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Why Dr Bawumia could keep NDC in opposition for sixteen years

BAWUMIA 78 Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia

Fri, 16 Dec 2016 Source: Badu, K

By K. Badu

The title of this periodical may appear somewhat sophistic and eccentric to many observers, however I will dare state that the caption encapsulates the content, which is largely undergirded by extant literature, experiential learning, theoretical and knowledge-based resources.

Interestingly, Ghana’s Fourth Republic is 288 months old, and the day-to-day management of the country within that period had been a shared responsibility between the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Party, whose share of the governance is 192 months and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), who had also governed the country for 96 months.

It would be recalled that when former President J. J. Rawlings completed his 96 months democratic rule in 2000, he sat back as directed by the Ghana’s 1992 Constitution. Thus, the stage was set for other qualified people to take over the presidency.

Even though quite impressive number of political parties presented their candidates for the hot seat, the race for the next president was keenly contested between the NDC candidate, the late John Evans Atta Mills and the NPP candidate, John Agyekum Kufuor.

It must, however, be pointed out that the 2000 election travelled into the second round, and John Agyekum Kufuor emerged victorious on 28 December 2000.

The President-elect, John Agyekum Kufuor took over the presidency from former President J. J. Rawlings on 7th January 2001.

Unfortunately, however, President Kufuor had a tough time in office initially as there was not much funds left in the national purse to plan anything meaningful.

Regrettably, however, former President J. J. Rawlings’s 228 months (military, 132 months and democratic, 96 months) administrations only managed to destabilise Ghana’s micro economic indicators.

Ghana was then declared as Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC). The fact of the matter is that the newly elected President Kufuor had a tough decision to make, by either embracing or rejecting the HIPC status. Nevertheless, the forward thinking President Kufuor chose to swallow a bitter pill with a view to getting over the malaise. He thus pragmatically embraced the HIPC status in 2001.

As a matter of fact and observation, the benefits of the HIPC were unprecedented during former President Kufuor’s administration, from (2001-2008).

The fact of the matter is that microeconomic indicators begun to stabilize and Ghana’s debt stock was significantly reduced by about $4 billion within that period.

Besides, , as a result of the HIPC initiative and commonsensible borrowing, Ghana’s external debt stock actually declined from $6.1 billion in 2000 to$3.8 billion by 2008 (it was “unprecedented” achievement).

It is also worth stressing that the average GDP growth of the NDC from 1993-2000 was 3.8% while that of the NPP from 2001-2008 was5.2% with economic growth reaching 6.3% in 2007.

As it was expected, former President Kufuor successfully completed his first term in office (four years), having managed to stabilise the micro economic indicators.

Subsequently, the good people of Ghana handed him the mandate for another four year term following a keenly contested presidential election on 7th December 2004.

It is, however, an understatement to point out that former President Kufuor’s pragmatic policies reaped tremendous results. Due to time and space limitations, I will only enumerate on a few of his wonderful achievements during his tenure in office.

1. Helped moved Ghana from HIPC status to Lower Middle Income status.

2. Ghana received a debt relief of around $4 billion, spreading over 20 years period.

3. Built numerous infrastructural projects, including not less than 5 interchanges. Nonetheless President Mahama said back then that the erection of infrastructural projects is only an exercise in mediocrity.

4. Discovered oil in commercial quantities before handing over power to the late Mills (Ghana has since received over $3 billion in revenue).

5. Increased the economic growth from around 3.5 in 2001 to around 8.4 in 2008.

6. Quadrupled Ghana’s GDP to $28 billion by 2008.

7. Introduced free Maternal Care.

8. Implemented National Health Insurance Scheme.

9. Introduced Metro Transport System.

10. Implemented School Feeding Programme.

11. Introduced the National Youth Employment Programme, known as GYEEDA.

12. Implemented the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty.

As I hinted previously, the list of former President Kufuor’s achievements is not exhaustive; nonetheless I would not be able to list all of them at this point in time. All that I can state is that, former President Kufuor did so much to improve on Ghana’s fortunes.

President Kufuor exerted dint of critical thinking, worked strenuously for eight solid years, laid an auspicious economic foundation and retired honourably. He then passed on the baton to the late President Mills on 7th January 2009, following his victory in the second round election on 28 December 2008.

It must, however, be emphasised that the late President Mills was extremely fortunate to have inherited a very good economic foundation laid by the effervescent President Kufuor and his equally hard working team.

Take, for instance, three years after former President Kufuor’s NPP government discovered oil in commercial quantities, the late President Mills turned on the valve at an offshore platform in December 2010 to pump the first commercial oil.

Lo and behold, Ghana joined the petroleum exporting countries. And believe it or not, Ghana started to export crude oil and thus boosted the economic growth. The economy grew from around 8.4 per cent to around 14 per cent by 2011 and Ghana reached the Lower Middle Income status.

“Ghana has come a long way and is the world's fastest growing economy today-2010.

“Ghana's economy is growing at a blistering 20.15 per cent, says Economy Watch.

“Blessed with rich reserves of natural resources, Ghana has suddenly turned around and is now speeding along the growth path.

“Ghana is oil-rich, has large gold and diamond deposits, and has a booming tourism industry” (Economy Watch 2010).

And, who said that the propitious economic foundation laid by former President Kufuor and his team was not the main contributory factor in the Ghana’s economic upsurge?

Unfortunately, however, the late President Mills got carried away and somehow allowed the create loot and share cabals in his government to have their way. The incompliant cabals began to dip their ‘thievery’ hands into the national coffers.

The racketeers even managed to allocate judgement debt amount in the national budget (around GH600 million), with the sole objective to create, loot and share. Do you remember Woyome’s GH51.2 million scandalous judgement debt payment?

What about the undeserving $30 million judgement debt payment to the Waterville, the dubious $25 million to ISOFOTON, and a lot more reported to be amounting to a staggering GH800 million?

Apparently, things started to fall apart. It went from bad to worse following President Mills sudden and mysterious death. The conspiratorial plotters then had a field day leading to the 2012 general election.

It is, therefore, worth stressing that President Mahama and his NDC apparatchiks went berserk in their desperation to cling on to power. Thus they broke all conventions. Many government departments spent over and above their allocated budgets.

Unsurprisingly, however, many observers hold a strong view that Ghana’s economic downslide came about as a result of the unbridled sleaze and gargantuan corruptions that have been associated with the NDC government over the years.

Let us take a critical look of some of the wanton sleaze and corruptions the NDC government has perpetrated on the good people of Ghana all this while.

• The dubious Embraer 190 aircrafts deal which prompted former President Mills to set up a Committee to investigate the then Vice President Mahama.

• The $250 million bill we incurred on the unsuccessful STS housing deal which was spearheaded by the then Vice President John Dramani Mahama.

• The bizarre GH800 million judgement debt payments over the last seven and half years.

• The undeserving GH51.2 million judgement debt payment (create, loot and share) to Woyome.

• The weird $30 million judgement debt payment to Waterville, which the Supreme Court of Ghana ruled as unconstitutional and ordered the NDC government to retrieve, but to no avail.

• The wrongful $25 million judgement debt payment to ISOFOTON, which the NDC government has failed to retrieve despite the Supreme Court’s order.

• The scandal (create, loot and share) at the National Service Secretariat which cost Ghana millions of Ghana Cedis.

• The SADA scandal which deprived the people of the Northern Region millions of Cedis meant for development.

• The SUBA scandal which cost Ghana millions of Cedis meant for the improvement of the economy.

• The GYEEDA corruption scandal which deprived the youth of Ghana millions of Cedis meant for the creation of jobs.

• The amount of $250 million from the Euro bond which was meant for infrastructural development was lodged surreptitiously in an unauthorised bank account.

• Inflated costs of infrastructural projects (the Minister for Local Government, Collins Dauda has raised concerns previously).

In fact, the list is not exhaustive, but time and space would not allow me to enumerate all of them at this juncture.

Somehow, President Mahama and his NDC apparatchiks have failed to acknowledge that corruption is a key element in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development.

All the same, the general belief back then was that they bought votes with the tax payers money. They nonetheless clung on to power following the controversial election on 7th December 2012. But their victory came with huge costs to the state.

Apparently, the previously single digit inflation and budget deficit doubled astronomically. The GH9.5 billion debt which former President Kufuor and his NPP government left in 2009 rocketed artificially to unpronounceable figures. Our total debt has since ballooned to GH112 billion as of October 2016.

Let’s face it; Ghana has been under the throes of economic collapse due to mismanagement and wanton sleaze and corruptions. For example, Ghana’s economic growth slowed for the fourth consecutive year to an estimated 3.4% in 2015 from 4% in 2014 as energy rationing, high inflation, and ongoing fiscal consolidation weighed on economic activity (World Bank, 2016).

Moreover, the high inflation rate remain elevated at 18.5% in February 2016 compared to 17.7% in February 2015, even after the Central Bank’s 500 bps policy rate hikes (the inflation stands at 15.8 per cent as of October 2016).

Prior to the 2008 and 2012 general elections, President Mahama and his NDC Party besought the good people of Ghana for the electoral mandate, and in return, they guaranteed everyone protection of life, property, provision of social amenities, better socio-economic standards of living and to a certain extent liberty.

Moreover, President Mahama and his NDC Party gave a slew of Manifesto promises, inter alia, making dumsor a thing of the past, putting money in Ghanaians pocket, creating more jobs for the jobless, stabilising the economy, protecting Ghanaians from the menaces of galamsey and Fulani herdsmen, bringing an end to dubious judgement debt payments, fighting the rampant sleaze and corruption, working with ‘lean’ government, getting rid of the filth in Accra within 100 days, introducing free SHS, implementing one-time NHIS premium etc.

Consequently, the good people of Ghana bought into the NDC’s Party Manifesto promises and then gave them the needed electoral mandate in the 2008 and 2012 general elections. Unfortunately, however, the successive NDC governments failed to honour their promises.

Take, for instance, the NDC Party promised wholeheartedly to make ‘dumsor’ a thing of the past, if voted into power. Back then, Haruna Iddrisu, the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, boldly asserted: “If voted into power, the NDC government would have no excuse to keep Ghanaians in dumsor”.

Ironically, however, the dumsor got worse following the NDC’s victory. So, the discerning Ghanaians rightly fretted thy souls with disappointments and curses, and, demanded answers as to why President Mahama has failed to bring the dumsor under control.

However the dire consequences of the dumsor, President Mahama has not been able to fix the dumsor. The dumsor continues to cripple hundreds of businesses. The dumsor has indeed contributed to Ghana’s economic downslide.

Besides, President Mahama and his NDC government pledged to implement one-time NHIS premium, they woefully reneged on their promise. And, after successfully shooting down Nana Akufo Addo and his NPP’s campaign promise of free SHS, President Mahama and his NDC Party hastily turned round and promised to implement free SHS policy. However, they failed once again to fully implement the somewhat tentatively thought-through policy.

It would also be recalled that the NDC Party told Ghanaians back in 2008 that the NPP government under President Kufuor had sunk the economy into the mire, so Ghanaians should give the NDC Party the opportunity to put the economy back on track.

Nevertheless, all the available evidence suggests that the NDC government under President Mahama has rather managed to worsen the socio-economic standards of living than any other government in the history of Ghana.

Strangely, whenever the good people of Ghana decide to express their grievances over the never ending harsh economic conditions, President Mahama and his vociferous communicators would go berserk: aren’t we transforming lives by building roads, hospitals, schools, toilets, water facilities and many other social infrastructural projects?

Regrettably, however, most of the projects are not up to the required standards, albeit they are often overpriced. The Minister for Local Government, Collins Dauda would attest to such assertion. He has previously decried over the NDC’s poorly constructed and overpriced projects.

Amazingly, whenever ordinary people complained about the poorly constructed roads in Kumasi, President Mahama would angrily respond: ‘You ungrateful lots, you would never even be appreciative if I constructed your roads with gold’.

The fact of the matter is that President Mahama and his non-performing appointees refused to appreciate that exemplary governance is not all about putting up numerous infrastructural projects.

It is, therefore, worth stressing that excellence governance goes beyond the provision of social infrastructural and amenities. As a matter of fact, praiseworthy governance also involves continuous improvement of socio-economic standards of living.

However, the good people of Ghana have been experiencing economic hardships due to President Mahama and his NDC government’s inability to improve upon Ghana’s economic fortunes.

As a matter of fact and observation, President Mahama and his NDC government have fecklessly collapsed the hitherto thriving economy. Indeed, they have broken their earlier promises, thus the bonds of trust are infringed.

Let us face it, though, if President Akufo Addo managed to keep most of his campaign promises, I will daresay that he could easily complete two terms in office.

Take, for instance, President Akufo Addo would have done well if he implemented the Manifesto promises of one District one Factory, one Constituency one Million Dollars, free SHS, one Village one Dam in the Northern part of Ghana, tax reductions, including taxes on utility bills etc.

I am of the opinion that Akufo Addo’s NPP government will deliver on its promises as done by the previous NPP government led by former President Kufuor.

If we take a stroll down memory lane; Kufuor’s government kept the Manifesto promises and introduced social interventions such as 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.

I would therefore like to conclude that President Akufo Addo could complete his two terms in office as prescribed by Ghana’s 1992 Constitution upon satisfactory performance and then pass on the baton to either John Alan Kyeremanteng or Dr Mahmoud Bawumiah.

Nevertheless, between the two aforementioned potential presidential aspirants, my preference will be Dr Bawumiah, whose candidacy could keep the NPP Party in government for a further two terms.

Well, believe it or not, Dr Mahmoud Bawumiah has come of age in Ghanaian politics, and has thus far won the hearts and minds of the good people of Ghana.

It is for this reason that I would like to believe the odds will tilt in his favour in any political contest futuristically.

Columnist: Badu, K