There is a popular idiom that goes ‘children should be seen and not heard’.
I agree with this, in certain circumstances.
However, I believe that in contributing to the development of society through speech as a concerned youth and citizen of this nation, I ask that my thoughts are considered.
Thus, permit me to rant.
It has become somewhat a normality that each year during the rainy season, some parts of the country experience floods which threaten the lives of citizens as well as destroy properties – and yet, time and again, the blame is put on our leaders in government.
Granted, they have an immense part to play in ensuring safety and improved livelihood of us all – it is their mandate.
However, there is equally a significant contribution that we as citizens, can make to prevent this perennial menace of floods which puts us all at peril.
During this season, after one or two heavy rains, it is not surprising to see policy makers and experts providing advice and ideas on how to tackle this problem on radios and TVs.
The journalists ask the same questions they did they year before, and the year before that – “what are the causes of the flooding and how do we prevent it?”
It seems to have become a norm.
When asked to contribute to the discussion, an overwhelming number of citizens urge the government “to do their work”, “enforce the laws” or even “stop playing politics and come to our aid”.
Certainly, it is the responsibility of those in authority to put their foot down and enforce the laws of our constitution.
Yet, it seems the populace always finds a way to absolve themselves from the hazardous situation it significantly contributes to.
There are variant factors which cause floods; from extreme unfavourable weather conditions to poor urban drainage, increasing loss of vegetation, poor zoning, indiscriminate disposal of waste and indiscriminate construction, among others.
Of the afore mentioned, can it be said that the Ghanaian citizen is fully vindicated of contributing to these factors?
Let us consider a few things comprehensively, shall we?
It is the government’s responsibility through the Ministry of Works and Housing and policies relating to construction of buildings, to ensure that there is proper zoning and protection of residents.
Yet we see structures being put up in obviously waterlogged, low-lying areas.
Who gives people permit to do so?
A citizen would quickly answer saying, “the government of course!”
But then I ask you the reader, who persistently finds a way to coerce [I shan’t use the word bribe] those in authority to bypass the law so their mansion can be built on that ‘idle’ piece of land? [Again, I will not talk about the sustenance of values like integrity amongst our leaders, a discussion for another day].
Who ignores the red-painted warnings of the municipal and metropolitan assemblies from erecting structures at their own risk? Who?
When the EPA through advertisements, schools through education and the media through social awareness, encourage us to properly dispose our waste, do we pay attention?
If one politely tells another to pick up rubbish the latter had just dropped in a gutter, he or she would likely tell the former that “the rain would wash it away” or that “others do it also, so go and tell them first”.
It is this attitude and lack of concern that has brought us to our current predicament. If every Ghanaian vows not to litter in any way for a year, would there not be a positive effect on our environment?
What I am driving at is that certainly, we must keep our policy makers and leaders on their toes by constructively criticizing them and making sure they deliver their sole mandate of serving our motherland to the fullest of their capacity. Nevertheless, I ask that we stay true to the words of our National Pledge;
I promise on my honour.
To be faithful and loyal to Ghana my motherland.
I pledge myself to the service of Ghana with all my strength and with all my heart.
I promise to hold in high esteem.
Our heritage, won for us through the blood and toil of our fathers;
And I pledge myself in all things to uphold and defend the good name of Ghana.
So help me God.
Columnist: Cecil Hudson, Student [Ashesi University]