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Opinions of Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Columnist: Eric Bawah

The President is in a hurry in every sense of the word

When a President says he is in a hurry, it means a lot.  If you are an appointee of such a President, you better gird up your loins because the battle will be hotter and there will be no time for supper.  

The very first day President Akufo Addo made the pronouncement that he was in a hurry, I pitied his appointees because I knew they were in for extra hard work.  In fact, they will have to work past exhaustions to meet the expectation of the president.

It has been barely nine months since President Akufo Addo took over the reins of power but what we are seeing points to the fact that the man is indeed, in a hurry. The man is flying like a supersonic jet as he honours one promise after the other.  He promised in 2012 that when voted into power, he would introduce Free SHS in Ghana but sadly the doomsday prophets were able to convince voters that he could not do so.  By the grace of Justice Atuguba and his other four Justices of the Supreme Court, Mr. Mahama was given the baton to continue to misrule the nation.

In 2016, the same candidate, Nana Akufo Addo repeated his earlier promise that if Ghanaians gave him the nod he will surely introduce Free SHS.  This time around Ghanaians overwhelmingly gave him the nod and waited to see what he can deliver.  He had told Ghanaians during the electioneering campaign that he would introduce the programme in September when he gets the nod and that is just what he has done.  

Anytime I hear NDC communicators say they saw no reason why the programme did not involve students in form two and three, I wonder whether they do understand how to embark on a national programme like a Free SHS.  The late President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah introduced free education in the Northern Region but no other government had ever tried it again apart from President Akufo Addo.

In 2000, then candidate Kufuor told Ghanaians that he was going to do away with the Cash and Carry killer health delivery system but the same doomsday prophets doubted what he told Ghanaians.  The late President Atta Mills went to Wa in the Upper East Region to tell the people there that no government could do away with the Cash and Carry system and that Kufuor just wanted votes and that was why he made what he (Mills) called ‘an outrageous promise”.  

Candidate Kufuor held his card closely to his chest and when he got the nod, he introduced the National Health Insurance Scheme on pilot basis.  By the time the man left office, the NHIS covered everybody in Ghana who had paid premium.  Very sadly, the party that took over from Kufuor, the NDC, shamelessly collapsed the scheme until Nana came zooming in.

The truth is that four years ago if Ghanaians had voted for the NPP, the Frees SHS by now could have covered all stages.  What is facing the NDC and which they have refused to understand is that by 2020 the form one students who are enjoying the Frees SHS will be in form three. That is when the NDC will realize that it takes fine brains to rule a nation but not blockheaded individuals who do not read between the lines.  

One interesting thing about this Free SHS thing is that day students will have free hot launch every day. Caterers who will feed the students have already received their contract documents and they are out there making purchases.  It stands to reason that farmers who cultivate food crops in this country will have a field day since these caterers will visit them at the farm gates to buy foodstuffs.

Since Ghana attained independence in 1957, teacher trainees and nursing trainees used to get allowances until the NDC under John Mahama came to power to cancel the allowances.  Candidate Akufo-Addo told Ghanaians in 2012 and repeated same in 2016 that when he gets the reins of power he will bring back the ‘alawa’.  Today, barely nine months in power, more than 54,000 trainee nurses have been registered and they have also acquired E-Switch cards where their allowances would be paid into by the end of this very month-October.  

Arrangement is far ahead to roll out the teacher trainee allowances as soon as possible.  NDC communicators have to start acquiring crash helmets because in no time they will have nothing to say except to embark on their usual infantile arguments like “we wanted to do same” or ‘we started to do same’

Four months ago, the government of Nana Akufo Addo started paying the huge NHIS debt left by the NDC.  As at the time of writing this piece, more than half of the debt had been paid and service providers have started supplying drugs to hospitals and clinics.  

What is very fearful and disturbing to those of us who believe in the ability of the Nana Akufo Addo’s administration to revamp the NHIS and bring back smiles to the downtrodden who cannot afford the Cash and Carry system is that those who contributed to the collapse of the scheme are still at post.  What is the guarantee that these guys will not sabotage the scheme for the NDC to say, ‘Ah, you said we have collapsed it, see what you have done?’  That is why heads must role at the NHIS in every district.  

After all, the NHIS is not the only place where these guys can work.  Zoomlion is there and we need more hands to collect refuse dumps. They did same to the NHIS staff who were working there when the NPP was in power under Kufuor. What is good for the goose should equally be good for the gander.  Abi ino bi so?

During those wish-to-be-forgotten days of ‘dumsor,’  Ghana’s economics whiz-kid, Prophet Dr. Alhaji Bawumia told Ghanaians that the problem was not that we did not have the means to supply electricity but that government’s inability to pay for gas acquired from Nigeria Gas (Ngas) was the problem.  He revealed to the bewildered citizenry that the John Mahama administration owed Ngas huge sums of money and as such, the Nigerians had shut down the pipeline.

Today who is talking of ‘dumsor’ again? As a medium term measure, President Nana Akufo Addo travelled to Equatorial Guinea recently to confer with the President of that country.  By the time the President left that country, the government of Ghana signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of Equatorial Guinea for the supply of Liquefied Natural Gas to supplement Ghana’s energy needs for fifteen years.

When this issue was being discussed on a certain TV station after the President had returned from Equatorial Guinea, there was this panel member who was an NDC communication team member who was visibly ignorant about the process, thereby, misleading the public.  He told his equally ignorant host that before the Liquefied Natural Gas could reach Ghana, it could take more than fifteen years to build pipe tracks to transport the LNG to the shores of Ghana.  

And he is an ‘honorable’ Member of Parliament! This man did not know that one of the easiest ways of transporting LNG from one country to the other is the use of Floating Liquefied Gas Platform or is it the resounding defeat that has dazed them?

One argument that the NDC communicators make which amuses me is the issue of the one district, one factory flagship programme. They want factories to be seen sprouting throughout the country in a matter of nine months in office.  They act as if somebody has given the President a timeline to deliver this campaign promise.  

NDC communicators sit in Accra and think Ghana is synonymous to Accra.  Go to Atebubu in the Brong Ahafo Region and see wonders.  Hon. Kennedy Agyapong and some Chinese have collaborated to build a big cassava processing factory at the place.  Large acreage of cassava farms have been planted and in a matter of time the factory will kick start production.

This factory is not like the John Mahama Sugar Factory at Komenda where no sugar cane was planted but a newly painted old sugar factory built by the CPP was commissioned as a Sugar Factory established by the NDC. If they thought they were throwing dust into the eyes of Ghanaians in the run-up to the 2016 general election, the people of Komenda knew. Who can show me where I can get Made in Komenda Sugar to buy in Ghana?

You see, the reason why this current government and its appointees are performing wonderfully in a short time of being in office is that they know what should be treated as a priority and what should wait for another time.  And they are focused despite all the attempts to distract them.  

President Akufo Addo knows very well that failure to deliver is not an option and he also knows that Ghanaians will never take any excuse for failure.  Thankfully, Ghanaians know the mess caused by the defeated NDC and have sworn to support President Akufo-Addo to put things right. If you are a President and you have such a support, you will even put your nose on the grindstone to get things done right.

As for Vice President Bawumia, I wonder if he even gets time to sleep.  Suddenly he has become a workaholic and only God knows how his personal doctors are feeling.  He has the conviction that Ghana will see glorious days and he is assiduously working to make that happen. The last time I saw the gentleman, I looked straight into his eyes and all that I could see was tiredness.

The President and his Vice need our prayers as they trudge along to make Ghana a happy place to live and work.  May the Lord God of Israel, He who delivered Jonah from the belly of the whale be with them in every step they take.  Guardian Angel Gabriel will be on the lookout for saboteurs and nation wreckers.  Still, the battle is the Lord’s.

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