Politics of Saturday, 25 August 2012

Source: The Herald

Akufo-Addo “Bekaa Brofo Nkoaa”

Hope is a feeling that better things lie ahead. It is hope that gives the encouragement to continue to try even in the face of difficulties. But there is a limit to hope. I cannot continue to hope where there is none. The hopelessness that accompanied Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo, the Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP’s) address to Ghanaians at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) Evening Encounter with Presidential Candidates with representations in Parliament does not call for hope. It calls for pessimism and for me that is just the correct emotion.

Sincerely, I was impressed by Nana Addo’s opening remarks at the IEA Evening Encounter. Unfortunately, he failed to build on that, his answers to questions thereafter exposed him as someone who lacks depth and understanding. Indeed he sounded empty and pedestrian for the greater part of the encounter.

In his usual verbose, and hoarse voice, he was no better than Hassan Ayariga, the presidential candidate of the Peoples National Convention (PNC), who came across to me as someone seeking for a student representative Council (SRC) position. If I am asked to grade the two of them, I would say Hassan Ayariga, did far better because he is a political neophyte, a Johny Just Come who did not have the credentials and the experience Nana Addo has garnered over the years and which he never misses the opportunity to trumpet and for which reason he wants us to vote for him.

The problems confronting this nation are myriad and need urgent and pragmatic solutions that would lift the good people of Ghana, from a state of hopelessness to a new paradigm of hope and prosperity; this is what is needed at this crucial stage of our development, and Nana Addo certainly is not the right person for the job.

After 22 years of multi-party democracy, coupled with the rapid development and industrial advancement taking place across Africa, even though our neighbouring countries in the sub-region have gone through some civil strife, political unrest and instability, we have got to move away from what we do best, which is talk, talk and talk. Nana Addo is only good at talking, and talk they say is cheap.

The late President John Evans Atta Mills in the run-up to the 2008 elections embarked on what he christened “Door to door campaign”. This afforded him the opportunity and a rare privilege to travel across the length and breadth of this country, interacting with ordinary citizens who were at the core of his message of hope and prosperity, listening to their concerns and the problems confronting them.

At the end of it all, it enabled him come out with a comprehensive programme which eventually formed the basis for the adoption and execution of the “Better Ghana Agenda”.

Meanwhile, the pint-sized Nana Addo, during that period in order to be seen and for him to be visible was jumping from one stage to another, and from one beach to another, dancing, jumping and singing his defeat away.

It came as no surprise to many well-meaning Ghanaians when the votes were cast and ballots counted, that he lost the elections to the good Professor.

When he won the bid again to lead his party to their next defeat in 2012 and retire him from active politics finally, he started his listening tour, after going round the country and sampling views, he came back and embarked on another tour he termed Restoring Hope. I was thinking that the opportunity could very much inform his policy direction and shape his thinking but no, he is back and worse-off than he started. He did not learn anything. It was true, they say pictures do not lie, all we saw was Nana Addo drinking pure water, and parasiting old and poor women of their food, pretending to play football with children and conveniently burring his head in-between women’s breasts. He learnt nothing, absolutely nothing!

When Nana Addo took his turn, he made very interesting revelations, especially during question and answer time. In his speech the only single policy direction that was clear was his promise of free education from the Basic Level to the Secondary Level. He went further to give figures, regarding how much it was going to cost to implement the policy and the sources of funds.

Unfortunately what he failed to mention was, what happens to the various sectors that also needed some policy direction to enable his government generate the amount of money he was quoting.

“The additional cost of providing free Senior High School will be around one per cent of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The cost of providing free Secondary School Education which includes tuition, boarding, feeding and all the other charges for the 2013-14 academic year is estimated at a 0.1 per cent of our GDP. This translate into some 78 million Ghana Cedis”, Nana Addo stated.

He continued that “We have made provision for a major increase in enrolment as a result of admitting all Junior High School (JHS) in SHS in 2014-15.

“We expect the cost to rise to 288 million Cedis which is 0.3 per cent of GDP in that academic year and increase to 774 million Cedis in 2015, which is 0.7 per cent of GDP” Nana Addo further stated.

All these figures sound and look good on paper, but as they say the devil is in the details. Interestingly enough the percentage of GDP that was to be used to fund his ambitious policy Is the current GDP that was attained by the current administration. Yet he chastised the government for not doing anything.

When Nana Addo was asked about the share of the Private schools, he went talking about Public Private Partnership (PPP), if this was a well thought out policy and was holistic, I think consideration should have been given to the Private schools to also benefit from Nana Addo’s out of this world idea. Afterall they are also Ghanaians whose parents also pay taxes.

Another fallacious policy of Nana Addo, is the scrapping or removal of tax on imported raw materials. This was in response to a question about his policy on improving the Manufacturing Sector. The question that begs asking is this.

If Nana Addo decides to remove the taxes which are used for developmental project, where is the money going to come from to pay salaries and other project?

In extolling his virtues and achievements, he mentioned the fact that he was instrumental in bringing Mobitel current operators of Tigo, into the country, as among the first Mobile Telephony service in the country.

Nana Addo failed to mention the one who drafted the legislation that eventually became law, was the current President John Dramani Mahama.

Nana Addo kept talking about the past, what former President John Agyekum Kufuor did between 2001-2008, I guess he had just answered the question I kept asking myself, and that is why President Kufuor did not support his bid to lead the NPP for election 2008 and rather brought a relatively unknown Alan Kwadwo Kyeremanteng to challenge him.

Nana Addo has nothing to offer Ghanaians, except the burning desire to become President at all cost. Elections are about the future, not the past.

Finally, imagine a Chief Apprentice calling his boss a care taker.

PS Did I hear Nana Addo claiming to be the most abused politician? Maybe John Evans Atta Mills was not a politician!!!