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Opinions of Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku

Stop the Verbal Attacks on Bawumia

– Katakyie Advises the NDC
Ever since Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, one of the country’s finest technocrats and the running mate to Nana Akufo-Addo exposed the NDC’s on their lies about Ghana’s economy, he has received a lot of backlash from the government machinery, including the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS). Not a day passes without hearing or reading negative comments on Bawumia’s hard-won reputation. His only crime is that he has spoken the truth about the country’s economy. But for those of us who know the genesis of the P/NDC, such vituperations were long overdue. The National Democratic Congress (NDC), as we all know, has no co-equal when it comes to politics of insults, politics of violence, politics of corruption, politics of incompetence, and of course politics of propaganda and lies. Members and sympathizers of the NDC hate the truth and will not hesitate to use character assassination as a weapon to defend themselves any time they come under intellectual attack. It is against this background that the office of Propaganda Secretaryship was created in 1992 with the view to conscientizing the minds of some illiterates to accept lies and defend them as truths. The work done by the late Vincent Assiseh, Fiifi Kwetey, and Richard Quarshigah cannot be underestimated because a chunk of the ‘traitors’ and ‘born dogs’ (thanks to John Rawlings) have come to accept lies as part of the political game. They eat, drink and sleep with lies in that they put their integrity aside and brand these lies as ‘political talks’ during their ministerial vetting. But the truth, according to Winston Churchill, is incontrovertible because malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it but in the end, it will triumph over evil.
In a country like Ghana where multi-party democracy rules, it is expected that people’s fundamental human rights of opinion would be dully respected and protected at any time. But the NDC takes exception to such freedoms in that, when the ruling party loses a court case some of its leading members resort to ‘kill the cat’. When a party member criticizes the government, he is instantly dismissed from his job; when they fail to fulfill their own promises, they apportion blame on the opposition; and when any member of the opposition parties offers them constructive criticisms, the person becomes a victim of verbal attack. The NDC has demonstrated over the years that it cannot engage people on intellectual discourse and as to whether it lacks the competent personnel to do so, readers would be the best judges.
When Barack Obama urged African leaders to build strong institutions instead of strong men on his visit in Ghana in 2009, it was the NDC that hailed Obama as a man of wisdom. President Mills and his cohorts were clapping their hands as if Obama’s message was new to them. But the question is; could Obama have made that remark if our institutions were strong enough? Admittedly, many institutions in African are weak and probably such weaknesses might have informed Obama to offer his emotional advice to African leaders. In his ‘State of the Economy’ lecture, last month, Dr. Bawumia only sought to reiterate Obama’s message by urging the Mills-Mahama government to resource the GSS in order to improve upon its performance. This, the GSS, Ministry of Finance, and the NDC as a ruling party have taken offence, and as a result, have launched a sustained personality attack on Dr. Bawumia. Has the young man committed any crime at all or is it because Dr. Bawumia is a member of the opposition? Could the NDC have done the same if Bawumia were from a developed country? It would only be fair if Dr. Bawumia’s critics could be bold enough to provide answers to the above legitimate questions.
Considering such human institutions like the Electoral Commission, the National Media Commission, the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Economic and Organized Crime (EOCO), the National Peace Council, the Council of State, and of course the Ghana Statistical Service, there is no way any of them could be perfect. Perfection, as we know, is a goal in which we try to achieve but none of us could ever make it. Again, due to the country’s scarce resources and the problems inherent in the allocation of these resources, it will be ironical for anybody to believe that our institutions are self-sufficient in logistics, equipment, and competent personnel. Therefore, until the Mills-Mahama government assures Ghanaians that the GSS is full of angels, they should forever hold their breath. Listening to their arguments, criticisms, insults, and the cacophony being made by these propagandists, one expected the NDC to come out boldly to dispute Bawumia’s assertion with empirical evidence. Probably, doing this could have appealed to the senses of majority of Ghanaians but unfortunately all that is being heard is insults, insults, and insults. ‘Bawumia is wearing a political gown’; ‘Bawumia is misleading Ghanaians’; and ‘Bawumia doesn’t understand statistical data’, and so on and so forth. So between the NDC and Dr. Bawumia, who is undermining the progress of our beloved country?
The NDC seems to be confused and not ready for the task before them. The party is behaving like a wounded tiger. Dr. Bawumia’s expose` has sunk their image beyond recognition. It has made a mockery of the party’s so-called “Green Book”, the book made at the expense of the tax payer. Dr. Bawumia has shown to Ghanaians in general and the NDC in particular that, it does not pay to lie, especially on macroeconomics which affects aggregates. The expose` has indeed corroborated Spio Garbrah’s assertion that President Mills has surrounded himself with “illiterates and team B appointees”. If you listen to the likes of Fiifi Kwetey, Tony Aidoo, and Omane Boamah, you do not need a rocket scientist to tell you that political power is unfortunately in the wrong hands. They, like their boss, Prof. Mills have no clue about governance.
Prior to Bawumia’s revelations, the Mills-Mahama NDC government has been touting its ‘unprecedented achievements’ in the area of building a strong economy. They claim to have achieved a sustained single digit inflation, and GDP growth rate of 13.6%. Anytime the Ofosu Kwakyes, Batures, Anyidohus etc make public utterances, all that is heard is; “we have achieved single digit inflation for the past 3 years and this is unprecedented”. They are so excited about the single digit inflation, yet when they are asked to mention how that reflects on the economy, these propagandists result to insults. So far, the NDC has not been able to tell Ghanaians about any positive effect of a single digit inflation economy. But if they know that single digit inflation has no major impact on an economy like ours, why do they classify it as an unprecedented achievement?
Again, the NDC claims the GSS has not been influenced because the same personnel in the service have been there since the NPP era. However, when you ask them the whereabouts of Dr. Grace Badiako, they are not able to give a tangible answer. When you question them about the acting role of Dr. Philomena Nyarko, they are not ready to reveal the secret. So, if heads of institutions are of no significance to the credibility and performance of a particular institution, why do people elect political leaders in democratic countries; why do we elect our institutional leaders, and why do we install traditional leaders in their area of jurisdiction? “Aboa owo, s3 wotwa no ti a, odaso y3 owo bio anaa”; to wit, does a snake remain a snake if its head is cut off?
Having admitted unreservedly that the Ghana Statistical Service lacks basic logistics and resources to do a better job, Ghanaians were of the view that the debate on Dr. Bawumia’s constructive criticism should end. The self-confession of the GSS boss regarding the inadequacy of resources demonstrates clearly that the GSS could make statistical mistakes in the performance of its constitutional duties. The NDC must also understand the fact that with inadequacy of resources in the GSS, the likelihood of the institution doing a mediocre job could be high, other things being equal. Is it not surprising that for over 20 months, the GSS has failed to release the population and housing census figures? The problems that characterized the national identification exercise, the lack of data on the country’s unemployment rate and labour force are just enough evidence for any patriotic Ghanaian to cast doubt about the competence and independence of the GSS as a state institution. This is what Dr. Bawumia, a patriotic Ghanaian and an intellectual of the highest magnitude has done for his motherland. He has spoken the truth and as we are all aware, speaking the truth has been the principal responsibility of all intellectuals.
In winding down, I would advise the NDC and the GSS to take Bawumia’s criticism in good faith. “Mpanin se, de3 oretwa sa nnim s3 n’akyi akyea”. It’s only a fool who will fail to take constructive criticisms. We, the ordinary Ghanaians are asking the GSS and NDC to, as a matter of urgency, to make single digit inflation reflect positively on our living standards. We are demanding from them an explanation as to why the Ghana cedi which was exchanged for 1.80 to the pound in 2009 is now GHC3.0 to £1. We are asking the NDC to tell us how many jobs they have added to the 1.6m they ‘created’ in 2010. We are demanding from the GSS to name all the 240 food items that were put in the inflation basket and pinpoint those whose prices have risen at a rate of 9% per annum. We are asking these pertinent questions because the price of a gallon of petrol has jumped from GHS3.6 in January 2009 to GHS8.0 today; a bag of cement has risen from GH9.0 to GHS20; boarding fees have gone from GHS70 to GHC300; a sachet of pure water sold at 50Gp is now GHC1; a bottle of Guinness sold at GHC1.3 is now GHC2.5, a loaf of bread sold at 50Gp is now GHC2.00; a ball of ‘kenkey’ sold at 20Gp is now GHS1.0. In effect, until Dr. Philomena Nyarko, Fiifi Kwetey, and the NDC communicators dispute the inexcusable fact that the above-stated goods and services occupy a major place in the GSS’ inflation basket; Ghanaians will continue to see them as liars and incompetent. Indeed, if inflation rate is growing at 9% per annum, then by calculation, the price of a bag of cement sold at GHC9.0 in 2009 should be priced at GHC12.7 in 2012 and not GHC20, if other things remain the same. I would therefore advise the NDC members to leave Dr. Bawumia alone. They should rather learn how to separate the message from the messenger, if they are serious in winning any intellectual debate.
God bless Ghana! God bless the NPP!! God bless Kufuor!!!

Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Hull. UK.

A native of Asante Bekwai-Asakyiri
An NPP Activist
Official blog (ww.katakyie.com) katakyienpp.co.uk 07577626433
“Vision, coupled with persistency, results in true success”