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Opinions Wed, 28 Mar 2012

Can You Say That President Mills Has Done Nothing?

Ask Margaret Jackson

“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson.


I would declare myself as the biggest fool and the most naïve person on earth if I ever utter or write somewhere that ex-president Kufuor did nothing during his 8 years as head of government and commander-in-chief of Ghana. Kufuor has some pluses that go to his credit whilst he was president of Ghana, but he equally has his minuses, which is why we sometimes highlight on his weaknesses or failures to buttress our arguments on certain issues. But that does not negate the fact that Kufuor did something of which credit must be given to him.


In this our world, many leaders have emerged who have done certain things for their people. Some leaders initiate social intervention projects to alleviate the heavy load on their peoples. But as a leader, when your time is due and you exit from power, you got to look forward to whoever takes over from you, to either continue your projects or expand them. If those social intervention programmes that you started are expanded or continued, you sit back with admiration and thank God that at least those programmes you initiated were worth it. As a leader if that ever happens to you, it should serve as your greatest satisfaction.


As a result, if you instigate a programme and you leave the scene, and someone comes on board to continue it rather than kill it, you never rubbish the person for doing nothing. Whilst you take credit for initiating those projects, it behooves on you to also acknowledge the effort and drive of the other person who also expanded the programme. But this is the biggest catch-22 confronting the New Patriotic Party (NPP) today. They seem not to understand this basic logic. The NPP folks are systematically eating their own cake and at the same time asking to be given back the same cake that they are consuming. In one breath the NPP accuses President Mills of not continuing all the projects they started before handing over to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government in 2009, but in another breath they jump to trash talk the NDC if they see that any project that they initiated has either been completed or expanded by the NDC government headed by President Mills.


Today, if you confront any NPP member/supporter or their leadership and ask them to name just one single good thing that President Mills has done since he assumed office in 2009; they will bluntly tell you that President Mills has done nothing. Just nothing? The word “Nothing” seems to be the watchword or catch phrase of the NPP. But in this world if you appreciate even the little things that others do, then you get others to appreciate the bigger things you have also done.

Multiple studies conducted by the country’s past governments concluded that many children in Ghana do not attend school because of the inability of their parents to pay the levies charged by the schools. As a result, the NPP government led by Kufuor set up the Capitation Grant which started in the 2005/2006 academic year. This, I would say is a beautiful programme. Under the scheme every school pupil was to be given GH¢3 each year they enrolled. I would not take this away from the NPP for anything.


But then comes President Mills who saw how good the Capitation Grant is. Therefore, President Mills has since increased the Capitation Grant by 50%. Today, every school pupil does not receive the GH¢3 which was introduced by the NPP, but GH¢4.50. Ladies and gentlemen, would you conclude that President Mills has done nothing under the Capitation Grant? This is where I seriously get worried with my NPP friends.


Again, the Mills government has within the past three years distributed 42.2 million free exercise books to Ghanaian school children. In addition, the NDC government has doled out 3 million school uniforms to needy pupils nationwide. This means that out of the basic school population of about 5.2 million, the NDC government has supplied free school uniforms to 3 out of every 5 children. Teachers were not left out, as their salaries have also seen some considerable improvement to motivate them in teaching the kids. The NDC government also launched the Basic School Computerization Program whereby 60,000 computers have been given to school children across the country to boost practical ICT education. Would anybody therefore, be right in concluding that President Mills is a “Do Nothing President?”


Ghana burst into a huge chorus of disapproval and hullabaloo when it was reported that there were close to 4,320 schools under trees throughout the country. The country registered its protest as people could not understand why nothing has been done about it. The NPP government was in power when this issue received extensive condemnation in the country and beyond. But strangely enough Kufuor took a back seat and did nothing about it till he left office. Before President Mills took office, he promised to do something about it, and true to his word more than 1,200 schools under trees have been replaced with modern six unit classroom blocks, whilst there are hundreds more which are at various stages of completion. Just bump on an ordinary man/woman on the street and bounce off this information about this social intervention programme to help school kids and find out if this excellent programme amounts to nothing.


President Mills did not leave out the Senior High School (SHS) students, as his government has to date completed over 300 classroom blocks and dormitories to ease the severe overcrowding which resulted from the extension of the SHS from 3 to 4 years by the Kufuor administration. Are the NPP folks saying that none of them have seen any of these new classroom blocks and dormitories in their constituencies?

In politics, it is extremely important to benchmark your achievements against that of your opponent and then allow voters to draw their own conclusions. In 2009, at the time the NDC took power, the country’s total electricity generation capacity was around 1,800 megawatts. But three years down the road, President Mills’ government has been able to install an additional 376 megawatts which represents 21%, to the country’s total generation capacity.


The expansion of the Takoradi International Company, the completion of the Bui project, the development of the Kpone Thermal Power Plant and the completion of the Tema Osono Power Project by 2013 would help the country to reach about 3,300 megawatts, which would boost the country’s electricity generation to over 80% increase of what the NDC came to meet. Today, there are over 1,700 communities that have benefited from the rural electrification project since the NDC government came to power. Will you in all honesty say that President Mills has been sleeping?


Another beautiful programme that I would commend the NPP for initiating is the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS). It is their baby but unfortunately for Ghanaians, the NPP government did not do the implementation. The NDC did! Today, over 80% of public service employees have been migrated on the SSSS, with the process expected to be completed by the end of this year by the Mills’ government. Somebody should tell me if President Mills does not deserve just a little praise from the NPP.


We also have another programme initiated by the NPP. It’s the school feeding programme. As at the time the NPP folks were leaving office the programme covered just over 600,000 pupils. Today, the NDC government has expanded it to cover 1.4 million school children. But the most beautiful thing which everybody has to know is that Ghana no longer goes a begging to fund the programme. The NDC government has found internal resources to fully fund the programme. Last year for instance, the NDC government released GH¢50 Million to finance the programme. Has anything done by President Mills caught anybody’s attention so far?


When President Mills assumed office, his government realized that most of the cocoa trees have outlived their usefulness. As a result, the Mills government has embarked on a 6-year re-planting of cocoa trees nationwide to rehabilitate old cocoa farms in the country. The programme involves the production of elite cocoa hybrid seedlings for free distribution to farmers for the replanting exercise. One of the main objectives of the programme is to provide employment opportunities for the youth in the cocoa growing areas during the period of the replanting and also assist them to acquire the technical skills in cocoa production. If this is not an innovative programme, what else?

Ghana for the first time in its history produced over one million tonnes of cocoa in 2011. This success was chalked under President Mills. But as soon as the information came out, the NPP folks were all over the place discounting the feat and claiming that they did it. Was the NPP government in power during the distribution of fertilizers to farmers in 2010? Were the NPP in power when the NDC government paid 80% of the world market price of cocoa to farmers to dissuade them from smuggling cocoa to other countries to sell? Yet, the NPP folks are claiming Ghanaians should give them the credit for the one million tonnage of cocoa produced in 2011.


We are all living witnesses when the Kufuor’s government borrowed uncontrollably from the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) to fund the refinery of crude oil by the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR). At the time when Kufuor was leaving office, TOR owed the GCB over GH¢848 million due to the accrual of interest on the debt, which forced the GCB to stop funding TOR’s operations. The situation was dire because it almost collapsed GCB which is the largest bank in the country. But when President Mills assumed power he took two years to pay off the debt owed to GCB, which has since boosted the operations of the bank. Can anybody from the NPP step forward and say that this is no mean an achievement?


We also give Kufuor credit for introducing the Metro Mass Transit (MMT). Unfortunately, when Kufuor was leaving office, the MMT owed a huge sum of money for fuel bought on credit whilst most of the buses imported from China, which had a four-year road worthiness had broken down. But President Mills came in and introduced some pragmatic measures which have restructured the MMT. To date the NDC government has bought and commissioned 150 vehicles, whilst MMT through its own internal resources has placed an order for 150 Tata Ashok Buses, with 50 of them recently commissioned. I can say that if anybody can stick his head out and say this is nothing, then that person probably is the newest stranger in Ghana.


I can also highlight a little bit on other successes chalked by President Mills. We have the minimum wage now pegged at GH¢4.48. To promote teaching and electronic learning, the NDC government, has introduced a special programme whereby all the 65,186 teachers in public junior high schools will benefit from the supply of laptops, which is a first in this country. National Service Personnel just got a bump in their allowance by 20 per cent.


Ghanaians have not soon forgotten how the smuggling of pre-mix fuel created so much chaotic panoramas in the country. Yet it took the NDC to change the colour of the pre-mix fuel to curtail the smuggling tendencies. Today, we hardly hear about the smuggling of pre-mix fuel. Another pragmatic thing which President Mills has done involves the annual Hajj. Just look at how this annual trip has been streamlined by the NDC government to ensure the smooth pilgrimage to Mecca by our Muslim brothers and sisters. More than 6,000 assembly members throughout the country have been presented with motorbikes to facilitate the decentralization programme. With the re-equip of the Police Service, most armed robbers who roamed the big cities notably Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi to terrorize citizens have either been eliminated or arrested. I can even talk about improvement in the health sector, road sector, the fire department and many more, but I do not want to bore my readers.

The NDC government has chalked so many successes, but like Mr. Kwesi Pratt of the Daily Insight and others have been saying, the NDC party is not selling itself at all. As a result, the NPP has cashed in on this huge gap to rubbish every good thing the NDC government has done. I would therefore, be highlighting all the achievements of the NDC going forward, by peeping through all the main sectors of the economy. This way, it would better help voters to know some of the excellent things that the NDC has done or continues to do.


As we have entered the election year, I will entreat President Mills not to just get things done; he should rather get the right things done. Because in this world, you do not have control over what others say and do; but you do have control over whether or not you will ... President Mills and the NDC members should remember that when you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value. Happiness, they say is found in the choices we make every day. It’s all about thinking good thoughts, speaking kind words, taking good actions, and enjoying the small things in life all while chasing after the big ones.


But before I sign off, I would like readers and to a large extent the NDC members to ponder over these words by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” Please keep pondering over these words till you read my next article. God Richly Stay With You!


http://majjacks80.blogspot.com magjackson80@yahoo.com

Columnist: Jackson, Margaret