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Opinions of Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Columnist: Annor, Joseph

The critique of the fury over the competency or incompetency of President Mahama

In his recent so called “changing lives” tour rally at the Trade Fair in Accra, President Mahama is said to have questioned the moral right of NPP to criticise him as an incompetent President. He particularly singled out Dr Bawumia, when the president asked and stated as follows:
“Did you hear Bawumia say incompetent Mahama? You’ve never held any responsibility anywhere near the presidency before; you don’t know what it is like to be President

“I’ll take that word from Kufour or from Rawlings because they’ve been there before. All of you guys [NPP critics] have never ever come near the presidency. [Do] you know what it takes to be a President? And you stand and say incompetent Mahama administration."
As usually, people are viewing this from different lenses depending on which party they owe allegiance instead of using the achievements and failures of the president to form the basis of the discussion.
Let me start by saying that our leaders require our backing whether we support them politically or not so that they can have the right mind to rule. Accordingly, the Bible entreats Christians to pray for their leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2: “I urge that supplications, prayers…and thanksgivings be made…for kings and all those in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God…”). Clearly supporting and praying for our country and our leaders is a good thing to do.

It is however, true that some people may criticise their leaders because they simply do not like them. For instance, despite that I am not in favour of all the policies of President Obama (particularly, his position on gay marriage), I still believe that some people criticise him because they do not like him. For example, the former New York City mayor—Rudy Giuliani stated in February 2015 that he does "not believe that the president loves America." While he apologised later it is doubtful if it was a sincere apology. Further, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is said to have described Obama as "an apologist for radical Islamic terrorists". The Washington Post also reported that John Fleming (a republican congressman) said that Obama in a speech "actually made a case to defend radical Islam". Any sincere person knows that Obama does not stand for these things he has been accused of. Despite these serious accusations, he has not reacted angrily. Instead, he recently outlined his achievements including job creation, the rising stock market and millions of Americans who now have health insurance.

On the hand, if our leaders are not performing well we have every right to criticise them constructively. This happens all over the world. For example, on 25 January 2006, Herold Meyerson wrote in the Washington Post that George Bush was incompetent. He stated further it was only by incompetence that the president failed in some of the major tasks that he performed—including having no guiding vision for how to rebuild Iraq after the war, the failure of the president's prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D) and the president’s inability to respond appropriately after Hurricane Katrina. Meyerson asked at the end “How could a president get these things so wrong? Incompetence may describe this presidency, but it doesn't explain it.” Similar, on July 30, 2015 Allen Clifton discussed some of the reasons why George W. Bush was one of the worst presidents in the U.S. history, he mentioned the president’s mismanagement of the economy and presiding over the worst financial collapse in 2008, since the great depression. While Mr. Bush has read and heard about these criticisms, he has not reacted angrily about them, after all his achievements verses his failures will testify for him.

Furthermore, none of the above critics of Mr. Bush has ever been a president in the US before. It is therefore absolutely derisory and childish for the Ghanaian president to believe that it is only those who have been president before that can criticise or evaluate his performance. Moreover, Dr Bawumia is not your average Ghanaian as the president. Firstly, he has degree and PhD in economics from some of the best universities in the world. In addition, he has worked and lectured in some of the best organisations and universities in the world. More importantly, as a former deputy governor of Bank of Ghana, he possesses the appropriate skills and knowledge to understand the performance of the economy. In 2014, when he predicted that the measures that the Government and Bank of Ghana were using to tackle the rapid depreciation of the cedi would not work, he was severely criticised by the uninformed NDC people except Dr Kwesi Bowtchey who agreed with Dr Bawumia. In the end, NDC had to quickly abandon the measures because they worsened the situation.

Against this background if only Dr Bawumia has made a genuine assessment of the president’s economic performance, he has every right and appropriate skills to criticise the president. The Akans have a saying literally translated as “the one cutting a [new] path does not know that it is crooked behind him.” This is why everybody requires criticism, particularly a constructive one. While the purpose of this article is not to discuss your failures, I want to briefly list some of your major failures here to demonstrate that you deserve the incompetency description:
As a vice president, you led a negotiation for the STX housing project, which promised to build thousands of houses to address Ghana housing deficit. Despite the advice by others that the deal was bad for Ghana, your government entered into an agreement which eventually proved fiasco without a single foundation or block laid. Meanwhile Ghana lost over $300m for the sovereign guarantee that you provided the Koreans. Despite causing this mess, you are worried to be called an incompetent.
Your administration brought a global shame and ridicule on Ghana, when you transported millions of dollars to Brazil to pay the appearance fees for the Black Stars at World Cup in Brazil. Who else transports large sum of money in this age of efficient international bank transfer? It is only a useless government led by an extremely incompetent leader that will do that. In any case, Afriyie Ankrah and others increased their riches through their corrupt activities in the world cup. This was why Sully Muntari for instance was angry with them.

The way you implemented the Single Spine Salary Structure nearly brought the country into its knees because of incompetency.

For more than 3 years Ghanaians have endured erratic power supply (dumsor) and your government has still not been able to solve the problem; yet you are shy to be called incompetent. Do you please know how many have lost their businesses and jobs because of this dumsor?

Corruption has increased astronomically since your government came into power with individuals such as Wayome paid dubious judgment debts. And when Martin Amidu alone has been able to obtain a Supreme Court ruling for the retrieval of the money, Wayome is still laughing all the way because your administration is simply not interested in retrieving the money wrongly paid to him.

Greedy people have siphoned millions if not billions of dollars from the SADA and GYEEDA projects, which your government promised to use to improve the lives of your own compatriots in the North and the youth employment in Ghana respectively. Yet, all these wicked and greedy culprits are walking free. How then do you identify with your own people, many of them are swimming in abject poverty? Are you not sad and ashamed that as the only president from the North since the brief rule of Dr Limann, you have allowed these greedy people to steal the money meant to improve the lives of the poor people?

During the early part of your administration, an aeroplane full of gold from Ghana is said to have mysteriously landed in Iran without any record kept in Ghana. What was the aeroplane doing there? To date, no reasonable explanation has been given for this dubious transaction. It has also widely been discussed that the prices of the aeroplanes that you led Ghana to purchase from Brazil were inflated considerably and President Mill had wanted to investigate you for that.

It has also been widely discussed that the amount of loan your government have obtained is more than all those of all the previous governments since independence. Yet, there is no tangible achievement to show for it. It is even annoying to hear some of your appointees pointing to building of school buildings. They are not that great achievements and their costs are heavily inflated, as they are used as vehicles for corruption.

Under your administration some of the social programs such as the national health insurance, school feeding program and free maternity care that Kuffour government established have all folded their arms and yearning for help. Yet, you are afraid to be called incompetent; sure, you are!

I can keep on listing and listing but the few examples above are enough to demonstrate your incompetence. How then are you describing your tour as “changing lives”, what lives are you changing? When you sit down unconcerned when your appointees squander billions of dollars meant to improve the lives of the poor people in the North, and due to your actions or inactions many Ghanaians are suffering and some dying prematurely, then you sing an empty slogan —“changing lives”. In any case, what has happened to your “Better Ghana Agenda"? You know in your heart that you have failed to deliver the so called “Better Ghana Agenda” and do not have any moral basis to refer to it again. Hence the use of a different slogan; tweeeeee, who believes in this empty slogan except the ignorant and liars!
In conclusion, there is ample evidence proving that you are incompetent and we have every right and responsibility to bring that to your attention. We do not need to be a president to know that you are performing very badly. In fact, many believe that you have been the worst performing head of state in Ghana including even the military ones. Therefore, we are not shy or afraid to call you incompetent because you have presided over the most hopeless and useless government in Ghana history. Where else will for instance, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa who had no prior work experience become a deputy minister? How do you want to run a competent government with a team C, many of them the only skills and experience that they had previously is insulting people? Of course such a government is bound to fail because if you put square pegs in round holes they don’t fit properly.

Accordingly, I admonish you to accept our constructive criticism in good faith as a genuine and constructive criticism is relevant for correction. This is why some prominent NDC members such as Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Hon. Martin Amidu, Hon. Alban Bagbin, and Dr Tony Aidoo who have never been presidents before, have all in the past criticised you. Suddenly, some of these people have been bought with positions. For us, you cannot buy us with all the money of the world, so we are not afraid to call you incompetent.

Amit Kalantri once stated that “The most dangerous irony is, people are angry with others because of their own incompetence.” Not long ago the NDC people continually denied that there was nothing wrong with the economy of Ghana and you were on course to achieve your better Ghana agenda. For example, Mr Allotey Jacobs stated that under the government "Better Ghana” agenda, Ghana has improved and that "even Asiedu Nketia has gained some weight" (see:ttp://politics.myjoyonline.com/pages/news/201201/80638.php). But when it came to a point that you could no more hide the true state of the economy, you now call the mess that you have created as challenges. What challenges? They are simply incompetence. Please take the advice of Arthur C. Clarke (3001: The Final Odyssey) who once stated that “Never attribute to malevolence [challenges] what is merely due to incompetence.” I know that despite all these incompetence, it is possible that you can win the 2016 elections in Ghana because many voters do not vote on the basis on the performance of the government. This is why Jeff Lindsay in the Darkly Dreaming Dexter stated that “It happens; incompetence is rewarded more often than not.” So if you win again it is because you are some of the corrupt money to buy votes.
Author: Joseph Annor – BA (Hons) University of Ghana, Master of Accounting, CPA