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Opinions of Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku

Apologise for the 'Better Ghana' Deception, Mr. President!

According to Franklin Benjamin; “tricks and treachery are the practice of fools that do not have brains enough to be honest”. Franklin might have made this strong remark probably due to his abhorrence of lies, propaganda, and deceit at the time. Therefore, we should hasten slowly in condemning Franklin for spitting his dummy out. The release of the 2012 financial policy statement of the NDC government by the Finance Minister has as usual resulted in mixed reactions from the public. However, people who have no basic knowledge in economics were the first to conclude that the budget is of no hope, considering the misapplication of over GHC 10 billion loan facility, and the oil revenue. Apart from the hollow content of the 2012 budget, the ridiculous manner in which the Finance Minister, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor presented it seriously undermined his credibility and the reputation he has built over the years and I think he will struggle to repair the damage he has caused to himself.



Shamefully, the Finance Minister stated that the ‘Better Ghana” agenda has been delivered on the wrong assumption that school uniforms were being distributed to pupils of basic schools, schools under trees are were being removed, and that inflationary rates have consistently been declining. Besides, over GHC 3 million has been allocated to beef up the media and music industry. The numerous “yes, we have delivered” answers given by the Finance Minister seem to have overshadowed the many promises made by the NDC prior to the 2008 general elections. But some of us will always be around to expose the weaknesses of these propaganda players who are joking on the political field. How on earth could Dr. Duffour conclude that the ‘Better Ghana’ agenda had been delivered?

It is a common knowledge that our educational system currently faces a serious crisis. The mass failure of candidates at all levels of the educational ladder, and the frequency of strike actions and demonstrations by teachers and other public sector workers tell it all. The high cost of living, the upsurge of armed robbery cases, and the politics of insult that have characterised our body politic cannot be hidden under the carpet. The increase in youth unemployment, massive corruption among government officials, and poor sanitation in our cities are clear cases of the failed NDC administration, yet the Finance Minister tickles himself and bursts into laughter in attempt to deceive the suffering masses who voted the NDC into power in 2008. In a civilized democratic political culture, it will take only an ‘irrational’ voter to cast a vote for a presidential candidate who promises to provide school uniforms or remove schools under trees, as against other competing candidates who would promise free senior high school and improve the conditions of service of teachers. This is because provision of school uniforms and drinking cups can never be a panacea to any educational crisis. It is thus imperative to remind the Finance Minister and his cohorts that, candidate Mills won the 2008 presidential election based on the promises of drastic reduction of fuel prices, job creation, and implementation of one-time premium, among others and not what he wants to force down on our throats. The promises that featured prominently in the 2008 NDC manifesto were the party’s determination to cut down profligate spending, zero down corruption, find and prosecute the killers of Ya-Na, and put money in our pockets. Therefore, if the NDC led by Prof. Mills had succeeded in implementing the Savannah Accelerated Development programme, or had succeeded in establishing two public universities in Brong Ahafo and Volta Regions as promised, or had established at least a third of the promised 170 factories in Ghana, then we could agree with the Finance Minister’s assertion that the ‘Better Ghana’ agenda is on course, if not genuinely delivered.

Seriously, the NDC in opposition is on record to have faulted, disagreed, treated with contempt, belittled, voted against, boycotted, questioned, demonstrated and lied about almost all the policies, interventions, initiatives, programmes, bills, and even statements made by the NPP government right from 2001 till 2009. Their propagandists consistently described NPP officials and government ministers as malicious, insensitive, corrupt, unpatriotic, tribalistic, irresponsible, capitalists, elitists, and what have you. Was it not the same NDC that described the celebration of Ghana @ 50 by the NPP government as a waste? How did the NDC react to the decision of the NPP government to build the Presidential Palace and also purchase a Presidential Jet? But what happened under the ‘Better Ghana’ agenda? A whopping $48million had been splashed on Nkrumah’s birthday, and $250million has been used to purchase five (5) Military Jets. Can NDC accept this as profligate or is that the usual ‘I care for you’ mantra?

The recent agitation of the Andani Youth against President Mills and his government was as a result of a promise by the NDC to arrest and prosecute the killers of Ya-Na Yakubu II. Prof. Mills promised to provide the safest security to every Ghanaian when elected the president of this country. Yet, under his watch, the Paramount chief of Gushiegu was assassinated in a similar circumstance. Whoever thought that another national tragedy could occur in football after the May 9 stadium disaster that claimed 126 lives in 2001? But under a ‘Better Ghana’ era, 30 football fans were rushed to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) on February 9, 2009 and four (4) of them were reported dead on arrival. Would Mills blame himself and his administration as he did to Kufuor?

Again, the NDC propagandists lambasted President Kufuor for the fuel price increase in early 2001 because candidate Kufuor had held an empty gallon on a political platform to empathize with the electorate about the high cost of living. Similarly, candidate Mills promised to reduce fuel prices drastically but when he won power, the price of petrol jumped from GHC3.6 to GHC7. Is that the ‘Better Ghana’ agenda that Dr. Duffuor was talking about? Furthermore, the NPP, that created a Ministry for Chieftaincy Affairs to streamline the institution of chieftaincy was fingered in the enstoolment of a new Ga Mantse, King Tackie Tawiah II, though the position was vacant at the time. Surprisingly, the Mills’ administration has engineered the enstoolment of two additional chiefs for the Ga Stool. How does Mills expect Ghanaians to judge his government?

Ghanaians cannot easily forget the hullabaloo that surrounded the $20,000 car loans to our Members of Parliament (MP) during the Kufuor administration. Mills argued that such funds could have better served the private sector. However, as hypocritical as he is, $50,000 car loans have been given to each MP for the same purpose. Where therefore lies the difference between a ‘Positive Change’ and a ‘Better Ghana’ agenda? Another disturbing phenomenon that has drawn the attention of parents is the way our educational system is being tossed around. A new Education Reform with a 4-year duration of the senior high school level was implemented in 2007. Mills, an accomplished educationist, believes quality education could be achieved within a 3 year period; hence the reversal of the SHS duration from 4 to 3 years. Could this singular unpopular action solve our educational problems, especially at the secondary level? The answer is a big no!

Sensing danger in the financial returns in the Aviation industry, President Kufuor replaced the national courier, the Ghana Airways, with the Ghana International Airlines (GIA). This economic action was meant to maximize profit and minimise cost and also help create employment for those in the industry. Mills and his NDC disagreed. On assumption of office in 2009, the same Prof. Mills also had reservations for the new national airline. As a result the GIA was liquidated and the repercussions of this action are there for all of us to see. As I write today, Ghana, an oil producing country is without a national courier and the NDC under Mills says national airline is not a national priority.

The NDC accused Kufuor for political persecution when the law dealt with criminals like Tatsu Tsikata, Dan Abodakpi, Victor Selomey, and Ibrahim Adam. What will they say about the false accusation and harassment of NPP stalwarts like Kwadwo Mpiani, Asamoah Boateng, and Wireko Brobbey? President Kufuor wanted Rawlings to behave like a statesman and as such Rawlings had to pay for his privileges when he refused to abide by the rules as an ex-President. The BNI also ransacked Prof. Mills’ home when the latter had left for further studies in the US. The NDC saw the moves as uncalled for and condemned them on no uncertain terms. However, ‘tit for tat’ has become the action of the day under a ‘Better Ghana’ and therefore former President Kufuor too had to forfeit his presidential office, cars, and his ex-gratia after his exit in 2009.

In his effort to create jobs for the boys, Kufuor appointed people as Special Assistants. The NDC ridiculed the NPP but today under a ‘Better Ghana’, Mills fancies renaming them as Special Aides and Staffers and now people like Stan Dogbe and Halidu are hovering the Castle producing virtually nothing beef up the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Who is Atta Mills deceiving, the electorate or himself? President Kufuor was described as a ‘devil’ for stating that corruption has been with us since the beginning of Adam and Eve. A Minister of State, Hon. Richard Anane was caught red-handed for misapplying public funds on his American girl friend and paid a big price for that. Similarly, the ‘Better Ghana’ agenda has witnessed misappropriation of state funds by a former Minister of State, Hon. Alhaji Muntaka, who unilaterally caused artificial shortage of ‘Chinchinka’ and pampers in 2009. The ‘Better Ghana’ anchorman described Muntaka Khebab as very handsome and that he should be left alone since he was not the only minister to have travelled abroad with his girl friend. Is that a way of eradicating corruption, Mr. President?

The NDC described the NPP government as Akan dominated, although many will agree that the NPP draws most of its support from the Akan areas. Under Prof. Mills, the ‘Better Ghana’ agenda has turned into a ‘Better Volta’ agenda. This is because Ewes have occupied almost all important positions in the public service, including sensitive areas in the security agencies. The NDC itself is dominated by Ewes including the Chairman of the Council of State, Kofi Awornor. It was not for nothing that Mills stated unreservedly that Volta Region would remain his second home even after his death. Would Mills therefore have the courtesy to admit that his government is Ewe-dominated? I was taken aback when professionals like Dr. Bawumia, Dr. Nsiah Asare (former CEO of KATH), and Prof. Frimpong Boateng, got humiliated and eventually lost their jobs under a ‘Better Ghana’ regime. But to the NDC, the same scenario took place in 2001 so their action was justified and now party foot soldiers are leading the way in ejecting DCEs from their offices.

Hell broke loose when President Kufuor’s son purchased a hotel through a bank loan. The NDC saw it as corruption of the highest standard. Others opined that it was morally wrong for a president’s son to invest in the hotel industry. But how would the same NDC describe the action of the President Mills to build a mansion or as Koku Anyidohu calls it a ‘token’ for his personal security personnel who guard his four dogs? What about the $48,000 wrist watch gift to Mrs. Obama by the president’s wife? Can we also talk about Carl Wilson’s thievery at the ports? When a former national chairman of the NPP accused the party of taking ‘kickbacks’, the NDC made political capital of this statement. And we all saw how Mills wiped the sweat from his face when his party’s founder brought his GHC 90 million presidential campaign expenditure to the public domain. Indeed, Ebenezer Sakyi-Hughes made a mockery of himself when he looted a government bungalow after his exit as the Speaker of Parliament. But how can we justify the professional robbery of our farmers by Mahama Ayariga and Alan Bagbin, when the two ‘stole’ 20 tractors between them?

The National Identification Programme has been in a limbo since 2009. The District Assembly elections, and other by-elections that took place in 2010 were poorly organised. The implementation of the new pay policy has been in jeopardy. People are dying as a result of flooding, motor accidents, and abject poverty. Yet, the Finance Minister touts this mediocre NDC administration as a performing government. Until President Mills finds antidote to the politics of insults, energy crisis, high school fees, strike actions, poverty, high unemployment rate, massive corruption, armed robbery cases, political violence, expand Ghana’s economy, and more importantly prioritize the needs of our country, he should forget about election 2012. The Ghanaian electorate were not happy with the NPP for the mistakes it committed in government, hence its rejection in the 2008 polls. The NDC offered a better alternative (BETTER GHANA) that seemed to correct those mistakes and improve the living standards of the people. It is therefore sad to hear the unnecessary comparisons and blame games when they are expected to deliver at this crucial time.

As it stands now, the ‘Better Ghana’ has succeeded in ‘doubling doubling’ the poverty levels of the masses. Anything besides this fact, to me, is propaganda. If in spite of the oil find, huge loans and astronomical increases in taxes, the NDC brags of providing mere school uniforms, eliminating basic schools under trees, and bribing media personnel and musicians, then I don’t think the party deserves another four year term. It is in the light of this that I humbly appeal to my fellow voters to treat President Mills as a ‘wet baby diaper’. We seriously need to change him to suit our circumstance as he has outlived his usefulness. Let’s all make history by making President Mills a one-term president since he lacks the political wherewithal and skills to move Ghana forward to her preferred economic destination.

God bless Ghana! God bless the NPP!! God bless Kufuor!!!



Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Hull. UK

Member, Communications Directorate. NPP-UK and EIRE

Official blog (www.katakyie.com) 07944309859

“Vision, coupled with persistency, results in true success”