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Opinions of Saturday, 28 April 2018

Columnist: Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Is Akufo-Addo really learning the lesson that Ghanaian politics teaches? (Part I)

Folks, if you ask any observant Ghanaian this question, you will not be surprised to be given a big “No” as the answer. Indications are clear that Akufo-Addo hasn’t learnt nor is he learning that lesson.

And the history of Ghanaian politics teaches myriad lessons that call for better approaches to governance than what has come from Team Akufo-Addo thus far.

Let’s unpack the above claim. Akufo-Addo won Election 2016, thanks to his unrelenting efforts at leading the NPP’s sustained campaign of vilification against the Mahama-led administration and the hordes of promises that the gullible electorate bought into.

The rest belongs to history but will not fade away because it is poised to ricochet and do its double-edged sword damage.

We will say aboveboard here that what ushered Akufo-Addo into office will soon turn out to be what will undercut him, especially as he fails to wean himself of the “rally-ground talk” and populism.

And all those looking up to him are adding more fuel to it all as if the more they gush out promises and vilify the Mahama government, the more they solve Ghanaians’ existential problems. Failing to separate the woods from the forest is their lot.

Let’s identify some salient aspects of what has emerged so far to prove that Akufo-Addo at the helm of affairs isn’t learning the lesson that the history of Ghanaian politics has taught and still continues to teach those with lofty ambitions to move Ghana “beyond aid” without preparing the basis for it.

LESSON 1

Extreme populism still dominates Akufo-Addo’s style of governance, stemming from acts of commission or omission and the intensified rhetoric of damnation targeted at the Mahama government. No day passes by without government and NPP machinery being used to sustain the politics of vilification that characterized the electioneering campaign manouevres of the NPP.

Whether from the government itself or the NPP sector, much continues to be dumped in public discourse to create the impression that the government isn’t able to solve problems as expected because it inherited a “broken system” from the NDC administration.

Were it to be so, could Akufo-Addo and his government be spending public funds the way they have done since entering office? How much revenue has the Akufo-Addo government generated so far to prove that it is handling affairs better than its predecessor did?

And what extra-ordinarily productive economic management approaches has it adopted apart from the issuing of bonds and promulgation of budget statements making conflicting claims here and there? What has it done to lessen the debt burden through borrowing? Sadly, the debt burden is thickening and Ghana is wobbling under the load.

A layman may ask: Is Ghana’s economy poised to grow or to stagnate, if not deteriorate, under Akufo-Addo’s watch? Beyond the dry rhetoric of self-adulation on the basis of empty boasts as “the men”, what is new to make the difference between this government’s approach and those of its predecessors?

It is interesting to note here that the loud-mouthed (loquacious) NPP communicators have gone aground and hardly come out in droves to defend the government’s “economic wizardry”, contrary to their wild proclamations before Election 2016 and immediately thereafter. Now that reality has hit them hard in the face, where are they to assuage doubts?

LESSON 2
Revelations about the bloated staff strength at the Presidency, not to talk about other modules that have been created and will be created to employ mostly NPP members, indicate strongly that Akufo-Addo is going for the tail and not the horns of the bull. We’ve been there before and shouldn’t be surprised.

What makes the Akufo-Addo version ludicrous, though, is the fact that its victory at Election 2016 was engendered by those very issues (Just imagine Akufo-Addo’s claim that he would protect the public purse and view it against the run-away head count of his appointees at all levels—110 Ministers/Deputy Ministers; 998 staff at the Presidency; and many others that are hiding behind smokescreens created to obfuscate issues).

LESSON 3

The creation of phantom conduits for the dissipation of public funds is common. The so-called “Planting-for-Food-and-Jobs” programme, National Builders what-ever, and many more reflect a lot about such misguided steps taken in the past that yielded nothing but scorn for the governments. Nkrumah tried it; Acheampong followed suit; Rawlings went that way. Nothing productive happened to change the dynamics. So, why should Akufo-Addo go there too?

LESSON 4

To be with the International Monetary Fund/World Bank or not is another area. In the heat of the electioneering campaigns, Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia damned the Mahama administration for dealing with those institutions and vowed to cut links with them if given the nod. They had that nod only to change their rhetoric. Duplicity of the highest order?

LESSON 5

Has the government been able yet to tame the Cedi in its flight against the major foreign currencies (which definitely influences a lot in the country)? Where are Bawumia’s answers to the 170 questions on the economy that he posed to the NDC government?

The very factors that hindered that government’s efforts are still active in the country, meaning that now in charge of the government’s Economic Management team, Bawumia should have long ago answered those questions. Interestingly, the only answer he could give was that the government had arrested and put in cell the US Dollar and handed over the key to the Inspector-General of Police. Such an aberration!!

LESSON 6

Harnessing local resources and entrepreneurs to rejuvenate the economy was a major campaign prop used by Akufo-Addo to suggest that an NPP government would team with the private sector to revive the economy. Are we there yet?

Let us be candid here to admit that it will be unreasonable for any government taking over from the one that it had used its political armada in the electioneering campaign period to damn as “incompetent” and incapable of solving Ghana’s problems to immediately begin solving such problems.

A lot exists in governance that must be considered before totalitarian conclusions are drawn to praise or damn any entity. But we are boldly damning the Akufo-Addo team because of how it presented itself to win the elections. That’s their own cup of tea.

I have spoken and will return…