You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2008 12 27Article 155246

Opinions of Saturday, 27 December 2008

Columnist: Anyimadu-Ahenkae, Augustine

Ghana At The Crossroads

: DO WE MOVE FORWARD WITH PROGRESS OR BACKWARD WITH “CHANGE”?

BY: Augustine Anyimadu-Ahenkae

Fellow Ghanaians, As we gear up for Sunday’s run-off elections, permit me to add my voice to the various clarion calls by different people to reconsider the great implications for Ghana of the way we vote. Do we follow the nice caption of “YERESEM” and vote the NDC back into power or we vote to continue the progressive change that already happened eight years ago?

Whichever we vote will carry serious implications for Ghana’s efforts at development and our march forward with modernization.

Our elders have said that “SE WONIM OWUO A HWE NNA”, that is, “if you don’t know death, observe sleep”, meaning, the nature of sleep can give you an idea of the nature of death. Thankfully, both the NDC and the NPP have been in power before, and, by analyzing their performances when they were in power, we can have a very objective idea of how and where each of them will take this country.

As a matter of fact, such an analysis will prove that this election should have been a no contest at all, if previous performance in government was the sole criterion. So tremendous has been President Kuffour’s achievement for Ghana in the past eight years – from freedom of expressions, governance, economic development, infrastructure expansion to policies that positively affect the pockets of the ordinary Ghanaian like in health care, employment and education, among others – and so abysmal was the NDC’s performance in all areas that really matter- freedom of expression, human rights, corruption, mismanagement of the economy, education and health care, among others, that the choice as to which of the two will take the country forward presently should have been an easy one. Unfortunately, we are where we are, because even though the NPP has by far outperformed the NDC in bringing positive change to Ghana, the NDC people are smarter politicians who know how to do politics well, whereas the NPP people are intellectuals who take many political lessons for granted. Politicking and governance may be related, but they are not exactly the same things.

I remember in 1993 after JJ Rawlings unleashed the so called “draconian budget” that worsened living conditions for most Ghanaians, I saw a (P)NDC foot soldier or propagandist vigorously explaining to a group of people in Fadama, Accra, that it was Adu Boahen who made that budget for Ghanaians, and that JJ Rawlings was even begging him to stop it and have mercy on Ghanaians. Adu Boahen had just lost that election, and was not even in power. I was amazed. If such lies could be peddled in Accra and get some people convinced, what would happen in the villages? As it happened, the NDC are very good in misrepresenting and castigating every positive move of the NPP government. They walked out of parliament when such important bills as the National Health Insurance Scheme, ROPAB, free Primary education among many others, were introduced, and they did all they could to paint them evil in the public eyes. Today, they are doing all they can to claim credit for them in many rural areas, as in the case of the NHIS, through one TV advert I saw. Clearly even though the performance of President Kuffour should have given the NPP a hands down victory, the NPP has not backed those deeds with enough words, not presented the message powerfully enough, and not made the conclusions for the people. In politics, don’t expect people to always make their own conclusions, especially when you have a KWAKU ANANSE opponent who will always try to miseducate people and misrepresent your actions.

On a more serious note, should Ghanaians punish the NPP for trying to stick to the truth? Should we just go with the slogan of change just because it feels good to see a new face, without clearly assessing where this change will lead us, and what we’ll lose as a result of that change?

Should we throw our precious baby away with the bathwater? That action will not punish the NPP; it will punish mother Ghana.

CHANGE WE DON’T NEED

I get beside myself with amazement when people keep making false comparisons between the situations in Ghana and Obama’s America. As a volunteer for Barack Obama’s campaign, and a regular contributor of ideas and strategies,a s well as funds to the campaign, I know the scenarios are entirely different. In America we had a democratic President Bill Clinton who led us to Economic prosperity, after the first Bush’s poor term. Then came George Bush, the former president’s son, who woefully mismanaged everything and plunged America into the worst Economic crisis since the great depression. Change was in the air. Barack tested the waters, and saw that change was the one thing Americans needed. Even though he was not the favorite candidate from the onset, he believed strongly that his message of unity and change, among others, was enough to carry him through. Sooner than later the movement gathered steady momentum. Change, for America, meant going back to the good old Clinton days of Economic prosperity, the good old Kennedy days of inspiring and uniting the nation under another young, dynamic president, the good old Reagan days of restoring America’s standing in the world (let me end Barack’s tale here, for I’m tempted to write more and more on it, but that will shift from my topic). It was a change America desperately needed.

On the contrary, in Ghana, we had a (P)NDC government that ruled with iron hands and reckless mismanagement, unleashing a reign of terror, culture of silence, where people’s fathers got missing for being critical of the government. The reign of JJ Rawlings was a time when the president himself publicly asked Ghanaians not to patronize the businesses of certain individuals because they used their monies to fund opposition parties, a time, when, like the late Professor Paul Archibold Vianney Ansah put it, success was a high risk factor in Ghana. Who dared to criticize JJ Rawlings and go scot free? Even after Adu Boahen broke the culture of silence, the missing fathers episode did not stop. Today everyone can say anything he or she wants against President Kuffuor and go scot free. Oh have we so soon forgotten about the “RAWLINGS’ CHAINS”, the mark that showed how living conditions were in Ghana? Where were those calling for change now, claiming economic hardships as the cause, when living conditions became so hard under Rawlings’ NDC that the “KUME PREKO” and “SIEME PREKO” demonstrations were staged? Were they not living testimonies of how far the NDC would take this country?

What was employment like under NDC’S rule? What was education like under NDC? The half- baked JSS/SSS graduates many of who could not even construct a simple paragraph of flawless English? So poor was the preparation for and implementation of the JSS/SSS system under Rawlings that most of the graduates could not fit into existing jobs. No wonder the universities had to come down one year lower for such graduates, starting them at level 100 whilst the A level graduates started at level 200. Under Rawlings and his NDC, many were the graduates with brilliant ideas who could not have access to loans or capital to start their own businesses. I personally had several failed attempts at getting a loan, like most of my colleagues. The National Board for Small Scale Businesses, for whatever reason, was not helpful. Today, due to the business-friendly atmosphere of President Kuffour’s government, many have access to capital for their small scale ventures. Akuffo Addo is pledging to take this even further by providing $1bn for such purposes, and trust me, this will greatly improve the employment situation.

Many of us outside want to come back to Ghana- but if it is Ghana under Rawlings’ NDC, we’ll stay where we are.

Have Ghanaians so soon forgotten about the CASH AND CARRY system, where many died both at home and in the hospitals for the simple fact that they did not have money to pay for treatment? Today, under Kuffour’s NPP, the National Health Insurance Scheme has enabled all poor people who register for it to be treated free of charge. Is this what we want to change? Today women can deliver freely in hospitals, paying nothing. Is that what we want to change? If no one should vote for the NPP, at least all women should.

The list is endless. Shall I talk about free primary education, to which Akuffo Addo wants to add free secondary education? Is that what we want to change? Change to embrace the (P)NDC era where many poor people could not go to school? What will be the future of our beloved country?

In terms of corruption, cocaine dealing and all those negative things said about the NPP, the NDC has a far worse record than the NPP. I would have therefore considered a change for a third party, but not the NDC with a far worse record on everything that matters. The only difference here is that there is freedom of expression now, so the least wrong is so much spoken about to look like it’s not been done before; and secondly the NPP itself is not good about defending itself- they allow the NDC to hit them often with many accusations without hitting back. When a lie is repeated often enough, it sounds like the truth.

Fellow Ghanaians, bringing back the NDC to power is a change we don’t need. We don’t need to go back to those days where political opponents were seen as enemies, persued, killed, their businesses destroyed; the days where public officials blatantly and arrogantly displayed power and made you feel you were not human if you didn’t belong to them. The days where the police had to play second- fiddle to CDRs; our women stripped naked, whipped and killed, lawlessness abounded, press houses were “shit-bombed” like Tommy Thompson’s “FREE PRESS”-because they didn’t support the government. Have we forgotten the days when the state media dared not carry publicity stuff of anyone else but JJ? You could not even listen to TV news then, because they were too one-sided attack of the opposition. This, surely, is not the change we need. Unlike America, Ghana’s positive change happened eight years ago, and all we need to do is to continue moving forward with that change. Atta Mills is clearly not his own man. A vote for Atta Mills is a vote for JJ Rawlings, and it tantamounts to disaster for Ghana.

I could continue on and on, but, as is said, the medicine that would heal does not need to come in quantities. Again, a word to a wise is enough. Let us not forget as we go to the polls that when the insect wood gathers sticks, on its own head it carries them. Whatever our nation will be in the years ahead will depend on how we cast our vote tomorrow. Again, let us not forget that when the tiger falls into the water, it merely gets wet, but its stripes remain. NDC remains NDC, whereas NPP remains NPP. If anyone has any doubts that Atta Mills will be different from the previous NDC government, don’t be deceived.

According to Ekow Spio Garbrah, Atta Mills presided over 90%of the cabinet meetings since he became veep from ’96 onwards, and 100% of those decisions were maintained as is by JJ Rawlings- he did not change them. If that is so, them Atta Mills shares blame for Rawlings’ economic mismanagement and nefarious reign that led majority in Ghana to call for change in 2000 elections. It means Atta Mills didn’t see anything wrong with policies like the CASH and CARRY, among others, or he didn’t have the strength or will to change them. If he couldn’t do it then, how can he tell us he can do it now? On the contrary, Nana Akuffo Addo was an integral part of the Kuffuor administration that repealed the criminal libel laws and made freedom of expression a constitutional reality in Ghana. He was part of the cabinet that brought all these breakthrough economic policies that have laid the foundations for accelerated growth. He will carry us to the next level. Long live Ghana, God bless our homeland and all its people. Thank you for reading.

AUGUSTINE ANYIMADU-AHENKAE gtrabboni@yahoo.com

Augustine Anyimadu-Ahenkae, a Mathematician, Economist, Political Strategist, Inspirational Public Speaker, Theologian, Educationist, Author, Linguist, writes on a wide variety of areas. In 2007 he was honored by New York City’s chancellor of Education, Joel Klein as a most outstanding Math Teacher. From Teaching Mathematics and English, he has founded “Excellent Score Incorporated”, a non profit, free Tutoring center that seeks to solve educational problems of minorities and immigrants.