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Opinions of Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Columnist: Atta-Quayson, Alhassan

Akufo Addo’s Speech in Retrospective

After Akufo-Addo’s speech on “building a society of aspirations and opportunities in Ghana – the path to prosperity” at the first liberty lecture organized by the Danquah Institute in Accra, there have been various reactions from the public. My own thinking is that he made a good political statement on that occasion, noting that it could have been a lot better if he had indicated a stronger position on a number of issues. This piece is just to look at one of the statements he made and juxtapose it to positions taken by the NPP government while administering the country.

This is extremely important because readers are looking for ways to ensure that the NPP flag bearer will be able to carry out his intents expressed, partly, in that speech. For me, if we could be reasonably certain that Akufo-Addo will stay firmly by his statement, there is no reason why I would not cast my vote for him. The excellence and intelligence with which he diagnosed the problems facing our country must be commended, although solutions proposed were not moving enough. One of such solutions is:

“In order for industries in Ghana to have the liberty to grow and expand, the state must protect them from unfair competition.”

He minced no words in declaring his full and unflinching support for Ghanaian industry should he be elected president and I completely agree with him on that notion knowing very well how nearly every single country on this planet developed. But I asked myself; to what extent will Akufo-Addo government use the state apparatus to protect Ghanaian industry from unfair competition? Immediately, Ghanaian poultry industry together with that of tomato forcefully came to mind to help me understand the sort of protection he was talking about. I may be biased in picking the poultry and tomato sectors of the agricultural industry but nobody will be fair enough in analyzing state protection for our hard working farmers if these basic commodities are ignored. The stark truth is that for the past three decades, NO GOVERNMENT has shown enough care, let alone protection, for our farmers, particularly poultry and tomato farmers. From the early 1980s, following foreign capitalists and imperialists in various forms, famously through the World Bank and IMF prescriptions, these sectors have been systematically destroyed using various instruments. Our leaders have merely been reduced to servants of these foreign capitalists and imperialists, leading to the complete destruction of our productive sectors. It is good to note that there some few Ghanaians who benefit in the process, including these self-centred leaders, and perpetuate the status quo with all vigour.

But how does Akufo-Addo enters the equation? Well in 2003 the NPP felt the need to protect the poultry industry and went to the Parliament to impose additional tariff on poultry imports. This was aimed at correcting some of the wrong deeds of the preceding NDC. Just after the Parliament had imposed additional tariffs with the motive of protecting Ghanaian poultry farmers and giving them the liberty to grow and expand, foreign capitalists and imperialists trooped the castle to demand reversal of that move with immediate effect. Their demand was met. Under Akufo-Addo’s watch, the NPP decided NOT to implement the additional tariffs imposed by the Parliament. An illegality that one would hardly associate with Akufo-Addo and Kufour government – for their brilliance and intelligence in the operation of the law.

But as a clear evidence of the carelessness and utmost disrespect of these politicians towards Ghanaians and their unflinching support and humble service to foreign interest, this illegality will continue for years. In between these years, an NGO took the government to court to correct this illegality. And it was the expectation of every Ghanaian following that saga that after two decades of wrecking systematic havoc and collateral damage to the poultry industry, Akufo-Addo and his NPP government were going to turn to Ghanaians by implementing the law passed by Parliament. To everybody’s surprise and I am still in shock, the NPP went back to Parliament to repel the law entirely, a strong indication of who they were serving. The consequence has been that while 90 percent of Ghana’s poultry consumption was met locally in late 1980s, now the local industry provides just fewer than 10 percent of our poultry consumption. And last year alone, we imported 200,000 tonnes of poultry from the EU, US, and Brazil to the tune of 200 million dollars. Just count the employment, income, government revenue, infrastructure and economic capital lost over the past three decades as a result.

The case of tomato is believed to be worse, with unwholesome products, just like the poultry case, flooding the length and breadth of our country like the recent floods in parts of the US. So statements are statements, usually with good intents. But the wiliness, strength and patriotism to stand by them are entirely different ingredients we lack in nearly our entire current crop of selfish politricians. Sadly Ghanaians are overwhelmingly concerned about today’s food, and rightly so because survival first. But a fact we cannot ignore is that nobody can fool all the people all the time. One day, Ghanaians will rise up against these foreign servants. And like Gadafi, most of our leaders will be out of sight.