SPEECH READ BY FELIX KWAKYE OFOSU AT NDC WEEKLY BRIEFING ON FALSE INFRASTRUCTURE CLAIMS BY PRESIDENT AKUFO-ADDO AT COMMISSIONING OF THE TEMA MOTORWAY INTERCHANGE.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media,
Thank you once again for your kind coverage of this important platform.
Last Friday, President Akufo-Addo, at the commissioning ceremony of the Tema Motorway Interchange stated as follows “we made a pledge to the Ghanaian people to expand and improve the road network while closing the missing link in the network”.
“We had to make this pledge because we know that the so-called unprecedented infrastructure development of the Mahama administration was fantasy, existing in the Green Book and not on the ground”.
It bears mentioning, that it would not be the first time that President Akufo-Addo has made such comments about the contents of the Green Book or the stellar record of his immediate predecessor, President John Dramani Mahama.
On 7th May, 2019, he had this to say to members of the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs who had paid him a visit at the Flagstaff House;
“Before I came here, I was told by my biggest competitor that they have done all roads in Ghana and that they are responsible for an unprecedented infrastructure development. Everywhere I go, I do not think there is any institution that had talked to me and has not raised the issue about the roads in their area as their principal concern”.
President Akufo-Addo took this narrative a notch higher when he stated in his fourth and hopefully final State of the Nation Address on 20th February 2020, that “artists impressions had been passed off as constructed roads”.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media,
The President’s misrepresentation of the Green Book predates his ascension to the highest office of the land. He had claimed during the launch of the NPP manifesto, which has in the fullness of time proven to be the most deceptive and dishonoured in Ghanaian political history, that the Green Book was full of artist impressions.
In summary, the President through his various statements has sought to portray three things.
1.That the contents of the Green Book are not real and cannot be found on the ground or anywhere in the country.
2.That the book is filled with artist impressions.
3.That his predecessor, President John Dramani Mahama has said that he did all the roads in Ghana, but no evidence exists of this.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the media,
The facts as they relate to each of the President claims are as follows.
The Green Book, officially titled “Accounting to the people”, is arguably the most famous book that chronicles the achievements of a Ghanaian government. Its contents have been widely publicized and are well known to the generality of the Ghanaian people. Many would therefore be surprised at the effort put in by President Akufo-Addo to convince himself otherwise.
Having actively participated in the compilation of this book which highlights the boldest and biggest capital investment in the history of the fourth republic, I can state with absolute certainty, that the President’s claim that it contains “fantasy” projects that cannot be found on the ground, is an outright untruth.
I must at this stage point out that the team that put the book together had such membership as Former Presidential Advisor, Dr Valerie Sawyer, Former Deputy Chief of Staff, Johny Osei Kofi, and Former Presidential Staffers, James Agyenim Boateng and Dr Kpessah White.
In view of the abundance of evidence over the accuracy of the contents of the Green Book, there are only two possible explanations for the consistent falsehood of the President on the matter.
It is possible that despite having heard about it, President Akufo-Addo has never sighted a copy of the book and has thus not had the opportunity to peruse it, in which case he would have been compelled to rely on the same pedestrian propaganda of low-level NPP communicators.
This would not be a far-fetched theory in view of the several times he has displayed a lack of attention to detail and faced embarrassment when multiple plagiarized speeches have been thrust before him to read.
We all can recollect how the same cavalier approach to governance and his lack of attention to detail led to his approval of the most inflated contract in the history of Ghana, the Ameri Novation deal, only for it to be withdrawn and for us to be told by sources with knowledge of the matter, that he had been misled into granting executive approval for same.
It is also entirely possible that he is fully apprised of the contents of the Green Book but has chosen the path of falsehood in so far as it enables him to mislead fanatical supporters of the NPP or unsuspecting members of the public and in the process hide his dubious reputation as the least performing of all Ghanaian leaders at least in the area of infrastructure or capital investments.
Either way, this would be most unbecoming of an occupant of the high office of President. That office is associated with certain basic requirements which include candor, thoroughness, and truthfulness. The president of a country must speak in ways that leave no room for doubt or the potential for him to be ridiculed or derided.
For the avoidance of doubt, there is not a single project in the Green Book which does not exist on the ground today or for which clear context has not been provided regarding its status. Anybody interested in the truth would simply match what is stated in the book to what exists.Such an exercise would yield only one outcome, which is that the work shown in the book are as real as they come and evidence of them are abundant.
How can President Akufo-Addo for instance look the people of Ghana in the eye and say that the Ridge Hospital doesn’t exist when everybody knows it does and that on the 4th of March,2020 he toured it to ostensibly to ascertain the state of preparedness of that magnificent edifice towards the fight against COVID-19?
Surely, the President would not have Ghanaians believe that what he saw on his visit to the hospital was a fantasy or that he was walking on the pages of the Green Book when undertaking the tour.
Or is the President telling the people of Ghana that when on the same 4th of March, 2020, he toured the ultra-modern Terminal 3 at the Kotoka International Airport to learn about their COVID-19 preparedness, he was inspecting a phantom facility?
If he were in any doubt about the existence of that terminal, he would certainly be aware that one of his daughters operates a prime duty-free shop at the facility.
Again, can President Akufo-Addo describe the University of Ghana Medical Centre, built at a cost $ 217 million by his predecessor, and which his own government has earmarked as the treatment center for foreign diplomats who contract COVID-19, as fantasy or unreal?
It does the image of the President and the office he holds no good that he continues to live in denial of what his own eyes have seen and what every Ghanaian can testify to.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media,
On the second claim that the Green Book is filled with artiste impressions, it represents yet another exercise in denial by the President.
The Green book is a 210-page publication containing a total of 584 different pictures. These pictures represent actual projects which had either been completed at the time of compiling the book or for those that had not been completed, progress made on them. There are exactly 5 artist impressions which depicted what those projects on which work was being done at the time of the publication but had not reached a stage of completion that could be shown, would look like when completed.
These are clearly captioned as such in the book and include the $ 298 million Kejetia Market in Kumasi, Terminal 3 at the Kotoka International Airport and the Ho Airport among others.
To be clear, these projects have been completed as I speak, and their existence cannot be denied. It is therefore a gratuitous falsehood for President Akufo-Addo and his NPP to say that the Green Book is filled with artist impressions. All of these are imposing physical structures that no one can miss.
The President’s assertion that President Mahama had stated that he constructed all roads in Ghana during his tenure and that those roads cannot be found, is yet another falsehood that must not come from the occupant of the highest office of the land
I wish to put it beyond doubt that President Mahama has NEVER made such a claim anywhere or at any time. We would like to throw a challenge to the President to show where and when his predecessor said this or forever hold his peace.
It is obvious that President Akufo-Addo invented this falsehood in a bid to mask his abysmal performance in road construction as is the case in every other sector of national life. Between pages 100 and 113, the Green Book lists over 200 roads that had either been completed, were ongoing at the time or which had been awarded on contract.
Here too, I wish to state for emphasis that there is not a single road which was said to have been done in the Green Book that does not exist. No amount of consistent untruth about this from the President can change this fact.
Perhaps, the clearest indication yet, of the total falsehood inherent in the claims, has often come from President Akufo-Addo himself. He has never ceased telling the people of Ghana that his wobbly government has paid road contractors as much as GHS 2 billion in arrears owed them by the previous NDC government. Unless the President is publicly admitting to paying contractors for no work done, it is extremely illogical and disrespectful to the people of Ghana for the same person to say that no road projects had been done by President Mahama or that the roads exist only in the Green Book.
It is perfectly legitimate for Ghanaians to demand that their roads be fixed especially in areas where work on roads started by his predecessor have stalled because of vindictive but totally unjustified investigations carried out by his government which yielded no results.
If the President truly respects the people of Ghana whom he governs, he will do one of two things. He would either provide a list of the roads he claims do not exist but are in the Green Book, or he would refrain from repeating what he knows to be untrue.
As far as roads are concerned, and seeing as the President’s latest false claims about the Green Book were made at the commissioning of the Tema Motorway Interchange Project, which he has sought to appropriate in terms of conception, it is necessary at this stage to put to rest the needless debate about whose brainchild it was and who did the heavy lifting required to ensure its execution.
The Minority in Parliament last week, set the records straight, but just so that anyone out there who is not yet aware of the facts surrounding the project is left in no doubt, I wish to reiterate this, also in the hope it the jolts President Akufo-Addo and his government into reality about the true state of affairs.
- The Tema Motorway Interchange Project was funded by a Japanese Grant of $ 57 million applied for in 2013 by the Mahama administration.
- The survey for the development of the project and the tender process began at the behest of the Japanese government through JICA in March 2015
- The survey and design were completed in December, 2016 and a detailed report presented in February,2017 when the Akufo-Addo government was barely a month old.
- The only contribution of the Akufo-Addo government was to go through the mere formality of signing the grant agreement with JICA after work had already been done prior to their assumption of power.
- The rest was to go through the motions and respect the agreements so signed.
It is beyond debate therefore, that for all intents and purposes, the Tema Motorway Interchange is the brainchild and handiwork of President John Dramani Mahama.
It is regrettable that when commissioning the Tema Motorway Interchange, the zero-sum-game brand of politics practiced by President Akufo-Addo, which emphasizes polarization instead of cohesion, caused him to depart from the noble tradition set by the venerable President John Evans Attah Mills and followed through by President John Dramani Mahama which saw them invite President John Agyekum Kufour to the commissioning of the N1 project and the Bui Dam which he found money for.
While in office, President Mahama demonstrated his capacity to execute such major road projects by starting and completing both the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange and the Kasoa Interchange projects, respectively.He gave life to his vision to further modernize the road network across the country by securing funding for a number of other major interchange projects. In November, 2016, President Mahama secured $ 39.2 million and $ 84 million for the Obetsebi Lamptey and Pokuase Interchanges, respectively.
If you happen to pass by the former Obetsebi Lamptey Circle or the Pokuase road and find interchanges coming up, please note that those projects have been made possible because President John Dramani Mahama found money for them and they are his initiative.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We also know that all the effort President Akufo-Addo has put into disparaging the achievements of President Mahama are but a defense mechanism against the exposure of his abject failure to match up to his predecessor, sector by sector.
President Akufo-Addo has benefitted from more resources than any other leader before him. At the last reckoning, he had access to close to GHS 250 billion in three and half years compared to roughly the same amount available to the NDC between 2009 and 2017, a period of 8 years.
President Mahama, within the four years of his stewardship had access to barely half of this amount yet produced the most outstanding outcomes of any leader in the fourth republic.
The danger that the Green Book poses to President Akufo-Addo is a grave one as it provides the most compelling and visceral proof of his mediocre performance compared to his predecessor, hence the extraordinary lengths he has gone in a fruitless bid to discredit its contents.
Time would not permit a full analysis of everything contained in the Green Book but I would be remiss if failed to highlight the performance of President John Dramani Mahama in two or three sectors in order to offer perspective on just how abysmal his successor has been.
As the foreword of the Green Book, penned by then Communications Minister, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, makes clear, the projects and programmes captured in there were by no means exhaustive as there would not have been enough space to do so given the sheer scale of the work carried out by President Mahama while in office.
There are many projects that came on stream after the book was published like the Bank Hospital and over 22 polyclinics.
A lot has been said about the unprecedented investments President Mahama made in the health sector which have become the mainstay of the current fight against COVID-19.I would like to focus therefore on other sectors such as education, water, transport and energy to demonstrate the gulf in performance between John Dramani Mahama and Nana Akufo-Addo.
After coming under heavy criticism for having little to show in the education sector by way of infrastructure which has led to the unacceptable double track system at SHS level, the Akufo-Addo government has begun passing off some classroom blocks as notable achievements. The Minister of Education only last week claimed that this government has constructed 3,321 classrooms.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the press,
This claim is most misleading. The truth is that President Akufo-Addo has only 196 classroom block projects to his name since 2017 after having access to over GHS250 billion. Many projects currently ongoing at the SHS level were inherited from the NDC government.
To be exact, a total of 766 classroom block projects were bequeathed to this government by the Mahama administration and this fact is contained in the documents presented to Parliament for the collateralization of GETFund for a loan of $ 1.5 Billion to complete them.
In fact, both the Minister of Education, Mathew Opoku Prempeh and his Deputy, Dr Yaw Adu Twum, are on record and are widely quoted in the media as having said this openly.
The NDC’s record in terms of educational infrastructure far outweighs anything the NPP can lay claim to and I present a summary of them below. The NDC government
Constructed 1,347 classroom blocks at KG level
- Between 2010 and 2016, undertook a total of 5,128 different projects at the basic school level comprising of
-3,322 classroom blocks at Primary and JHS level
-73 Teacher accommodation facilities
-1,161 washrooms and 82 water systems
- At SHS level, we started over 1,000 classroom block and other projects
- 123 Community Day SHS projects were started out of which 80 had gotten off the ground and reached appreciable stages of completion.42 of them had been commissioned and had admitted students as of the end of 2016.
- At the Tertiary level, the NDC established three new public universities namely the University of Health and Allied Sciences, the University of Energy and Natural Resources and the University of Environment and Sustainable Development. A new campus was built for UHAS while President Mahama found an amount of $50 million for the construction of the Somanya Campus of the University of Environment and Sustainable Development and cut sod for it on 29th December,2016.
He also began the process to secure funding for the Donkorkrom Campus for the same University.
The only notable contribution of President Akufo-Addo to Tertiary education is the unnecessary re- naming of existing institutions after NPP figures and the introduction of the draconian Public Universities Bill which seeks to undermine academic freedoms and make the various universities appendages of the NPP.
In the area of water provision for instance, President Mills took over coverage in 2009 at 58.5% and increased it to 63% by 2012.President Mahama with much less resources than President Akufo-Addo increased it by 13% to 76% in 2016.In absolute terms, the NDC increased water supply capacity by 109.7 million gallons per day to serve an additional 7 million Ghanaians in over 2,000 communities across the county.
President Akufo-Addo despite all the GHS 250 billion he has had, has shrunk this to 69% as we speak with virtually no significant water project to boast about.
In the electricity sector, President Mahama ramped up generation capacity by an additional 2,000 MW and increased electricity coverage from 54% in 2009 to 84% in 2016 by extending electricity to 2,900 communities. Despite having GHS 250 billion since taking office, President Akufo-Addo has added approximately zero MW generation capacity and has only increased electricity coverage by a paltry 2%.
In the transport sector, where we now have three Ministries instead of one, President Mahama made telling contributions which as yet remain unparalleled.
In the aviation sub-sector, President Mahama did the following.
- The 5 million passenger a year Terminal 3 at the Kotoka International Airport
- Modernization of Terminal 2 at the Kotoka International Airport
- The Ho Airport
- Phase 1 of the Kumasi International Airport and found $ 72 million for phase 2.If you see a modern terminal building coming up at the Kumasi Airport, please note that it stems directly from the handiwork of President Mahama
- Phase 1 of the Tamale International Airport
- Modernization of the Wa Airstrip
- Despite all the resources he has received, President Akufo-Addo has nothing to show in the aviation sector beyond the creation of a new Ministry.
- In the maritime sub-sector, President Mahama counts among his achievements,
- The MPS Terminal which has doubled the capacity of the port and transformed it into a world-class facility second only in size the Lagos Port in West Africa.
- The completion of the first phase of the Takoradi port expansion project and the securing of funding for the second phase
- The expansion of the Albert Bosomtwi-Sam Fishing Harbour
- Beyond baseless fault-finding and needlessly delaying the second phase of the Takoradi Port Expansion Project, President Akufo-Addo has virtually nothing to show in the Maritime sub-sector.
- In the Railway sub-sub-sector, President Mahama left indelible footprints. He counts among his successes,
- The 20km Takoradi-Sekondi-Kojokrom Rail project with three modern terminals
- Secured $ 398 million in November, 2016 for the 84 km Tema to Akosombo rail project. I need to stress that if you happen to find rail tracks popping up between Tema and Akosombo, it is down to the work of President Mahama.
Here too, beyond the creation of a completely needless Ministry for Railways, there is little in terms of achievement that President Akufo-Addo has, which would compare with what President Mahama did.
Lip service has continued to be paid to his promise to build a rail line between Ghana and Burkina Faso and with six months to the expiration of his tenure, no tangible work has been done in that direction.
In the Communications sector ,President Mahama achieved such remarkable feats as the largest Data Centre in West Africa, a 510km long fibre optic cable which has opened up the Eastern Corridor of the country to data services, the multi-purpose Accra Digital Centre established as a hub for tech companies and BPOs, the imposing Headquarters of the National Communications Authority and over 70 enhanced Community Information Centres bridging the digital divide between urban and rural communities in Ghana.
I might add for emphasis that the national emergency number 112, announced earlier this year by President Akufo-Addo with pump and circumstance was in fact launched in 2015 by the Mahama administration.
The paucity of investment in infrastructure by President Akufo-Addo across board, is amply reflected in key economic indicators presented in his government’s own budget statements. A good way of assessing a government’s commitment and actual investment in infrastructure is the Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) to GDP ratio which measures how much money is put into infrastructure against the GDP of a country.
The higher it is, the more investment has been made.
A comparison of the CAPEX to GDP ratios under President Mahama and President Akufo-Addo is presented in the table below.
|YEAR||CAPEX/GDP RATIO (%)|
Source; budget statements-2013 to 2019
This table shows clearly that the best President Akufo-Addo has to offer is still less than President Mahama’s worst performance and should clear any doubt as to who operates within the realms of fantasy and who gets the job done.
The 2020 elections will be first and foremost a referendum on the stewardship of President Akufo-Addo and we in the NDC stand prepared to lead the scrutiny of his performance, or rather the lack of it, on the basis of facts and figures.
There will be no room for untruth of the sort peddled by the President about the Green Book and the record of President Mahama. We stand ready, willing, and able to quickly dispel such falsehoods with superior facts and incontrovertible evidence.
As elections are also about the future, President Mahama has already given indication of some policy proposals that he will put on the table for the consideration of the Ghanaian people. He will in the coming days make public, major policies to be rolled out when God willing he returns to the leadership of this country to salvage it from the path of certain ruin that the maladministration of President Akufo-Addo has set it on.
Based on the facts put out in this briefing, I would urge the Ghanaian public to disregard the false claims about the Green Book and the achievements of President Mahama. I also invite the media to increase their scrutiny and fact-checking of claims made by politicians especially in the run up to the December elections so that unsuspecting members of the public are not deliberately misled like the President did last Friday and also to ensure that the confidence and trust the Ghanaian people place in the public figures is not abused for narrow partisan gain.
Whereas a President’s words should be authoritative and carry such weight as to settle controversies, President Akufo-Addo has for some time now favored falsehoods and misrepresentations as a political tool.
So instead of trusting his word as President and verifying later,it has become imperative now to distrust what he says until it has been verified.
I thank you.
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