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Opinions of Monday, 23 October 2017

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

The septuagenarian Akufo-Addo shows middle-aged Mahama the pathway to easy street

Of course, to constantly shriek, speak and write about the appalling state of Ghana’s economy under the erstwhile NDC government which the party faithful blithesomely perceive as a benign or an inconsequential issue, is to be regarded as a political extremist, or even as a notorious conservative, mischievously seeking to discredit their beloved party.

Nevertheless, I, for one, won’t abandon my duty as a bona fide Ghanaian, far from it. But I will rather stick to my guns, be true to the faith, and, keep upholding and defending the good name of our beloved Ghana.

It is, indeed, extremely heartrending to keep hearing such ridiculous misconceptions from the NDC Party apologists, many of whom only follow narrow party coloration, devoid of patriotism and solicitude.

But then again, one has to contain his/her emotional intelligence, show unconditional deference and composure, for after all, aren’t sycophancy, partisanship and lack of patriotism been our greatest nemeses?

Well, given the circumstances, we can logically conclude that vague apprehension of patriotism exists in the minds of many Ghanaians, and thus prefer hero worshipping to defending the national interests.

As a matter of fact and observation, our leaders, having first-hand knowledge of our hero worshipping gimmicks, tend to take us for granted and continue to provide us with mediocre leadership and services.

To be quite honest, the good people of Ghana witnessed so much scheming guiles, corruption, incompetence, nepotism, cronyism and frequent abuse of power in the erstwhile NDC government, and hence the vast majority of Ghanaians lost trust in Ex-President Mahama and his government.

Highlights of Ex-President Mahama’s performance

In fact, Ghana’s massive economic downslide took unexpected flight after the sudden and unfortunate death of President Mills.

Unbelievably, during the 2012 electioneering campaign, the late Mills successor, Ex-President Mahama and his NDC apparatchiks went haywire in their desperation to cling on to power. Thus they broke all conventions. Many government departments spent over and above their allocated budgets.

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 ballooned to GH122.4 billion as of December 2016.

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

Moreover, President Mahama’s maladaptive government squeamishly dragged the economic growth from around 14 per cent in 2011 to around 3.5 per cent as of December 2016.

In addition, 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).

Unsurprisingly, therefore, during the epoch of Mahama’s maladministration, some concerned patriots like the late Jake Obetsebi Lamptey lamented: “Ghanaians are worried because the economy is being handled in a manner reminiscent of the NDC’s mishandling of the economy in 2000. We do not need to return to HIPC status.”

As a matter of fact, President Mahama did not do enough to improve on the socio-economic standards of living. Take, for example, former President Kufuor quadrupled Ghana’s GDP to a staggering $28 billion in 2008. While the late Mills inherited oil in commercial quantities and managed to increase the GDP to $40 billion in 2011.

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

Akufo-Addo’s performance thus far

If you would recall, during the 2016 electioneering campaign, the then presidential candidate of NPP, Nana Akufo-Addo, declared: “I am promising you that within 18 months of a new government of the NPP, under my leadership, the face of our country, Ghana, is going to change”.

Apparently, since assuming power, Akufo-Addo’s government has taken commendable strides to improve the social mobility through implementation of poverty reduction policies such as free SHS, one district one factory, one million dollars per constituency, tax reductions, a dam per village in the northern part of Ghana, among others.

Despite the huge economic mess created by the outgone NDC government amid stunted economic growth, Akufo-Addo’s government has efficiently raised the economic growth from a disappointing 3.5 per cent as of December 2016 to a favourable 6.6 per cent within a short space of time.

Since taking office, the NPP government has dramatically reversed the inflation rate to a little over 12 per cent from a little over 15 per cent as of December 2016 (GSS 2017).

And what is more, the currency exchange rate was around GH1.65 to 1 U.S Dollar in 2011. But due to the erstwhile NDC government’s poor economic management, the exchange rate took an incredible flight. The exchange rate was around GH4.45 to 1 U.S Dollar as of December 2016.

However, due to the NPP government economic team’s prudent approach to management, the exchange rate stands at GH4.36 to 1 US Dollar as of October 2017 (BOG 2017).

Prior to the 2008, 2012 and 2016 general elections, the then presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, made free SHS his principal campaign message. As it was expected, the opposition NDC communicators scoffed endlessly, and labelled him an inveterate liar.

Shockingly, however, some Ghanaians, including my maternal uncle, bought into the NDC’s manipulating gimmicks and rejected the offer of the free SHS on two previous elections (2008 and 2012).

But lo and behold, discerning Ghanaians saw the light and eventually gave the free SHS provider, Akufo-Addo the mandate on 7th December 2016.

And true to his word, President Akufo-Addo has estimably honoured his promise of the poverty alleviation free SHS.

Apparently, my maternal uncle, who vehemently campaigned and voted against the free SHS in 2016, is going to pocket not less than GH16598.49 over three years.

It is absolutely true that Akufo-Addo’s government is tackling the erstwhile Mahama’s government economic mess head-on.

Take, for example, a few months ago, the finance minister presented the mid-year budget review, against the backdrop of an improving macroeconomic performance and falling inflation.

“There were some positive takeaways; the government comfortably met the H1 budget deficit target of 3.5%, and now expects the budget shortfall to be smaller than expected for 2017 as a whole.

Let us also remind ourselves that agricultural growth was around 7.4 per cent in 2012, but the erstwhile NDC government nauseatingly reversed it to around 2.5 per cent as of October 2016 (GSS 2016).

But as I write, the Ministry of Agriculture, under the able leadership of Mr Akoto-Owusu, has rolled out a flagship programme known as ‘planting for food and jobs’, which is expected to give us bumper harvests, and, more importantly boosts the agricultural growth.

Based on the current economic outlook, I can confidently state that the good people of Ghana made the right choice by electing the septuagenarian Nana Akufo-Addo and retiring the middle-aged John Dramani Mahama in the 2016 election.

K. Badu, UK.

k.badu2011@gmail.com; please visit me at: alljoycom.wordpress.com