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Political Advice: A message to Nana Addo ‘the President-Elect’

Tue, 5 Jan 2021 Source: Collins Yao Losu

From the closet of my hiding place, from the palace of the War Chief of the traditional area in a peaceful environment but in a rather disturbing electoral field, I dispatch words of congratulations to you, his excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo upon the declaration by the nation’s returning officer of the presidential polls as the president-elect for the just-ended 7th December 2020 elections. Although your main contender in the election has rejected the declared result and has headed to court base on alleged illegalities and malpractices, I am part of the section of the citizenry who believe that this would only be an exercise to strengthen the electoral system and our democracy rather than securing his desired relief.

As a student of electoral politics, the 7th December general election was largely peaceful on election day. Although there were isolated incidents of violence at some places during the time of coalition, it cannot erode the success achieved. On the other hand, I describe this electoral triumph of Nana Addo and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) as a victory with a taste of defeat.’ This can be explained by the fact that your margin of victory in the previous election has decreased by more than half, losing so many seats in the country’s legislature and many of your appointees were unable to satisfy the electorates in their various constituencies. Well, this has become history and there is the need to look forward to writing the wrongs.

Going into your second term, consequent upon your swearing-in on the 7th of January 2021, there is the need to address certain issues which possibly led to the reduction of the margin of vote in the just-ended elections and when addressed, has a great potential of serving as a solid rock and a vehicle to move the new patriotic party (NPP) to victory in the next elections. It is my considered view that to consolidate your gains in the previous regime, the following must also be held close to your chest to affirm your stands as far as governance and politics are concerned.

The foremost identified factor is Your fight against corruption-fighting institutions during the latter part of your first term. It is undoubtedly true that your policy and stands on corruption as espoused in the 2016 NPP manifesto was the fulcrum that catapulted you and the NPP to the seat of government in 2017 and not the much-touted free senior high school. This is so because, in 2012, the NPP was very vociferous on free senior high school but were unable to capture power at the time. But instead, won political power when they highlighted the corrupt deals of the then government and indicated how they were going to deal with the situation. Ghanaians gave the NPP the mandate in 2016 to execute this. It is therefore unfortunate to see some form of conflict between the government and the office of the special prosecutor and the director-general of the audit service, (corruption-fighting institutions), in the latter part of the administration.

It should be noted that "a fight against one institution is against all" and "a fight against a person affects the entire organization" especially knowing the depth of power trusted in the hands of government and its implications. The creation of the office of the special prosecutor was no doubt through your ingenuity aimed at tackling corruption through procurement and its related issues and must be independent of the government manipulations. So, if the office must obey your instructions and orders other than the rules and principles that established it, it is interference and can generate tension and conflict between the institution and government. There were instances where your office, through your chief of staff asked the independent prosecutor to do one thing or the other or was asked to delay one report or the other. No matter how little these may be, it tends to compromise the independence of the office and would restrain their fight against corruption especially against members of your government.

This and many others led to the resignation of Martin ABK Amidu, the special prosecutor who upon his nomination was overwhelmingly endorsed by all Ghanaians based on his dedicated fight against corruption and even against members of his political party. This is a clear indication of interference on his independence as an individual and as an institution. As if that is not enough, your decision and directive to impose a mandatory leave on Mr Daniel Dormelevo, the director-general of the audit service is another sign of conflict between your outfit and another corruption-fighting institution. Mr Dormelevo's work was generally accepted by many Ghanaians and the international community in the country.

Uncovering several corrupt acts by state institutions, political officers both your nominees and past officeholders and other private institutions. It is worthy to note that, during his time, large sums of money were retrieved to the state. Unfortunately for you, some of these retrievals were legitimately targeted at some of your appointees, which inadvertently ruffled some very powerful political feathers and eventually lead to his “dismissal”. This decision contradicts your promise base on which Ghanaians gave you the mandate in 2016.

Even if the above situations were interpreted wrongly, you should not act to confirm the doubt in peoples mind by using the constitutional powers vested in the executive to undermine the authority of independent institutions. These conflict between your outfit and the corruption-fighting institutions has caused many of your admirers to abstain from exercising their franchise leading to the decrease in the margin of the vote and could cause your government if not handled well in your next regime.

Another significant problem that requires urgent attention is the wild spread corruption allegations levelled against many of your appointees in your first term. As a party that got the seat of government on the back of a strongly driven anti-corruption campaign and raised high the hopes of many, you should not be repeating mistakes of the past. Peoples’ expectations were not met as far as the fight against corruption in your government is concerned. In the first four years, there were many corruption allegations which earned the accolade, “one day, one scandal”. Some of these allegations include the cash for seat, the BOST contaminated fuel, the diversion of premix fuel, the PDS scandal, the YEA saga, the bribery allegation against your deputy chief of staff, the Australia visa scandal, the Agyapa royalty deal, and the list continues. It is very worrying as many of these people went free without any punishment which has reduced your title “incorruptible” to nothing because you failed to stamp your authority for the right things to be done.

Although you cleared many of these individuals based on the investigations of other bodies, you must know that no one bites the hand that feeds it. If the said actions were right legally, there are certainly, the violations of basic procedural and standards which calls for punishment as far as those involved are public officers.

In order not to interfere with the work of other independent institutions, you could allow them to clear the people to involve themselves without necessarily doing it yourself. If you were tough on your appointees in the just ending regime, you should be tougher going into the next administration by fighting corruption even from your outfit, the presidency, so that the confidence of Ghanaians would rise again. It is only through this that you can give credence to your much-touted accolade, (the incorruptible Nana Addo).

Another point worthy of note is the numerous family members and friends of yours appointed to serve several positions in your government. There are indeed different leadership and governance styles, and one decides the best adopt. Also, many individuals prefer to trust people who would be loyal to them in the process of governance. In this instance, it makes sense to use family members and close acquaintances since they can highly be trusted. Whiles the above point may be valid, you should also ask whether there are no qualified individuals who can hold the said positions and execute the task professionally? And whether you can exercise authority over these Acquaintances by disciplining them if they should go wrong? Many citizens raise the point that it is the latter that has contributed to several scandals in your first term and you continue to clear them one incident after the other hence the name, "clearing agent" giving to you by your political opponent.

Closely related to the above is the huge government size. It has gone down in the history books as you, (his excellency Nana Addo) is the only president with the highest number of appointees in the history of Ghana. Over 110 ministers of state were appointed to manage different government machinery. When asked, you replied, "for efficient delivery of task". But truth be told, you have not achieved exceedingly as expected as the saying goes, (to him much is given, much is expected)

In my candid opinion, I would request that you drastically reduce the size of your government. This can be done by consolidating some of the ministries and scrub some of them. I do not understand why someone should draw a plan and another person would evaluate. It should be the responsibility of the ministry that planned to evaluate at the end. I am very hopeful that, when you reduce the size of government, there would be some funds left to attend to other important needs of the state.

Let me end here by congratulating you and your team on the way you handled the COVID19 situation in the country. Your frequent update and measures are taken to combat the deadly disease since its emergence on the shore of Ghana is commendable. Although it is still here with us, and there is a reduction in the active cases, I believe this too shall pass especially following the safety protocols. I was only disappointed when there was total disregard for these safety measures during the campaign season and this must be condemned in no uncertain terms.

Congratulations once more on your elections to the high office of the land for your second term to continue the work you have started but remember to take into consideration the above suggestions as it would help in consolidating the successes in the past regime.

Columnist: Collins Yao Losu
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