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Opinions of Sunday, 12 January 2014

Columnist: Baafi, Alex Bossman

Was It the “Fifth Gear” or the “First Gear” Anniversary of Mahama?

By Alex Bossman Baafi

On December 7, 2014, President Mahama had a media interaction at the Flagstaff House, the seat of government, as part of the celebration of his one-year anniversary, which I will like call ‘First Gear’ Anniversary (apologies to the President) instead of First Year Anniversary in office.

Arguably, many political scientists ,observers, politicians and some section of the public are confused as to whether it should have been the ‘Fifth Gear’ and not ‘First Gear’ Anniversary. Many concerned people of the country believe that the president was the pivot in the Mills-Mahama Administration of the ruling NDC government since 2009. They contend that as vice president in the Mills Administration, the president was the Chairman of the Economic Management Team, a powerful body that determines the welfare of the mass majority of the people including the poor and marginalized in the society, since 2009 up to July 2012. He was therefore the pillar in the management of the economy. What is more, the president had the unique opportunity to continue from where his predecessor (late President Mills – May His Soul Rests in Perfect Peace) left off as president of our country up to the end of 2012.

As president of our country, under whose watch the General Elections were organized in 2012, he was pronounced the winner by the electoral commission whilst still in office. The electoral petition that ensued thereafter did not in any way halt his presidency as he continued as the commander-in-chief of our country. Luckily, the supreme court of the land declared him the winner at the end of the electoral petition. That paved the way for him to continue his duties uninterrupted and so it baffles many for the president to behave as if he is disassociating himself from Mill-Mahama Administration. Is he creating the impression that he just started ruling the country only a year ago? For continuity sake, the anniversary was not necessary.

Certain Political Scientists believe that, the previous NPP Administration under President Kuffour left impressive legacy for the country. The economy grew consistently at an average of 6% peaking at 8.4% at the end of 2008 without Oil Revenues as compared to the current performance of 7.2% at the end of 2013 including oil. Perhaps, President Mahama does not feel confident to say that NDC government under his leadership has done a good job since 2009.

What is worrying is that the economy is nose-diving with harsh economic conditions for the masses. Unemployment is skyrocketing. The cost of doing business is high due to excessive taxation. Utility tariffs are exorbitant. The value of the cedi, the national currency has been falling freely since 2009. Exchange rate and interest rates are not manageable. The stock of our public debt is alarming. The deficit gap of our country is overwhelming above all; the rot and corruption levels associated with Mahama government are unprecedented. These and other economic mismanagement issues of our country have eroded the gains the country made up to the end of 2008 under the previous Kuffour administration.

Politically, analysts viewed the ‘First Gear’ anniversary as a launching pad for Mahama’s presidency for 2016. Having created the impression that he had started from 2012, nobody should be surprised if the president starts canvassing for another four-year mandate in 2016. Constitutionally he started executing his role of the commander-in-chief on his on merit from January 7, 2012 and therefore has the prerogative rights to celebrate his ‘First Gear ‘anniversary as was celebrated.

To the ordinary Ghanaian, they do not take much interest in whatever way the politicians and others argue this subject as to whether in actual fact it was the ‘Fifth Gear’ reduced to ‘First Gear celebration or not. For them, governance is bread and butter issue and every concerned government should make it a priority to take care of that for the masses.

In the opinion of the writer, the value of the ‘Fifth Gear’ and the ‘First Gear’ is the same whether the government decided to celebrate any one of them or both. Nothing substantial in term of the socio-political and economic conditions of the ordinary people on the street have changed for the better. To be sincere with you, the hardships of the people are more than ever before due to lack of policy initiatives to transform the economy.

It is my sincerely appeal to the government to have a second look at her economic policies and prioritize the pro-poor ones to improve upon the economic hardships for the betterment of the ordinary people. In addition, drastic measures should be instituted to stem the rot and corruption in the system; this is because in the opinion of the public, corruption had taken the shine, if any, of the ‘First Gear’ anniversary of Mahama’s administration. It is so far not impressive to say the least.