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Opinions of Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

The best performing NDC’s presidential material ever isn’t Mahama or Rawlings, Mills was

Believe it or not, despite his brief spell at the presidency, the late Mills performed exceedingly better than his predecessor Rawlings and his successor Mahama.

The late Mills was an excellent human being and a real patriot who meant well for his country. Nevertheless, the late Mills was regrettably let down by the very people he reposed his absolute trust.

Yes, in spite of the late Mills good intentions for Ghana, the naysayers within his own Party needlessly kept nagging, shrilling and grumbling about his style of leadership until his mysterious death in July 2012.

I hate to admit this, but the fact of the matter is that the late Mills greatest mistake of his short spell in government was his decision to mix religion with politics.

Of course, there is nothing wrong if a devoted Christian or a Moslem decides to play active politics. But a supposedly religious person, in my view, must not and cannot claim sainthood in the political terrain.

“The idea that religion and politics don't mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country (Jerry Falwell).”

In my humble opinion, it is absolutely fine if a politician is altruistic. But that does not mean a politician must seek to “play God”.

Serious governance is indeed not about “let us give to God”. It is all about cracking the whip when necessary. After all, Jesus Christ even once cracked the whip in the Temple.

Yes, “let us give to God” does not work in governance but rather, it leads to absolute failure. It is all about assertiveness and the strict application of the existing laws and regulations.

Somehow, the late Mills wanted to please everyone, and hence earned the weird epithet-‘Asomdwehene’.

But the crucial question we should be asking is: is it possible to please each and every one in our day-to-day living activities?

I have never been, and will never be an NDC apple-polisher, but I will forever highlight the late President Mills unparalleled adherence to moral principles.

Of course, the late President Mills had his infelicities. Yet he was morally ahead of the other insensitive NDC apparatchiks.

Take, for instance, it is on record that prior to the dubious Wayome’s judgement debt payment of GH51.2 million, the late Mills warned the ‘create, loot and share’ cabals not to effect payment.

Yet the cabals incredibly disobeyed the good old Mills orders and doled out the staggering amount to Wayome, who had no contract with the government of Ghana.

If we stroll down memory lane, former President J. J. Rawlings’s ruled Ghana for approximately 228 months (military, 132 months and democratic, 96 months). Suffice it to stress that he only managed to destabilise Ghana’s macroeconomic indicators.

Rawlings’s administration adopted the seemingly calamitous Economic Recovery Programme (ERP), which was introduced under the auspices of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The vast majority of tangible national assets, including the state owned enterprises were allegedly sold to friends and families for pittance.

In practice, the apparent unfavourable Economic Recovery Programme culminated in a catalogue of hardships. And, on top of the harsh programmes and policies which threatened the economic fundamentals, the population had to brace itself for food shortages, a situation which was comparable to the concurrent Ethiopian famine that resulted in millions of deaths.

The initiation of the Programme of Action to Mitigate the Social Costs of Adjustment (PAMSCAD) did not improve the unfortunate situation as untold hardships permeated many households.

Starvation, so to speak, visited the vast majority of Ghanaians, and as a result developed hideous collar bones which the humorous Ghanaians renamed as “Rawlings Chain”. That was indeed the pernicious extent of the hunger.

Ghana was then declared as Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC). And as a consequence, the newly elected President Kufuor had a tough decision to make, by either embracing or rejecting the HIPC status.

However, following a carefully considered reflection, the thoughtful Ex-President Kufuor chose to ingest an insipid pill with a view to getting over the pernicious malaise. He therefore pragmatically embraced the HIPC status in 2001.

As a matter of fact and observation, the benefits of the HIPC were unprecedented during former President Kufuor’s administration, from (2001-2008).

Macroeconomic indicators begun to stabilize and Ghana’s debt stock was significantly reduced by about $4 billion within that period (BOG 2009).

In addition, as a result of the HIPC initiative and prudent borrowing, Ghana’s external debt stock actually declined from $6.1 billion in 2000 to$3.8 billion by 2008 (BOG 2009). It was “unprecedented” achievement, so to speak.

The average GDP growth of the NDC from 1993-2000 was 3.8% while that of the NPP from 2001-2008 was5.2% with economic growth reaching 6.3% in 2007 (GSS 2008).

President Kufuor worked studiously for eight solid years, laid a favourable economic foundation and retired honourably.

He then passed on the baton to the late President Mills on 7th January 2009, following his2008 election victory.

It must, however, be mentioned that the late President Mills was extremely fortunate to have inherited a very good economic foundation laid by the effervescent President Kufuor and his equally hard working team.

Take, for instance, three years after former President Kufuor’s NPP government discovered oil in commercial quantities, the late President Mills had the joyous task of turning on the valve at an offshore platform in December 2010 to pump the first commercial oil.

Consequently, Ghana joined the petroleum exporting countries. And believe it or not, Ghana started to export crude oil and thus boosted the economic growth.

The economy grew from around 8.4 per cent to around 14 per cent by 2011 and Ghana thus reached the Lower Middle Income status.

“Ghana has come a long way and is the world's fastest growing economy today-2010.

“Ghana's economy is growing at a blistering 20.15 per cent, says Economy Watch.

“Blessed with rich reserves of natural resources, Ghana has suddenly turned around and is now speeding along the growth path.

“Ghana is oil-rich, has large gold and diamond deposits, and has a booming tourism industry” (Economy Watch 2010).

And, who said that the propitious economic foundation laid by former President Kufuor and his team was not the main contributory factor in the Ghana’s economic upsurge?

Regrettably, however, the late President Mills capitulated, got carried away and somehow allowed the create loot and share cabals in his government to have their way. The incompliant cabals began to dip their ‘thievery’ hands into the national coffers.

The racketeers even managed to allocate judgement debt amount in the national budget (purported to be around GH600 million), with the sole objective to create, loot and share. Do you remember Woyome’s GH51.2 million dubious judgement debt payment?

Apparently, things started to fall apart. It went from bad to worse following President Mills sudden and mysterious death. The conspiratorial plotters then had a field day leading to the 2012 general elections.

Ex-President Mahama and his NDC apparatchiks went berserk in their desperation to cling on to power. Thus they broke all conventions. Many government departments spent over and above their allocated budgets.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, many observers harbour a strong view that Ghana’s economic downslide came about as a result of the unbridled sleazes and gargantuan corruptions which took place in the erstwhile NDC administration.

Somehow, President Mahama and his NDC apparatchiks failed to acknowledge that corruption is a key element in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development.

The general belief back then was that they bought votes with the tax payers’ money. They nonetheless clung on to power following the controversial election on 7th December 2012. Suffice it to state that their victory came with a huge costs to the state.

The previously single digit inflation and budget deficit doubled astronomically. The GH9.5 billion debt which former President Kufuor and his NPP government left in 2009 rocketed artificially to unpronounceable figures. Our total debt ballooned to GH122.4 billion as of December 2016.

To be quite honest, Ghana went into the throes of economic collapse due to mismanagement and wanton sleazes and corruption under the leadership of Ex-President Mahama.

Take, for example, Ghana’s economic growth slowed for the fourth consecutive year to an estimated 3.4% in 2015 from 4% in 2014 as energy rationing (dumsor), high inflation, and ongoing fiscal consolidation weighed on economic activity (World Bank, 2016).

Moreover, the high inflation rate remain elevated at 18.5% in February 2016 compared to 17.7% in February 2015, even after the Central Bank’s 500 bps policy rate hikes (the inflation stood at 15.8 per cent as of October 2016).

Prior to the 2008 and 2012 general elections, President Mahama and NDC beseeched the good people of Ghana for the electoral mandate and in return, they guaranteed everyone protection of life, property, provision of social amenities, better socio-economic standards of living and to a certain extent liberty.

If you may recall, Ex-President Mahama and NDC gave a cornucopia of Manifesto promises, inter alia, making dumsor a thing of the past, putting money in Ghanaians pocket, creating more jobs for the jobless, stabilising the economy, protecting Ghanaians from the menaces of galamsey and Fulani herdsmen, bringing an end to dubious judgement debt payments, fighting the rampant sleaze and corruption, working with ‘lean’ government, getting rid of the filth in Accra within 100 days, introducing free SHS, implementing one-time NHIS premium etc.

Consequently, the good people of Ghana bought into the NDC’s Manifesto promises and then gave them the needed electoral mandate in the 2008 and 2012 general elections respectively. Unfortunately, however, the successive NDC governments failed to honour their promises.

Take, for instance, the NDC promised wholeheartedly to make ‘dumsor’ a thing of the past, if voted into power.

Back then, Haruna Iddrisu, the then Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, boldly asserted: “If voted into power, the NDC government would have no excuse to keep Ghanaians in dumsor”.

Ironically, however, the dumsor got worst following the NDC’s victory. Consequently, the discerning Ghanaians rightly fretted thy souls with disappointments and curses, and, demanded answers as to why President Mahama failed to bring the dumsor under control.

However the dire consequences of the dumsor, President Mahama and NDC government could not fix the dumsor. The dumsor continued to cripple hundreds of businesses. The dumsor indeed contributed to Ghana’s economic downslide.

Besides, Ex-President Mahama and his NDC government pledged to implement one-time NHIS premium. That Manifesto promise, so to speak, was destitute of honesty and integrity. The NDC government failed woefully to implement the one-time NHIS premium to the utter dismay of Ghanaians.

And, after successfully shooting down Nana Akufo Addo and his NPP’s campaign promise of Free SHS, Ex-President Mahama and NDC hastily turned round and promised to implement the Free SHS policy. However, they failed once again as the Mahama’s government tentatively implemented their supposedly Progressively Free SHS, with each student getting around GH48.00.

It would also be recalled that the NDC told Ghanaians back in 2008 that the NPP government under President Kufuor had sunk the economy into the mire, so Ghanaians should give the NDC the opportunity to put the economy back on track.

Nevertheless, all the available evidence suggests that the NDC government under Ex-President Mahama rather managed to worsen the socio-economic standards of living than any other government in the history of Ghanaian politics.

Strangely, whenever the good people of Ghana decide to express their grievances over the never ending harsh economic conditions, Ex-President Mahama and his vociferous communicators would go berserk: aren’t we transforming lives by building roads, hospitals, schools, toilets, water facilities and many other social infrastructural projects?

Most of the projects were regrettably not up to the required standards, albeit the projects were often overpriced. The former Minister of Local Government, Collins Dauda would attest to such assertion. He previously decried over the NDC’s poorly constructed and overpriced projects.

Disappointingly, when the concerned Ghanaians complained about the poorly constructed roads in Kumasi, President Mahama would angrily respond: ‘You ungrateful lots, you would never even be appreciative if I constructed your roads with gold’.

The fact of the matter is that President Mahama and his non-performing appointees refused to appreciate that exemplary governance is not all about putting up numerous infrastructural projects.

It is, however, worth stressing that excellence governance goes beyond the provision of social infrastructural and amenities. As a matter of fact, praiseworthy governance also involves continuous improvement of socio-economic standards of living.

The good people of Ghana experienced economic hardships due to President Mahama and his NDC government’s inability to improve upon Ghana’s economic fortunes.

It must be emphasised that former President Kufuor quadrupled Ghana’s GDP to a staggering $28 billion in 2008. While the late Mills inherited the discovery of oil in commercial quantities and managed to increase the GDP to $47 billion by 2011.

Unfortunately, however, President Mahama reversed the GDP to an incredible $37 billion as of October 2016.

Besides, the late Mills left an economic growth of around 14 per cent, but Mahama succeeded to asphyxiate the economic growth to an amazing 3.6 per cent.

Moreover, President Mills left an agricultural growth of around 7.4 per cent in 2012, while President Mahama dragged it to around 2.5 per cent as of October 2016.

It is also true that President Mahama obliterated the late mills “unprecedented” single digit inflation and replaced it with double digits (15.8 as of October 2016).

Last but not least, the late Mills left a fairly stable currency exchange rate-it was around GHC1.65 to 1 U.S Dollar in 2011. However, the exchange rate stood around GHC4.20 to 1 U.S Dollar as of December 2016.

As a matter of fact and observation, Ex-President Mahama and his NDC government fecklessly collapsed the hitherto thriving economy. Indeed, they broke their earlier promises, thus the bonds of trust were infringed to the chagrin of discerning Ghanaians.

K. Badu, UK.

k.badu2011@gmail.com