You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2014 10 03Article 328531

Opinions of Friday, 3 October 2014

Columnist: Al-Hajj

Prez Mahama: Another Nkrumah In-the-making?

President John DramaniMahama’s promise to use the remaining months of his four-year mandate to transform Ghana in a manner only comparable to country’s first President, OsagyefoDr Kwame Nkrumah, but widely doubted by his critics, is turning out to be not a mere mirage.

Amazingly, despite the bumpy and shaky takeoff of his administration in the midst of horrid and merciless opposition against his presidency which was aptly demonstrated in events leading to and after the novel eight month long election petition, President Mahama is beginning to confound not only the opposition elements, but his internal adversaries, as his administration is steadily surmounting all challenges it initially faced and is beginning to turn the economy around, as he vowed.

Suffice to say, the Northern-born Communication expert-turned-President is on course to delivering his promised Nkrumah-like wave of transformation in all sectors of the Ghanaian economy; after the national economy suffered its severest form of hemorrhage in modern times.

Perhaps, this glaring signs of economic revival to restore confidence and bring some respite to Ghanaians was what may have informed the recent profound and thunderous remarks by the Chief of Gomoa Nyamebekyere Traditional area, Nana Okofo GyasiYeyiiOmanano II, that the President was a “workaholic.”

Obviously dumbfounded by the wave of infrastructural developments across the nook and cranny of the country, the Chief, without mincing words stated “When I look at the magnitude of developmental projects ongoing in the capital, Kwame Nkrumah Circle to be precise, the Kotokoraba Market in the Central Region, the Ada and Akatsi sea defence, water projects in the Ashanti Region, I ask myself whether it is the same President some people are accusing of not working.”

While for reasons that could best be ascribed to political expediency, many, particularly members of opposition New Patriotic Party and their supposed ‘neutral’ allies in academia, civil society, media and clergy may not see reason with the chief’s on-the-spur pronouncement, empirical evidence abound today about how the hitherto almost collapsed economy is suddenly picking up considerably, especially since the government announced it is in talks with the IMF for a possible bailout.

It would be recalled that, even in the midst of the economic challenges with the local currency facing its severest depreciation in modern times, media report indicated that the highly criticized Mahama-led administration has lined up ambitious and indeed, began executing daring infrastructural projects and programs across all productive sectors of the national economy including ports and harbors, road construction, water projects, energy and railways among others.

The aL-hAJJ reported few months ago that President John Mahama had promised to follow in the footsteps of his mentor and Ghana’s first president, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, and has therefore vowed to transform the economy, creates jobs and reduce poverty, and the unemployment rate.

The President and his team of economic experts aided by the inclusion of Ghana’s longest serving Finance Minister, Professor Kwesi Botchwey, and the decision to seek support from the IMF seemed to be doing some magic on the hitherto fast dwindling economy as the ailing national currency, the Cedi, since the announcement of the successful auctioning of the 3rd Eurobond and the securing of the $1.7 billion syndicated loan for cocoa purchase, has been appreciating day by day. This is giving hope to businesses and Ghanaians in general that the dark days are over.

A government communicator who doesn’t want his identity disclosed told this paper, the Mahama administration and the economic management team “are on the verge of fixing the present difficulties once and for all in order to bring respite to Ghanaians who have had to endure severe economic hardship and deprivation largely due to our highly criticized ‘homegrown’ economic policies introduced by the Finance Minister, Seth Terkper”. According to him “the President and his team opted for an IMF program to augment our ‘homegrown’ policies”. Discussion with the IMF on the bailout ended in Accra last Friday with Prof Botchwey leading the government’s negotiation team.

Talks are expected to continue in Washington in the coming months which will finally culminate into the signing of a three year program for Ghana. A chunk of the harsh censure the Mahama-led administration has suffered centered on the ailing economy. After inheriting a promising economy from his mentor, late President Mills, the Ghanaian economy under the first 18 months of the Mahama administration suffered severe hiccups leading to a fast depreciating currency, high inflation and interest rates among others.

Strangely enough, almost all the economic fundamentals under president Mahama’s watch, even with an astute economist as vice-president and head of economic management team, remained unfavorable leading to an unprecedented twin budget deficit for two consecutive years, galloping inflation, escalating interest rates and free fall of the cedi. These shocks in the economy culminated into severe hardship in the country with members of the president’s own party and some Ghanaians in general calling for the head of the Finance Minister, Mr. Seth Terkper.

Interestingly, Mr. Terkper was an integral member of the then Mills’ economic management team under vice-president Mahama and finance minister Dr. KwabenaDufuor, under whose watch very impressive economic achievements were chalked among which included sustained single digit inflation for almost 32 months, T-Bill rate below 10 per cent, growth rate of 15 per cent and budget deficit of 4 per cent of GDP in 2011 and a record currency stability among others.

Part of the President’s calculus for macro-economic stability and concomitant national economic takeoff is the securing of massive inflows recently.

The huge expected inflows secured by the Mahama administration, the US$1.7 billion syndicated loan by COCOBOD for the purchase of cocoa beans for the 2014 crop year and the US$1billion from Eurobond according to many economic experts will not only stabilize the Cedi in the medium term but will also spur economic growth and create employment opportunities for the youth across the country.

But for the recent cut in gas supply from Nigeria, the Mahama administration has been working hard to almost bring an end to the debilitating power rationing christened ‘dumsordumsor.’ Meanwhile, the multi-million gas infrastructure project at Atuabo in the Western region is almost set for commissioning in the coming weeks. This would drastically cut down the nations’ dependent on expensive light crude to power the scattered thermal plants. This, according to experts in the oil sector, will save the country millions in foreign exchange, thus helping to further reduce pressure on the local currency, the cedi.

Again, while the construction of a new proposed oil and gas port at Atuabo is facing some legal tussle, it is expected, without prejudice with the court case, to commence operation in 2016 to create jobs and generate revenue for the country. The port in Tema, the industrial hub of the country, and the Takoradi port are billed to receive massive expansion to accommodate the increasing traffic.

Cocoa and gold prices, which have precipitously fallen in 2013 fiscal year and caused the nation to lose over US$1.5bn, have begun picking up impressively. Buoyed by these favourable economic prospects President Mahama few months ago expressed confidence the prevailing economic hardship facing Ghanaians will soon be a thing of the past. In his almost two torrid years in office, the Mahama administration has fast tracked projects such as the Cape Coast stadium, the Kotokoraba market, Kommenda sugar factory, a water processing plant n the Eastern region, the Kumasi shoe factory and the Atuabo Gas Processing Plant.

Others include numerous schools including the 200 community day Senior High Schools, road projects nationwide, the Tamale supermarket, the Youth Entrepreneurship Fund, the ongoing Kwame Nkrumah circle overpass, the Awoshie -Pokuase road, the Tamale airport and Teaching hospital, Ridge and Police hospital expansion.

The rest are a Helipad for the military hospital, two new jets for military, expansion works at Brong Ahafo and Volta universities and a proposed university for the Eastern region, Cars for each regional house of chief, equipping the national fire service with over 120 fire tenders, 4000 houses for civil servants nation-wide, Takoradi harbor expansion, an interchange at Kasoa, Mampong water supply and Rural electrification across the country among other impressive projects.

Aside this, the President had dared to open up on dicey issues many Head of States would not have ventured to talk about by demonstrating at the just ended UN General Assembly the role Ghana is playing to end the dreaded EBOLA disease in some African countries, and the worrying roles the Western powers are playing, Israel/ Palestine conflict and the issues in Cuba.