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Opinions of Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Columnist: Chineseman, Osei and GuyGee (COG)

President Akufo-Addo; the capitalist-driven leader with unprecedented social intervention programmes

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana

Ghana's political setup is founded on two ideological blocks- that is the Centre-Right and the Centre-Left. Any student with the political history of Ghana will appreciate the fact that the struggle for independence was fought largely on these ideological divides.

Even though the formation of the United Gold Coast Convention on August 4, 1947, served as a precursor for the struggle, by June 12, 1949, it was clear that the struggle for independence was going to be on ideological lines with the formation of the Convention People's Party (CPP).

The UGCC, also referred to as the first mass political party sub of the Sahara was largely tilted towards the Centre-Right Ideology, while the CPP, the party which emerged out of the UGCC was towards the Centre-Left Ideology.

The struggles of building nationhood have been situated within these ideological divides and every government in the country’s history, be it civilian or military, has professed either of the two ideologies. For example, the CPP which became the first democratically elected party into government under Kwame Nkrumah was purely a Centre-Left while the next democratically elected government, the United Party which emerged as a sequel to the military junta of the National Liberation Council led by General Kwasi Affrifa was a Centre-Right.

There is no gainsaying that, while all governments in our political history have professed one of the two ideologies, in practice, only a few have demonstrated by deed and actions beyond the rhetoric. In a modern democracy, it is uncommon to find a ruling political party in any jurisdiction relying purely and solely on just one of the blocks (capitalism or the socialism), it has been a mixture of the two.

Since the inception of the 4th Republic from 1992, the two main political parties that have had the opportunity to govern this country are the National Democratic Congress(NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP). Like all other off-shots of the CPP, the NDC has always touted itself as belonging to the Centre-Left.

In contrast to this, the philosophy of the NPP which is also an off-shoot of the UGCC has been and continues to be Centre-Right (grounded mostly on the market economy) with a firm belief in a property-owning democracy. With the literal understanding of this system, some people label the NPP as a party that essentially concentrates on the elites of society and the business people, thinking that, because their main counterpart the NDC refers to itself as social democrats, then their policies favour the majority of the downtrodden.

Ironically, a comparison between the governments of these two major political parties, it is palpably clear that the socially sensitive economic programmes propounded and implemented by the NPP so far, are greater than the NDC. Under President Kufour’s administration (NPP) for instance, many policy initiatives that affect the generality of the people were implemented.

One monumental policy that comes to mind, which greatly impacted positively on the masses was the National Health Insurance Scheme, a programme that enables all citizens to access health care without much difficulty. In addition to this were other interventions like the Metro Mass Transit, School Feeding Programme and the National Youth Employment Programme among others. These programmes by no means cannot be referred o as elitist.

Interestingly, while one can conveniently point to these social interventions implemented by a pro-Centre-Right government, it is difficult to point to any direct or indirect policy initiated by the NDC that professes the Centre-Left ideology which is underpinned by the needs of the masses.

Not even the government of the late Professor John Evans Fiifi Atta-Mills who was a product of the Kwame Nkrumah ideological institute which groomed leaders for the course of the centre-left can point to any such intervention which was tailored towards the plight of the masses.

In the same direction as that of President Kuffour- a Centre-Right Colossus in Ghana, President Akufo-Addo upon his assumption to office as the President of Ghana in 2017, also initiated many social intervention programmes even though he is a firm believer of the capitalist ideology.

An unprecedented flagship programme he implemented to the surprise and admiration of many is the Free Senior High School(FSHS) policy. This is a pro-poor programme which has helped put millions of brilliant but needy students in senior high schools.

President Akufo-Addo has also expanded the public sector and employed over 90,0000 graduates so far. Institutions like the Ministry of Education, Ghana Education Service, Local Government Service, Forestry Commission, Ghana Health Service among others, have witnessed massive recruitment of graduates.

The NPP government led by President Akufo-Addo has again created a special scheme known as the Nation Builders Corp(NABCO). This is a programme that engages unemployed graduates who have finished national service and are yet to find a permanent job. A monthly allowance of Ghs700 is paid to a trainee.

The NABCO has engaged more than 100,000 graduates and as time goes on, those who find permanent jobs exit the scheme to make way for others. Loan schemes and stimulus packages have also been extended to individuals and small scale businesses who suffered the waves of the covid19 pandemic. For the past couple of months, the President has announced free of charge water supply and reduction in electricity bills for citizens to help mitigate the effects of the covid19.

From records, anytime the NPP is in power, the social intervention policies it designs to cater to the masses, are far greater than the NDC's which claim to be driven by social democracy. Under President Akufo-Addo, the pro-poor policy initiatives that have been implemented to help alleviate poverty in the country have been phenomenal.

These are in addition to other economic programmes that are national in line with the ideological stands of the forebears whose ideas drifted towards the advancement of the private sector to create wealth for the masses.

It is for these reasons that President Akufo-Addo needs a second term to continue with more socially sensitive interventions to help give meaning to modern democratic governance.