the innovation. It is the reason every digital innovation he has led; Ghanacard, zipline drones, universal QR Code, mobile money interoperability, ePharmacy and digitization of government services, among others, has been doubted and criticised.
In Dr. Bawumia’s own words, people with impossible mindsets have always doubted and frustrated every digital innovation he has announced.
I think the Vice President has been very charitable in labeling them people with impossible mindsets. These are people with unpatriotic and destructive mindsets.
They don’t want to see anything good for the nation and the people, once it is not coming from them. No matter how beneficial every project, intervention or innovation is, they will always attack and bastardise it.
I cannot understand how any progressive minded person will attack Dr. Bawumia for being a champion of digitization, a new global phenomenon every serious country is pursuing.
As a country, we should be proud we have a passionate, committed and smart leader in our Vice President making our country great in an area many African country’s are way behind.
The full benefits of digitization won’t be realised now, but the glimpses we have seen, such as making things easy, boosting revenue and helping in the fight against corruption, should encourage us to fully support him, regardless of political affiliation.
He is doing it for the country and generations to come, not for himself.
Despite all the vilifications, I am happy the Vice President has remained resilient and unfazed.
Continue to prove the naysayers wrong, Mr. Vice President. Progressive-minded citizens appreciate what you’re doing.
Remain focused and do it for God and country.
By Dr. Ekow Acquah
The writer is a Political Communications Consultant