Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Reflections on the Golden Jubilee celebrations
* Is the year-long event over now?
* When will the statement of account be ready?
* What plans for the centenary?
By: JOS ANYIMA-ACKAH
On Vexed Issues
IF there is any national event which is as historic and momentous as the Independence occasion, it is the Golden Jubilee celebration of that great achievement. This anniversary is a manifestation that Ghana has come a long way since it became a sovereign state.
If there is any national event which invokes in us a high sense of pride and patriotism, it is the Golden Jubilee celebration. This anniversary brings nostalgic memories of the struggle and bloodshed of our nationalist leaders for freedom from colonial rule.
If there is any national event which is prestigious and deserves priority attention, it is the Golden Jubilee celebration. This anniversary must be marked in a befitting manner and atmosphere of splendeur, excitement and sober reflection, showing our happiness, dedication and zeal towards the future challenges.
In all, the Golden Jubilee is a stupendous national event, involving numerous activities which must be well planned, co-ordinated and executed with meticulous attention to every detail in order to achieve resounding success.
To this end, National Planning Committee was set up and equipped with an office, Ghana @ 50 Secretariat, to operate smoothly and efficiently.
Yes, the Committee had an onerous task to perform, handling renovation projects, logistic support, publicity campaign, ceremonies, functions and appeals for donations to supplements the fund allocated for the event.
After working so hard, the Committee came out with the Comprehensive programme or Events Structure for the twelve-month celebration, creating a theme for each month. It then set out in detail the activities for the first three months of the year. These were published profusely in the national daily newspapers, while a series of commercials were run in the electronic media.
Despite the teething problems arising from the elaborate nature of the programme, the anniversary rolled off steadily to its climax on 6th March, March, Ghana’ Independence Day, which was marked with the usual parades, ceremonies and functions throughout the country. It meant that the subsequent activities for the months were going to come not only on schedule but with marked improvement, since there is enough time to organize them.
For the measure of success achieved so far, it is appropriate to commend the efforts of the Golden Jubilee Committee and Secretariat working around the clock to let things happen in a jiffy. In other words, they needed more time to plan and execute the programme of activities especially to finish the renovation projects ahead of time. Thumbs up to each and everyone!
However, a discouraging tendency has been observed. Apparently, the Golden Jubilee celebration is a year-long affair, considering its circumstances. The struggle for independence took many years before it was attained. And for 50 years there has been remarkable peace, unity and stability in the country. Thus it is worthy dedicating one year to celebrate these achievements.
Now the celebration can be seen to be losing its momentum. There was no publication of the programme for April as it was done for the first three months. The adverts in the electronic media have stopped. The decorations at public places and along the ceremonial routes are fading, tearing and slackening. Appeal for funds had wanted. Indeed, it seems the event is over now!
The vexed issue is related to the accounts of the committee. The public had called for the expenditure of the funds allocated for the anniversary. The concerns prompted the Finance Committee of Parliament to summon the Chairman of the National Planning Committee, Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani, to furnish it with details of the accounts.
According to press reports, the meeting was marked by hot exchanges as Mr. Mpiani could only give a breakdown of what was approved and not what had been spent.
And though doubts were raised there and then, his position was understandable. Under the circumstances in which things were done in a rush to meet the anniversary schedule, it was not possible for him to obtain and give him to obtain and give full details of the expenditure to the Finance Committee of Parliament. Indeed, it was too early to get accurate figures and he was cautious not to do things that would later embarrass him and the Secretariat.
It is significant to note that at a previous conference he gave the assurance to ensure transparency and accountability in the disbursement of both the state and donor funds given to the Committee for the occasion. In effect, there will be an auditing by the Auditor-General and a statement of account released to the public. Very encouraging declaration. Now sometime has lapsed. The Committee has collected substantial donations from corporate organizations and institutions and incurred much expenditure in the process. Thus it should be in a position to account for the monies received and spent so far. Strictly speaking, it must render account on a quarterly basis instead of waiting for the year to end before it does so.
The principle of accounting is that urgent transactions demand immediate statement of account to meet the contingencies that occur. And this is the situation in which the Committee finds itself, an ad hoc body set up to accomplish an urgent assignment.
Very soon, the first quarter of the Committee’s business operations will come to an end and hopefully it is getting ready to prepare and submit its accounts for audit. It is all in line with the policy of transparency and accountability which Mr. Mpiani appreciates and acknowledges.
The other pertinent issue is the delay in planning the anniversary programme of activities. President J.A. Kufour mentioned it in his address last year that the 50th Independence anniversary was going to be celebrated. Yet it took a long time for the Government to set up the National Planning Committee and for Parliament to approve funds for the event.
The result is that many of the anniversary projects have been delayed. Those completed were executed in haste and some were done in a shoddy way. Thus they are likely to deteriorate or collapse sooner than later.
Mindful of this situation, it becomes expedient to start planning for the subsequent anniversaries in the decades of time, particularly the 100th Anniversary which will show Ghana’s ripe age of maturity. Surely most adult or senior citizens might not be around to see the unfolding events of the historic landmark. But posterity will.
On this note, let me express appreciation to the Golden Jubilee Committee and Secretariat, urging them not to rest on their oars but to push the anniversary through to its logical conclusion. Certainly a National Award awaits them.
Cheers! And Best Wishes!
The writer is a practitioner in
advertising and publicity.
The Ghanaian Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2007. Page: 8