Since When Did Nana Akufo-Addo Become A Socialist?

Thu, 3 May 2012 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

Politicians everywhere are notorious for their penchant taste for wild promises that fail to materialise, and Ghanaian politicians are no exception. It has become an accepted, but a revolting part of the democratic process. However, the promises are now becoming ridiculous and reaching fever pitch, even former President Rawlings finds it distasteful, and couldn’t keep his silence during a recent remark at Agona Kwanyako and Agona Nsaba on 17th February. The editor of The Chronicle, Emmanuel Akli, wrote a very scathing editorial piece entitled ‘Politicians and phantom promises’. He meticulously catalogued their lies and deceit from President Rawlings to President Atta Mills, which I will recommend, to joggle your memory, and help make informed decision.

What beggars the imagination is how they are able to animate these promises with straight faces. I wonder whether they are benign liars or lethal cocktail of misfits bent on derailing our democracy. During the ill-fated 1979 Third Republican campaign a presidential candidate, Kwame Nyanteh, promised Ghanaians that he will bring back the Pound Sterling if elected. Of course, he didn’t have a chance in hell so he had free room to promise the Sun. But the question is did he think that bringing back the pound will change our economic situation then? Hitler said in his bid to become the chancellor of Germany that every woman who wanted a husband will have one when he is voted into power. As if he can force German men to marry any woman who likes them. It is strange that people buy all these nonsense. I think any candidate who makes such an outrageous promise is just desperate and hungry for power, and not serious about changing the plight of the people for a second.

I am holding you captive, because of the recent claim by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that when elected he will make SHS free. It is a perennial gimmick that Ghanaian politicians on the fringes have used to decorate their manifesto over the years. But this is the first time a main candidate with a serious chance at the presidency deciding to use the old trick in the book to throw dust in the eyes of the electorates. Though, it first appeared in 2008 it was not at the centre of their campaign. Education in Ghana, at least to the secondary level, is free. For anybody to suggest that he will provide free education is being disingenuous to say the least.

The Bible says in Hosea 4:6 – my people perish for lack of knowledge. And I am taking the literal interpretation of the text. Francis Bacon rendered the foregone wonderfully in a language of simplicity that knowledge itself is power, and his fellow countryman, Winston Churchill, said the empires of the future are the empires of the mind. It’s clear that without knowledge it is difficult to carry out successful negotiation with our environment. And how do we acquire knowledge? It is through education. Education is, therefore, very important; and I can’t emphasise that more clearly with the sort of global economy we find ourselves.

I am not the first person to raise a red flag over this hot air. IMANI has already done cost analysis, and found the proposal wanting. On the other hand, another bleeding heart socialist Dr Nii Moi Thompson has become the attack dog of the plan, and will chew the ear of anybody who dares to challenge this trick. There is a clear polarisation over the scheme, and it has become a fodder for political commentary. Under normal circumstances I will say that because education is indispensable I would love to have our future leaders, and the next generation to be educated in palaces, and thought by geniuses. But the country is not all about education. There is health; law and order, there are roads, energy and power etc., which equally needs clinical attention.

The reason for my cynicism, and ultra reservation is that this is a man who has studied economics, and I believe he knows what the discipline entails. If he has forgotten what it means I will refresh his memory that economics is the allocation of scarce resources, which have alternative uses. The resource he is going to use for education has other uses. Our roads are not worth their purpose. Our hospitals are more or less like death traps. Our electricity output is woefully inadequate for the national demand due to lack of investment and obsolescence. Pipe-borne water is a luxury even in certain parts of the capital, and they all need heavy investment. I will assume that a candidate with a degree in economics will have a better understanding of how to pull strings for the economy to realise its potential. And not to wreck it with socialist policies that will only increase corruption that the country can do without. To think that free education is what is going to solve our economic problems he should take a look at the contrast between the North and the South.

The economy needs strategic investment by the government to bring in foreign investors. For example, the number of fatalities on our roads is reaching nightmarish proportions. Going on a long journey in Ghana now is like entering into a war zone. Farm produce don’t come to market centres, and they rot in the bush, because of bad roads and inadequacies – contributing to the high cost of food. Accra and Kumasi are experiencing massive gridlock, which affects the economy adversely and even disrupt family life. If a parent who works in central Accra and lives at the outskirts will have to leave home at 4am, how can a parent in such situation have quality life with the family?

Without adequate electric power, small and medium scale industries cannot function let alone heavy industries. This is an important sector of every modern economy that any serious government will seek to resolve all the inherent bottlenecks.

Corruption is a grim cancer that is keeping the economy on a life support machine, and it needs to be contained. The arm of the government that can hold it in check is compromised, because of inadequate remuneration. Why? Because the government cannot collect their collectable taxes so that they can pay their own workers well. Solving the problem of unrealisable taxes can reduce our dependency on foreign loan, which unfortunately they recycle half of it into their pockets through the award of contracts. The possibilities of what needs to be done are endless, and what do we hear? A silly idea that, even a modern day socialist dictator will not touch with a badge pole.

There is no doubt that, because of poverty some families are unable to send their children to school. But those families don’t need this kind of state assistance. They want better paid jobs so that they can determine their own future. By better jobs I don’t mean the government providing it, but providing the milieu for better jobs to be created in the private sector. We are building a consumption rather than a capital economy – the balance should be on capital as a developing economy.

Currently, even, the most hard up families try as much as possible to send their children to private primary school, because the government primary schools are patently failing. The primary school foundation that is offered to children is what they build on later in life. No doubt that some JHS schools in the hinterland achieve shameful BECE pass rate. If Akufo-Addo is serious he will think about how to motivate the teachers in the primary sector to increase their productivity. This will go a long way to improve the quality of education. And we all know what needs to be done, don’t we? Rather he is opting for this 419 scam that has been exposed for what it is.

In every society there are those who irrespective of how fine the social safety nets are provided they will slip through it. Even in London where the government provide council flats, housing and unemployment benefits there are blue eyed English people who still sleep rough, and beg on the streets. So the government should stop meddling in the life of the people and carry on with their basic remit of providing law and order and security.

If the NDC and the CPP camp are suggesting that I will probably buy it, because I think out of recklessness they might implement it, but not a capitalist oriented party like NPP – it is just a manifesto swindle. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has come to the realisation that this is his last throw of the die, and he is trying to pull the most effective weapon of rhetoric – appealing to the human emotions. But this is wrong in all levels because it makes people to lose hope in the democratic process. Secondly, you don’t use all your resources to educate the youth, and when they finish they don’t have jobs to go to. What is the essence in that; you are only breeding problems for the future. If you have a huge educated unemployed population there will be a lot of discontentment and agitation. They say the devil finds work for the idle hands. Hypothetically, should it see the light of day they will just award contracts to their cronies to run the scheme for their own selfish gains.

However, as I think about it I also feel that I cannot blame him if he is got to slug it out with preposterous politicians like Ama Benyiwa-Doe that is how low a conservative like Akufo-Addo will sink to get votes. On the other hand, we can not treat our politicians with kid gloves, can we? This is not 1957; it is 2012. We are no longer children to be hoodwinked and tricked. They come to line their pockets, yet they have the incredible goal to insult our intelligence with this sort of manifesto Houdini. Its high time Ghanaian electorates come together to stop politicians from taking us for a ride. They should be prosecuted through class action for breach of contract at the end of their term when they fail to deliver on their outlandish manifesto promises – starting from President Mills.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr.



Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina