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Opinions of Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Columnist: Jackson, Margaret

Mahama Must Focus On Bread & Butter Issues

If you ever harbour any intentions of winning elections in Ghana, one word should daily ring a bell in your ears: Development! Development! Nothing but Development!

It was the developmental agenda rolled out by the NDC government when it assumed power in 2009 which saw it cross the finish line in the 2012 General Elections. The late President John Mills ably aided by then Vice President John Mahama did well by touching every single district in Ghana with their developmental gospel which brought some relief to the citizenry in those areas.

The NDC and even their NPP nemesis can still see the following landmark achievements of the NDC during the last four and half years;

• 50% increase in the Capitation Grant for every school pupil (GH¢3 per pupil). • 50 million free exercise books to Ghanaian school children. • 4 million school uniforms to needy pupils nationwide. • School Computerization Program with 60,000 computers given to school children. • 3,000 schools under trees replaced with modern six unit classroom blocks. • Improvement in salaries for teachers to motivate them in teaching. • 400 classroom blocks and dormitories for Senior High Schools. • Over 200 school buses distributed to Senior High Schools in the country. • More than 200 ambulances given to all 10 Regions. • Over 400 cars were leased to taxi drivers on hire-purchase by MASLOC. • 2,000 communities benefited from the rural electrification project. • School Feeding Program now covers over 1.5 million school children. • 6-year re-planting of cocoa trees with free distribution of hybrid seedlings. • Installation of additional 376 megawatts of power to national grid. • Another 133 megawatts of power generation from Bui Project. • Over 90% of public service employees have been migrated on the SSSS. • Payment of 80% of world market price of cocoa to farmers to dissuade smuggling. • Payment of the GH 848 million Tema Oil Refinery Debt generated by Prez Kufuor. • Commissioning of 200 buses for Metro Mass Transit to improve transportation. • Increase in the country’s minimum wage to GH¢ 4.48. • 65,186 teachers in public junior high schools benefited from the supply of laptops. • National Service Personnel also got a bump in their allowances by 20 per cent. • Re-equipment of the Police, Fire and the Ghana Immigration Services. • The solving of the pre-mix fuel smuggling. • The streamlining of the annual Haj Pilgrimage. • 6,000 assembly members presented with motorbikes to facilitate their work. • The Eastern Road Corridor which is still underway. • The completion of the George Bush Highway. • The Sofo Line Road Project which is almost complete. • The Awoshie/Amasaman Road Project which is soldiering on. • The Apenkwa/Legon/Madina Road which is nearing completion. • The new design of the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Interchange which has just begun.

These are solid achievements which saw the NDC beating the NPP with their empty vocalizations during the 2012 Elections. Therefore, with the 2012 Election dispute behind us, President Mahama must move very fast to put his vision in scope.

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has wasted one year of President Mahama’s administration, but it is his ability to move faster in covering a lot of grass on the economic front that will leave lasting imprints in the minds of voters.

One of the areas President Mahama has to tackle is the widening unemployment gap. Indeed many people are crying for jobs, but it is not the responsibility of the government in power to create jobs for people. All that requires a government to do is to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive. The low and middle level businesses normally tend to take a big choke of the unemployed market.

Therefore, President Mahama and his economy team must move to put in place some measures to beat down the huge unemployment gap not forgetting to assist the small and medium scale businesses to with loans to lift them up.

We all know that contractors especially those in the road sector take a big chunk of the country’s income due to the high cost in that industry. As a result, when road contractors go broke it virtually affects every sector of the economy. We know most of them have not yet been paid by the government for work done. We believe that the government needs to find the money to settle them out since by so doing, most of the monies would be re-circulated to boost the economy.

The agricultural sector needs a bigger boost than ever before. If the prices of food remains the same or goes down it becomes a big plus for every government. Imagine the huge break Ghana can get if we can produce enough rice to feed the country. President Mahama must also solve the perennial situation whereby most of the produce of farmers go waste due to lack of ready market.

This brings to mind some of the terrible road conditions in the farming areas. The government cannot solve the problem at one shot but it can do a study and see which of the areas contribute most of the food that we consume. With that done, it can then move to improve the conditions of the roads in these areas in the order of importance.

We still have close to 2,000 schools under trees. It is my fervent prayer that President Mahama will close this terrible chapter in our history by replacing them with modern six unit classroom blocks. History will judge President Mahama and the NDC favourably if schools under trees are totally eliminated.

The electricity crisis which has abated also has to be sealed completely by President Mahama. If people are able to buy food at minimal cost, have access to water and electricity and are also able to move about freely, it becomes a big bonus to the government of the day.

We have people living in the diaspora always talking big, but they all know that no government will put money in the pockets of its citizenly. What is important is for the government to use the country’s resources to make like bearable for all or most of the people.

Many other sectors of the economy need help. The cedi has to be stabilized against other major currencies. The new Kwame Nkrumah Circle Interchange will be another big plus if the project is complete. Remember all roads in Accra lead to Kwame Nkrumah Circle, so President Mahama should aggressively pursue this project which when complete will be the biggest landmark of our generation.

The Tetteh Quarshie Interchange needs to be redesigned. I still stand by my assertion that it is the most bogus interchange of our time which was poorly designed. You can take more than 30 minutes on that stretch in a given day. President Mahama stands to gain if he finds the money to redesign that interchange to beat down the huge traffic that always engulfs that area.

The health care delivery system of the country also needs to be revamped. We may not be able to do it all due to cash flow situations, but some inroads must be made at least in areas where the system is so terrible.

I will pause for now and continue with other areas during my next write-up. But before I sign off I will say again that if the NDC wants to stay in power, voters will want to see that their situations are bearable through the improvement in health care, education, water, electricity, roads, food prices and many more. This is what will get the NDC to again cross the finish line in 2016.