Feature Article of Thursday, 6 December 2012
Columnist: Joy Online
In December 2008, in between the first and second rounds of voting, I wrote an article titled ‘Fellow Ghanaians see the bigger picture’. In that article I pleaded with Ghanaians to retain the then ruling NPP government. My plea was based on a number of reasons.
First I thought then that Ghanaians were enjoying an air of freedom – democratic freedom, the likes of which had only been tasted once under the brief premiership of Dr Kofi Busia. I thought the NPP government had worked hard to boost private business in Ghana, especially banking, telecommunications, real estate and the hospitality industry. The economy had consistently grown at increasing rates during the entire 8 years of their stewardship.
The NPP introduced a number of pro-poor initiatives, which had reduced poverty levels in the country. They embarked on comprehensive educational reform and were getting on with its implementation with the establishment of the model school concept. They had partnered with the private sector to transform long journey travels, with the GPRTU taking delivery of a number of luxury buses, which were once the preserve of the rich. In short I thought Ghana was firmly on the road to modernisation.
President Kuffour was playing a leading role on the international scene, especially in our sub-region with his efforts in Kenya, Liberia and the Ivory Coast and also as Chairman of the AU. Ghana was then seen around the world as a major African player and was invited to all the important summits of world leaders. I could see in 2008 that the NPP had restored the confidence of the Ghanaian to the extent that had not been seen since the early years following our independence.
Set against this performance was the offering from the NDC. Their manifesto was largely textbook stuff with no demonstration of how they were going to implement the programmes therein. I thought then that Professor Mills was meek and did not have a capable team to help him flesh out workable policies to continue from where the NPP would leave.
On the job creation front, they were floating this Communist approach of encouraging labour-intensive industry. I thought then that, if they were to win, job creation would be focused on the lowest end of the quality spectrum. It is therefore not surprising that they are boasting of having created jobs through LESDEP, Youth in Agriculture and Eco Brigade, whilst graduates of tertiary institutions are finding it difficult to get jobs.
Going into these elections, it is the record of the NDC for the past 4 years that is now under scrutiny, and frankly, it is nothing to shout about even though they are claiming to have achieved in an unprecedented manner. Listening to their campaign adverts, they are boasting of no new policy initiatives but rather variants of NPP policies and achievements – NYEP, Single spine salary structure, NHIS and Capitation grant for basic schools. The schools they claim to have built would have been built whoever is in power because it is a statutory requirement for every government to allocate a fixed percentage of our national revenue to the GETFund.
This government has shown a propensity to make contracting of loans the first and only recourse for funding development projects in Ghana. Their penchant for loans, offering very high yields for treasury bills, has crowded out the Ghanaian private sector in their search for investment funds.
In 4 years, they have more than trebled the nation’s debt with nothing tangible to show for it. They have spent large amounts of money to prop up the Cedi to boost their chances in these elections. This has been off most analysts’ radar but would only become apparent once they are voted out of power.
This abysmal performance aside, the NDC government has presided over a much polarised country. They have cultivated a crop of young operatives, paid from public coffers, who show utter disregard for achievements and age. They have insulted anybody and everybody who does not agree with them. They have funded trashy newspapers that spew out lies and unfounded accusations against anyone who they perceive to be an enemy.
The nation cannot continue on this path of polarisation, along tribal and political lines, that we see today. It does not bode well for our collective future. President Mahama could have signalled when he took over that his would be a different approach but nothing has changed. It is during his time that we have witnessed the Otabil bashing.
The only party setting the agenda for this election is the NPP and its flagbearer, Nana Addo. The NDC government’s entire campaign is based on countering the NPP’s message rather than telling the electorate about what they have been able to do in the last 4 years and why they should be retained. Whilst Nana Addo is giving high billed policy speeches on health, education, agriculture, the economy and housing, the sitting President has given none.
It should tell Ghanaians a lot that everywhere that Nana Addo goes he is identified with “free education” whilst President Mahama is tagged with “idey be keke”. Fellow Ghanaians, being in charge of a nation’s affairs is a serious business and empty sloganising has no place in that. How you vote on Friday would determine the future of you and your family. Do you vote for a visionary or one bandying about empty slogans?
The easiest part of any electioneering campaign is to come out with a catchy slogan that sums up your vision. Tell me: what vision is conjured in your mind when you think of “idey be keke”? The NDC, in this simple task, could not even be original: they had to hijack MTN’s slogan. If they could not originate a simple campaign slogan, that would tell you what they are about, need you put them in charge of Ghana again? I say a BIG NO and that is why I am pleading that on Friday, with your thumb, join the HEAVE HO…. HEAVE HO….. as the incompetent NDC government tumbles!