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Opinions of Thursday, 26 August 2021

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

On Mahama’s joblessness pronouncement: Can he really lead Ghana again?

Former President John Dramani Mahama Former President John Dramani Mahama

It is quite refreshing to read former President John Dramani Mahama’s recent admission of his irrevocable failure to create enabling environment for the creation of jobs for the youth whilst in government, and therefore inviting Akufo-Addo for a round-table discussion on the youth joblessness (see: ‘Let's sit down, we're ready to join you discuss ways to create jobs;
we face the danger of not doing it — Mahama tells Akufo-Addo".

“Unemployment is a serious problem that we confront and it is not only this government that is confronting the problem, past governments have the same problem. I have been president before, our economy is not creating jobs as fast as we are churning out people from our educational institutions and so the solution does not lie in one person’s head,” the former President said while on tour in Wa.

In fact, I share the sentiment of former President John Dramani Mahama .

Indeed, unemployment has been a hindrance in Ghana’s forward march since time immemorial.

That being said, we elect leaders in anticipation that they are ready and willing to think outside the box to solve our problems.

I have always held a firm conviction that true leaders take the bull by the horn. Simply put, it takes massive leadership to combat the seemingly difficult challenge such as unemployment.

Unfortunately, during his tenure in office, the young Ghanaian graduates formed an unemployed association, as the Mahama administration could not think outside the box and motivate the private sector to create viable jobs for the ebullient youth.

Indeed, it was always going to be extremely difficult for the private sector to create viable jobs when the economy grew from 14% in 2011 to a disappointing 3.4% by December 2016.

Suffice it to stress that before the insidious coronavirus, the economic growth was picking up steadily. The economy grew from a meagre 3.4% in December 2016 to a favourable 8.6% in 2018.

It was, therefore, a step in the right direction when the economic team of the Akufo-Addo administration prudently put measures in place to improve the previously asphyxiated economic outlook.

Interestingly, the opposition NDC operatives have been claiming that Akufo-Addo is not doing enough to address the unemployment problem in the country. And yet the Akufo-Addo government has facilitated more than 200 factories across the country as part of the One District One Factory programme.

Dearest reader, tell me, if the 1 District 1 Factory initiative is not an employment booster, what is it then?

In addition, about one hundred thousand graduates have been given jobs under the pragmatic National Builders Corp (NABCO) scheme and thousands more, including nurses and teachers, have been employed in the public service since the NPP administration assumed office.

Unsurprisingly, the preceding pragmatic measures resulted in the dismantling of the weird Graduates Unemployed Association.

Suffice it to stress that an encouraging number of previously unemployed graduates are now in gainful employment.

A true leader, in fact, wants nothing more than to make people independent, as leaders in their own rights. Instead of trying to deceive us with his or her superlative oratory, a true leader reflects our own light back to us.

True leadership, in practice, must give people a long-term vision that absorbs their lives with meaning; it must point them in a new direction and show how their every action is an indispensable part of a positive change.

More importantly, a true leader always comes up with pragmatic ideas with the view to transforming the lives of his/her subordinates.

We tend to believe that a leader is a person who is well-connected, who is powerful or charismatic or wealthy. We normally judge our leaders by what they have. But a true leader should be judged by his/her extraordinary qualities, not -- ego, impertinent boldness, and self- interest.

A true leader, in theory, sees his/her work as an altruistic service toward accomplishing a goal.

That is by putting the acquired skills, experience, knowledge and empathetic qualities at the disposal of the needs of his/her subordinates. As the sages say, “Leadership is not just power and dominance; it is service to mankind.”

Somehow, the opposition NDC operatives are claiming that the economy has deteriorated under the watch of Akufo-Addo, while blatantly failing to acknowledge the fact that the economic growth in 2016 was 3.4%, and the Akufo-Addo administration managed to move it to 8.6% before the unspeakable coronavirus (GSS).

As I write, the economy is picking up steadily. The economic growth now stands around 3.1% and inflation of about 7.8%.

The NDC loyalists are extremely unhappy about the current inflation, which stands around 7.8 %, compared to 15.8% in 2016 (GSS).

They are moaning inexorably about Cedi to Dollar exchange rate, which stands at around GH5.80 to $1, while refusing to accept the fact that they took it from GH1.20 to $1 in 2009, and left it at around 4.20 in 2016 (BOG).

They say Akufo-Addo is insensitive when it comes to fuel prices, and ignoring the fact that in 2009, the NDC government inherited a gallon of petrol at around GH3.69, and left it at around GH18.00 in January 2017 (See: Fuel prices increase by about 11%; cityfmonline.com/ghanaweb.com,
05/01/2017).

The NDC faithful are complaining bitterly that Akufo-Addo is not doing anything about Ghana’s deplorable roads, meanwhile, Akufo-Addo is prudently using Ghana’s bauxite in a barter deal worth around $2 billion with the Chinese state-owned hydropower engineering and construction outfit, Sinohydro, to construct roads across the country.

They are insisting that the economy is not reflecting in Ghanaians pockets, but the Akufo- Addo government has taken pragmatic steps and restored the Nurses and Teachers Allowances which were regrettably canceled by the erstwhile Mahama administration.

So the opposition NDC operatives want to tell us that such interventions aren’t reflecting in the pockets of the Nurses and Teachers?

They say Ghanaian parents are suffering in abject penury, and yet the Akufo-Addo government has judiciously distributed the national resources in the form of Free SHS, which paved the way for more than 400,000 children a year, including the over 190,000 children who otherwise would not have the opportunity to enter senior high school.

As expected, they are dismissing the benefits therein the Free SHS, and yet the Akufo-Addo government is spending not less than GH5532.83 over a period of three years on each student. In effect, parents with three children in SHS will be pocketing not less than GH16598.49 over three years.

They are bizarrely weeping uncontrollably for Ghanaian traders, many of whom, in actual fact, are satisfied with the Akufo-Addo government for relieving them of over eighteen nuisance taxes that had hitherto crippled their businesses.

They say the Akufo-Addo government has not done anything significant other than prudently reducing benchmark values (30% on cars and 50% on goods) to the utter delight of Ghanaian traders.

Nevertheless, since the announcement of the reductions of benchmark values, some beneficiaries have attested to significant discounts.

Clearly, the lives of Ghanaians are being transformed steadily through many pragmatic interventions, such as the Planting for Food and Jobs, the Nation Builders Corp(NABCO), tax reductions, including import taxes, low inflation, gargantuan savings on free SHS, amongst others.

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