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Opinions of Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku

NDC - A Terrible Party of Opportunistic Mediocres

Sometimes when people lose hope in politics and its practitioners, it is only fair to understand and empathise with them. For it is becoming quite embarrassing to see our country in this quagmire after 56 years of political independence. Where did we go wrong at all as a nation? Our forebears, especially the "Big Six" namely, Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah, Emmanuel Obetsebi Lamptey, Edward Akufo-Addo, Ebenezer Ako Adjei, William Ofori Atta, and Kwame Nkrumah struggled to free us from political bondage at the peril of their lives. They made these sacrifices just to ensure that you and I take control of our own destiny, and of our own resources in order to live a better life than them.

Right from the independence, the first president, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah set the pace for our industrial take-off. The Akosombo Dam with its hydro-electric power was built likewise the Tema township, and other manufacturing industries. We had our own national courier, the Ghana Airways, our own ship, the Black Star line. Nkrumah envisaged that Ghana could strike oil one day hence the construction of Tema Oil Refinery to refine our crude oil. But what happened to our success story afterwards, my dear reader?

Instead of expanding our industrial base, the PNDC led by Jerry Rawlings did exactly the opposite. After killing innocent Ghanaians, including High Court judges, former Heads of State, and bringing many businesses to a halt, Rawlings sold over 300 hundred public-sector companies outright and privatised the rest but could not account for the $335m realised from the sales. The Kumasi Jute Factory, the Black Star line, the Meridian and City Hotels, Pwalugu Tomato factory etc never saw the light of the day. His own wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings became a direct beneficiary of the Nsawam Food Cannery. By the time he removed the letter "P" from the PNDC and left power in 2001, all that Ghana could boast of were dilapidated classrooms without trained teachers and tools, cash and carry system, Value Added Tax, Academic Facility User fees, high interest rate, and massive unemployment among the youth. What was most serious of all the social ills was the serial killings of our women. In a nutshell, Ghana had to join the Heavily Indebted and Poor Countries' (HIPC) initiative in 2002, an indication of a wasted 19 years of our independence through the P/NDC.

Fortunately for Ghanaians the New Patriotic Party (NPP) under the able leadership of His Excellency, John Agyekum Kufuor was able to put things right. The discovery of oil in commercial quantities, the construction of Bui Dam and major trunk roads, the implementation of many pro- poor policies - NHIS, free maternal care, no doubt made Ghana not only a recipient of $547m from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, but also a participant of all G-8 Summits between 2001 and 2009. By the time the NPP handed over power to the NDC in 2009, Ghanaians were enjoying electricity and all other utilities to the maximum. Drinking water was not a problem and neither did people queue for gas to fill their cylinders. Sensing the imminent danger to the Akosombo hydro-electric power as a result of low rainfall in 2007, the visionary Kufuor solicited for funds to construct the $622m Bui Dam, and provided all the financial and technical assistance for Togbe Afede XIV to start the Asogli Power Plant. So why blame the NPP for the current energy crisis?

Having wasted 24 out of the 56 years of our independence, one expected the P/NDC to blame itself for its own mess. With our country being immersed with streams, rivers, waterfalls, underground water, and lakes, notwithstanding our closeness to the sea, why should Ghanaians struggle everyday for common water?Today, gas and electricity cannot be provided for the citizenry in spite of the high utility tariffs and the high level of water in the Akosombo dam. If this is not as a result of bad leadership, what else can we say? Ghana's economy is in tatters as every Tom, Dick and Harry is affected by poverty. The only people who are probably exempted from this hardship are those in the NDC because they seem to defend the government irrespective of its abysmal performance. All the social interventions implemented by the NPP administration are malfunctioning. Expectant mothers cannot access the free maternal care, acids are being thrown on political opponents, and high taxes are being imposed on basic food items. Our currency, the Ghana cedi, has a few metres to overtake Usain Bolt-the fastest man in the world even in an atmosphere of single digit inflation. The price of petrol, which they promised to reduce to 2 Ghana cedis has jumped from 3 Ghana cedis per gallon in 2009 to 9.3 Ghana cedis amidst frequent shortages. Our cities are still filthy with many people dying as a result of cholera outbreak. This sad situation makes a mockery of the NDC's promise of clearing all cities of filth within 100 days into office. Seriously, the frequent power outages (dumso dumso) have brought untold hardship to the small-scaled industries and one wonders how this government intends to create jobs through foreign direct investment. When Ghana began to experience complete darkness on three occasions, excluding the black out at the Baba Yara stadium during the Black Stars World Cup qualifier, the NDC was not proactive enough to put measures in place to forestall our current predicament. Is it not a sign of short-sightedness on the part of the current leadership?

Presently, our public funds are being misappropriated and misapplied as if there is no tomorrow for our children. Expensive vehicles are being used to entice voters, $20m to build party headquarters, and $250m for military jets, though we are not at war with Iraq. The amount devoted for the payment of fraudulent judgement debts could empower millions of market women to expand their businesses to generate further revenue for the state. Just a few days ago $1m has been given to a "weed" smoker, Chris Brown, and plans are far-advanced to erect a statue in honour of Kwame Nkrumah. The over $48m devoted for Nkrumah's birthday was not enough for this visionless and insensitive NDC government. They do not even have sympathy for our university graduates who cannot access jobs. For the past 12 years, a poor country like Ghana has been giving her Parliamentarians $20,000, $50,000, and GHC50,000 for car loans and rent allowance respectively. As to how many MPs have repaid such loans, it is still a mystery for us to unravel. The numerous ex-gratias to the E.T. Mensahs, Doe Adjahos and other Metusella MPs cannot be recounted. In sum, there is no hope and absolutely no direction for Ghana towards the attainment of economic independence under this present government. Our politicians are unable to provide the ordinary citizens with basic necessities of life - water, electricity, clinics, good roads, shelter, and market for our agricultural commodities to justify their huge salaries. You only hear about parliamentary consensus when the issue at stake revolves around car loans, accommodation, salary, or offices.

In the name of multi-partisan politics, any corrupt presidential candidate such as John Mahama could deceive the electorate with sugar-coated words. The electorate in turn would give their collective power to one person as their leader. Then as a nation, we make sure such a person sleeps comfortably in a presidential palace with his family. He never gets stuck in traffic because of the presidential motorcade so how does he solve the problem of congestion in the cities? He drives in the best of cars, ironing of his clothes, food, drinks, water, and medical care are paid for by the poor taxpayer. So how does he understand poverty? Unfortunately, an incompetent leader like John Mahama is paid 4m cedis a day which translates to 120million old cedis every month as his salary. We still plead with him not to pay any tax on his income but the poor iced-water seller is forced to pay tax as a responsible citizen. He flies in a presidential jet anyhow and gets free travel and risk allowances even on his holidays in South Africa so how does solve motor accidents? Whilst he sleeps and snores, and produces children as he wishes, the country puts able-bodied men as security to guide and guard him. Therefore, he has no knowledge about how to tackle armed robbery in the society. Fortunately for him, all the cost of his education from the kindergarten level to the university level was paid by the state so how does he sympathise with the poor subsistence farmer who pays astronomical school fees? He never struggled to become an MP, a deputy minister, minister, Vice President and president. His brother owns a private jet and nearly collapsed Merchant Bank. The oil revenue keeps coming; cocoa, timber, and other minerals still command high prices at the World Market. Our National Debt stock is hovering around GHC33.5bn due to excessive borrowing. His bank account is full so how does John Mahama sympathise with the poor?

But all that we request from John Mahama as citizens of this country is that, he should THINK and initiate policies to make our lives better as enshrined in his own "Better Ghana" agenda. Regrettably, the past 4 years has been a disaster as far as our quest to build on the gains of our forebears are concerned. A simple distribution of free school uniforms to only 12 million pupils has been a mirage. Four (4) years down the line, the elimination of the so-called 4,000 "schools under trees" has become a burden. Besides, pupils in the basic schools are yet to be hooked unto the school feeding programme. For over 4 years the Eastern and Western Corridor roads continue to feature in every State of the Nation Address, budget statement, and campaign messages. SADA, which was supposed to bridge the poverty gap between the North and the South has now given way to $10bn Hope City project in Accra. For 4 years not a single minister of state or public official has declared any asset, as we were told to witness within 6 months into office of the NDC government. For 4 years, the freedom of information bill is still on the drawing board; and the NDC is yet to find the killers of Ya Na and his elders. For 4 years the NDC is yet to transfer administrative functions such as company registration and passport processing to the District level as explicitly stated in the party's manifesto. For 4 years they are yet to support small businesses in the trades (mechanics, electricians, drivers, hairdressers, dressmakers, masons, plumbers, carpenters and others) with credit and training. For 4 years, the NDC is yet to improve the capacity of small-scale operations and reduce illegal galamsey which is now in the hands of Chinese. For 4 years they are yet to give Ghanaians a national courier like the Ghana International Airlines and refund the passengers' airfares to them. So how do we believe John Mahama when he says he would build 250 SHSs and 10 Colleges of Education? Why is he silent on the proposed one-time premium? Why is he not talking about the 10% oil revenue to the people of Western Region and what happened to the 200,000 affordable houses from the STX Korea deal?

Fellow citizens, is it not shameful to see the NDC's interest in renaming national monuments - Ohene Djan to Accra Sports Stadium, Golden Jubilee House to Flagstaff, and national youth employment programme (NYEP) to LESDEP? For me, I see that the NDC as a party that does not have the competent personnel with brains to create wealth and improve our living standards. If an illegitimate president calls on Ghanaians to contribute their quota to national development, but turns around to appoint only his kinsmen to fill all sensitive positions, then it leaves much to be desired.

The NDC is indeed a waste of space. It is not the right political party for any patriots to associate himself with. It is a that came only to steal and destroy. It is my fervent hope that Ghanaians join hands in fighting against this hopeless government to free ourselves from this socio-economic enslavement. We want better managers to manage our scarce resources for our benefit. Never again should we be deceived into voting for bad leaders. Leadership comes from integrity and must not be entrusted to just anybody at all. We must pray for our eminent Supreme Court judges to expedite action on the petition before them. Ghana, our motherland deserves better than this after 56 years. A few people must not be allowed to enjoy at expense of the majority. Let's use every legitimate means to kick out John Mahama and his bunch of mediocre team.

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

Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Enfield, London. (Free SHS Ambassador) Official blog: ( 07577626433 A native of Asante Bekwai-Asakyiri