On Mahama’s fourth bid: How I would have wished the return of Kufuor

John Dramani Mahama Q2 Ex president of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama

Thu, 23 Feb 2023 Source: Kwaku Badu

Former President Mahama’s conscious decision to contest the 2024 presidential election has generated mixed emotions among the good people of Ghana.

While it is true that the Mahama loyalists are jumping for joy over his return, the concerned Ghanaians are ventilating their inexpressible anguish over the comeback of Mahama given the calamitous errors in judgement that led to the massive economic collapse amid the business crippling dumsor.

But I, for argument's sake, would have loved to see former President Kufuor at the presidency again if Ghana’s labyrinth and somewhat dowdy constitution allowed the return of every former president.

I have always held a firm and unadulterated conviction that discerning Ghanaians made a calamitous mistake by voting the NPP administration out in 2008 general elections, as Ghana, so to speak, was heading towards the right direction following the eight years of prudent governance by ex-president Kufuor’s administration.

Regrettably, we are more often than not been electing ‘a semicircle’ of negligent officials whose only preoccupation is to sink the nation deeper and deeper into the mire through incompetence and unbridled corruption.

If you would recall, prior to the 2020 general elections, the reputable Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reported that former President, John Dramani Mahama was going to find it extremely difficult to convince discerning Ghanaians into accepting that he is the preferable custodian of Ghana’s economy, given his average economic performance and the country’s fairly strong economic growth back then under President Akufo-Addo.

I would like to believe that the EIU lack of confidence in Mahama as a leader stems from his abysmal economic performance (moved economic growth of14% to 3.4% and single digit inflation to 15.4%), and the catalogue of alleged bribery and corruption cases, such as the Ford Expedition Vehicle, SADA, GYEEDA, SUBA, SSNIT, MASLOC, NCA, STX housing deal amongst others (four persons have since been convicted and sentenced to prison).

Apparently, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) most recent forecast on Ghana, released on April 13, 2022 stresses that unemployment, economic downturn, corruption among others under the Akufo-Addo administration can compel Ghanaians to "seek change".

“Our baseline forecast is that ongoing public dissatisfaction with the slow pace of improvements in governance such as infrastructure development, job creation and easing of corruption will trigger anti-incumbency factors and push the electorate to seek a change.”

The Economist Intelligence Unit therefore predicts that the situation will most likely favour the opposition NDC but not with former President John Dramani Mahama as the flagbearer.

Interestingly, in its 2022 report, the EIU dwells largely on three thematic areas, namely, slow pace in development, job creation and corruption.

The overarching question then is: did Mahama and NDC perform exceedingly better on those indices?

Dearest reader, your guess is as good as mine.

Let’s face it, the good people of Ghana may have a valid point in stressing that there is an untold hardship in the country, but some of us are failing to admit that the economic meltdown is rather ecumenical due to the pernicious coronavirus and the Russian and Ukraine impasse, and not Ghana specific.

It is an undeniable fact that we choose to exercise our voting rights by electing a president in anticipation that the said leader will form a formidable government to run the affairs of the country to the benefit of all and sundry.

It is also true that politicians have different levels of temperament, competence, experience, knowledge, skills and abilities, so they are never the same, as a matter of fact.

Take, for example, the current NPP administration took over a tattered economic growth of 3.4% and uninspiring inflation of 15.4% in December 2016.

However, the Akufo-Addo administration, before the insidious coronavirus, managed to raise the economic growth to around 8.6% and reversed the inflation to 7.5% in a little over two years in office.

Indeed, against all odds, Ghana’s economy grew provisionally by 8.5 percent in 2017 compared to 3.7 percent in 2016 (Ghana Statistical Service, 2018).

Truly, 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 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% in 2017. The sector's growth rate also decreased from 5.7% in 2016 to 4.3% in 2017.

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

The Industry sector, the highest growing sector with a GDP share of 25.5%, had its growth rate increasing from -0.5 percent in 2016 to 16.7% 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% in 2016 to 8.4% in 2017. Its share of GDP, however, declined from 18.7% in 2016 to 18.3% in 2017. Crops remain the largest activity with a share of 14.2% of GDP.

The Non-Oil annual GDP growth rate decreased from 5.0% in 2016 to 4.9% in 2017.

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

As a matter of fact, it would be most unfair to put for instance, Dr Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah and J. J. Rawlings in the same basket and compare their achievements.

If for nothing at all, Dr Nkrumah was a chivalrous industrialist who built hundreds of factories and only for President Rawlings to off load all to his cronies through his somewhat infelicitous Economic Recovery and Divestiture Implementation Programmes.

In the same vein, it would be boundlessly unreasonable to put President Kufuor and President Mahama on the same pedestal in terms of the implementation of social interventions.

The fact is, President Kufuor and his NPP administration pragmatically introduced 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, and many other social interventions.

Likewise, it will be incongruous to put Akufo-Addo and Mahama in the same basket in terms of the provision of social interventions. This is because, the former has prudently introduced important policies and programmes in a little over six years in power, while the later failed to introduce a single social intervention in eight years.

In addition, before the pernicious coronavirus, the Akufo-Addo government managed to move Ghana’s economic growth from a disappointing 3.4% under former President Mahama to around 8%.

And the previously double digit inflation (15.8 in December 2016) was reduced drastically to around 7.5% within a short space of time.

With all due respect, if we fail to acknowledge the painful fact that Ghana’s economy was in shambles under the erstwhile NDC administration, then we are somehow reinforcing Mahama’s assertion that Ghanaians suffer from memory loss.

Columnist: Kwaku Badu