As election 2012 draws closer by the day and the electioneering campaigns intensify, press conferences are dominated and our airwaves are inundated by figures on how prudently our economy has been managed or mismanaged.
The ruling NDC has been trumpeting their “unprecedented achievements” in the economy and other sectors. The opposition New Patriotic Party would quickly, as expected, point to their own achievements by stating where they took over from, where they left off, and what solid foundation has been laid to facilitate some of the achievements that have now been touted as “unprecedented”.
The NPP will refer to the mass cocoa spraying exercise that has resulted in the increase in output of cocoa, the discovery of oil in commercial quantities by the previous government that has been inherited by the NDC government, the rural electrification programme which they initiated and which loan was actually signed and ready for execution, the capitation grant which was initiated and which the NDC government claim they have increased by 50% and added to their unprecedented achievement list, and many economic and life-changing social policies initiated by the Kufour –led administration.
The Debate on the inflation and other economic figures can go on among the political parties, civil society organizations and academicians, because that is theory. What concerns the electorate, and are critical to election 2012 however, are the practical issues that confront them each day and based on which they will make their decisions. This article therefore concentrates on the practicals.
The most important to the electorate is their economic wellbeing. The translation of the “impressive” figures into practical solutions to the myriad of problems that affect their lives. Low inflation, low interest rate, high import cover and all the figures being bundied around are meaningless to the ordinary Ghanaian if they do not impact positively on their lives.
The reality on the ground is that cost of living is unacceptably high and unbearable to Ghanaians. The CDD Afro-Barometer report of May to June of this year confirms this. The fact that times are hard for Ghanaians is quite unambiguous and the most ardent supporter of this administration will honestly attest to that.
Ghanaians are also interested in getting value for money for commitments or investments made on their behalf. Probity, Transparency, accountability and social justice that are claimed to be the cardinal principles of the P/NDC party are tested to the fullest under this administration. The proponent of these principles himself and the founder of the NDC party has scored low marks for it on the same principles.
Critics of the previous NPP government like Mr. Kwasi Pratt and others were very much against, and of course made so much noise about the use of state resources to honor hard working and deserving Ghanaians who have contributed in diverse ways to nation-building, but are dead silent on the use of thousands fold of that amount to cronies in the name of judgment debt. Objectivity and honesty gone missing there.
The Woyome case for instance is in court and we are to be very cautious not to be held for contempt of court. But the fact that the government is back in court to retrieve the money paid to Woyome point to one of two things; a mistake in the first place for paying, or collusion. This will show either incompetence in the first instance, and corruption and shortchanging of Ghanaians in the second. Neither is good enough. The Several other judgment debts are not different.
The second case of flagrant misuse of the public purse is the Schools Under Trees Project that is touted as the number one achievement of this government. Here, we have a clear case of inflation of contract prices for personal benefit. We are told the NPP government spent about GH¢80,000.00 on a six unit classroom block on the average.
This figure immediately jumped to over GH¢250,000.00 upon assumption of office of the NDC government. That is more than three times the price, at the time inflation rate was said to be coming down (prices were going up at diminishing rate).
This means, for any one (1) unit of six unit classroom block from the NDC, we could have gotten three (3) units of that from the NPP, at the same price. So for instance, if the NDC say they have built about one thousand classroom blocks, the NPP, with the SAME AMOUNT of money could have built about three thousand units or more.
The above two instances demonstrate the fact that Ghanaians have been short- changed and value for money has been compromised and thrown to the dogs. The tax payer’s money has not been judiciously used for his benefits. Ghanaians are interested in infrastructure that can transform the economy and their lives, but are equally interested in getting these infrastructure in the most prudent and economical manner. This, unfortunately, is not the case under this administration.
In the face of the above and even if we were to believe that the NDC government has eliminated over one thousand schools under trees, I wonder how any one will still consider this as an achievement. Perhaps what is unprecedented is that, with our own resources, they have built about one thousand schools for us and built over two thousand in their pockets and those of their cronies.
The misuse and abuse of the national purse put our economy in a dangerous state. While Ghanaians lament the flagrant abuse of our resources, there is unprecedented huge debt piled on the Ghanaian to pay. Let’s remember this is the party that campaigned on reducing the size of government, reducing government expenditure, reducing presidential travels and so on, all by way of saving money for developmental projects.
We are even told the late president Mills chose to forgo per diems and allowances because of his personal love for the country and his commitment to the above project. But once again, what is the point scarifying a few Ghana Cedis and turning around to dole out several millions of that as DUBIOUS JUDJEMENT DEBTS, perhaps for personal gains.
The result of this mismanagement is that, while there isn’t much to show by way of infrastructure and improvement in our lives, the national debt has increased from $8.00 billion to over $15.00 billions. This has been almost doubled within three and a half years at the time we now have oil, and the prices of most Ghana’s export commodities like gold, cocoa and so on at their highest peak.
Every Ghanaian now has much more on his or her head to pay and we are certainly not bequeathing any good legacy to the future generation. The government claims Ghana as a country is credit worthy, and that our debt is serviceable, allowing them to go for more loans. But it is not prudent, and does not do any Ghanaian any good to go for more money only to share it in this most unscrupulous and reckless manner and describe it as Judgment Debt.
Nation building is a serious business that requires the contribution of all citizens to make any meaningful headway. This requires confidence-building in all stakeholders and harnessing the energies required to develop. Once confidence in the government of the day is eroded by its own actions and/or inactions this becomes difficult and the result is despondency and breakdown of law and order. This is exactly what we started witnessing since the NDC government took over the reigns of power in 2009. We started seeing for instance, the unlawful seizure of public toilets by NDC functionaries with impurity.
We witnessed the burning of tender documents, the burning down of NDC party offices, unlawful locking up of National Health Insurance offices, the slapping of a district police commander by a District Chief Executive, demonstration without permit of NDC functionaries and so on.
While this was being perpetrated rampantly by foot soldiers of the NDC party with impunity, we had senior members of the party publicly criticizing and pointing out how the government was under-performing and how despondency has crept into the fabrics of our society, bringing confidence to its lowest ebb. We heard words like “fair weather friends” from Hon Alban Bagbin before his appointment.
That statement in all its import sums it all. One just needs to start lambasting and later sing praises to be heard, recognized and rewarded. People like Ras Mubarak, Joseph Yamin, Lucky Mensah the Nkratuo man, Hon Alban Kinsley Sumani Bagbin and recently Dr. Mamboa Rockson to mention but a few, have all employed this at different times to their own advantage.
But before they made their quick turnaround for obvious reasons, they, the founder of the party and many others have confirmed the sentiments of most Ghanaians that this is a government that has failed to inspire confidence in its own people moving forward. The result is the underperformance in many sectors.
What we now hear is that the late president Mills has sacrificed his life for the NDC. His death is supposed to have re-energized the party and has brought back hope. This means his death has given the NDC a lifeline going into election 2012.
The legitimate questions one cannot help but ask are the following:
a)Did hope vanish at any point in the period of this administration and has been rediscovered?
b)Have the conditions that resulted in the loss of hope for the NDC government quickly disappeared with demise of the late president?
c)Was the late president solely responsible for the existence of these conditions?
d)Will the NDC government take collective responsibility for any inefficiency, or they will blame it all on the departed soul?
e)Have these conditions since been corrected after the death of the president to have offered back any hope, and how?
f)Even if they were to have been corrected, what effects would they have had on the psyche of the nation and our forward march for development?
g)Would the NDC have been honest enough to tell Ghanaians they are struggling (if President Mills were to be alive and contesting election 2012) or they would still have been shouting the Ede biiii keke slogan as they are doing now, knowing very well eno de bii koraa?
h)To what extent was president Mahama and his vice/running mate responsible for this despondent state?
As we ponder for answers for the above questions one thing that has admitted by even president Mahama in his speech on numerous platforms is that, hope was lost for the NDC and Ghanaians but was rediscovered with the demise of the late president. How then do we juxtapose this admission against claims of unprecedented achievements? The answers to these questions are left for the discerning voter.
The above discussed issues and many others are the real issues that concern the Ghanaian. High prices of basic commodities, high food prices, high utility prices, fallen educational standards, high level of national debt, growing insecurity in our system, unstable and unreliable power supply, high and rising unemployment figures, mismanagement of the national purse, etc.
These unfortunately are what the ordinary Ghanaian will consider as critical and will be seeking solutions to as they queue to cast their votes on December 7th, 2012.
Hadii Bawa Manju