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Opinions of Tuesday, 21 April 2020

Columnist: Cletus Abaare

‘Judge me by my records’ could be John Mahama’s 2020 electoral promise to Ghanaians!

Former President John Mahama Former President John Mahama

I write this article, not as the spokesperson of former President John Mahama, the soft-and-smooth talking lawyer, Madam Joyce Bawa Mogtari, whom, I do admire from far afield yet have never confessed it openly to her. Nor do I intend to plot a bloody coup against her with some kitchen knives and other deadly cooking weapons just as some ‘power–tasty’ persons wanted to do to our President, Nana Akufo-Addo and his government. No! I will do no such.

I am also not in any way claiming or suggesting that I am a member of the NDC’s manifesto committee chaired by a former Minister of Health, Professor Kwaku Danso Boafo to compile the party’s manifesto ahead of the 2020 crucial presidential elections. No! None of such should be deduced from this piece.

But I write with the fervour that, it is great men of eye-catching vision that shape the destiny of nations globally. As it was the case in the days of Martin Luther King Jr., Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, Dr Kwame Nkrumah and Jerry John Rawlings of Ghana, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, the Thomas Sankaras of Burkina Faso, just to mention a few. So, it was with John Dramani Mahama in his four-year mandate as a President of Ghana.

Dr Kwame Nkrumah is profoundly remembered in Ghana and across the world for his massive infrastructural development and the establishment of an egalitarian and socialist society that provided better life and happiness for all. It was under him that the high number of social services, such as schools, hospitals and roads in Ghana were established.

His well-planned network of roads, an international airport in Accra and one of the highest standards of living in Africa are achievements that the average Ghanaian could be proud of. The building of the Harbour and new township of Tema, the gigantic hydroelectric Volta Dam at Akosombo, the Tema Motorway and a progressive housing scheme are some few of the monuments for which Nkrumah will be remembered. That is and was a leader with foresight!

Jerry John Rawlings is remembered for the Creation of 110 districts (note; not MINISTERS) through non-partisan district level elections. Education, infrastructure developments and healthcare all devolved to the district level, annual government subvention by law to the district, an independent foreign policy, passing of the value-added tax (VAT of 10%) to secure government revenue base, which today, funds most government public expenditures —these were unthinkable in many other African countries at the time.

Under him, we had the expansion of electricity to Northern parts of Ghana, the agricultural policy and programme of 1994-2000 that resulted in the recognition of Ghana’s Food Production Index of 148% for 1995-1997 as “the third-highest achievement in the record after Jordan (157%) and China (156%) in the World Bank’s “1999-2000 Development Report, the expansion Project and the Renovation of the 37 Military Hospital, reconstruction of the entire Kumasi city roads, Sekondi-Takoradi city roads and Accra city roads. In Accra, these included the six-lane dual carriage road leading to the four-lane dual carriage road from the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange to the Independence Avenue. These are just but few achievements worth remembering. He is not my focus, so let’s move on.

John Agyekum Kufuor can also be remembered of the increased inclusion of women in government with Ghana first female Chief Justice appointment, introduction of transparency bills such as; Whistleblower Bill, the abolition of the criminal libel law and some few urban roads. We can also remember him of redenomination of the Ghana cedis to enrich his party folks, declaring Ghana as a Heavily Indebted Poor (HIPC) and got our debts cancelled to pave way for more borrowing. And indeed, he borrowed!

But in the present-day Ghanaian political context, one man who has demonstrated the makings of a great statesman who could be classed among the few greats Ghana has had as Presidents, is former President John Mahama and the flagbearer of the largest opposition National Democratic Congress, NDC. You may agree or disagree with me. You may have your own opinions about him. You may out-rightly hate him because of the political lenses you are wearing. But that which is truth is truth!

The consciousness of this greatness in him is making millions of Ghanaians rooting powerfully for his second coming as President to serve them one more time. They now believe in the ability of John Mahama to put Ghana on the path of true greatness as a richly endowed nation. So, the snivel for his return is ear-splitting and lucid.

Prior to running for the Presidency after serving the remaining few months of his former boss, late President John Evans Atta-Mills in the 2012 elections, Mr Mahama had promised little. His message was literally clear as I prefer to put it: “If I am elected President, I will do my very best as my boss started, I will tell you the truth at all times, I will carry you along and most importantly listen to you always. I do not want to win your affections by giving you promises of things I would do in the future which others before me had given and which have largely been unfulfilled. No, I want to show you want I can do and not how saccharine I can speak”.

He was brutally honest and truthful to Ghanaians. He knew they were deadbeat of promises and it was time to deliver and not to con them with sugar-coated words. Enough of that, he said. Whiles others promised to make Ghana the first paradise on earth, he remained to his stance. Ghanaians trusted and believed in his honesty and endorsed him to become the fourth President of the Republic of Ghana.

But his desperate and power-hungry opponents repudiated their shameful defeat after spending about three (3) years in campaigning. As it’s said among the Kusaasi people ‘even if you kill a snake and cut off its head, that cannot stop it from struggling before giving up’. So, they headed to the apex court of the land, the Supreme Court. This crippled the new government for over three months. The international community uncertain of the outcome, developed cold feet towards dealing with the new government, businesses and other development partners coiled back. If this was the desires of his red-eyed opponents, then they succeeded with ease.

After several months of the uncertainties, his second victory came. The Supreme Court validated his endorsement by Ghanaians. The opponents disagreed with the verdict but said they had accepted it. The struggling of the dying snake had come to a stop but its poisonous fangs refused to rot so some openly vowed to make the country ungovernable for the new government. But he defied that and went straight to keeping his covenant with Ghanaians, by immediately starting the completion of massive projects started by his former boss. Indeed, he knew there was time for waiting.

Mr John Mahama made investment in infrastructure development, the priority of his government and within the shortest possible time, evidence of infrastructural development was striking and phenomenal. All over the country, the massive infrastructure projects are still visible for all to see.

Under his short tenure, he delivered the University of Ghana Teachings Hospital (Legon), Shai Osu-Doku District Hospital (Dodowa), Bank of Ghana hospital, the expansion and fully equipping the Greater Accra Regional Hospital (Ridge-Accra), International Maritime Hospital (IMAH) in Tema. He also constructed and delivered a number of regional and district hospitals across the country as well as countless CHPS compounds in the rural communities to enhance proper health provision to all citizens.

Other projects included the massive expansion of the Kotoka International Airport which is now admired by the international community, the completion of the JOB 600 (Office complex for parliamentarians), the massive Housing Project Saglemi which been abandoned by the current government, the construction of the Nkrumah Circle Interchange, the Kasoa interchange, Water Desalination Project (Teshie-Nungua), National Data Center (Accra), Kpone Water Project and the successful construction and completion of many Community Day Schools across the country. These are just but few. That is a leader with prescience.

However, prior to the 2016 general elections, there came the same set of fake messiahs that we saw during the 2012 general elections, this time, they were spitting out honey and sugar from their lips. Ghana would become heaven on earth, first in the history of its existence, they told the people. Mouth-watering promises became their only way of misleading the people to vote for them. Everything in the country was going to be free if they had the mandate to rule. Talk, is indeed, cheap!

Ghanaians bought into their sugar-coated lies. We massively voted for them. Its four years now. Yes! Yet there’s nothing to point to as a major achievement except a very large size government to milk the limited resources of the country. There’s nothing to smile about except the daylight looting and thievery of government officials from every corner including the seat of the presidency.

The outbreak of the pandemic novel coronavirus has vindicated John Mahama that posterity was alive to judge him. Many of the health facilities being used as treatment centres and isolation centres were borne of out his good governance.

Without these projects, you can just imagine where Ghana could have been in the face of this deadly disease. Just imagine!

With nothing to show, it is obvious that the 2020 presidential election is not singing good tunes towards the ‘Promiser’ president Akufo-Addo and his corpulent government. It will, therefore, be very easy for NDC with John Mahama to win with the right message.

Reason is simple; the glow that Akufo-Addo took into the 2016 elections has waned off. He is now naked before all. He has been washed by the continuous rainfalls and has assumed his true colours. The President and his party’s songs that, former president Mahama government was terribly corrupt, that Mahama was running family and friends’ government, that he was overpricing projects, that his projects were ‘photoshop’ projects, and the rest have been settled. Thanks to posterity!

So what is the right message Mr John Mahama should sell to Ghanaians? It’s simple! His government’s steeling records as compared to the current government.

He should tell Ghanaians to judge him by his records. Isn’t that simple? Let his opponents march their records of four years against his, and I dare say, only the messed up free Senior High School will be the record they would probably show. There’s nothing more and nothing less!

Mr Mahama and his team should tell Ghanaians that they made no promises before winning the 2012 elections but they simply did what was expected of those who govern, they delivered, and everybody is a living witness to that.

That the made no promise of a multipurpose Boxing arena, Bukom Sports Emporium, the Accra Business Processing and Outsourcing Center, New helicopters, hanger and other equipment for the air forces, 225 MW Karpower plant or even the University of Ghana Medical College, but they delivered them.

That he and his team made no promises of constructing the American House to Ashaley Botwe Road, Giffard Road (37 Roundabout to Labadi Junction, Accra), Dansoman Dual carrier highway, Burma Camp Road, Spintex Road by-pass, Teshie-Nungua-Sakumono Beach Road, Ashaiman Roads, Awoshie-Pokuase Road, rehabilitation of Rowi road, Okishibri-Apollonia-Oyibi road or even the Kejetia ultramodern market in Kumasi etc but they delivered.

He should tell Ghanaians that he and his team know that we are tired of empty promises, and the only promise he will make is the promise that he has learnt the mistakes he made, corrected them and that he will promise LESS and deliver MORE if elected. I know his second coming will revolutionise political leadership in Ghana to the amazement of many including his opponents. Yes! That I do believe!

In him, Ghanaians will once again, have a President who would treat them with respect; who will believe they count and are important, and who would listen when they speak, irrespective of their age, tribe, creed, tongue, leaning, or social and/or political status. They will have that President in the second coming of John Mahama. Yes! His promise is to promise not. His records are out there to speak for him. I shall be back!