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Opinions of Saturday, 28 August 2021

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Excuse me, Mahama, if Ghana is ‘hard’, are you capable of transforming the economy?

Former President John Dramani Mahama Former President John Dramani Mahama

Former President Mahama may have stated the obvious for asserting recently that Ghana is facing economic challenges.

That being said, it is worth reminding the former president that the economic meltdown is not Ghana specific, but it is rather ecumenical due to the pernicious coronavirus pandemic.

In fact, the Akufo-Addo administration did all it could to support Ghanaians in the midst of the deadly coronavirus pandemic by increasing the health workers salaries by 50%, free water for every Ghanaian, 0-50kw of electricity-free, half-price above 50Kw for every Ghanaian, free transport for health workers, tax incentives, the stimulus package for medium, small scale industries, amongst others.

Given the sterling performance in the wake of the unspeakable coronavirus, Ghana’s economy is picking up steadily from 0.9% in 2020 to over 3% as I write.

If we go down memory lane, the vast majority of unhappy Ghanaians, who regrettably found themselves in the doldrums of poverty, rightly voted against the NDC and Ex-President Mahama in the 2016 general elections, largely due to the unresolved business crippling dumsor, the wanton corruption (two out of innumerable suspects have since been convicted and
sentenced), and the unpardonable incompetence (moved economic growth from 14% in 2011 to a miserable 3.4% and single-digit inflation to 15.4% by December 2016).

If anything at all, Mahama and the teeming supporters of NDC should engage in a carefully considered reflection and accept the painful truth that their dreadful errors in decision-making which unfortunately sent Ghana’s economy deeper and deeper into the mire, to some large extent, cost them the power in 2016 election.

It is absolutely true that discerning Ghanaians ventilated their arousing disgust when the Mahama’s administration disastrously collapsed the social interventions such as the School Feeding Programme, the National Health Insurance Scheme, the Metro Mass Transit, the Free Maternal Care, SADA, GYEEDA amongst others.

No patriotic Ghanaian would have jumped for joy over the GH800 million dubious judgment debt payments, including the GH51.2 million to Woyome which resulted in the drastic reduction of capital expenditure, and as a consequence, most contractors were not paid by the erstwhile Mahama administration.

It would appear that some politicians do not care about the plight of the masses; they only scramble for power in order to pursue their parochial interests.

If that was not the case, what else would make a leader dole out large portions of our scarce resources to inveterate apologists like the founder of Ghana Freedom Party (GFP), Madam Akua Donkor, who in all honesty, contributed nothing meaningful towards Ghana’s wellbeing, and yet received a melodious gift of two four-wheel-drive vehicles and a luxurious bungalow purported to cost a staggering $475,000.

In his time in office, the previously single digit inflation and budget deficit doubled astronomically.
The GH9.5 billion debt former President Kufuor and his NPP government left in 2009 ballooned miraculously to GH122.4 billion as of December 2016 with nothing or little to show for.

Ghana’s economic growth slowed for the fourth consecutive year to an estimated 3.4% in 2015 from 4% in 2014 as energy rationing (dumsor), high inflation, and ongoing fiscal consolidation weighed on economic activity (World Bank, 2016).

Moreover, President Mahama’s government nauseatingly dragged the economic
growth from around 14%in 2011 to around 3.4% as of December 2016.

In addition, the high inflation rate remains elevated at 18.5% in February 2016 compared to 17.7% in February 2015, even after the Central Bank’s 500 bps policy rate hikes (the inflation stood at 15.4%as of October 2016).

Unsurprisingly, therefore, during the epoch of Mahama’s coarse governance, some concerned patriots like Jake Obetsebi Lamptey of blessed memory lamented: “Ghanaians are worried because the economy is being handled in a manner reminiscent of the NDC’s mishandling of the economy in 2000. We do not need to return to HIPC status.”

Ex-President Mahama, as a matter of fact, did not work his socks off to improve on the socio-economic living standards of Ghanaians.

Take, for example, former President Kufuor worked strenuously and quadrupled Ghana’s GDP to a staggering $28 billion in 2008, and the late Mills inherited oil in commercial quantities and managed to increase the GDP to $47 billion by 2011.

However, President Mahama disappointingly dragged the GDP to an incredible $40billion as of December 2016.

But despite the huge economic mess created by the Mahama administration amid stunted economic growth, the Akufo-Addo’s government, before the deadly coronavirus, efficiently raised the economic growth from a disappointing 3.4 % as of December 2016 to a favorable 8.6 % within a short space of time.

Again, the NPP government marvelously reversed the inflation rate to a single digit-around 7.5%from a little over 15 %as of December 2016.

Evidently, Ghana’s economy under former President Mahama was not so good. In brief, he wilfully imposed untold economic hardships on Ghanaians.

Indeed, I shivered and sweated profusely over the GH9.5 billion debt former President Kufuor left in 2009 which rocketed to an incredible GH122.4 billion in just five years under Mahama.

Candidly, I am not convinced of former President Mahama’s capability to lead Ghana again when he woefully shrunk Ghana’s GDP from $47 billion to $40 billion in five years.

There is nothing absolutely wrong for any patriotic Ghanaian to raise concerns about Mahama’s leadership qualities when he abysmally dragged an economic growth of around 14 % in
2011 to a squeamish 3.4 % as of December 2016.

Truth be told, Mahama could not have been an economic Messiah when single-digit inflation in 2012 was reversed to double figures by 2016(15.8%) under his leadership.

Of all the numerous scandals that occurred during Mahama’s administration, the most telling was the 30 years bauxite mining lease which was issued by the Ghana Mineral Commission to Ibrahim Mahama and his partners on 29th December 2016, just a little over one week for his brother’s government to exit power.

We cannot also deny or ignore the fact that for well over four years, dumsor, unfortunately, crippled businesses as a result of the mismanagement of the economy by the erstwhile Mahama administration.

The dumsor was so irritating to the extent that my uneducated, albeit reflective thinking mum, who had a soft spot for NDC, underwent a carefully considered reflection and graciously detached herself from the Umbrella fraternity.

But despite Mahama’s coarse leadership, the NDC faithful would never agree with some of us for persistently criticizing their beloved leader.

The truth is, His Excellency former President John Dramani Mahama cannot steer Ghana to the ‘promise land’.

The good people of Ghana, therefore, made the right decision by retiring His Excellency John Dramani Mahama during the 2020 general elections.