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Opinions of Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Some thoughts and reactions on President Akufo-Addo’s maiden SONA – Part 2

By: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York

The sophistry of Mr. Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, who rather gratuitously faulted President Akufo-Addo for highlighting the successful initiative of the ECOWAS leaders in getting rid of the Gambian dictator, Mr. Yahya Jammeh, supposedly at the expense of protracted chieftaincy hostilities in the northern regional township of Bimbilla, was nothing short of the abjectly and downright preposterous. And on the latter score must also be promptly highlighted the fact that last week when Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa took to the floor of the House to pay glowing tribute to Messrs. Akufo-Addo and Mahama for having displayed laudable leadership acumen in facilitating the peaceful ousting of President Jammeh, at absolutely no point or moment in his tribute did the National Democratic Congress’ Member of Parliament from Tongu-North reference the conflict in Bimbilla. Instead, he expansively dwelt on the purported discovery of an “African Solution” to an “African Problem.”

And so it is very hypocritical for him to have expected President Akufo-Addo to have discussed a purely international conflict resolution in the same breath as the Bimbilla conflict, knowing fully well that during the 8 years that the National Democratic Congress held the reins of governance, a lot could have been done by Presidents John Evans Atta-Mills and John Dramani Mahama to stem the protracted tide of violence in Bimbilla. Of course, most Ghanaians are well aware of the fact that some NDC heavyweights, including Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in West Africa and the Sahel Region, have been fingered as incessantly fanning the flames of internecine violence in Bimbilla (See “Bimbilla Clashes: Blame Ibn Chambas – Kingmakers” / 2/15/17).

This is rather ironic, in view of the fact that Mr. Ibn Chambas was appointed to his present job precisely because of his purported diplomatic skills as a conflict resolver. Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa also sophistically argues that since President Akufo-Addo underscored the theme of unity in his speech vis-à-vis this year’s scheduled celebration of the 60th Independence Anniversary of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo ought to have, somehow, pretended that all was hunky-dory and that the Mahama regime had not created the Stygian economic mess with which the newly elected New Patriotic Party government is confronted. It is only an NDC fanatic who can reason this outlandishly. And yet, Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa would have his audiences believe that President Akufo-Addo’s maiden SONA was the most partisan in recent years.

It did not get any better when Mr. Cassiel Ato Forson, the former Deputy Finance Minister, sought to downplay the virtual bankrupting of the country’s economy by his former boss. Thus, to President Akufo-Addo’s statement that the nation’s debt-to-GDP ratio currently stands at an apocalyptic 74-percent, Mr. Ato Forson lamely responded that the latest government expenditure figures for the 2015-16 fiscal year were not yet in, as if the final tallying of the latter would make a heck of any difference. But wait until you also learn that in just 8 years, the government of the National Democratic Congress racked up a debt stock of GH? 122 billion, a debt stock that was higher than all debts incurred by postcolonial Ghanaian governments since 1957. At GH? 14.1 billion, the interest on this debt alone could take another generation or two to liquidate or amortize.

It was also pathetically ironic to hear Mr. Ato Forson accuse the Akufo-Addo Administration of having a “hidden motive,” when it was actually the government whose taxpayer finances he helped to manage, or rather to grossly mismanage, that deviously hid an excess spending of GH? 7 billion from the incoming Akufo-Addo government. One does not know what the former Deputy Finance Minister means, when the NDC-MP from Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam counsels the President to “paint a holistic picture” of the present state of the nation’s economy, if he wants to engage the parliamentary opposition in a robust and healthy debate. Well, the fact of the matter is that not much is left to discuss vis-à-vis an economy that is effectively nonexistent, once salary and wage arrears and interest and judgment-debt payments have been settled.

To hear President Akufo-Addo tell it, 99.6-percent of all government revenue goes into debt payments of the preceding kinds. What kind of meaningful economic development can one talk about on the strength or basis of 0.4-percent of public revenue?

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