President John Mahama is not feeling the suffering of most Ghanaians because he is cocooned in the trappings of being in power, flag bearer of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo has said.
Speaking at the launch of the party’s 2016 manifesto at the International Trade Fair Centre in Accra on Sunday, 9 October, Mr Akufo-Addo said: “President Mahama might not recognise the suffering of the people of Ghana and might not be hearing their cries because he has sadly insulated himself from the reality on the ground. He has probably not met young Godwin.
He did what every child is urged to do: he went to school, he studied hard, he got good grades, he chose to go to the School of Hygiene and he finished three years ago. He is still sitting at home, he hasn’t got a job. No one who has been through the School of Hygiene for the past four years has been placed in our health system.
I have met many of them and thousands more like him; young, vibrant Ghanaians who want to work, but cannot find jobs, because President Mahama has run our economy into the ground.”
“If the President would only look a little closer behind the veneer that closets him, just a little behind his immediate circle of family and friends, he will see and feel the agony of Ghanaians.
“If he looked a little closer even at the rank and file of his own party, he would recognise that this is, indeed, an economy in crisis. Maybe the President should talk to young Awal Mohammed, who was, until this past week, the deputy Director of Communications of the NDC Zongo Caucus. He does not sound to me like an unpatriotic young Ghanaian. If the President looked a little closer, he would see the army of desperate young unemployed who are in despair.
“If he looked a little closer, he would see the number of teachers and nurses who have worked for three years and been told they will be paid for three months. If he looked a little closer, he would see the number of businesses that have collapsed as a result of the ruinous years of dumsor. I have met the hairdressers, the vulcanizers, the tailors and the food sellers, who have been reduced to penury, because their businesses could not survive the energy crisis,” the three-time flag bearer said.
According to him, only the President’s family and friends are not feeling the pinch as the masses are. “Yes, there are a few people who have prospered under this government, largely members of the President’s family and his inner circle.”
“I am appalled by the poverty and deprivation that I see around our country, because it is unnecessary. We have drawn up a comprehensive programme to grow our economy and make sure no part of the country is left out.
“I am disgusted at the cavalier attitude towards corruption in public life. I believe that the everyday petty and oppressive corrupt practices that blight the lives of ordinary Ghanaians will disappear if high government officials are seen to be persons of integrity. That is the quality of governance, a government of integrity; I am offering the people of Ghana,” Mr Akufo-Addo added.
His comments are a direct response to Mr Mahama’s recent assertion that despite Ghana’s economy doing well, critics like Nana Akufo-Addo keep seeing crises where none exists.
In an address at the University of Energy and Natural Resources on day four of his campaign tour in the Brong Ahafo Region, Mr Mahama wondered why Mr Akufo-Addo would keep harping on the "propaganda" that Ghana's economy was in "crisis" when all evidence, in his view, point to the contrary.
"… So when somebody sits and says: 'The economy is in crisis', you fail to understand where he is seeing the crisis. He probably has some lens that sees crisis where crisis does not exist and the international community is recognising it," he said.
According to Mr Mahama, the recent upgrading of Ghana's economy by Moody's and the over-subscription of the last Eurobond defeat the claims by the NPP that Ghana's economy is in crisis.
"The last Eurobond that we floated – and incidentally that Eurobond was floated to settle the outstanding Eurobond that was taken in 2007, and, so, this Eurobond was to settle the $400million left of that Eurobond. It was successful, it was oversubscribed. We went in looking for $750million; the international credit community offered us $4billion. Why would you give a country in crisis $4billion? And so it gives a lie to the propaganda people try to put out that this country is in crisis.
"Recently, Moody's which is one of the recognised international credit agencies upgraded Ghana. At the time Moody's was downgrading us in 2012, 2013, the same people said: 'Oh you see, Ghana has been downgraded. It means the economy is bad, your credit rating is poor.' And we have fought to try and restore that confidence in Ghana's economy. So, the same Moody's that was downgrading us, you recognised it and you were happy about it. I don't know how you can be happy about your country being downgraded? I mean, don't you have a sense of patriotism? But they were happy when we were downgraded. Now the same Moody's upgrades us and an opposition leader says Moody's doesn't know what they are talking about. I mean how can you have your cake and eat it? You can't have double standards in measurements.
"These are the recognised credit rating agencies: Moody's, Fitch [and] Standard & Poor's. They are the ones who rate America, China and everybody, and, so, if they say Ghana's economy has been upgraded in terms of confidence from negative to stable, then it is a good thing and so we will continue to manage the economy in a prudent manner in order that we are able to make Ghana a place of prosperity," he said.