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Feature Article of Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Columnist: Nyarko, Kingsley

The Significance of Ghana’s 2012 Elections

After the presidential and vice presidential debates organized by the Institute of Economic affairs (IEA) that provided a platform for the various flag-bearers and their running mates to provide solutions to the problems confronting the nation should they be given the mandate of steering the affairs of the country, and also provide the citizenry the opportunity to assess their quality in order to make an informed choice during the upcoming elections, it has become clear who amongst them possesses the wherewithal to solve the myriad of problems that have bedeviled the country over the years.

Apart from the flag-bearer of the People’s National Convention—Hassan Ayariga--who came across, not only as provocative, incompetent and bereft of ideas, but also as an embarrassment to himself and his party, the others acquitted themselves creditably with Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo standing out as the tallest. His understanding and articulation of the issues raised by the moderators put him at the forefront of the contest. If Ghana were to be a literate country, there would have been no doubt in my mind that he would win the election hands down. Nonetheless, I hope and believe that the majority who were wowed by his impeccable understanding of the issues and his unquestionable abilities capable of leading the country to economic prosperity will give him their support and also persuade their families, friends, and loved ones to do same.

This year’s ballot has been very significant due to its focus on issues instead of insults and fabrications that characterized previous elections, especially the 2008 one. The paradigm shift that we have witnessed in this year’s electioneering campaign underscores the gradual and steady deepening of our democratic culture. Although, the focus on issues—particularly education, in this year’s electioneering campaign has been a huge departure from the eras of insults and character assassination of both presidential and parliamentary candidates, we must realize that a far more relevance of this year’s elections is about the future of our dear country. The future of our country depends on the nature of our economy. If we don’t consciously transform our economy from its current raw material driven state to one that promotes the exportation of refined products and services through the application and utilization of scientific and technological interventions in stimulating growth, and educating the population, we will continue to lag behind in this era of rapid development among nations.

The direction of our vote or the choice we make in this year’s elections will determine the kind of future we want to prepare for our children and posterity. This year’s elections provide us with the rare opportunity in deciding whether we want to realize the dreams of our forefathers—emancipation from foreign dependency, economic hardships, poverty, illiteracy and disease or continue in their fears—stagnation or retrogression that are manifested in incompetent leadership as we have seen under the Mills-Mahama administration. As citizens, we hold the keys in opening our future doors of freedom and prosperity for all, especially generations unborn. That is why in choosing our next leaders; we must be guided by the events of the past, particularly the last four years in order not to repeat the mistake we made in the choice of the current administration.

At the moment we are standing on the bridge between progress and retrogression, optimism and pessimism, hope and desperation. What I have observed during the electioneering campaign is that the National Democratic Congress has lost focus, and thus heightening our fears by engaging in talks of pessimism and acts of desperation. They are desperately trying to buy the conscience of a section of the citizenry with our limited resources, but what they don’t know is that majority of the population is about to offer them a shock of their lives. There is no way the NDC could win the election if it is conducted within a free, fair, and transparent atmosphere. This is because their four year record about the management of the economy has been abysmal and has led to a worsening of the living standards of majority of the population.

Apart from taking us back on our developmental trajectory, they come across as a party without ideas, plans, and foresight to help grow the economy. This is a government that is not able to think outside the box in offering the citizenry quality leadership; what they are desperately doing is telling us that quality free education is not possible when it is. We are not ready for leaders who are pessimists like President Mahama—who is not qualified to lead this great nation of ours. I think had President Mills passed on earlier, there was no way he would have been the standard-bearer of the NDC. He doesn’t have the competence, character, and faculty to lead this nation. Leadership demands foresight, and the willingness, not only to do the ordinary, but the spectacular projects that bring economic freedoms to the masses.

Of all his proposed plans and policy interventions, which one is distinct and has the faculty of bringing enduring development to the working and middle class population of the country? There is none, folks! He has never been consistent on issues; in fact, in most instances, he flip-flops. He said earlier in the year on the campus of the University of Ghana that free senior high school education is not possible; in fact he said it is a foolish idea, but later conceded that it is possible, but can’t be implemented now. And some people want us to entrust our destiny in his hands for four good years? This will be a huge mistake!

We stand the risk of further aggravating the near destruction of the future of our children as well as those unborn as a result of the failed policies of the President Mahama administration if we fail to make the right choice in this year’s elections. Building a strong future for our children and unborn generations means that we have to elect leaders who are competent, decisive, visionary, and above all incorruptible. This is what the election should be about, and not about which of the aspirants is handsome or ugly, humble or arrogant, young or old. What we need for our dear country is leaders who are capable, and have the capacity to transform our economy which has survived through donor supports and assistance. What a shame?

For me the significance of this year’s elections as I have indicated earlier is about the transformation of the economy. The success or otherwise of our nation depends to a large extent on the state of our economy. An unstable or weak economy correlates significantly with social vices that compromise the health and strength of economies everywhere: when an economy is weak, social vices such as armed robbery increases. And how do we ensure or strengthen the economy? Obviously, it is not about voting for a perceived nice guy, neither is it for one who possesses certain virtues, but lacks the competence to transform the economy by making life for the average citizen meaningful. In focusing on the economy, four variables or sectors are critical: education, health, jobs, and security. Let us examine each of them in the following paragraphs.

Education—building a sound economy demands the production of a literate society. Presently, 45% of our population is illiterate which should tell us that we have to take radical steps to reverse this unfortunate trend. It appears our leaders are not aware that “only the educated are free-” Epicurus (4BC). This means that in casting our ballot, we need to ensure that we vote for leaders who have the plans, programmes, and ideas to promote not only quality, but also free education to the citizenry. This is because an educated population is a developed and productive one. Inasmuch as we would like to ensure and promote quality education at all levels on our educational ladder, we must also make frantic efforts to provide access to the majority who dropout as a result of their financial incapacity. We don’t necessarily need natural resources to develop; what we do need to advance our economy is the quality of our human resources. We need developed brains to stimulate growth, and therefore any group of persons who try desperately to belittle the relevance of the implementation of free and quality education in order to enlighten our population should be rejected at the polls.

Quality healthcare—the transformation of our economy will fail if we don’t address a very important component of our survival on this planet: health. Apart from the axiom that a strong mind resides in a sound body, the health of a population is positively and significantly related to the health of the economy. In Ghana, life expectancy is low not because our lives are abbreviated by witches and wizards, but partly because we have a poor health system and limited access to healthcare. The introduction and implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) by the New Patriotic Party, until the coming into office of the NDC administration made healthcare affordable to the majority poor of our population. Presently, the scheme is being run aground, almost at the point of collapse by the NDC government, and need to be revamped to enable the less privileged to enjoy quality health services. If the failed Mahama led administration is allowed to continue for another four years, healthcare in the country will finally be thrown to the dogs.

Security—we need a country that offers the citizenry and other nationals an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. Presently in the country, almost every Tom, Dick, and Harry lives in fear and trepidation as a result of the nefarious activities of armed robbers and other criminals. Traders and passengers that ply our highways, especially in the night are often attacked by armed robbers. This situation prevents potential investors from investing in the country, and is also likely to compel those already in the country to leave because the government is not doing enough to ensure the safety of the inhabitants of the land. Instead of the government channeling resources into effective policing, they are rather spending them on themselves, their cronies, and currently buying the votes of the electorates.

Job creation—we need an economy that provides jobs. Obviously a clueless and visionless administration will lack the plans and programmes to stimulate growth in the economy. Although, we have repeatedly been told by the government and the statistical service that our economy has been growing unprecedentedly since the inception of this administration, there is no connection between the claim and the facts on the ground. What I do know from my little knowledge in economics is that when an economy grows or expands, we should witness a positive influence on the economy. The NDC administration appears not to be interested in wealth creation, but rather in wealth sharing among themselves. Most of the government officials and other party apparatchiks have become rich overnight swimming in unimaginable resources at the expense of the majority who work very hard but have little to show in terms of prosperity and sound economic health. They lied to us by stating that they have created 1.6 million jobs after only a year in government. This is an administration that thrives and survives on propaganda because of the perception of the vulnerability of the average Ghanaian voter. They have not been able to create jobs for the numerous graduates who are churned out from our educational institutions every year necessitating the formation of the Unemployed Graduates Association of Ghana (UGAG).

Fellow citizens, we have had enough of the gross incompetence and failed programmes and policies of the NDC led administration. For the past four years that they have been running this country, the plight of the average citizen has worsened, unemployment has been on the increase, corruption, especially among government officials has been unprecedented, the economy is not expanding to absorb graduates from our tertiary institutions, healthcare is in shambles, none of the four major roads that were started by the NPP administration (i.e. the gang of 4) is nowhere near completion, capitation grant for schools is in arrears, results of our junior high school students have been declining for three continuous years, quality education has been compromised, among others.

The implication of voting the Mahama government out in the December 7 elections is the gateway to the transformation of our economy through proven and tested leadership as was demonstrated by President Kufour and his NPP administration between 2001 and 2008. The NPP—via her standard-bearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo represents the hope for the country in the second decade of the 21st century in spearheading the transformation of our economy. Let us give him the opportunity; he can and will do the job! God bless Ghana!

Source: Kingsley Nyarko, Psychologist, Accra (kingsleynyarko73@yahoo.com)

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