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Opinions of Friday, 21 March 2014

Columnist: Pobee-Mensah, Tony

Akufo Addo Ain’t My Man

First of all, do you agree that Ghana should wean herself off imports? My opinion is yes we should. If you agree that we should, then how do we do this and whose responsibility is it to ensure that we do this? President Mahama just got done asking Ghanaians to buy made-in-Ghana goods. That is his solution to the massive problem we have with foreign goods dependency. Should we at election time have asked the President how he planned to deal with this problem? If we had asked, we probably would have found out that his solution was to ask Ghanaians to buy made-in-Ghana goods. We would have also had the chance to ask Nana Akufo Addo how he would have solved the problem and got his answer and compared them and maybe voted on substance. Our press don’t ask these questions (shame on them), we don’t ask these questions and our candidates don’t take it upon themselves to address these issues. Yet the very few of us who dare to think of these things and ask these questions get attacked and just plain get insulted by people some of whom clearly display lack of comprehension of what they have read. For the sake of Ghana, I will continue to express my opinion and I will take any insult that comes my way, so on I march.

Where is the made-in-Ghana car to buy if you want to buy a car? Where is the made-in-Ghana scooter or motor cycle to buy? Where is the made-in-Ghana bicycle to buy? What is the alternative to buying an imported car or motor cycle or a bicycle, walking? Mind you even the tro-tro is foreign made. I happen to work for a city government. When America made her cry to buy American, the city that I work for bought many Ford cars. The city continues to own many Ford cars. That is leading by example. How many made-in-Ghana cars has Ghana government bought? What made-in-Ghana car does President Mahama drive? What made-in-Ghana cars do our Ministers and Cabinet members drive? Even the made-in-Ghana gold and made-in-Ghana oil get sent abroad and we turn around and buy them back from foreign markets. Don’t get me wrong, I am for made-in-Ghana goods. If we had made-in-Ghana alternatives, then it is as easy as slapping tariffs on imported good to turn people to buying made-in-Ghana goods.

I can give many examples like made-in-Ghana paper and made-in-Ghana computers and made-in-Ghana medicine, but I am sure you get the picture. The thing is that the problem is massive and it is not the fault of anyone. The colonial vestiges that gripped us in many years established the situation for us. For many years, becoming the leader of Ghana was at gun point. Now that we call ourselves democracy, we should be about the business of taking steps, however little, towards weaning ourselves out of the grip of our past. That means we need thinkers who think of these things and lay out how they propose to solve them. Solving our dependency of foreign good alone will put Ghana in a very good place yet we don’t discuss how; we don’t demand answers from our politicians and if someone writes an article that may sound like it is criticizing someone in one party or another, the sharp tongues come out. It is our country, people; close your eyes to the inadequacies of your party and you perpetuate the country’s problems.

In the last election, Nana Akufo Addo sold us nothing more than free SHS. Even though President Mahama has taken this free SHS issue from Nana Addo, I still believe that free SHS is a foolhardy. The thing is that in two campaigns, Mr. Akufo Addo has nothing in the form of policy that I can hang my hat on. President Mahama has taken some steps that at the surface almost guarantee him another win. It is so important that he gets a good challenge in the next election or Ghana will become a one party state.

Nana Akufo Addo has shown that during his contemplation in London, God told him to run again. He has not shown that he has any new support beside those who already support him (and that didn’t get him over 50% the last time). He has not shown that he can bring in new voters who will vote for him instead of vote for President Mahama. He has not shown that he has ideas that will convert Mahama voters to Akufo Addo voters. And most importantly, he has not shown that those he angered with his law suit will forgive him enough to vote for him. I don’t have a vote, but if I did, for the sake of Ghana, I would vote for the NPP candidate. If Nana Akufo Addo is the candidate, I will hesitate just for the reason that he should step out of the way and give someone else a chance. God may have told him to run again, but God I’m sure didn’t ordain him to be President. (By the way, it baffles me that NPP cannot win Cape Coast).

At any rate, the nest election should not be substance free like the last one was. We should ask the very hard questions and demand answers. This is the only way we can find out if a candidate’s only solution to Ghana’s dependency on foreign goods is to buy made-in-Ghana goods when there aren’t any to buy or if there is a candidate with a well thought through ideas that may move us up a notch.

My personal view is that Ghana is not going to make cars anytime soon. If a candidate says he will start a plant to make cars and does not show me a convincing evidence that he can do that, he may not get my vote. If a candidate says he plans to start talks with other African leaders for a collaborative venture to start a plant to make cars, that candidate could very well get my vote. Just starting that effort could get us in the right place for the next President to carry it on and maybe in three or four presidencies, we can see a real production of cars in our neighborhood.

Partisan hasn’t moved us up so far. I don’t see how it will move us up in the future without real thinking. We should demand it from our leaders. That’s all folks. It’s our country.


After writing this opinion article, I saw that Nana Akufo Addo has released his statement to announce his run for the nomination for the NPP 2016 candidate. I waited to read it before sending out my article. After reading the statement, I can say I believe “there is no there there”. He talked more about what is wrong with NDC and how he will win next time. Here is a quote from his statement:

“We can no longer postpone the need for the structural transformation of our economy. Our current raw material producing economy is incapable of generating the jobs that our young people need and deserve. It is vital that we put in place a comprehensive, systematic programme for the industrialisation of Ghana, so that, by the end of the next decade, industrial products, not raw materials, will dominate Ghana’s economy. We need to work out the fiscal, monetary and technological incentives that can stimulate local production of goods and services by the private sector.”

Mr. Akufo Addo who has been running for President for many years now, and who probably is not just now coming to the realization that “our current raw material producing economy is incapable of generating the jobs …” did not once say how he would change it. When people run for office, they write opinion articles, they write books and so on to say what in their opinion will work for the country and they go around telling everybody about it. Enumerating problems is not solving problems. We should not take it for granted and we should not let people hoodwink us. We should demand real answers. It is when we start doing that, that we start getting people to think of how to solve our problems. If Nana Addo is going to transformation our economy to “industrialize” Ghana, how is he going to do it? We need real ANSWERS, and maybe I can support him.

Tony Pobee-Mensah