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The politics of projects & election 2016. Imitation is the best form of flattery (Part 1)

Fri, 20 May 2016 Source: Colin Essamuah

The idea for today came to me while going through a speech delivered by the flag bearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo at a workshop organised by the Konrad Adenaeur Foundation last Monday in Accra. Later in the week, I had the opportunity to listen to voice clips of portions of this very address on our afternoon radio political talk shows. It was also twice published in this very paper.

What caught my attention was his strange reference to the contents of the widely-publicised book on the infrastructural developments now known as the Green Book by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government ongoing in the country right now as artistic impressions and, therefore, fake and unreal depictions of what our present government led by President John Mahama claims to be doing and has done for Ghanaians as we edge closer to the general election at the end of this year. Readers would remember that I actually did two reviews of the book and its contents following its launch by the President earlier this year in my column.

To say that I was very surprised by the description by Akufo-Addo of the contents of this book would, therefore, be an understatement. Because the easiest way to expose the government for peddling expensive jokes, untruths and propaganda, faking artistic impressions, would have been for the NPP to conduct the research nationwide and juxtapose their truth against the government’s and publish the findings for all to read and appreciate.

They rather did something similar to the so-called propaganda of the government or something was done in the name of the NPP to rival the NDC’s publication titled ‘’New Patriotic Party achievements from Wa to Keta – a record of wealth creation in Ghana’’, which is also a collection of achievements of the period of the Kufuor presidency. The NPP publication was authored by one John Bosiako. I have both publications before me as I write. The Green Book is free but the NPP publication is going for GHC10.

Of course there are marked differences in publication, content, layout and even number of pages. For the eight years the NPP was in power, the book has only 50 pages, while the Green Book is made up of 210 pages spanning the first four years of the Mahama administration to be on the generous side since the four years was not completed at the time of publication. The Green Book was expertly produced with sharp colour pictures some obviously taken by overhead drones of the numerous projects strewn across the country. The NPP equivalent is in black and white, and all the pictures, that is the evidence, were taken from the ground. It is in truth, a poor cousin to the Green Book. Needless to add, there is not a single pictorial representation of a completed or ongoing project which is an artist’s impression in the Green Book. Not one.

And one last vital observation; the flag bearer of the NPP is throughout addressed as Dr Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, which makes for inelegant reading, when viewed against the fact that his major opponent, President Mahama has pointedly declined to use the title that he also acquired as an honour from reputable institutions worldwide. I would be interested in meeting the person who advised such usage and ask a few questions.

Battle for hearts, minds and votes

Now this is where it gets interesting. Clearly, the two major parties have now joined battle for the hearts and minds and votes on the issue of comparative policies and projects. As a developing country, I must admit I am excited by this prospect because it gives the reader the opportunity to measure performance by useful tangibles. I must add quickly, as a warning to the unwary that what may have been left out speak volumes about the reality as much as what has been published. Two examples will suffice, one from each publication.

Aviation sector

On page 34 of the NPP publication is the following quotation on the record of the party in the aviation sector and I quote in its entirety thus: ‘’with the enactment of the new Civil Aviation of 2004, the regulatory and commercial functions in the aviation sub-sector were separated. The Civil Aviation Authority regulates Ghana’s airspace and its users. An Airport Company was incorporated with responsibility for the development of airports infrastructure and commercial activities at the ports. The three regional airports in Kumasi, Tamale and Takoradi underwent significant rehabilitation. The works were financed by the government at an estimated cost of US$40 million.’’ That is all the publication says about the record of the President Kufuor administration about its record in the sector.

Readers would consider this portion just quoted extremely odd. This is because the major thing that happened in the past administration regarding aviation was the ill-advised divestiture of Ghana Airways. Why do I say so? That airline belonged to us the people of this nation and our leaders then decided to do away with it for reasons which completely defeats the claim of competence the champions of the NPP make these days. How do you prove competent leadership by selling off the asset over which you have been elected to at least protect and hand over to the next generation? The rivals of the defunct Ghana Airways now operate on a daily, instead of the twice weekly flights they had coming in and out of this country, and all the money from the rapidly expanding industry, which would have been rightfully ours, are repatriated to foreign countries. By leaving it out of the report card on aviation, this publication seeks to deceive voters of Ghana. Why?

Ommission in green book

The other selection from the Green Book is actually a non-selection because try as I would, I could not locate the completed new library building in my own alma mater, Mfantsipim School in Cape Coast in that extensive publication. This is because I was present in 1976 when the then head of state, General Kutu Acheampong, promised us a new assembly hall as the gift of the government and people of Ghana on the occasion of the centenary celebrations and also of secondary education in Ghana. The idea was later converted into a library. It was during the time of President Mills that GETFund was directed to have the building completed and so it was in February this year in the period of President Mahama, 40 years after the initial promise. I note rather sadly that the NPP government earlier managed to have a plaque put on this building by President Kufuor, but nothing was done to complete this monument which exemplifies the national commitment to education by all previous governments. Why this omission in the Green Book?

These two examples perhaps demonstrate the relevance of these publications to our political choices as we head towards election 2016. In subsequent parts, I shall examine and reveal more

Columnist: Colin Essamuah