How and why NPP could stay in power until 2040

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Sun, 21 Mar 2021 Source: Kwaku Badu

I have always held a firm conviction that discerning Ghanaians made a calamitous mistake by voting the NPP administration out in the 2008 general elections, as Ghana, as a matter of fact and observation, was heading towards the right direction following the eight years of prudent governance by Ex-President Kufuor’s administration.

But in spite of all the advantageous programmes and policies that put the country in a highly favourable economic position, discerning Ghanaians disastrously bought into the NDC’s propaganda and voted out the NPP government in 2008.

We cannot, in fact, neither deny nor ignore the fact that all over the world, prudent and pragmatic governments, more often than not, manage to improve upon the economic fortunes of their respective countries if they are allowed to stay in power a bit longer.

In Rwanda, for example, the officeholder is elected by popular vote every seven years, who in turn, appoints the Prime Minister and all other members of Cabinet.

Suffice it to emphasise that Rwandan current president, Paul Kagame, has been in power since 2000 and has managed to transform the country’s economy.

In fact, Rwanda has undergone rapid industrialisation largely due to the implementation of pragmatic policies and programmes over a sustained period of time.

In Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, who returned in 2018 as the head of the opposition coalition, and the oldest Prime Minister at 93 years old, stabilised the Malaysian economy from 1981 to 2003.

Tun M, as Mahathir is called by his supporters, oversaw a period of rapid economic growth and development in Malaysia during his first long stint in office.

In the United Kingdom for example, the Labour Party assumed power from 1997 to 2010 under two separate Prime Ministers, Tony Blair from 1997 to 2007 and James Gordon Brown from 2007 to 2010.

As a matter of fact, Blair and Brown did their utmost best and managed to stabilise the UK’s economy until the Labour Party lost power to the Conservative Party in 2010.

Suffice it to emphasise that to every rule, there is an exception, and this is no different in the case of Ghana.

Regrettably, in Ghana, since the attainment of independence from the British on 6th March 1957, the NDC tradition (PNDC and NDC) had governed the country more than any other government one can think of. In fact, that tradition had governed Ghana for approximately 27 years out of Ghana’s 62 years with a little to show for.

Ghana’s Fourth Republic is 338 months old (as of March 2021).

The day-to-day management of the country within that period had been a shared responsibility between the National Democratic Congress (NDC), whose share of the governance is 192 months and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), who has also governed the country for 146 months to date.

If we go down memory lane, when the late President J. J. Rawlings completed his 96 months democratic rule on 7th January 2001, he packed up as directed by the Ghana’s 1992 Constitution. Thus, the stage was set for other qualified people to take over the presidency.

Even though quite an impressive number of political parties presented their formidable candidates to compete for the important position, the race for the next president was keenly contested between the NDC candidate, the late John Evans Atta Mills and the NPP candidate, John Agyekum Kufuor.

It must, however, be mentioned that the 2000 election travelled into the second round and John Agyekum Kufuor emerged victorious on 28 December 2000.

The ebullient President John Agyekum Kufuor then took over the presidency from the late President J. J. Rawlings on 7th January 2001.

President Kufuor regrettably had a tough time in office initially as there was not much funds left in the national purse to plan anything meaningful.

Disappointingly, the late President J. J. Rawlings’s total rule of 228 months (military, 132 months and democratic, 96 months) administrations only managed to destabilise Ghana’s macroeconomic indicators.

The late Rawlings’s administration indeed adopted a seemingly calamitous Economic Recovery Programme (ERP), which was introduced under the auspices of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The vast majority of tangible national assets, including the state owned enterprises were allegedly sold to friends and families for pittance.

In practice, the apparent unfavourable Economic Recovery Programme culminated in a catalogue of hardships. And, on top of the harsh programmes and policies which threatened the economic fundamentals, the population had to brace itself for food shortages, a situation which was comparable to the concurrent Ethiopian famine that resulted in millions of deaths.

Perhaps more than anything else, the initiation of the Programme of Action to Mitigate the Social Costs of Adjustment (PAMSCAD) did not improve the unfortunate situation as untold hardships permeated many households.

Starvation, so to speak, visited the vast majority of Ghanaians, and as a result developed hideous collar bones which the humorous Ghanaians renamed as “Rawlings Chain”. That was indeed the pernicious extent of the hunger.

Ghana was then declared as Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC). The fact of the matter is that the newly elected President Kufuor had a tough decision to make, by either embracing or rejecting the HIPC status.

However, the forward thinking President Kufuor chose to swallow a bitter pill with a view to getting over the malaise. He thus pragmatically embraced the HIPC status in 2001.

As a matter of fact and observation, the benefits of the HIPC were unprecedented during former President Kufuor’s administration, from (2001-2008).

The fact of the matter is that macroeconomic indicators begun to stabilize and Ghana’s debt stock was significantly reduced by about $4 billion within that period (BOG 2009).

In addition, as a result of the HIPC initiative and prudent borrowing, Ghana’s external debt stock actually declined from $6.1 billion in 2000 to$3.8 billion by 2008 (BOG 2009). It was “unprecedented” achievement, so to speak.

It is also worth pointing out that the average GDP growth of the NDC from 1993-2000 was 3.8% while that of the NPP from 2001-2008 was5.2% with economic growth reaching 6.3% in 2007 (GSS 2008).

As it was expected, former President Kufuor successfully completed his first term in office (four years), having managed studiously to stabilise the macroeconomic indicators.

Subsequently, the good people of Ghana handed him the mandate for another four year term following a keenly contested presidential election on 7th December 2004.

It is, therefore, not an understatement to point out that former President Kufuor’s pragmatic policies reaped tremendous results. Nevertheless, due to time and space limitations, I will only enumerate on a few of his wonderful achievements during his tenure in office.

1. Helped moved Ghana from HIPC status to Lower Middle Income status.

2. Ghana received a debt relief of around $4 billion, spreading over 20 years period.

3. Built numerous infrastructural projects, including not less than 5 interchanges. Nonetheless President Mahama said back then that the erection of infrastructural projects is only an exercise in mediocrity.

4. Discovered oil in commercial quantities before handing over power to the late Mills (Ghana has since received over $3 billion in revenue).

5. Increased the economic growth from around 3.5 in 2001 to around 8.4 in 2008.

6. Quadrupled Ghana’s GDP to $28 billion by 2008.

7. Introduced free Maternal Care.

8. Implemented National Health Insurance Scheme.

9. Introduced Metro Transport System.

10. Implemented School Feeding Programme.

11. Introduced the National Youth Employment Programme, known as GYEEDA.

12. Implemented the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty.

As I hinted earlier, the list of former President Kufuor’s achievements is not exhaustive. Nonetheless, due to time and space constraints, I would not be able to list all of them at this point in time. But all that I can state is that, former President Kufuor did so much to improve on Ghana’s economic fortunes.

President Kufuor exerted dint of critical thinking, worked strenuously for eight solid years, laid an auspicious economic foundation and retired honourably. He then passed on the baton to the late President Mills on 7th January 2009, following his victory in the second round election on 28 December 2008.

It must, however, be emphasised that the late President Mills was extremely fortunate to have inherited a very good economic foundation laid by the effervescent President Kufuor and his equally hard working team.

Take, for instance, three years after former President Kufuor’s NPP government discovered oil in commercial quantities, the late President Mills had the joyous task of turning on the valve at an offshore platform in December 2010 to pump the first commercial oil.

And, lo and behold, Ghana joined the petroleum exporting countries. And believe it or not, Ghana started to export crude oil and thus boosted the economic growth.

The economy grew from around 8.4 per cent to around 14 per cent by 2011 and Ghana thus reached the Lower Middle Income status.

“Ghana has come a long way and is the world's fastest growing economy today-2010.

“Ghana's economy is growing at a blistering 20.15 per cent, says Economy Watch.

“Blessed with rich reserves of natural resources, Ghana has suddenly turned around and is now speeding along the growth path.

“Ghana is oil-rich, has large gold and diamond deposits, and has a booming tourism industry” (Economy Watch 2010).

So, who said that the propitious economic foundation laid by former President Kufuor and his team was not the main contributory factor in the Ghana’s economic upsurge?

Regrettably, however, the late President Mills capitulated, got carried away and somehow allowed the create loot and share cabals in his government to have their way. The incompliant cabals began to dip their ‘thievery’ hands into the national coffers.

The conspiratorial plotters even managed to allocate judgement debt amount in the national budget (purported to be around GH600 million), with the sole objective to create, loot and share. Do you remember Woyome’s GH51.2 million scandalous judgement debt payments?

There were numerous undeserving judgment debt payments, including the $30 million judgement debt payment to the Waterville, the dubious $325,000 to ISOFOTON, GH51.2 million to Woyome, and a lot more reported to be totalling a staggering GH800 million.

Apparently, things started to fall apart. It went from bad to worse following President Mills sudden and mysterious death in July 2012. The conspiratorial plotters then had a field day leading to the 2012 general elections.

It is, therefore, worth stressing that President Mahama and his NDC apparatchiks went berserk in their desperation to cling on to power. Thus they broke all conventions. Many government departments spent over and above their allocated budgets.

The general belief back then was that they bought votes with the tax payers’ money. They nonetheless clung on to power following the controversial election on 7th December 2012.

Suffice it to state that their victory came with huge costs to the state.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, many observers harbour a strong view that Ghana’s economic downslide came about as a result of the unbridled bribery and gargantuan corruption scandals that took place under previous administration.

Somehow, the NDC administration failed to acknowledge that corruption is a key element in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development.

The previously single digit inflation and budget deficit doubled astronomically. The GH9.5 billion debt which former President Kufuor and his NPP government left in 2009 rocketed artificially to unpronounceable figures. Our total debt ballooned to GH122.4 billion as of December 2016.

Ghana unfortunately went into the throes of economic collapse due to mismanagement and wanton bribery and corruption.

Take, for example, Ghana’s economic growth slowed for the fourth consecutive year to an estimated 3.4% in 2015 from 4% in 2014 as energy rationing (dumsor), high inflation, and ongoing fiscal consolidation weighed on economic activity (World Bank, 2016).

Moreover, the high inflation rate remain elevated at 18.5% in February 2016 compared to 17.7% in February 2015, even after the Central Bank’s 500 bps policy rate hikes (the inflation stood at 15.8 per cent as of October 2016).

But before the insidious coronavirus, the Akufo-Addo’s government efficiently raised the economic growth. Ghana’s economy grew provisionally by 8.5 percent in 2017 compared to 3.7 percent in 2016 (Ghana Statistical Service, 2018).

Indeed, Ghana’s economic growth, just before the pernicious coronavirus, stood at around 8.6% from 3.4% in December 2016.

Interestingly, in the first two years of the Akufo-Addo’s administration, the Industry sector recorded the highest growth rate of 16.7 percent, followed by Agriculture 8.4 percent and the Services 4.3 percent.

Services share of GDP decreased from 56.8 percent in 2016 to 56.2 percent in 2017. The sector's growth rate also decreased from 5.7 percent in 2016 to 4.3 percent in 2017.

However, two of the subsectors in the services sector recorded double-digit growth rates, including Information and Communication 13.2 percent and Health and Social Work 14.4 percent.

The Industry sector, the highest growing sector with a GDP share of 25.5 percent, had its growth rate increasing from -0.5 percent in 2016 to 16.7 percent in 2017.

The Mining and Quarrying subsector recorded the highest growth of 46.7 percent in 2017.

The Agriculture sector expanded from a growth rate of 3.0 percent in 2016 to 8.4 percent in 2017. Its share of GDP, however, declined from 18.7 percent in 2016 to 18.3 percent in 2017. Crops remain the largest activity with a share of 14.2 percent of GDP.

The Non-Oil annual GDP growth rate decreased from 5.0 percent in 2016 to 4.9 percent in 2017. The 2017 Non-oil GDP for industry recorded a growth rate of 0.4 percent, compared with 4.9 percent in 2016. Growth in the fourth quarter of 2017 reached 8.1 percent compared to 9.7 percent in the third quarter (GNA, 2018).

I will venture to state that if President Akufo Addo managed to keep most of his 2016 and 2020 Manifesto promises, I will daresay that he will successfully complete two terms in office.

Take, for instance, President Akufo Addo would have done well if he implemented the Manifesto promises of one District one Factory, one Constituency one Million Dollars, free SHS, one Village one Dam in the Northern part of Ghana, tax reductions, including taxes on utility bills, amongst others.

In any case, I am of the firm conviction that the Akufo Addo’s NPP government will deliver on its promises as done by the previous NPP government led by former President Kufuor.

If we take a stroll down memory lane, the Kufuor’s government kept the Manifesto promises and introduced social interventions such as the free Maternal Care, the School Feeding Programme, the National Health Insurance Scheme, the Mass Transport System, the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), the National Youth Employment Programme, now known as GYEDA, amongst others.

I would, therefore, like to conclude that President Akufo Addo is likely to complete his two terms in office successfully and then pass on the baton to Dr Mahmoud Bawumiah or John Alan Kyeremanteng and/or any other competent candidate.

But that being said, between the two aforementioned potential presidential aspirants, my bet will be on Dr Bawumia, whose candidacy could keep the NPP in government for a further two terms.

Well, believe it or not, the unwearied Dr Mahmoud Bawumia has come of age in Ghanaian politics and has thus far won the hearts and minds of the good people of Ghana.

It is for this reason that I would like to believe that the odds will tilt in his favour in any political contest in the near future.

K. Badu, UK.


Columnist: Kwaku Badu