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Opinions of Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Columnist: Kyei-Mensah-Osei, Kofi

Excuse me Mr President, Did You Really Say, 'So Far, Much Better'?

So the President’s second parliamentary address has come and gone with its usual accompanying discussions still lingering on. Both the majority and minority in parliament have had their take on it and so has the ordinary man on the street. Typically, the discussion will continue for a while on the markets, in trotros, taxis, buses and Sunday omotuo spots before it dies its natural death in a month or two. Good or bad, Ghanaians will usually form their own opinions without prompting from any individual.

The President ended up his statement on the economy with the following words, “So far, much better.” This is what I want to take issue on since the state of the economy is the engine that runs every country and also affect every facet of our lives. Before arriving at the above conclusion, the President had referred to the economy he inherited as “a run-down economy characterised by unbridled spending.” Let’s just agree for the purpose of argument that the economy was run-down, shambolic and bad. I would also want to believe that the President was telling the truth when he gave that assessment on the economy he inherited. It is equally imperative to remind fellow Ghanaians that, it takes quite a while to normalise an individual’s poor credit rating or improve ones economic status when things do not go well financially. It is equally true that the task of stabilising a country’s economy alone never mind one which has been run-down is mammoth and usually takes time and some years depending on its severity let alone to make it “much better” as the President said. Since the president’s address, I have been wondering when and how his economic team headed by Dr Kwabena Duffuor managed to attain economic stability, made it to good, turned it to better and further improved it to “much better” all in the past 12 months? May be the President implied that he actually inherited a better economy than he initially made it out to be and had only managed to improve it to much better. Readers should be reminded that “much better” simply means that our economy is closer to the best ever in history though the President stopped short in saying that. Regardless of the President’s diagnosis of our economy as being in much better health, unemployment remains high and so a lot of our youths are into armed robbery, affordable housing remains but a fleeting illusion; prices of petroleum products keep rising and utility bills remains unaffordable. Ghanaians are going through all these hardships and still we are being told “so far, much better”!?! Hmmm!

Ironically, the President also chose to inform parliament and the entire country that, whilst the economy has shifted through 4 gears in the space of 12 months from run-down to stable, good, better and much better, he has within the same period been “inundated by complaints from people that he was not putting money in their pockets contrary to his campaign promise.” Unsurprisingly, the President denied ever making that promise. By implication, the President is telling those who have been calling him to fulfil his “….put money in your pocket” campaign message that they might have been hallucinating to think he ever made that promise. May be he is telling those calling to remind him about that promise or anyone for that matter who heard him made that statement that they are morons to have believed him. Otherwise why would the President deliberately choose to exhibit clear symptoms of selective memory? Typical of the NDC buck-passing and blame game, the President did not only deny making that promise but suddenly remembers and knows “some people who did” make those promises “during the last electioneering campaigns” yet, he would not name names. Tell us something new Mr President. I want to remind the President that the campaign is over and that he is the President of the country. This gimmickry ain’t doing neither you nor no anyone any good.

More importantly, how does the President reconcile the above 2 statements he made? On one hand he told us that our economy is resilient and in “much better” state whilst at the same time, a section of the populace are crying for lack of money in their pockets and had therefore called him, out of frustration, to remind him about his campaign promises. The answer to this little puzzle is simply this: either the president is deceiving Ghanaians or is himself being deceived by his economic team. Either way, the President should remember that, for as long as he keeps getting those calls about his campaign promises, it means that all is not well with the ordinary Ghanaian and he should start doing something about it. If I were there when the President gave his address, I would have posed these questions: Excuse me Mr President, did you really say “so far, much better”? What about those who have inundated you with calls about your campaign promise to put money in Ghanaians pockets? Do they not matter? Remember also that you promised “to be father for all”? Sorry you didn’t make that promise too: or did you?

Kofi Kyei-Mensah-Osei