Your Excellency, I write to you from the right corner of the third floor of the Sam Jonah Library Complex, University of Cape Coast to respectfully draw your attention to the other side of brain drain and the underdevelopment of Africa.
As reported by starfmonline.com, you attributed Africa’s underdevelopment to the massive brain drain it suffered in the post-colonial era. You made this known Monday, February 19, at a durbar and wreath laying ceremony to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Duty Boys held at the W. E. B. Du Bois Centre, Cantonment in Accra.
My little reading about brain drain (Human capital flight) tells me that it refers to the emigration of highly skilled or well-educated individuals from their home countries to other countries. This letter will not go into the theories of brain drain. This letter is about my perspective as a commoner who will not like to be called a product of brain drain if I do not survive the frustration my country is putting me through with respect to my desire to become a lawyer and contribute to the development of Ghana. This letter will be short.
I read with rapt attention a Facebook comment by Professor H. Kwasi Prempeh about brain drain and how our failed systems might have contributed to it. I have nothing useful to add; I agree with him.
Your Excellency, I ask, with utmost respect, what will be your advice to a frustrated medical doctor from UCC Medical School who finds no job in Ghana but finds one in Europe? Such a person is skilled and highly educated; his departure from Africa to seek greener pasture elsewhere constitutes brain drain and underdevelopment of Africa. What should such skilled labour do especially when they still rely on their parents for their basic needs? I was nowhere around 1960s but you will agree with me that this era (21st century) is still post-colonial, hence, current reckless happenings in Ghana can also be attributed to brain drain and underdevelopment of Ghana and by extension Africa. I know you just assumed office as the number two person of Mother Ghana, you can affect the change Ghana needs to stop brain drain and develop. I believe in your academic prowess.
However, many actions of government institutions will thwart your effort to stop brain drain and to propel development. If the Ministry of Finance will not give clearance to vacancies at the various universities, what would you expect? Brain drain! If trained nurses and veterinary doctors are subjected to mental torture, what would you expect? Brain drain! Your Excellency, many skilled labour are leaving the shores of Africa not because of the fun of it, but because they are hungry. Because the systems in Africa do not work. My daughter would ask me who is supposed to make the systems work?
Your Excellency, it took the effort of one man, Professor Kwaku Asare who came down from the US to call the General Legal Council to order for their ‘unruly conduct’. We all sat down in Ghana unconcerned whiles our citizens are subjected to all kinds of inhuman treatment until Prof Asare left his well-paid job in the US to fight this good course. The Supreme Court has upheld his position that the institution that is training students to become lawyers (General Legal Council) should not flout the law. Basic and fundamental but who led that crusade? A diasporan, who might have left Ghana due to similar unaccepted systems. Your Excellency, I believe you will agree with me that this conduct of the General Legal Council is backward. It is not forward looking! The very few in Ghana like Maxwell Opoku Agyemang who will speak against these ills are always victimized. Do not be surprised if I fall victim. How would one rationalize a candidate who failed entrance or bar exams in Ghana but that same candidate is doing extremely well in Europe? I absolutely support Prof Asare’s assertion that we set our students for failure, turn around and say the students are substandard. These same substandard students pass with distinction when they get the opportunity to study outside Ghana. So, what at all do we teach that our students cannot grasp but easily do well in other jurisdictions? Or, is it that those in the helm of affairs themselves are a failure that is why students are also failing? Or, it is because Africa is made up Donald Trump’s word?
Your Excellency, I am a student of UCC Faculty of Law. It is my desire to be a lawyer and help uphold the rule of law in Ghana for economic development. Simply put, I hope to stay in Ghana and pay my dues. If this same injustice is meted out on me by the General Legal Council, would you advise me to stay in Ghana and for what? Please permit me to link this to underdevelopment of Ghana; this frustration will make the skilled and highly educated flee the country leaving very few ones (those who have the links) and millions of unskilled and uneducated ones; the result is underdevelopment. The few ones that have the links to stay will then lord over the uneducated; poverty and underdevelopment will interplay and the cycle will continue.
You are a huge figure in the NPP, your party nearly stopped dual citizens from contesting certain positions in the party. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana bars dual citizens from holding certain offices. How would Ghana develop when these diasporans are not allowed to contribute their quota to Mother Ghana? The factors that contributed to brain drain in post-colonial Africa are still prevalent in seven folds in recent times. So, if we attribute underdevelopment of Africa to brain drain in the post-colonial era, I do not know, with the greatest respect what posterity will say about underdevelopment of Africa during our era.
Just last week, it was in the news that young Ghanaians who have started brisk businesses in courier services will be prosecuted in due course if they do not pay taxes. Payment of taxes is something I will always advocate for but why not give them tax holidays to be grounded well before we tax them as we do to foreign companies? We have created a system that is slowly killing us. This is why many educated Ghanaians will want to leave Ghana. Even those who want to come back with their capital to help the economy are said to be whining when they complain of unnecessary systems and bureaucracies which you would not find in any serious country.
My consolation, Your Excellency is that, you have been working without rest to fix our tattered system, your boss is serious to fix Ghana. Please, my respectful reminder is that it is not the white man that is destroying our country, some government agencies are pursuing needless agenda; they contribute to the brain drain you spoke about. The General Legal Council is one of such institutions. I hope that with a new Attorney General and a new Chief Justice, they will act right for posterity to applaud them.
Your Excellency, extend my warmest greetings to the Leadership and entire Membership of Parliament for their effort to abort this bad law by the General Legal Council. They are showing that Parliament is really working. They should not disappoint us.
DAVID A. MENSAH
The writer is a law student of the University of Cape Coast. He may be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org.