Thursday, 7 April 2016


My late grandfather was a staunch catholic. His love for catholic doctrines was commendable. As a curious young boy, I probed the rationality of many of the doctrines but I was rebuked for “questioning” the authority of God. I grew up in a family where we could not challenge or question the things of God as commanded; “Touch Not my anointed, and do my prophets no harm – 1 Chronicles 16:22, Psalm 105:15”.  This scripture was boldly carved on a wooden plaque in our bedroom.

Fast forward into my university life, I realized I was slowly but surely drifting away from church because of my abhorrence for ambiguous yet unquestionable doctrines in the church. I became a consistent critic of religious dogmatism. In first year, I shared room with four Christian fanatics. They could skip lectures the whole semester with the alibi of attending to ‘spiritual responsibilities’. Though a Christian, I was considered “unreligious’ because I refused to get as deeply involved as they were.

It is very common to see many Ghanaians use religion to escape their responsibilities. Many people complain of hardship but abandon their jobs for long hours of prayer meetings. Many students spend every evening at prayer meetings to the detriment of their books. Pastors are cashing in on many gullible church members. In a synopsis, prayer and church meetings have become full time jobs for many people. The most successful fraudsters use religion as a bait to get to their victims. In my 4 years in Legon, I can recall at least 50 fraud cases involving some “pastors” who duped their victims (mostly females) using false prophecies.

Drive through town and see posters of “Mallams” and fetish priests advertising their illegal activities in the name of religion. Quite surprisingly, the nauseating sight of these posters is yet to provoke an appropriate response from law enforcement agencies. How can we allow people go away with an advert for rituals? 

Is it not ironic, that there is a proliferation of many churches, yet corruption has become pervasive? Can we justify the moral decadence? Despite our Holier than though attitude, we continue to borrow from the same countries that we have condemned as satanic. The USA has endorsed gay rights and Germany has legalized adultery but they continue to flourish whilst we flounder. What is the role of religion in our quest to develop?

Many of us spend the most productive hours of the day on religious activities. The craze for religion without principles is becoming too much. Take a tour to the Achimota forest, Sarbah field, Aburi Mountains and some of the known prayer camps during working hours and you will be amazed at the number of people praying for prosperity but working for nothing. There are disturbing videos of pastors physically abusing the vulnerable but the Christian Council has been loudly silent.

It is dangerous, very poisonous for our generation to place faith in religion when even the Holy Scriptures support hard work and innovation. I dare say, we have become an extremely lazy generation that expects to reap where we have not sown. The subject of religious dogmatism must be given meticulous attention.

Self-styled prophet Obinim has been trending, this supposed man of God has verbally abused people in the past, captured on tape physically abusing a pregnant woman and engaged many unethical things in the name of religion. Sadly, he is just one of the many “pastors” who are carrying out indecent activities in the name of religion.

Quite disappointingly, the Christian council is only able to condemn politicians for indecent acts when they have a bug in their own home. How long can we accept such height of irresponsibility because we are afraid to offend the so called religious people?

Religious fanatism is destroying the moral fibre of our society.

Eric Edem Agbana
Founder of United volunteers Network and former SRC President, University of Ghana 

Tuesday, 5 April 2016


As the world prepares to rally around a new set of goals to improve lives and protect the planet, we must be ready to own the Seventeen goals and localize them to fit our situation so as not to wander in the wilderness of global efforts to ensure fair distribution of development. All Seventeen of the Sustainable Development Goals which have been adopted by the World leaders are relevant but I believe at the core of all these is the non-negotiable need for our leaders to make quality education accessible to all children.

Prior to the 2012 general elections in Ghana, Education was at the heart of the campaign promises, a development I consider as positive and an improvement in the trend of our political campaigns. Education is undoubtedly the key to the development of Ghana and indeed any other country.
Education is the most powerful catalyst for development in the years ahead, serving as a bridge from Poverty to Prosperity, from deprivation to abundance, from diseases to good health. Education provides the surest guarantee to achieving all the other priorities of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ghana’s educational sector continues to receive attention from successive governments but as to the question of sufficiency, the quality of our education sector gives a mirror reflection of that. Free and compulsory education, though essential, may not be enough to ensure that all children of school going age are actually in the classroom. We still see thousands of children on the streets when they should be in school, thousands of children are in the farms helping their peasant parents and guardians. Educational initiatives must leave no one behind – not the poor or disadvantaged, and not the rural child.

While applauding government for introducing 200 Community Day Senior High Schools to address the issue of access in some remote areas, it is important to lay bare the facts that children in most rural communities are still struggling to even receive standard education at the Primary and junior High school level. Beyond getting children into school, efforts must be made to ensure the quality of the education they receive. Setting targets based on quality rather than quantity will be difficult but not impossible. WE CAN DO IT.

As we embrace the Sustainable Development Goals, we must double our efforts in the area of education.  Experts estimate that providing for a proper education system requires at least 5% of a country’s GDP and usually about 20% of public spending. I sincerely doubt if Ghana has the capacity to sustainably undertake such expenditure without completely neglecting other critical sectors. For the time being, relying on development partners remains an option and we must make frantic efforts to get more investors and philanthropists into the sector.

District assemblies must also localize the vision of attaining quality education. The central government alone cannot facilitate the attainment of the vision. Civil Society Organizations and all other partners must augment government’s efforts. For many of my friends and me, our lives testify how access to education can transform lives hence our resolve to Advocate and Volunteer towards improving education. There is a transformative power in Education. ACCESSIBLE QUALITY EDUCATION is the PILL to cure POVERTY, DISEASE and INEQUALITY.

 ERIC EDEM AGBANA, founder of the United Volunteers Network and a former SRC president at the University of Ghana.

Monday, 4 April 2016


I chanced upon one of the nation’s prominent men of God on his usual television program. I watched with great admiration as he performs several miracles: the blind could see, the lame started walking and the diseased were healed. There were several others who gave testimonies about the Goodness of our Lord and other miracles that they experienced in their lives; Indeed God is able to exceed our expectations in all the things we desire of him. However, a particular testimony which was received with great applause from the congregation troubled me; it was the testimony of a woman in her thirties (I guess) who narrated how she has been given an American Visa after several rejections at the Embassy. According to her, the visa came only after she visited the church for prayers. Praise the Lord!!!

Unlike the cheering congregation, my soul was troubled because I could not fathom why a congregation will rejoice over a Visa to travel outside one’s mother nation. The mood of the congregation means that given the opportunity, most or even all the members of the congregation would travel abroad, a disturbing trend.

Unfortunately, this particular incident is only one in a million. Travelling outside Ghana has become trendy especially for the youth of Ghana. Most young people believe they can only become successful by seeking greener pastures outside the boundaries of our country.

A tour to the American Embassy and some other embassies and high commissions within the capital reveals how desperate Ghanaians are towards leaving Ghana. As early as 3 a.m., one could spot a long queue in front of these embassies in a desperate attempt to acquire a travelling visa. It is therefore not surprising how the officials of these embassies treat Ghanaians disdainfully. Those who are unable to go through this hassle resort to using unapproved routes to fulfill their travelling ambitions. 

The dangers of using these unapproved routes do not even scare them. Several lives have been lost in the process. Many migrants from Ghana make the dangerous journey through the Brazilian Amazon through Colombia, Panama and Mexico. Many of them lose their lives but it is not deterring enough for many desperate youth.

Currently, there is a huge deficit in the nurse to patient ratio not because the country does not produce enough nurses but because most of them leave the shores of Ghana just after receiving their training. The same can be said of doctors and some other professionals. Interestingly, most of them use these enviable professional qualifications to do menial jobs that they will never accept here in Ghana.
Undoubtedly, the economic conditions of Ghana are not as rewarding as those of these developed countries but it is time we recognize the fact that Ghana is our home country and no one can build Ghana for us except ourselves.

We need to reorient ourselves, we need to brace ourselves up to the task of building our country. Americans built America to be what it is today, it took leadership to make China and Singapore what they are today. We have the capacity to do same and make Ghana a home for Ghanaians.  I wish above all things that we all embrace the challenge of building a Ghana that we can be proud of. The youth must use their ingenuity to water the grasses here so that our own pastures will be greener. I look forward to a day when acquiring a visa won’t be a miracle.

Successive governments have demonstrated commitment towards investing in improving infrastructure and other social amenities. There have been several youth development policies such as Youth Enterprise Support Fund, Youth Employment Agency and many more. Certainly, we should be able to take advantage of the opportunities that abound in the country and we will surely be heading towards prosperity. Young people must be encouraged to stay here and contribute to the development of our homeland.

I believe in Ghana, I believe in the ability of the Ghanaian youth.

Eric Edem Agbana,
Founder of the United Volunteers Network and a former SRC president at the University of Ghana