Opinions Sat, 27 Oct 2012
By Dr. Michael J.K. BokorThursday, October 25, 2012
In response to my opinion pieces challenging the string of Akufo-Addo’s “huhudious” promises, some NPP zealots took umbrage, forgetting that my objection to their sacred cow’s line of politicking is rooted more in reality than anything else.
Free education is good but it doesn’t have to be turned into a bombastic electioneering campaign promise for political expediency when there are more pressing sectors of national life to address. We want to take the country out of the woods but now the way Akufo-Addo is promising.
Some enlightened Ghanaians agree with me, throwing more light on some of the salient problems with Akufo-Addo’s flight into promises. Here are viewpoints from one of them:
Just yesterday, I raised these same points (points in your article) during a discussion with a friend on these promises that Mr. Akuffo-Addo and his running mate are making all over the place! Apparently, this friend who is a sympathizer of the NPP, told me (I never heard though) that Mr. Akuffo Addo has promised to build hostels which will house “Kayaye” (head porters) at a free cost for 3–4 years!
I was so amazed at hearing this and I wondered if desperation was so powerful that it could make one lose his conscience!
• How are all these promises going to be delivered? From the budget which already has a huge deficit? Or from IMF/World bank as usual?
• Why can't he [Mr. Akuffo-Addo] focus on reducing our budget deficit instead?
• Has he analysed how a free hostel for these porters will affect the dynamics of rural-urban drifts?
• Has he thought of the congestion that will create in the already over-populated Accra?
• How is Ghana even going to profit from such a venture?
These were the questions I asked my dear friend. All he could tell me was that the NDC made promises of a one-time premium for NHIS and so there's nothing wrong with these promises Mr. Akuffo-Addo is making. Hmm, this is an engineer whom I graduated with two years ago and so I expected that his mind will be of a more practical and analytic one, but obviously, tribalism and "political affiliation syndrome" has blinded him and made him gullible, therefore his reasoning has been compromised!
The failing of the NHIS, as it may seem now, should be enough indication to Mr. Akuffo-Addo that Ghana as a nation is not yet equipped to fully finance the healthcare bills of its citizens and hence should desist from making promises of free healthcare for people.
So it is with free SHS. Now, people question them [Mr. Akuffo-Addo and Mr. Bawumia] on the feasibility of free SHS regarding the absence of basic infrastructure and to my amazement, the answer to this worry as provided by Mr. Bawumia is "The NPP will construct 350 new schools every year".
• Eiii! from which government fund? At the expense of which sector?
• When subsidies to Universities and Polytechnics are inadequate? How about additional tutors?
• Can the budget sustain salaries for new teachers in 350 schools every year?
I know it is easy to play with economic theories and figures, but Mr. Bawumia, given his economics background and experience should be smarter to know that these promises are impractical and unfeasible.
It is very saddening to know that some trained minds and some honourable Traditional Chiefs lack the vision of knowing what is real and fake and i only pray that discerning electorates of this beautiful nation will pick out the somewhat realistic plans and policies from the wild and desperate promises and will eventually vote for common sense.
Just like this concerned Ghanaian, there are many more who know that the promises being made by these politicians are designed to blindfold the electorate for political advantage.
The electioneering campaigns for the December polls have so far produced little excitement. There is virtually nothing challenging being raised by the various parties’ flagbearers or communication teams except the bandying about of vain promises and personal attacks.
Both the NPP and Nduom’s PPP are virtually copy-cats stealing ideas from each other and varnishing for publicity in peculiar ways to reflect their political bent. Take away their promise-making and there is nothing to enthuse over.
Then, turn to the NDC and you will see how hesitant its functionaries are to use promise-making as a campaign strategy. They are being haunted by the tongue-lashing from voters in many parts of the country who are peeved that the promises made them for the 2008 elections haven’t been fulfilled yet. Thus, those in the NDC will be extremely foolish to resort to baiting the electorate again with promises. Mind you, they haven’t completely abandoned this strategy altogether. It is a gamble.
But promise-making has already irritated segments of the population and they have begun baring their teeth.
As reported, the Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr. Kofi Asamoah, has called on Ghanaian workers not to be swayed by the “sweet” campaign promises of the various political parties, but to make informed decisions and vote wisely during the upcoming elections (Myjoyonline, Oct. 24, 2012).
He urged workers to analyze effectively political party manifestos and promises and vote wisely for candidates who had the most convincing and pragmatic ideas about the creation of jobs, improvement in incomes and access to housing, education, health, electricity, water, and sanitation.
So far, all those making the promises have side-stepped these vital sectors. Akufo-Addo’s promise of free SHS education isn’t any solution at all. Neither is the Mahama government’s promise to build more teacher training institutions or establish scholarship schemes for polytechnic teachers. The real solutions to the age-old problems in those areas mentioned by Mr. Asamoah can’t come from promises.
According to Mr. Asamoah, the country’s politicians have failed over the years to fulfill their campaign promises, especially those on job creation. The verdict? Voters shouldn’t allow themselves to be manipulated by these politicians making all kinds of promises.
This admonition brings to the fore the trend that characterizes the electioneering campaigns of the various politicians, especially the NPP’s Akufo-Addo, who tops the list of those glibly making promises all over the places.
I am glad that the TUC leadership have recognized this problem and come out boldly to forewarn workers not to allow themselves to be manipulated by those politicians. We hope identifiable institutions that have already not sold their conscience to these same politicians for a mere pottage will do same to help the voters make informed decisions at the polls.
Promise-making as a political weapon is for those who are either too desperate for political power or those who have something to hide. Just as a good thing sells itself, those who are fit for political office don’t have to buy anybody’s conscience with sugar-coated promises. Their good names and deeds should do the magic for them. Ghanaian voters, over to you!!
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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.