The Founder and General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), Pastor Mensa Otabil, has described the socio-economic and political environment in the country as a poisonous atmosphere that kills dreams and thwarts the progress of the citizenry.
Over the years, he said, Ghana’s business and social environment had been poisoned by negativity to the extent that it now suffocated the realisation of people’s talents while discouraging many others from achieving their dreams.
That anomaly, the pastor said, needed to be addressed through a comprehensive change in attitudes, systems and policies for the betterment of the country.
“That is why for most of you young men, do not just focus on your dreams, demand the right environment to be created also and the right environment is not the New Patriotic Party (NPP) or National Democratic Congress (NDC). Parties do not govern nations; laws and policies govern nations,” Pastor Otabil indicated.
This push for change, he said, required that people put behind their partisan positions and genuinely examine and demand policies and systems that would facilitate their growth and that of their business.
Failure to demand that change would mean the efforts of the youth and all the citizenry would be wasted or at best, produce half-baked results.
“We have to force the politicians to think of us, and to think of our lives, and to think of our future, and to think of our dreams and the only way to do that is for you to start thinking, not in party terms, but in policy terms, and making sure that the laws that govern your industry favour you because if that does not happen, dreamers will die with their dreams unrealised,” he said.
Using himself as an example, Pastor Otabil said he could have achieved 10 times what he had achieved if the environment had not frustrated him and his exploits.
He was addressing participants in the national convocation of the Springboard Road Show in Accra. The event was the final leg of the show, an annual capacity-building programme that is normally concluded with plenary sessions, motivational speeches and various talkshops on entrepreneurship in Accra. This year’s edition, which is the 10th in a row, was on the theme: ‘Dare to Dream.’
Pastor Otabil is a motivational speaker and is also the Chief Executive Officer of Otabil and Associates, an executive and leadership coaching firm.
According to Pastor Otabil, the differences between Ghana, a developing nation, and developed nations were not only about talents but the environment, which, he said, played a critical role in the progress of every society.
Over the years, he said, the country and its systems had been infected with bad policies and strategies, which are now working against the people, much to the disadvantage of the entire nation.
“The challenge for nations such as Ghana is not the challenge of citizens; it is the challenge of a poisonous environment.”
“If Mark Zuckerberg (of Facebook fame) were a Ghanaian and had the idea of Facebook, would his idea have thrived? If Steve Jobs had the great idea of Apple and was a thriving computer engineer at Kokomlemle, would he have built that world-class brand,” he asked and responded that “I don’t know but it seems to me all of us are in sync that it would have been extraordinary for them to have succeeded.’’
“So, what’s the difference between Mark Zuckerberg and you? Steve Jobs and you? It’s not brains, it’s the sulphur; it’s the environment,” Pastor Otabil stated to a thunderous applause from the audience, a collection of young people who had overflowed the main auditorium of the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) into the lobby.
Pastor Otabil said dreams only flourished in areas where systems, facilities and policies were conducive for the total development of the human being and businesses.
He pointed to the high cost of doing business, lack of proper systems and procedures to support human capital development and the cruel nature of the legal system.
“For a nation to be great, its laws have to facilitate growth. You cannot overtax businesses and kill them and hope that they will survive at the same time; it doesn’t work that way. If we want businesses to survive and to thrive, we have to create an environment for businesses to thrive,” he advised.
The pastor claimed that the lack of such conducive atmosphere had given birth to the prevailing phenomenon of graduate unemployment.