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Opinions of Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Columnist: Amponsah Stonash

Mills’s youth empowerment promise at the UN is a political hoax!

Prez Mills’s youth empowerment promise at the UN is a political hoax!

The future of every nation lies in the hands of its youth. Many youth rose up in the past, turned around the predicaments of their societies in a more daring and difficult circumstances (even at the peril of their own lives). The likes of Steve Biko of South Africa and Wael Goran of Egyptian revolution fame are exact epitome of the unflinching and unwavering strength that lies within the exuberant youth.

One would therefore expect that the policies and platforms that give prominence to youth empowerment should be heightened to its fullest. The youth of Ghana, however, has been left in a more despondent and alienated situation than never before under the gaze of the Mills/Mahama led NDC administration.

The National Youth Council (NYC) was instituted by the erstwhile Kufour led NPP administration in 2007 to undertake capacity building for the youth. A recent check indicates that the NYC has been malfunctioning. The sacking of Dr. Sekou Nkrumah as the coordinator of the NYC on the mantra of gross incompetence as stated by Asiedu Nketia, the Gen. Secretary of the NDC, clearly concurs the inefficiency that has entangled the NYC and its embodiment since the NDC took over the reins of governance.

The Youth in Agriculture Program (YIAP) has only been a mirage and a project on paper. The recent outburst by the Deputy Northern Regional Director of Ministry of Food and Agriculture over 1.2 million Ghanaians – representing 5% of the population – facing food insecurity impugns the statistical figures doctored and churned by the YIAP as to the number of youth engaged in this program. One of the objectives of this program is to motivate the youth to stay in the rural communities and farm. But inconceivable exodus of this very same youth from their rural settings to the regional capitals for want of ‘better life’ clearly shows that the youth has not been engaged enough as we are made to believe by the YIAP. But as a patriot, I hope this program works out.

As progressive as governance must be, the National Youth Employment Program (NYEP) should have been elevated from its current standing to a higher pedestal. Retrogression of this august program, however, has been the order of the day. The growing level of unpaid allowances of over ten months as lamented by some participants of the program smacks of gross incompetence within the current administration. Unemployment level has unprecedented been on the high. This could also be alluded to the medley factors, such as the $602 million loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the glitching of youth empowerment institutions – through poor policy formulation of the NDC government.

The conditions of the IMF loan in 2009 contained the condition over fiscal policy. The NDC government committed itself to reducing the fiscal deficit from 14.5% of GDP in 2008, to 4.5% in 2011 with further reduction planned. Therefore cutting ‘non-priority’ spending was the only option in the face of such dramatic deficit cut and stringent inflation targets. In order to achieve this enormous reduction, the NDC government committed to “hiring freeze in the public sector.” On the said loan agreement between GOG and IMF, European Network on Debt and Development (EURODAD) - a network of 54 non-governmental organizations from 17 European countries who work together on issues related to debt, development, finance, and poverty reduction on August 2010 stated, “12 out of 57 conditions are not made clearly explicit in loan agreements. The Letter of Development Policy [3] (LDP) by the Government of Ghana to the World Bank, signed in June 2009, allows the details of the conditions upon which the loan is agreed to be explicitly left out of the loan document. Such practice decreases transparency over the reforms required by the Ghanaian government to be able to access development finance by the World Bank. This contravenes the principles for responsible financing.”

This is how mischievous and deceptive the NDC could be!

If it is estimated that yearly graduates from various tertiary institutions are in a region of over 50,000, and the largest employment capacity in our nation is in the public sector, then one could easily imagine the display of insensitivity and gross disservice done the youth by the facilitation of this loan by the Mills/Mahama led NDC. The recent figure of unemployed graduates is in its absurdity and unprecedented in the annals of our nation under the watch of the one-time Law Lecturer, Prez Mills. The phalanx of these graduates just recently, to demand for employment from the government and its stakeholders clearly delineates the deficit in youth empowerment policies of the NDC government. Imagine being out of school and staying jobless for over two years.

NUGS – the students’ front of the youth in our nation has not been left out of the NDC’s debacles. The likes of Okudzeto Ablakwa and Dr. Omane Boamah in satisfying their political expediencies have been ensuring that their ‘interests’ continue to front the students’ union. This has resulted in the fragmentation of the students’ leadership, polarizing, and weakening it to the beck and call of these greedy politicians. Two separate congresses were held this year to elect executives to occupy a single office. The court case thereafter these two separate congresses speak volume about the inimical trend tolled by the NUGS, courtesy Ablakwa and Dr. Omane.

The Mills/Mahama led NDC government has failed the Ghanaian youth. Life after school for most of the tertiary graduates has deteriorated from bad to worse (nearly 3 years into the NDC government). The occasional agitation and the haywire moves made by the foot soldiers in the NDC – which is largely the youth to demand fulfillment of the campaign promises made by their own government in creating jobs and raising the standard of living simply indict the NDC government and beg for questioning the credibility and competence of the government. This continues to expose the NDC’s inability to think outside the box to formulating comprehensive and robust youth policies that will create ‘real’ jobs and set a more formidable platform for the youth capacity building.

The Mills/Mahama led NDC government has failed the Ghanaian youth; it’s about time the youth rise up to the dictum of their exuberance, and with one accord, take the ultimate and bold decision by voting the NDC out of power in 2012, and to resurrect their gradually denigrating image.

In this vein, the NPP is the right option! Even in the absence of the oil, in the face of the economic crunch, the NPP thought outside the box, took up the challenge and employed many social interventions. Apart from whipping up the standard of living of the ordinary Ghanaian, these interventions ponderously engaged the services of the youth who were jobless at that time. The National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Micro Finance and Small Loans Center (MASLOC), Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), Metro Mass Transit (MMT) are among many others that created humongous platform for youth empowerment.

Nana Akufo Addo’s led NPP government will follow suite.

During his liberty lecture on “Building a Society of Aspirations and Opportunities in Ghana – The Path to Prosperity” organized by the Danquah Institute, Nana Addo emphasized on empowering the youth of Ghana through economic transformation, building strong institutions, education, and job creation among others. The high ill-service done the discerning Ghanaian youth by the NDC government is too cumbersome to bear. But this same youth in whose hands lies the mandate to governance - having tested the ‘waters’ - will speak with one accord to bring back the NPP back to government to resuscitate their denigrating image.

Kukrudu: bumper to bumper, Kukrudu: fire to fire, Kukrudu: All die be die!!!

Amponsah Stonash NPP Communications Group New York.