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Opinions of Friday, 1 March 2019

Columnist: Edem Light

Demanding Purposeful Manifestos: Detailed action plans vs mere promises

John Maham and Akufo-Addo John Maham and Akufo-Addo

Manifestos are by nature, promises, and goals. It is not enough. Having elected its presidential candidate, almost 2 years to the time, the electorate should demand from the NDC and its flag bearer, a four-year comprehensive action plan, with detailed cost and benefit estimates.

If it claims to have the human capital, and if it claims the present administration is driving us into a ditch, then reasonable projections premised on a worst-case scenario of where this government is likely to end us next year, can be made.

Any idiot can make promises. The devil is always in the detail. A government that is serious about hitting the ground running should not now come and waste anybody's time about creating a development plan through the NDPC, two years into its four-year administration. Plans which span several years, sometimes decades, when indeed no political party is even guaranteed a successive second term.

The elite so called, the media and civil society, owe it to the generality of the populace to impress upon the NDC this higher standard. There's no point in having a revolving door to the executive office of the land, if all that the populace would get, are lavish promises by parties in opposition, who only turn around to blame the previous administration for why their promises can't be achieved.

So for example; we need a system of independent law enforcement agencies to fight corruption and also guarantee law and order. This is a promise any political party can make in a manifesto, while not having a clue as to what specifically it should do to achieve it.

What we should have instead, is a comprehensive four year plan, providing us with what degree and understanding of independence that the party has in mind, draft bills that they intend to forward to parliament in this regard, detailed plans and cost projections associated with any structural changes that must be implemented in this regard, timelines for getting this done and contingencies for scenarios which might affect this execution.

This way, if a party promises say an independent special prosecutor, we would know how it intends to safeguard its independence from political manipulation through the backdoor via not making available a ring-fenced financing arrangement for its operations. Thus allowing politicians, the freedom to stifle its operations by simply not making funds available to it to carry out its work, as the current special prosecutor has lamented about.

Such an approach should be taken with all other promises of a political party, in its manifesto. This way, if a party's development agenda is either realistic or simply empty wishful thinking in its ambitions, the numbers in their own projections will expose them because numbers simply do not lie. That way policies can be monitored and properly benchmarked by civil society if the party gets elected. An objective performance index can then be developed by civil society to benchmark in quantitative terms, what it means to be failing or succeeding, both for the government and their ministers in charge of implementing policy.

If after having roughly two years to an election, the opposition cannot dedicate at least 12 months to generating for the people it seeks to serve, a real development plan in the truest sense of the word for a manifesto, then it has absolutely no business in being in the business of wanting to govern.

If the elites so called, the media and civil society would not demand this high standard from parties claiming to want to serve the people, then nobody has any business in complaining about any problems with our society.

We are our own angels or devils, by what course we purpose to take. Whichever way, we live with our decisions for good or ill. I hope this finds a kindred soul.

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