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Opinions of Monday, 14 January 2019

Columnist: Edward Kwaku Asomani

Why the NDC can do better than Mahama

The American political scientist Robert I. Rotberg defined Governance “as a performance - the delivery of high level political goods to citizens by Governments of all kinds”.

Rotberg defined high level political goods as security and safety, rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic development and human development. He also clearly stated that not all countries can achieve this level of governance.

He was keenly aware of the correlation between the quality of delivery and the amount of goods that accrued to the citizenry. The elephant in the room however, was the quality of political leadership especially in Africa. To attain the governance that Rotberg described, political leadership had to be strong, compassionate, intelligent and visionary.

Unfortunately, Ghana’s political history is littered with examples of incompetent, opportunistic, intellectually bankrupt and corrupt leaders who squandered the opportunity to change the fortunes of this country. Some had no business being leaders, others became leaders by chance, while a few hijacked the electoral process due to their personal wealth.

As the presidential primaries of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) approaches, the spectre of John Mahama holding the Party to ransom as a result of his resources has exposed the negative influence of money in our politics. A few questions emerge. Would the NDC elect John Mahama but for his money? What record would he run on as NDC’s flagbearer? Is he indeed NDC’s best candidate to challenge President Nana Akufo Addo come 2020? If as expected it turns out to be the coronation of John Mahama, the NDC will not only have to defend his abysmal record in government but they have to tell Ghanaians why he deserves another four years. Three reasons underpin this position.

First, John Mahama had eight uninterrupted years as vice president and president. The whole idea that he still has ground breaking policies he will implement when given a second chance is a hard sell even for a party like the NDC. He has often talked about the opportunity to complete what he started, yet he has failed to make a convincing case for this request. As Gossie Tanoh aptly argued, the corruption of Mahama’s presidency drained the NDC of every single modicum of trust. How does he propose to right the corruption scandals his beleaguered presidency endured? If his promise to release jailed appointees and cronies are anything to go by then Ghanaians should expect more of the same in the unlikely event he becomes president again.

Second, as James Carville wrote “it’s the economy, stupid,” should remind Ghanaians of John Mahama’s economic legacy. Lest we forget, Rate of Inflation (end of period) was 8.12% in 2012 when he became president. In 2016, when he left office it was 15.36%. Debt to GDP Ratio was 47.94%, by 2016 this had ballooned to 73.41%. The exchange rate of the cedi to the U.S Dollar in 2012 was GH¢ 1.88, by 2016 this was GH¢ 4.20. GDP growth rate in 2012 was 9.3%. When he left office in 2016 this had plummeted to 3.7%.

One of the lowest rates recorded in the fourth republic. It is true that the NDC’s record on the economy has not been stellar, but the economic malaise under John Mahama’s watch was undoubtedly a new low. The question therefore is what exactly will he do differently in the next four that he could not do in the last eight. This is a legitimate question every Ghanaian should ask John Mahama.

Third, by electing John Mahama as its flagbearer, the NDC is playing a high stakes gamble. To start with, he remains the only constitutionally elected president to serve one term. He was elected in 2012 with 5,574,561 votes. He lost the 2016 elections with 4,771,188. This represents over 800,000 lost votes and a 14% reduction in his votes from 2012. Furthermore, he lost the NDC 4 Regions, 33 constituencies and 44 parliamentary seats.

It has to be said, betting on the failure of the NPP to return to power is not enough to guarantee a 14% vote swing. Besides, John Mahama is yet to articulate a single new policy he will implement should he be elected. This leaves him with his record in government. He has said in the past Ghanaians have a short memory, having lost the presidency in 2016 on that record, he will have to pray that Ghanaians do indeed have a short memory and forget why they voted him out of office in the first place.

The stakes are indeed very high not just for John Mahama but for all political parties. Ghanaians are politically awake and will punish incompetence wherever they see it. This leaves him with a monumental task in his quest to be president again.

Long live Ghana, God bless our homeland!!!!!!