Mills At Half-Time

Fri, 7 Jan 2011 Source: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

The verdict on the NDC II government at half-time is simply put, “Enko yie koraa!”

There have been broken promises – many broken promises.

There have been blunders in action--- many blunders.

There has been significant erosion in the efficiencies of many state institutions.

There have been developed, a distinct culture of insults and persecution of all manner of Ghanaians.

The ruling party is divided—faction from faction and so is our country.

The power and prestige of the Presidency has been diminished significantly.

The abject failure of the Mills administration is clear to all Ghanaians, except for the Mills extremists who are diminishing by the day. Even while the President’s loyalist were busy circulating and defending the 50 top phantom achievements of his first two years, he was conceding that he had done nothing by promising that his third year, unlike his first two years, will be a “year of action”.

Before discussing the NDC’s clear and convincing failures, we must begin, in fairness, with their achievements:

- We returned to the World Soccer Cup Finals in 2010, after our initial appearance under the NPP in 2006.

- We started the production of oil in commercial quantities.

- Inflation has decreased.

While many will argue that other bodies and other people deserve credit for some of these achievements or argue that they are trivial, I disagree. Of course, the alleged decrease in inflation is suspect when all around us, as I will demonstrate later, prices are going up and up. The NDC spin-doctors need to explain how, in the face of steady and significant increases in the price of everything, inflation can get lower.

To begin with the broken promises, there are many but let me focus on just two.

First, during the 2008 campaign, the NDC promised a “drastic reduction” in the price of petrol in addition to “putting money in peoples’ pockets”. Both promises have been broken repeatedly. For instance, with the recent increase in petrol prices by 30%, the price of petrol under the NDC has increased by 70%, since the NDC returned to power in 2009. During the same period, the price of crude oil has only increased by 50%.

That is not all. Under the combined assault of increased taxes and prices, money has not been put in our pockets at all. Instead, it has been coming out of our pockets and “abosuo” just like that—“wawaa” “wawaaa”. There are new taxes on construction, tourism, rice, drinking water and even the worship of God. It seems that the NDC government has never met a tax it did not like to raise.

As for the rise in prices, here are a few examples.

A 50-kg bag of Texas rice that cost 50 Ghana cedis in December 2008 now costs 73 Ghana cedis. The price of a 50-kg bag of Brazil sugar has risen from 50 to 80 Ghana cedis since December, 2008. Also the price of 25 liters of cooking oil has doubled from 30 to 62 Ghana cedis. The fishing community has seen the prices of out-board motors double from 2,950 Ghana cedis to 6,500 Ghana cedis. During the same period, the price of premix fuel has increased more than 50% per gallon. And all these figures were before the just announced increase in petrol prices. Therefore, prices are likely to go up even more. To sum up, in the last two years of NDC governance, the prices of basic commodities have increased from a third in some cases to double in others.

These increases have been accompanied by stagnant wages. Some believe that all these taxes are being levied under the misguided socialist desire on the part of the NDC, to redistribute income. Indeed, many discerning Ghanaians, including former Presidents Rawlings and Kufuor, as well as commentators like Kweku Baako and his friend Kwesi Pratt, have spoken out against the rising prices, taxes and cost of living of Ghanaians. The other example of a broken promise was the pledge to clean Accra within a hundred days of assuming office. Every objective person knows that Accra does not smell better or look any cleaner than it did in January 2009.This should stand as an eternal warning to irresponsible campaigning and the practice of saying anything about opponents to get elected. Unfortunately, instead of apologizing to Ghanaians, NDC functionaries have described their campaign lies as “just platform talk”.

The blunders are many but here too, a few examples will suffice. First the boards of public corporations were summarily dismissed without lining up replacements. Putting aside the wisdom of sacking the boards of public corporations after every election, the execution was terrible and left many public corporations unable to transact business for months.

Then there were the court cases. After a campaign premised on the assumption that NPP members were corrupt, the government was determined to show the public that the NPP was corrupt. As a result, the Attorney General, under political pressure sent ill-considered cases to court and received a series of very public and embarrassing setbacks. Instead of accepting their defeats gracefully, the NDC resorted to threatening the judiciary with threats to purge it.

To compound these two errors, the government’s contempt for our laws and international laws were on full display as they sought to dishonor international agreements reached by the Kufuor administration. In both energy and technology, the Mills government, even while trying to encourage foreign investments by words, was discouraging investments by acting to dishonor agreements. These activities have led to needless delays in implementation of agreements, particularly in the oil industry. Furthermore, they have undermined the confidence of Ghanaians in the rule of law and the confidence of the international community in Ghana.

The rule of the NDC has witnessed significant erosions in the functioning of public bodies. Whether in the Census, the National identification process or the recent District assembly elections, bodies that functioned effectively and confidently under previous governments appear to have lost their touch. In virtually all of these cases, it appears clear that these problems have been due to the government’s failure to provide the necessary support. Indeed, the very disordered nature of the district assembly elections have called into significant question, the ability of the Electoral Commission to conduct a credible, fair and peaceful election in 2012. This should be of concern to all Ghanaians since most conflicts in Africa have started with Electoral disputes.

Over the last two years, as the government has lost the confidence of the people and in its performance, it has resorted increasingly to insults and intimidation—to harsh words instead of honest work.

In the process, the President, despite his periodic appeals to the rest of us to mind our language, has repeatedly rewarded the most, those around him who insult others the most. Indeed, recently, the generally well-behaved Vice-President joined the insults by describing those opposed to collateralization of oil revenues as “foolish” and their ideas as “baloney”. To date, he is yet to apologize or be reprimanded by the President. Occasionally, even the President has joined in such idle talk.

Predictably, under the dual pressure of non-performance and harsh rhetoric, the ruling party and our nation have been divided. In the NDC, there has been open feuding between the Mills, the Rawlings and the Mahama factions. Indeed, during the last NDC Congress, the Rawlings faction accused the Mills faction of buying votes to help elect the President’s candidate as NDC Youth organizer, Hlordzi. Despite pledges to do so, these allegations have not been investigated. As the tension has mounted, there have been reports that for the first time in our history, the sitting President faces a credible challenge—from former First lady Nana Konadu Rawlings. Just as the President’s party has been divided, he has divided our nation. While he won barely 50% of the votes, the President should have realized that he had won 100% of the Presidency and therefore had an obligation to lead all of us. Instead, he proceeded to divide us needlessly—with Dagbon, Agbogbloshie, Mobila and some careless language. Speaking at Bolga recently, the President who awarded himself 80% for his first hundred days could not see any good works by former President Kufuor. That was a low point for our country indeed.

The result of all these is that the Presidency has been losing authority and prestige by the day. The man who began his Presidency by reminding us that we voted for only one President had his directives on declaration of assets and the cleaning of Accra before this Christmas ignored by his own appointees.

Unfortunately, while Ghanaians are living the increased hardships and the disappointments of the Mills government, NDC spin-doctors are hard at work trying to persuade us that despite what we see, daily, we are indeed, marching resolutely to a “BETTER GHANA”. Nothing can be further from the truth.

In a misguided attempt to confuse Ghanaians, the President has embarked on a lengthy cabinet reshuffle. The man who chose to start the most important task of his life with team “B” when most were doubting the caliber of his first team is now reshuffling. He, of course, is ignoring the probability that while change is needed, maybe it is the coach, not the players who need changing. Recently, the President, while welcoming Ghanaian boxer Agbeko following his World title triumph, the President said he had landed two punches on his opponents and that two more punches in the next two years will finish them off.

Mr. President, respectfully, your problem is not your opponents. The problems are those problems that stand in the way of the Ghanaian people as they struggle to reach a “BETTER GHANA”. These problems, like taxes, high prices, lack of jobs and lack of educational opportunities are those you should fight. If you fight these problems, your opponents will not matter.

How can the President turn things around?

First, he must stop believing the liars around him who keep assuring him that things are getting better and listen to truth-tellers, like Presidents Rawlings and Kufuor, as well as people like Kwesi Pratt and the NPP.

Second, he should ask himself some hard questions.

Amongst these are the following:

Did the NDC campaign lie to Ghanaians?

Is he prepared to apologize to Ghanaians for the lies?

Can he concede that after two years of a witch-hand, the NPP government, by and large, was not corrupt?

Does he have effective control of his party and his government?

Is Ghana better off than it was two years ago?

Third, he should create real jobs, instead of Okudzeto Ablakwa’s phantom 1.6 million jobs that nobody can find.

Fourth, he should cut the taxes he has increased. No nation in history has ever achieved increasing economic growth with higher taxes.

Fifth, he should reign in those who are determined to build their careers on insults. They will not help him.

Sixth, he should unite his party and our country. He should get his party focused on development instead demonization with the NDC youth arguing with themselves or others about technology instead of toilets. Then he should get our nation focused on getting to a “BETTER GHANA” instead of a “BROKEN GHANA”.

When he does these things, he will be back on the way to a better Ghana agenda. Until then, the verdict from his first two years is ATAA, ENKO YIE KORAA!!!

God bless you!

God bless Ghana

Arthur Kobina Kennedy

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina