By Margaret Jackson
The economy usually trumps other social issues as the substratum for politicians to hammer on their opponents especially incumbent governments, in their bid to seek political power. That is why we have this famous phrase "It's the economy, stupid", which was widely used by Bill Clinton during his successful 1992 presidential campaign against then president George Bush.
But many politicians in their hurry to whip the crap out of their opponents have easily goofed big time in trying to make political capital on issues bothering on the economy. Many have made statements which have turned out to be inconsistent with the issues on the ground, thereby making a big mockery of their so-called academic and political credentials that they tout.
And that was the political trap Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia; NPPs vice-presidential candidate fell into when he spoke at the Ferdinand Ayim Memorial Lectures in Accra under the theme “The true State of the economy” last week. Dr. Bawumia, who was making his first major speech since his selection as Akufo-Addo’s running mate, may have assumed that the lectures which was fully packed was a golden opportunity for him to fully sell his so-called economic credentials to the Ghanaian voters to save the sunken campaign of Akufo-Addo.
But Bawumia who attempted to make a mockery of the NDC’s exceptional achievements within the past three years rather made some dishonest intellectual arguments and comparisons that hugely exposed him as a liar and eventually made a mockery of himself. In making comparisons on the economy there has always been the danger for many politicians to compare apples to oranges when in fact they should rather be comparing either apples to apples or oranges to oranges.
Bawumia was quick to point out that prices of goods in the market today as compared to 2008 were high, an indication that the economy was moving from bad to worse. He therefore, stated that the lower inflation being touted by the NDC government is a lie since it is not reflecting in the pockets of Ghanaians. Bawumia would have scored a political home run with that assertion if he had not compared oranges to apples. Many people have condemned Bawumia’s analysis but may have forgotten to point out to Bawumia and the NPP that even though prices of goods on the market have risen a little bit, workers in Ghana are receiving higher salaries today as compared to their 2008 salaries.
Bawumia who was hoping to please and wow the crowd with his comparison of prices of basic goods on the market between 2008 and 2012, woefully failed to inform Ghanaians that when the NPP was leaving office the national daily minimum wage was GH¢2.25, but thanks to the good works of President Mills’ NDC government, the national daily minimum wage is today pegged at GH¢4.48, which represents almost 100 percentage increase.
Therefore, if Bawumia is comparing prices of goods in the market today, he should have been honest enough to have also informed Ghanaians that public sector workers under President Mills’ government today are earning almost twice of what they were earning at the time the NPP was leaving office. This is my beef with Bawumia, and I do not think somebody who is claiming to be a renowned economist can make such a terrible but unpardonable mistake.
Ladies and gentlemen, if Bawumia is saying that the prices of gari, sugar and milk have gone up today, I will not dispute what he is saying. But this man who is inching to change his political neophyte garb should have been bold enough to state that even if the prices of those commodities have gone up, workers under the NDC government today are earning more to take care of those increases.
Bawumia who gave a lot of ink to inflation, prices of goods and the pockets of workers during the lectures, made inference to the fact that the only yardstick to good economic development is all about the pockets of workers. But I strongly disagree on this assertion. What I want Bawumia and his NPP folks to know is that, yes, the pockets of workers matter, but good economic development is not captured in only one focal area. Therefore, if you earn more and you have terrible roads and no hospitals for the sick, it is no achievement at all. If the focus of the NPP is all about monies in the pockets, I would like them to know that a good government does not put the country’s resources only in the pockets of workers, but channel some to take care of water, electricity, roads, schools, hospitals and other social intervention programs. The totality of these programs which President Mills has excelled at has helped in pushing Ghana into the middle income status and not the tattered economy which ex-president Kufuor left behind.
Next time if Bawumia wants to talk about the economy of Ghana, he should not go to the Malata Market for prices alone, but take into account other economic programs being undertaken to better the lot of Ghanaians. He should also look at the better roads which have sprung up since his last campaign, hospitals and schools which his constituents are beneficiaries before opening his mouth that wide. That would help him to make a better analysis which would earn him the respect of Ghanaians. But for now, all I want to say is that, Bawumia lied, therefore, he is not different from Akufo-Addo and the likes of Sammy Awukus.