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Opinions of Saturday, 24 September 2011

Columnist: Agyemang, Stephen

Kufour’s Poor Foundation of Programmes is Marginalizing Mills

An outstanding vigorous foundation of anything brings nothing but long-lasting of its fruits. Indeed, getting a vigorous foundation of a programme doesn’t take just some few months or years. As the holy bible indicates, there used to be two people; a wise and a fool. Each decided to build a house. The fool quickly and easily built his house on sand and when wind blew, his house collapsed completely. On the other hand, the wise took his time by digging in hard rocks to get a strong foundation for his house and when the same wind blew his house strongly resisted and didn’t collapse.

Before anyone either rich or poor, short or tall, Akan or non-Akan, cancer patient or non-cancer patient prepares himself to take the castle-seat as the president of this country, he got some programmes in mind to deliver for the nation. Normally you and I do hear such programmes being mentioned in their electioneering manifestoes. However, the good president is the one who sees his predecessor’s programmes important and tries with every means to sustain them as well as introduce his not for the sake of his political party retaining power but for the sake of collective economic growth and development of the country. Linking this beneficially national sustainability to Mills’ administration, he, Prof. Mills, is judiciously pregnant with important programmes for the nation to depend on for a drastic development and the same time sees his predecessor’s (Kuffour’s) programmes also important for the nation to depend on for economic growth and development, Just as President Obama sees his predecessor’s (Bush’s) programmes important and he tries to sustain them for the sake of the US to develop and merely introduces health insurance in addition. Unfortunately in the country, once I heard Mr Tony Aidoo who happens to be a leading member of NDC suggesting to President Mills to leave Kuffour’s programmes to rot and solely execute his because during the 2012 electioneering campaign, NDC may not be able to get many programmes executed to campaign on. That was Mr Tony Aidoo’s suggestion to the president. Personally that wasn’t a good advice and fortunately the president never took it. Why? As just indicated, a good President is the one who tries to sustain programmes left behind by his predecessor for the benefit of the country rather than his party. President Mills puts his country (Ghana) first before his party, the more he puts his country first the more some of his own party members put him last. Therefore I wasn’t surprised when Nana Agyemang Konadu Rawlings challenged him for the presidential candidature for the party in the just congress held in Sunyani. Mr. Kuffour took over as the president of this country in the year 2000 and just to impress the electorate to give him another mandate, he quickly introduced many programmes and deceitfully lifted the country up for everyone to see that Ghana was another middle-income country. There is no doubt and argument about such improvement in the economy by Kuffour’s administration but the question is, was the foundation of such progress strongly enough to sustain for many years? Introducing many programmes such as the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), School Feeding Programme and many more to boost the economy is very simple like A, B, C, D for everyone to do. Even a palm tapper who hasn’t been to Oxford University for education can introduce them just as Kuffour did. However the requisite and appropriate foundation for them to sustain for a longer period of time is complicated and difficult for everyone to do. Kuffour quickly lifted the economy of Ghana higher with poor and weak foundation. It is just like building 165 floors of a story-building with weak foundation which can collapse at any point in time or just like a plastic (polythene) bag that is flying high in sky by wind and when the wind stops blowing at any point in time it falls down. That is what Kuffour did to our economy.

As a matter of fact, most of these so-called programmes introduced by Kuffour are in the hand-supports of foreign donors and if they decide to withdraw their usual supports, what happens? The programmes will go to cemetery for termination. The National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) was introduced with the aim of helping the youth to secure another job, secondly to help them to get some work experiences and thirdly to improve their living standard. However, Kuffour led administration couldn’t create a source to generate money to pay the youth employed, it solely depended on the foreign donors as a result all these workers were not paid on time. More than 90% of these workers worked tirelessly for more than four months without pay. Some even worked for more than a year without a pesewa to buy a sachet of water. Why should such one year unpaid-working salary come in? It came in primarily because the NPP government didn’t create a reliable source to generate money to pay the workers. The programme was deceitfully introduced to favour NPP to get some votes from the youth in order to retain power. Moreover on the written paper, Kuffour and his ministers stated categorically that the programme was just a temporary work to help the youth to get another jobs but verbally and deceitfully they promised the youth employed that it was a permanent work, they even went ahead to assure them of getting SSNIT cover in which they would be giving some pension pays in future when they are too old to work. NPP gave that promise purposely to win some votes from the youth. If you, yes, you as a reader of this article would acknowledge, most employed youth under this programme worked for more than two years instead of just one year as stipulated on the paper by the then government which prevented most other youth also to come in.

Since President Mills took over, he has been creating a vigorous foundation for this National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) by levying a tax to generate some money to pay the youth on time. Also he has made it compulsory for the youth to work under this for one year as stipulated to help other youth also to come in and benefit accordingly. Not only that, just recently, he (Mills) has supplied free sewing machines to some youth under this programme to start their own businesses. Moreover he has got a strong support from Zeera Companies to set a strong permanent foundation for it. President Mills has also expanded this programme to cover more than 140 000 people instead of just 74 000 people Kuffour’s administration covered.

When it comes to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), President Mills has been setting a strong permanent foundation for it in which Kuffour couldn’t do, how? President Mills is getting reliable people to be agents of the scheme to collect money from the people to be registered. During Kuffour’s tenure, any fraudulent person could be taken as an agent provided the person was NPP supporter; therefore most of these people so-called agents for the scheme ran away with people’s money without the registration. Furthermore, President Mills is creating a strong foundation for the NHIS by giving clearer education to people in impoverished areas to know the advantages of it and register accordingly rather than keeping on concentrating on the urban people who are already relatively better off as Kuffour’s administration was doing. Moreover President Mills has been creating a strong foundation for the weak foundation of the NHIS left behind by Kuffour’s administration by employing competent people to be managers instead of corrupt and fraudulent NPP supporters being employed as the managers.

When it comes to the School Feeding Programme, president Mills has been taking a holistic approach by getting a good foundation for it so that almost all Ghanaian school learners benefit instead of just some few schools being selected by the Kuffour’s administration. Accordingly, currently, more schools are been covered. Just recently, we were informed that the foreign donors for this School Feeding Programme has withdrawn her support but the programme is still running because President Mills has been in position to create a strong foundation for it by giving 12% of the National budget to support it instead of just 7% being given to support it by the NPP government.

President Mills is God-sent President, don’t you agree with this? The only President in the history of Ghana who says look my predecessor, Kuffour, initiated important programmes but he couldn’t get the wisdom to set a good foundation for them therefore I want to do it so that they will remain forever instead of rotting. Despite President Mills is seriously working on the strong foundation for these programmes initiated by Kuffour to sustain forever, he has initiated the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) to help our loving brothers and sister in the three northern regions instead of migrating to south for greener pasture. Under this SADA programme, shea butter factories have been established to boost economic activities in these areas. President Mills’ administration has increased workers’ salaries by 17% by even migrating them to SSSS. President Mills has increased the price of cocoa to improve the living standard of farmers who contribute massively to the exportation of Ghana’s produce. Not only that, President Mills has established a cocoa factory in the Western Region to process raw cocoa beans before exportation which has created jobs for many Ghanaians and also increased a revenue obtained from export. President Mills’ administration has been providing free learning materials including laptops and uniforms to school children to improve human capital in the country. President Mills has been creating a cordial relationship with our former presidents by inviting former president Kuffour to the castle share ideas, first in the history of Ghana for this to happen! Not only that, President Mills has been involving many youth and women in his government by making them ministers and co-ordinators. What about the speaker of Parliament? The first government in the history of Ghana to choose a woman as the Speaker of Parliament. Besides that, President Mills has been embarking on infrastructural development by constructing more roads, schools, clinics, hospitals and housing (STX housing). And don’t forget, President Mills has reduced the size of the ministerial position to save the nation’s money by taking off Senior Ministry, Ministry of Fisheries, Ministry of Ports and Harbours.

Prof. Mills is the only president ever to have who puts his country first before anything including his own party, NDC. What else do you want from him? To replace him with somebody who wakes up in morning with cloud of wee smoke, somebody who has nothing to say to defend himself of drug addiction and has nothing either to say to defend himself of being hot-headed, tribal-minded, arrogant and womanizer? Say no hundred times to yourself.

Stephen Agyemang