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Opinions of Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Columnist: Krapa, Herbert

The Short Man Is Standing Tall

By Herbert Krapa

Last Wednesday, the Finance Minister presented the 2012 budget on the floor of Parliament. It was supposed to be a summary of what the NDC government has done in three years and what they intend to do with the one year they have left. It is themed “Infrastructural Development for Accelerated Growth and Job Creation.” Moments after his presentation though, opposition parties and members of the general public responded with their own descriptions of the budget, together with their comments and verdict on the performance of the NDC. Some called it the “bye bye budget”, “ankoyie budget”, and “azonto budget”, whilst others referred to it as “propaganda budget”, “yatiabre budget” and many others, and you probably heard some more that I haven’t heard. But what all these descriptions of the budget statement bring to the fore is the real ordeal that the NDC government of President Mills has been putting the Ghanaian people through since January 2009. The people have been juxtaposing the so called macro-economic stability and the sod-cutting achievements that the NDC tout with the real situation in their pockets. They know how expensive and difficult life has become since Mills became president. They feel the unbearable hardships that President Mills has brought, and contrary to what NDC ministers and communicators want them to believe, the Ghanaian people are convinced that Mills has been an incompetent and visionless leader, the result being the rising suffering and life crippling poverty that we live in today. At this pace, Mills might end up with those as the legacy of his presidency. Indeed at this pace, I am confident that sometime next year, months before the elections, the Ghanaian people will start referring to him as former President Mills.

This incompetence, lack of vision and mediocrity is exactly what Nana Addo talked about a couple of weeks ago in Kumasi, when the leader of the NPP addressed students at the 10th anniversary celebration of TESCON. Members of the NDC have since been reacting tirelessly to the comments he made. But how different is what Nana Addo said from what the masses are saying on the streets? Nana Addo said “the kind of future that the Ghanaian people aspire, cannot be attained by this visionless, incompetent and mediocre NDC government that is currently in office” and so “our energies have to be directed towards building a forward moving and progressive Ghana with an economy that can provide all our people with jobs, jobs and jobs.” Nana Addo said he is confident that with the right leadership, Ghana can be compared to the leading countries of the world.” Nana Addo said that “the vision of the NPP is the development of the Ghanaian nation and its people in freedom and when the NPP got the opportunity, under the competent leadership of President Kufuor, we proved clearly to all that we are committed to that vision.” Nana Addo said “when the NPP gets another chance, God willing and the Ghanaian people so consenting, we will transform Ghana from a raw material producing economy to a modern industrial one that will provide all our country’s people with jobs, jobs and jobs.” Nana Addo said we should not as a country, be satisfied with our middle income status, because we have the chance to become a first class country and be compared to the leading economies of the world. He said we should dream big, think big and act big because the global stage has no place for doubters and visionless leaders.

By morning, NDC commentators and communicators were up in arms, taking Akufo-Addo on, left, right, centre. Why is he asking us to think big? Why is he challenging us to dream big? Why is he telling us to believe in ourselves? Why is he urging his party people to work hard and smart to make sure that the NPP wins power in 2012? Even the leader of their party, President Mills, found it necessary to respond to the comments made by Nana Addo and it was in that reaction, that the president said that only the referee can determine the direction of a football game. In this case, the referee is the Electoral Commission, with the mosquito that is allergic to verification providing them with verbal artillery support. The president tells us that he played football as a central defender. Mr. President, during your football playing days, did referees help strikers dribble you to score a goal? Every time Nana Addo gets a speaking opportunity, he inspires hope in the Ghanaian people and it is obvious, from their own petty and needless reactions that Nana Addo’s posture, comments and popularity is a big worry to the leadership of the NDC.

A few days before Nana Addo made those comments in Kumasi, Opinion Poll results released by Synovate International, indicated that Nana Addo is more popular electorally than President Mills. They asked the people: “if elections were held today in Ghana who would you vote for?” They posed this question to registered voters first in April, then May and the latest, September. In April 43% said they will vote for Akufo-Addo whilst 41% said Mills. In May, 43% again said they will vote for Akufo-Addo whilst Mills’ votes dropped to 38%. In September, 48% of the people said they will vote for Akufo-Addo with 41% going for Mills. And as usual, the NDC tried to discredit the poll results. They called it all manner of names. Richard Quashigah, the Propaganda Secretary of the NDC said their own internal polls showed that Mills is in the lead with 56% and that is what they as a party will work with. I wish them luck. That sounds like a very good political strategy. But interestingly, other than the NDC internally generated poll, details of which I doubt if Richard Quashigah has seen himself, all other polls, be it from Research International or Synovate have put Akufo-Addo ahead of the president. When asked by a regional minister, who the president of Ghana is, a primary school pupil responded: Nana Akufo-Addo. This was sometime last year.

A few days before the results of the Synovate poll were made public, former President and NDC founder, J J Rawlings said the gross incompetence of the Mills administration had made the opposition leader, Nana Akufo-Addo, the most popular politician in Ghana today. In an attempt to manage the damage, the Mills administration sent its hatchet men out there to deal with Rawlings. They said he is flirting with the NPP. They said if he doesn’t have any good thing to say about the Mills administration, he should just shut up.

A few days before Rawlings made his comments, a group; the Concerned Youth of the Volta region entered the fray and took a swipe at President Mills for failing to deal with the problems that confront the people of Ghana and also neglecting his own party people. They said the era when they in the volta region used to allow themselves to be used by the NDC to win elections, only to be abandoned thereafter are over. They said there are too many hypocrites around President Mills. And stomach politicians as well. They served the leadership of the NDC notice, not to think they can buy their conscience with the money they are hoarding because the youth in the volta region are now mature democratically. The volta youth group said they are waiting to see the better Ghana that Mills promised them. It will seem that even in the volta region, the stronghold of the NDC, all is not well with President Mills and his NDC government. Truth is, all is not well with the president and his government in all regions of the country.

A few days ago, the Andani youth threatened to vote against the NDC if they do not honour their promise to find the killers of the late Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II. The government has since responded with comments that have not gone down well with the Andani’s who are seeking an unqualified apology from the NDC government for those comments. Government says we won’t apologise for those comments and for failing our promise to you.

On his part however, the NPP Flagbearer has been working hard and smart. He has been taking those steps of bringing back hope to the Ghanaian. He has been listening to the concerns of the people. From Akwasiho in the Eastern region that fateful Sunday morning, through Ashanti, Greater Accra, Central, Western and Brong Ahafo, Nana Addo has availed himself to the masses with his listening tour. He has been assuring the people that better days will come to Ghana again. He has also been making policy statements alongside, locally and internationally. A few days ago, he took a break from his listening tour to attend the conference of conservative parties in London. He spoke on “Strengthening Freedom and Democracy in the 21st Century”. Before that, Nana Addo addressed the “Africa Conference 2011” as Keynote Speaker, in Berlin, Germany, on the theme: “Africa’s Role Model? Democracy and Elections in Ghana.” Between 18th and 20th November, Nana Addo was in UAE where he attended the 2011 Sir Bani Yas Forum.

Nana Akufo-Addo is standing tall and the NDC knows it. But they will not admit it in public. Rather, they try very hard to paint Nana Addo black. They put out wicked lies and ugly fabrications about him, make defamatory and derogatory comments about him and they insult him, all in an attempt to bring down his ever soaring popularity. But is it working? Do those insults and lies about Nana Akufo-Addo matter to the market woman in the Mankessim market, who has to sit and sell in a market sitting on a refuse dump and surrounded by stagnant water? Do they matter to the fisherman who no longer gets regular supply of pre-mix fuel and who has to pay more for an outboard motor? Do they matter to the Ghanaian who has to comb every part of the town or city in search of LPG to be able to cook some food? Do they matter to the cocoa farmer in Sefwi Wiaso who is suffering from the gradual collapse of the cocoa mass spraying exercise? Do they matter to the patient in Kintampo who has to pay the price for the government’s inability to manage the NHIS? Do they matter at all to the many Ghanaian people who have to pay much more for food, transportation, school fees and healthcare? Mills has not kept faith with the Ghanaian people, as he has failed to fulfill the many promises he made to them during the 2008 campaign. President Mills has also succeeded in reversing many of the gains made by the Kufuor led NPP administration and the Ghanaian people know it. At Immuna, in the Mfantseman East constituency of the president, when Nana Addo took his listening tour there, an elderly woman said they regret voting for one of their own. The people of the central region say Mills has been incompetent and insensitive. They are angry and have vowed to show him the exit in 2012. Indeed everywhere Nana Addo goes the story is the same: “Nana we are looking up to you and the NPP to come and rescue us...come and rescue us from this incompetent and insensitive NDC government...we are suffering...they are killing 2012 we will show them the exit...”

Everywhere he goes, the deafening chants of “Nana oooo Nana” continue to welcome and greet the man widely tipped by many, to win the 2012 elections. The Ghanaian people tell him “Nana Y’ani da wo so” and it simply means: “Nana you are our only hope.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011