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Opinions of Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Columnist: Akoto, Akwasi A. Afrifa

Three Reasons Why Mills Should Not Be Re-elected.

At the “Meet the Press,” Mills was asked by “CIA agent” and Editor of the Enquirer, Raymond Archer to state three reasons why Ghanaians should re-elect him; in other words, on what three key success stories was he going to base his re-election campaign message? The president in reply, identified “Peace and Stability,” “provision of amenities” and “general improvement in living standards” adding that Ghanaians “are enjoying.”

Had I not known any better I would have concluded that the question had taken the president by surprise. But stage-managed press event or not, that was the best possible answer the president could have given because he hasn’t done “jack.” Coached or not, prepared or not, waffling in generalities was the only way out. No matter which way the Castle propagandists and speech writers looked at the anticipated question, they just couldn’t cast down “their rods into serpents.”

In short the president couldn’t state one single specific area in a specific sector such as job creation, corruption, drug war, floods, unemployment or legislative Act ; something that could be uniquely identified with his administration. Nonetheless, let us indulge the president and consider his three main re-election campaign messages before he starts selling. For the first time in our history, Ghana is living on the edge of instability and violence with elections looming, under a president who has coincidentally identify peace and stability as one of his strongest areas in his three years in office. So far, Mills is yet to condemn the violence that characterized the Chereponi, Atiwa and Akwatia by-elections. As of yet, no public official has been fired nor public inquiries constituted. No preventive measures have been developed and made know to citizen as insurance for the coming election. The uncountable foot soldiers’ rampage and the burning of party structures; DCEs violently chased out; former first lady harassed, none without any consequences have all bred an environment of potential electoral violence.

All potential mediators, institutions and personalities- former presidents, Chiefs, Bishops, Imams, civil societies, think tanks, Peace and State Council members – in the event of an electoral disturbance, have all been rendered “useless” with insults by the president’s men

So how is the president going to win the peaceful category with his record of inaction?

With the improved living standards, obviously the president is going to use abstract numbers and terms, incomprehensible to the average citizen, like expansion, inflation, middle class and percentages etc to argue his case. On the ground however, prices - of items have risen by 50%. Taxes, utility fees and school fees have all gone up at a rate unprecedented in the first three years of any previous government. Every pesewa gained by the Single Spine salary Structure beneficiaries have been lost as a result.

Small businesses according to Trade Unions are suffering, shrinking and collapsing. The Agric industry has not seen any growth under Mills. The increase in Cocoa export came about as s result of the Ivorian War. The fishing industry for example shrank by 11% last year. The country experienced record strikes. For the first time, an Unemployed Graduate Association was formed in our country. And now that the petrol subsidies have been canceled, it is going to take a miracle for Mills to keep convincing the country to continue “living on prayer.” As for the provisions of amenities, his so called infrastructure policy, he has failed miserably. The STX houses never materialized. That Ghanaians could buy into the building of 200,000 houses in 5 years is still mystery. Affordable housing units started by the NPP are still uncompleted. The Civil Service and the Security personnel – displaced flood victims especially -who stood to benefit from these projects are still living in “squatters.”

While it is true that some “schools under trees” have been eliminated, it is hard to believe that “1220” education related buildings – according to the 2012 budget- have been put up. We are talking about on the average 120 structures per region; that is one out of every two district. In the first place, the number of “school” structures” built is very low as compared to the huge monies that have been borrowed for Mills’ infrastructure policy. Secondly, the “1220” is just another number, another “1.6million jobs created”-not verifiable. When it comes to the roads, the story is not any different? Nor must we forget the number of bonds issued – plus loans- for the “Gang of Four” and the various interchanges to the tune of more than GC1B. Yet where are the completed projects? Roads, no doubt, have been built, “extended roads” as the president referred to them. But here too, actual projects fall short of the money supposedly borrowed and invested. So where is the balance?

From the preemptive and cursory look at the above three points, it is clear that the president is not seriously considering using these points as re-election message. They are too hollow. Instead, Ghanaians should expect the personal attacks on Nana Addo to continue unabated and with renewed intensity in their attempt to distract citizens from the president’s failures. The president over the years has been very consistent in saying one thing and sending his men to say or do another. There is no reason to believe that it going to change in an election year.

But no matter what form the president re-election campaign takes, three things would have to be answered: the culture of insults, borrowing more money than all previous governments combined with no corresponding projects and the historic corruption under his watch which has now culminated in Woyome and the 930Billion Cedis.

Akwasi A.Afrifa Akoto.