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Opinions of Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Columnist: Ebo Quansah

7 questions JDM needs to address in quest for power

John Dramani Mahama John Dramani Mahama

My dear friend, John Dramani Mahama, Since John 3:16 echoed around the airwaves and the campaign trail, spiced with its Onaapo jingles, ended with Ghanaians deciding to evict you from the Jubilee House, I have never had the opportunity of meeting you. Forgive me for my trespasses; when you occupied Government House, the official name was Flagstaff House.

Now, the official bulletin doing the rounds is that you are arming yourself and the party Jerry John Rawlings founded to try and unseat the sitting tenant on December 7, 2020, which itself puts you on notice to try harder.

When I heard the one-time junta head and founder of your party stressing at the meeting with cadres in Kumasi the other day, that you should all forget about 2020 and arm yourself for 2024, I thought that was signal for you to abandon your dream of returning to Government House next year.

The former President referred to some people in the party who have enriched themselves at the expense of the people, using their wealth to mislead party advocates. I hope the junta head was not referring to you and close associates seeking protection under the umbrella.

As a friend, I am worried by the veiled attack on some of you by Papa Jay. I do not know how rich you are, but if it is true that you are virtually single-handedly bank-rolling the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary campaign of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), then my friend has ‘dough’. But that is not the thrust of my open letter to my good friend this morning.

The essence of this exercise is to arm you to be ready to defend yourself when the campaign for 2020 really kicks off. My understanding is that some elements in the elephant family intend to force you to provide answers to a number of cogent questions.

Like they say in various campuses and compounds, when the questions are leaked in advance, students are happy. That is when the grade ones and first class performances are prepared for. As a friend, I want to leak to you some of the questions Ghanaians would want to put to you as you begin the process of putting your name on the presidential ballot paper for 2020, and actually contesting the elections.

Question Number One: How prepared are you to locate the guinea fowls which migrated from the Northern parts of the country under your watch and return same?

The mystery surrounding the guinea fowl migration to Burkina Faso without the aid of a compass contributed to your ignominious defeat at the polls in December 2016. Lest I forget, the migration had another poignant reference point for many Ghanaians. It is the question of withering trees.

Just as the GH¢47 million guinea fowl project under the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority and executed by Azontaba Cottage Industries collapsed with the entire bird population migrating to Burkina Faso, a GH¢33 million afforestation project in the north handed over to the same Azontaba Cottage Industries owned by Mr. Roland Agambire came to nought. Ghanaians were told to accept the fact that all the trees planted had withered because the project was executed during the dry season without any mechanism for watering the trees. Oh yes, that is the record that my good friend would take to Election 2020.

My second question is simple. How does aspiring new President Mahama intend to recoup the huge state investment in the one laptop per child handed over to the same Agambire. Not a single child in the Ekumfi District, for instance, got hold of the toys that eventually came out of that project.

That is not all! The state invested millions in Agambire’s Rlg Communications, with the intention of making the company grow to aid the computer industry in Ghana. It must be one of the few times that the state of Ghana had advanced loans to a private company without attracting interest.

The significant information that did the rounds was that Mr. Agambire was President Mahama’s friend. Is the man leading the NDC into the polls doing so to recover these monies for the state? Or is my good friend scheming to return to continue with business as usual? The good people of Ghana are waiting with bated breaths.

My good friend John must be one of the most experienced politicians this country has ever had. He was an Assembly Member, Member of Parliament for Bole/Bamboi, Deputy Minister of Information, Minister of Communications, Vice-President of the Republic, and President of the Republic of Ghana. In spite of this huge advantage, the record my friend left after office was so abysmal that I am tempted to rank his administration at the bottom of the ladder among civic constitutional governments in this country.

On the campaign trail in the run up to the 2008, 2012 and 2016 elections, Mr. John Dramani Mahama opposed the concept of free education for second cycle institutions. I was shocked to hear that the same person pontificating the other day that he intends to improve upon the concept of free second cycle education in Ghana, if given the nod in 2020.

Why the about turn? Since when did my good friend realise that the concept of free secondary education was not inimical to the growth of this society.

The road to Damascus is far from the centre of the earth. That is why I am surprised at the sudden turn of events. What has John seen about free secondary education that was not available to him during the last three campaigns?

The quest for votes should not blind my good friend into abandoning what were his principles. During the three campaigns, my good friend and his NDC produced adverts upon adverts condemning free second cycle education. Things are beginning to knock things.

I have always been uncomfortable with my good friend’s opposition to free education. At one point in time, we were told that anything free was not good. But I do remember that as the son of a former Cabinet Minister, you could pay your way through all levels of education in this country. But you were sent up north to benefit from the free secondary education in the north.

You were at Legon at a time when students went through the Ivory Tower without paying ‘kobo.’ Apart from tuition, hall residence was free. So were meals. Somehow, my good friend stuck to the notion that free education at the second cycle level was inimical for the growth of the child, as well as the public purse.

It was pleasant to the ear to hear you advocating at one of your health walks that you intend to improve on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). How does your new scheme pan with the ‘One Premium’ sold to the electorate by your humble self and the National Democratic Congress on the campaign platforms in the run-up to the 2008 and 2012 elections?

Not only did the one-touch concept prove a fiasco, the scheme suffered under your watch. By the time the people of Ghana called time on your leadership of this country, the NHIS was on its death bed. But for the return of the elephant to Government House, the NHIS would have been dead by now. Why should the people of Ghana waste time and energy to go queue and vote for someone who would make it difficult for most of us to access health care?

That is one question you must chew on if you sincerely want your name and effigy on the 2020 ballot paper.

When I hear your voice pontificating on corruption, my inclination was to question why morality is still on holiday in this country. Under your watch, corruption was perfected into an art. Ghanaians invariably came to the conclusion that so long as you occupied Government House, state contracts were bound to be inflated and executed by those who would play ball.

From the purchase of aircrafts in Brazil as Vice-President to the execution of your version of Dubai, otherwise known as the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, Kasoa Overhead and Terminal Three at the Kotoka International Airport, the general perception is that the price tag announced could have done more.

Which administration in this country is perceived as more corrupt than John Dramani Mahama’s era at the Flagstaff House? That is a riddle that most children in Ghana would raise their hands for in the classroom.

I admire the zeal with which you are campaigning to return to power. But may I humbly ask this tame question? Which Members of Parliament do you envisage to return to power with you? Are they the same former ministers and deputies now in the House and who are accused of taking double salaries under your watch?

These are men and women who should be in prison by now and not be sitting in the House shouting from the roof-tops about corruption. I am inclined to end my letter here and hope that your responses to the issues raised would inform the next open letter to my friend who wants to come back to power, after messing up with our lives.

Yours faithfully,

Ebo Quansah