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Opinions of Thursday, 7 May 2015

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Is President Mahama Not Living In A Fool's Paradise?

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
May 3, 2015

Campaigning for confirmation as Ghana's substantive President in 2012, then-Interim President John Dramani Mahama told voters in the country's three northern regions that he was their only hope and choice of leadership, if they wanted the North to rapidly catch with the general level of southern Ghana's development. The Gonja-born Mr. Mahama got his wish alright, when the Atuguba-presided panel of nine Supreme Court justices handed him the incumbent's victory he so direly needed. "We have been used as spare drivers for too long," the former Atta-Mills arch-lieutenant loudly declared. "It is time for us to be put in the driver's seat."

The reference here, of course, was to the now-President John Mahama himself as well as it was to the late Vice-President Aliu Mahama. Today, though, it is not certain whether in massively voting for "one of their own," northern Ghanaians are better off under the Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) than they were, for example, under the John Agyekum-Kufuor-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Well, addressing Ghanaian workers on May Day, President Mahama was widely reported to have acknowledged the heavy toll that the erratic supply of electricty was taking on the survival and productivity of businesses in the country. The President also, reportedly, prayed for an understanding on the part of entrepreneurs while he worked assiduously to normalize the current level of power supply. Well, the fact of the matter is that Mr. Mahama may well have long run out of the trust and confidence of Ghanaian workers and business owners. And this grim realization may well have prompted him to make his now-infamous "smart business" remark.

Heavily carped by the General-Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr. Kofi Asamoah, for the government's apparent inability to fix the current power crisis which, by the way, has been raging for some three years now, President Mahama was reported to have riposted, rather flippantly, if not also callously, that the fact of the erratic power supply regime was not lost on the leaders and owners of "smart businesses" who were "not laying off workers" but were "rather investing in more resources to expand their production in Ghana." The latter reference, obviously, points to the fact that the President may be more interested in retaining foreign-owned businesses in the country, even while locally owned businesses rapidly went under, or folded, for woeful lack of capital resources readily available to many of the multi-national firms operating in the country.

What is also clear here is that the President, who is widely known to have read history at the University of Ghana, and some aspect of international relations in Moscow, if memory serves yours truly accurately, has very little understanding of the dire implications of the high cost of industrial production for the average Ghanaian consumer. If he did, he would rather have announced concrete measures put in place by his government to resolving the current energy crisis in the short term, while long-term measures were assiduously thought out and implemented. Of course, we have long heard about the Turkish power-generating barges. But whether the mere importation of these barges offers any lasting solution to both the country's short- and long-term energy crises is moot, because this is not the first time that we are hearing about the importation of power-generating barges into the country.

Indeed, as of this writing, Ghana already has in possession the so-called Osagyefo Barge which does not seem to have added any substantial voltage to power generated by the three hydroelectric turbines located at Akosombo, Kpong and Bui. And so the logical question becomes: Why doesn't the Mahama government focus on more viable sources of energy, rather than blindly pursuing the current rag-tag or band-aid approach? In the end, it all seems to boil down to progressive and creative leadershp. And on this front, the country may be in for an unbearably long-haul.

Fortunately, the worst affected section of our citizenry, the Ghanaian worker, that is, has the prime opportunity of changing the proverbial Yutong Driver and, with the latter, the pace and direction of the country's economic recovery and development come Election 2016 in a little over a year from now.