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Opinions of Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Columnist: Asare, Noah Dugubrame

Tony Aidoo Caught Wanting

Out spoken NDC activist and The Head of Policy, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Presidency, Dr. Tony Aidoo has attributed Ghana’s poverty to what he called “pure capitalism practice in the country”. He was reacting to a question from Adakabre Frimpong Manso in relation to latest United Nations Development Programme index, saying Ghana was ranked 89 out of 135 countries with an index of 28. 1 per cent poverty ratio. Which meant that seven million Ghanaians are currently living below the poverty line. Dr Tony Aidoo had a difficult task answering the question in view of the glaring fact that his government has failed in the area of fighting the common enemy of the electorates(poverty) who gave them the mandate to change their lives.

After battling with the host on what questions he should be asked and language to speak, the NDC guru took listeners through a long lecture on Capitalism which he blamed to be the cause of the increase in the numbers of our people living in abject poverty. His host sought to make comparisons between the efforts of the John Agyekum Kiffour led NPP and Prof Mills led NDC currently in power. He quickly stopped the host in his track saying it was not reasonable to compare Kuffour's 8 years with Mills' 3 years. Adakabre tried to lure Dr into commenting on the efforts in at least mentaining what the NPP left behind if not reducing the figures. This again did not go down well with Mr Aidoo as it spelt the failures of his government. Because if he dared to answer, their failure to reduce it at least by a few digits will be an indictment on them. Again, admitting their failure to stop the swelling of the poverty population to this alarming level will betray the defects in the crumbling "better Ghana agenda" which seem not to have the poor masses as it's targets. The worst of it, Dr Tony Aidoo was not prepared to admit that they have not been able to mentain the levels they met, maybe the reasons will have been scarce for him as Ghana has seen some of the highest inflows of money in these last three years than ever before. Inflows from our traditional exports and oil being produced in commercial quantities in the last two years coupled with the massive loans the government has procured so far. Besides there have been introduction of many new taxes and increases in already existing ones.

In the absence of any tangible reason Dr Tony Aidoo pointed at capitalism as the reason for our rising poverty levels. The NDC has always claimed to be a Socialist party so I expected Dr Tony Aidoo to tell his listeners the social intervention programs his government has put in place which could have reduced or at least mentained the level left by the capitalist NPP government. As he was pointing accusing fingers on capitalism, I wished the host asked him what they did in the NDC1 when he was also a member of the government at that time. NPP inherited a hooping 39.5% poverty population from their socialist NDC in 2001. By the time of leaving office the NPP had made major strides in poverty reduction earning Ghana the tittle of a successful completion of the Millenium Development Goal and recently Ex Pres Kuffour an award for his efforts in reducing hunger. Our poverty population had shrank from 39.5% to 26.8%. The institutions of programmes like Poverty Alleviation Programme, Presidential Special Innitiatives, Capitation Grant and other social policies made it possible to reduce the poverty levels in the last four years. In the last four years because the first three to four years were used to battle the debt left behind by the socialist NDC which eventually landed us in HIPC.

Dr Tony Aidoo actually was sounding very embarrassing and I think he knew it himself as he looked for ways to get Adakabre to offend him so he could hang his phone and leave the programme abruptly. It was more evident when Adakabre asked him to try and speak more twi as the programme was in that Ghanain language. Mr Aidoo took offence in Adakabre's insistence that at least he mixed up a little twi with his English for the understanding of his listeners. He also nearly tore away when Adakabre tried bringing his attention to the comparison of the two most dominant parties in Ghana. His socialist NDC and the Capitalist NPP he sought to blame for the increased poverty.

In all the interview, he did most of the talking as the host was cautious not to left him off the hook by pushing him too hard with questions as he had warned to leave the line if he, Adakabre will not stop pestering him with questions. He spoke for a reasonable length of time. But like many of his colleagues in the rulling party I have heard before he was just confusing. Confusing because they have always claimed to be socialist but when even their own foot sodiers complain of poverty their answer has always been; "Government does not put money into people's pocket". Socialism according to the definition is directly responsible for the flow of wealth. That is why in some pure socialist states the government pays money directly to the citizens or gives them things like accommodation, free health care, gas, electricity, water etc. The important questions were not answered, he was rather siting how the economies of America, Britain and other developed countries where capitalism has been practiced for long can no more stand. I wanted him to tell me what has become of economies like Russia, Cuba, China, Yogoslavia, Romania and the rest where socialism is practiced. I am confused because I don't know what they understand by socialism.

Socialism is said to be where wealth distribution is directly controlled by government whereas Capitalist goverment does not monopolize the flow of wealth but allows individual growth. If NPP is a capitalist party and they implemented NHIS, School Feeding Programme, Capitation grant, Poverty Alleviation Programme(where monies were directly loaned to Perth traders and peasant farmers), PSIs and so on, which directly distributed wealth to impoverished citizens what has the so called socialist government done to expect a reduction in our poverty population?

Dr Tony Aidoo found himself very wanting after they(NDC) openly criticized the NPP government of increasing the plights of Ghanaians and promissing a more caring government only to come and multiply our poverty population. He could not face the facts and figures and went into ideology lectures which regrettably has even gone against what he claim his own party stands for.

I have a message to Dr: If NPP's capitalism was able to reduce poverty to that far, and NDC's socialism has left the population of the desparately poor to rise to seven million in so short a time then Ghanaians won't have difficulty in choosing the next leader.

God bless our homeland Ghana.

Noah Dugubrame Asare. Frankfurt, Germany.