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#FixTheCountry call must be embraced with dialogue – Oti Boateng.

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#FixTheCountry call must be embraced with dialogue – Oti Boateng. 46

 

 

Omanhene of New Juaben and Chancellor of All Nations University Daasebre Prof. (Emeritus) Oti Boateng has called on the Ghana Statistical Service, policymakers, Parliament, Judiciary, government machinery, ministries, departments and agencies to use empirical data from the 2021 Population and Housing census to fix and maintain the country.

The latest call by the former Government Statistician and the first African to chair United Nations Statistical Commission comes at the period a group of Ghanaians known as #FixTheCounty campaigners are mounting intense pressure on the government to immediately fix burning issues facing the country.

Speaking at an Akwasidae celebration which coincided with Census Night on Sunday, 27 June 2021 at Koforidua, Daasebre Oti Boateng said “Recent agitations by a significant section of Ghanaians for fixing the country have grown louder and louder. In a democracy, this peaceful call to action must be embraced with dialogue and honest exchanges amongst all stakeholders. It is clear that the call to fix the country is a summon to development of mother Ghana. Development begins with and ends with the people who are the beneficiaries of such processes. It is both an aspiration and a function of a living and creative culture requiring the sustained harmonization of talents, experiences, innovativeness and cooperation of key stakeholders in the country”.

He noted that “Let us get counted and use the information derived from the census to fix and maintain the country for sustainable national development. Let us consider the census exercise as a clarion call to a national duty – a time when all hands must be on deck to enable the nation obtain maximum benefits from the census for the attainment of national development objectives”.

Daasebre Oti Boateng is of the view that collective responsibility is required to put Ghana on the path of progress.

This according to him requires selfless leadership and a leader who can assemble experts in the land towards achievement of the overall agenda of the state.

This collective pursuit of happiness for the Ghanaian according to him involves provision of quality education, health systems, economic empowerment, gainful employment, enabling environment, creative opportunities for young men and women to invent, innovate and optimise Ghana’s natural resources for the benefits of citizenry.

Below is the full statement presented by Daasebre Prof. (Emeritus) Oti Boateng, Omanhene of New Juaben & Former Government Statistician at Akwasidae & Census Night in Koforidua on Sunday 27 June 2021:

Recent agitations by a significant section of Ghanaians for “fixing the country” have grown louder and louder.  In a democracy this peaceful call to action must be embraced with dialogue and honest exchanges amongst all stakeholders. It is clear that the call to fix the country is a summons to development of mother Ghana. Development begins with and ends with the people who are the beneficiaries of such processes. It is both an aspiration and a function of a living and creative culture requiring the sustained harmonization of talents, experiences, innovativeness and cooperation of key stakeholders in the country.

However, to succeed in this patriotic endeavour to fix the country, there is need  first to know precisely the type of fault lines to be fixed and their distribution among the various catchment areas in the country. There is also the need to know the  size and structure of the population in all the affected catchment areas to be fixed in order to provide the criteria for prioritisation of actions as well as the vital information on the beneficiaries therein.

This calls for comprehensive and accurate data on the country to form the necessary basic inputs  for developmental planning and real time decision-making. The census is the sine qua non of this accurate and comprehensive foundational data-base for developmental planning and decision-making in the country. Data collection is a major scientific exercise that is apolitical and beyond partisanship. Without authentic facts, guesses cannot fix anything.

The salient facts are that:

Fixing the country is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders including the government, the private sector and the citizens sector comprising the leadership of various communities and individual citizens therein.

To be able to fix the country in a desirable manner requires an in-depth knowledge of the entire country and a delineation of the fault lines within. Such knowledge, which forms the foundational data-base for policy interventions, can only be provided by a national exercise such as the population and housing census.

Although fixing the country is necessary, it is by no means sufficient to ensure sustainable national development.

The necessary and sufficient condition for sustainable national development can be attained only if the procedure of fixing the country is accompanied with the establishment of a routine maintenance culture as an integral part of the national development process. In other words, we must collectively fix and maintain the country to ensure the long-term sustainability of its development.

Censuses in the world date back to antiquity when all citizens had to travel to their home towns to be counted and registered in the census book of the nation. Biblical studies reveal that, had it  not been for the census, Christ would have been born in the modest comfort of a cottage in Nazareth instead of in a stable at Bethlehem. In Ghana our chiefs utilized the cowries to count their subjects for war and other development purposes during the pre-colonial era. During the colonial period a ten-year periodicity was established for censuses in Ghana starting from 1891 which was only broken in 1941 due to the Second World War.

Post-independence Ghana has already witnessed five successful censuses in 1960, 1970, 1984, 2000 and 2010 with the writer conducting the third in the series 37 years ago as the then Government Statistician. The 2021 census, the sixth in the series, is being conducted with midnight 27th June 2021 as the census night. The census night, which refers to midnight of 27th June 2021 with a spread of six hours before and after it, is an important reference period to which most of the census questions relate. It also allows the population of the country to be counted like a snapshot taken on the census night in what is referred to as de facto population count.

From a relatively modest historical role of providing the total head-count for administrative purposes, the census of population has now become the most important reservoir of statistics on the inhabitants of a modern state.  Population data are now crucially important in planning for social and economic development and for the formulation of realistic population policies, their implementation and evaluation.

The need to re-structure the social and economic system of the nation had never been more greatly felt than during this period in our economic history and this task cannot be undertaken on the basis of statistical data collected by the previous census, eleven years ago. This population and housing census will provide updated information on the number of inhabitants in the country at the regional and district levels, the age and sex distributions and other demographic characteristics as well as the housing stock of the country. The population and housing statistics of a country, therefore, give planners and policy-makers a good insight into the size and composition of the people, the rate at which they are growing, the essential needs of the people and the best way to cater for them. The census also provides the sampling frame of enumeration areas in the country which forms the basis of regular updating of various population and housing characteristics during the intercensal period.

Additionally, it provides the requisite data for building stronger and sustainable communities.

Although the primary aim of the census is to satisfy national needs, there is also the need to provide data which could be used for international comparisons.  Such comparisons of the levels of educational attainments, literacy, age and sex structure, as well as occupational characteristics of the population are of considerable importance in the assessment of progress made by the country.  In particular, it will enable our country to evaluate its relative advantages and disadvantages in an age of ever-increasing trade, travel, communication and exchange of services and techniques.

From Monday 28th June about 75,000 census Field Officers comprising 11,000 supervisors and 64,000 enumerators will start the enumeration of all persons who spent the census night within the territorial boundaries of Ghana. These Officers have already been counting the housing structures of the country since 14th June 2021. The success of this massive and comprehensive population and housing census would require unstinted public support and co-operation. A modern census has nothing to do with taxation. It is purely for development purposes. Census reports are also published in aggregate formats without revealing individual identity. You must, therefore, feel free and confident in getting yourself counted among the residents in the country on census night.

Let us get counted and use the information derived from the census to fix and maintain the country for sustainable national development. Let us consider the census exercise as a clarion call to a national duty – a time when all hands must be on deck to enable the nation obtain maximum benefits from the census for the attainment of national development objectives.

Thank You.