National | Politics

Staying to fight: A question for Alan Kyerematen, a dilemma for NPP

The Titanic is heading for the iceberg. The captain of the ship and his close circle of senior crew members see the impending danger from the bridge. The passengers are completely unaware of the danger ahead.

Question: Does the captain and his senior crew stay to get everybody safely off the ship, make an attempt to avert the disaster and risk dying in the process or do they jump ship now and save themselves?

That was the question confronting three members of President Akufo-Addo’s cabinet with ambitions to replace him as President.

Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Agriculture Minister and Trade Minister, Alan Kyerematen had the decision to make.

Ghana is facing its worst economic crisis in a generation. Like the Titanic, the economy is facing an impending complete collapse if we fail to secure an International Monetary Fund (IMF) Executive Board approval for a bailout in March.

As a member of the cabinet with ambitions to be president, do you resign from the government now to focus exclusively on your campaign or do you stay and help steer the country to an IMF Executive Board approval with hopes that that will at least help avert an economic apocalypse and place Ghana back on a path to recovery?

Also, remember that like the Titanic the risk of staying till the very end was grave. If the government failed, then your presidential ambition becomes significantly jeopardised because you were part of a cabinet that supervised the complete collapse of Ghana’s economy.

In the end, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto and Alan Kyerematen made the decision to jump ship.

The timing of their decision to resign could be the single most damaging factor to their chances of winning over NPP delegates at the primaries.

Make no mistake about it, this is the government’s and by extension the NPP’s darkest hour. If the economy collapses and the Sri Lanka scenario becomes Ghana’s reality, there certainly will be no contest for Dr Bawumia, Dr Afriyie Akoto and Mr Kyerematen in 2024, regardless of who wins the party’s presidential primaries. That is why staying to help fix the crisis should be their first priority.

For political credibility and legitimacy, you do not leave your team in its darkest hour. I am afraid Dr Afriyie Akoto and Alan Kyeremanteng did just that.

Especially, for the former Trade and Industry Minister. He has been the most vociferous of the aspirants on the campaign trail since he resigned. His decision to address the nation and espouse in some instances contradictory policies to that of the government he just left, at a time when his party and government are facing their darkest hour could be seen by delegates as unhealthy political opportunism.  

We’ve since also learned that the current state of the economy is a primary reason why the party has been unable to fix a date for its presidential primary. The President is worried that an early primary will mean shifting focus away too soon from fixing the economy. He wants the primary in December so he can still have all hands on deck to consolidate the gains after an IMF bailout is agreed hopefully in March.

The expectation is that by the last quarter of this year, the economy will be showing signs of recovery based on the IMF program. For those in the President’s camp, the economy must take precedence over internal party politics.

I concede there is also a dose of selfish interest here for the President who does not want to become a lame duck too soon. But if that interest means a greater focus on the economy then it is hard to argue against it.

For Dr Afriyie Akoto and in particular, Mr Kyerematen to carry greater political credibility in the eyes of party delegates, they should have stayed until at least after the IMF Executive Board approval. If the Zambia example is any reference point, then key economic indicators will begin an uptick post-bailout.

Bloomberg reported on September 1, last year that “Zambia’s kwacha is the world’s best performer against the dollar on Thursday after the nation won long-awaited approval for a $1.3 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund”.

Bloomberg continued, “The IMF announced the funding after 1 a.m. Zambia time. By 3:50 p.m. in Lusaka, the capital, the copper-producing nation’s currency had gained 3.1% against the dollar. It’s at its strongest level since March 10, 2020 -- the day before the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic, sending most developing nations’ currencies into tailspins.”

That is the magic of an IMF bailout.

For a country like Ghana where the price of almost everything is determined by how well the cedi is performing against the dollar, getting a similar outcome like Zambia could prove decisive in beginning to shift the mood of a nation hammered by economic pain inflicted by an NPP government.

As it stands now, Dr Afriyie Akoto and Mr Kyerematen have both ruled themselves out of this great political benefit of staying in the fight till the very end. Like Dr Bawumia, they were most certainly part of the creation of this crisis, but their early resignations have ensured that they will most certainly not be part of the solution.

What a campaign coup for Dr Bawumia, whose message to NPP delegates will be significantly enhanced if the economy begins to experience the expected uptick post an IMF bailout.

His message will be simple: I stayed to fight, and they left to fend.


Evans Mensah, Head of Political Desk at JoyNews and Joy FM

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.