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Opinions of Friday, 21 September 2018

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Akufo-Addo’s appointees mustn’t give Ghanaians reason to repeat the 2008 catastrophic mistake

Some of us strongly believe that Ghanaians made a calamitous mistake by voting the NPP government out of power in 2008 general elections, as Ghana, as a matter of record and observation, was heading towards the right direction following the eight years of prudent governance by Ex-President Kufuor and his dynamic team.

In retrospect, Ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor took over the presidency from former President J. J. Rawlings on 7th January 2001.

It must however be noted that former President Rawlings ruled the country for nineteen years. The first part of his regime, which lasted eleven years, was an abhorrent imposition through a series of coup d’états.

Despite being in power for nineteen years, former President J. J. Rawlings’s disappointingly could not initiate any meaningful policies and programmes to improve on the socio-economic standards of living, but only managed to destabilise Ghana’s macroeconomic indicators.

Given the circumstances, President Kufuor had a difficult time running the country as there was not much funds left in the national purse to plan anything meaningful.

Ghana was then declared as Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC). The newly elected President Kufuor had a tough decision to make, by either embracing or rejecting the HIPC status. However, the forward thinking President Kufuor chose to swallow a bitter pill with a view to getting over the malaise. He thus pragmatically embraced the HIPC status in 2001.

On reflection though, the benefits of the HIPC were unprecedented during former President Kufuor’s administration, from (2001-2008).

Consequently, macroeconomic indicators begun to stabilize and Ghana’s debt stock was significantly reduced by about $4 billion within that period (BOG).

In addition, as a result of the HIPC initiative and prudent borrowing, Ghana’s external debt stock actually declined from $6.1 billion in 2000 to$3.8 billion by 2008 (BOG). It was an unprecedented achievement, so to speak.

It is also worth emphasising that the average GDP growth of the NDC from 1993-2000 was 3.8% while that of the NPP from 2001-2008 was5.2% with economic growth reaching 6.3% in 2007 and 9.1 in 2009 (GSS/BOG).

As it was expected, former President Kufuor successfully completed his first term in office (four years), having successfully managed to stabilise the macroeconomic indicators.

Subsequently, the good people of Ghana handed him the mandate for another four year term following a keenly contested presidential election on 7th December 2004.

Let us face it though, it would not be an understatement to point out that former President Kufuor’s pragmatic policies and programmes reaped tremendous results. Due to time and space constraints, I will only enumerate a few of his wonderful achievements during his tenure in office.

Take, for example, Ex-President Kufuor and his government managed to expand Ghana’s economy tremendously and thereby quadrupling the GDP to a favourable $28 billion by 2008. Plus, the NPP government left an encouraging economic growth of around 9.1 per cent.

The Kufuor’s government kept the Manifesto promises and introduced social interventions such as the free Maternal Care, the School Feeding Programme, the National Health Insurance Scheme, the Mass Transport System, the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), the National Youth Employment Programme, now known as GYEDA, and many other social interventions.

Moreover, through hard work and sheer tenacity, the Kufuor’s government managed to discover oil in commercial quantities which eventually helped moved Ghana to Middle Income Economy.

Indeed, President Kufuor exerted dint of critical thinking, worked strenuously for eight solid years, laid an auspicious economic foundation and retired honourably in January 2009.

But in spite of all the numerous programmes and policies that put the country in a highly favourable position, Ghanaians catastrophically bought into the NDC’s propaganda and voted out the better economic managers in 2008.

Back then, the NPP communicators, in all honesty, displayed sheer complacency and disappointingly failed to counter the NDC’s propagandistic gimmicks.

Subsequently, President Kufuor admirably passed on the baton to the late President Mills on 7th January 2009, following his victory in the runoff election on 28 December 2008.

The late President Mills continued with the excellent economic foundation laid by former President Kufuor and his NPP government.

The late President Mills, as a matter of fact, prepared adequately for the presidency, but in spite of his readiness to serve the nation to the best of his ability, the detractors within his own Party needlessly kept shrieking, nagging and grumbling about his style of leadership.

It is, however, worthy of mention that the late President Mills inherited a moderate debt of GH9.5 billion and a propitious economic growth of around 9.1 per cent from the Kufuor’s government in 2009.

Indeed, the late President Mills was very fortunate to have taken over a favourable economic foundation laid by zestful former President Kufuor and his equally hardworking team.

Take, for example, three years after former President Kufuor’s NPP government had laid hands on oil in commercial quantities, the late President Mills had an enviable task of switching on the valve at an offshore platform in December 2010 to pump the first commercial oil.

Ghana subsequently moved to the camp of the petroleum exporting countries. And believe it or not, Ghana started to export crude oil and thus boosted the economic growth.

As a consequence, the economy grew blissfully from around 8.4 per cent to around 14 per cent by 2011, and, Ghana subsequently reached the Lower Middle Income status.

Ghana’s GDP grew exponentially from $28 billion to a staggering $47 billion by 2011.

Ghana was then rightly acknowledged by international community as the world's fastest growing economy in 2010 (Economy Watch, 2010).

To his credit, though, the late President Mills prudently continued to improve upon the excellent economic foundation laid by former President Kufuor and his NPP government.

As a matter of fact and observation, the late Mills would have been very successful in his short spell in government if not the shenanigans of the detractors that surrounded him.

Take, for example, it is a well-known fact that prior to the dubious Wayome’s judgement debt payment of GH51.2 million, the late Mills warned his appointees not to effect payment.

However, the defiant appointees impertinently disobeyed the good old Mills orders and doled out the staggering amount to Wayome, who had no contract with the government of Ghana.

Disappointingly, though, despite his unmatched moral uprightness, the late President Mills somehow stooped to his appointees shenanigans and allowed the create loot and share cabals to have their way.

Upon the late Mills capitulation, the disobedient appointees started dipping their hands into the national coffers through dubious judgement debt payments and other cloudy deals as if there was no tomorrow.

The cabals even managed to set aside judgement debt amount in the national budget (reported to be around GH800 million).

Bribery and corruption cases, as a matter of fact, were so pervasive during the late Mills/Mahama administration.

Take, for instance, before his sudden demise, the late Mills displayed unparalleled rectitude and inquisitiveness when he constituted an Investigative Committee to probe into the dubious Brazilian aircraft deal.

It would be recalled that during his State of the Nation Address on 19th February 2009, the late President Mills informed the Parliament that his government was looking into the decision to acquire two executive Presidential jets.

However, the late President Mills was somehow ambivalent over the acquisition of the aircrafts, and thus observed: "Ghana simply cannot afford the expenditure at this time and we certainly do not need two Presidential Jets" (thestatesmanonline.com, 16/06/2016).

Astonishingly, however, whilst the late Mills was joyfully delivering his euphonious state of the nation address in the parliament, the Vice President John Mahama, who also happened to be the chairman of the Armed Forces Council back then, was gleefully entertaining delegations from Brazil and negotiating the acquisition of five jets, including the most expensive hangar without the knowledge of the late President Mills.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, the late President Mills had a gleam of suspicion on his mind and decided to put a committee together to review the deal, according to Mr Martin Amidu, the former Attorney General under the late President Mills.

Unfortunately, whilst the Committee was carrying out his directives, President Mills departed from life under mysterious circumstances.