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Opinions of Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Were Ghanaians right in choosing the septuagenarian Akufo-Addo over the sexagenarian Mahama?

The NPP and NDC flags The NPP and NDC flags

To become a president of a country is a lifetime privilege which comes with juicy trappings and enormous responsibilities. Thus, someone with vast life experience, a catalogue of suitable employable skills, a portfolio of relevant qualifications, tried and tested competencies and requisite knowledge should be a suitable candidate for the position.

That being said, the emergence of democracy has energised every sound adult Ghanaian to seek to compete for such an important position.

Regrettably, however, we have, more often than not, been electing ‘a semicircle’ of negligent officials whose only preoccupation is to sink the nation deeper and deeper into the mire through incompetence and unbridled corruption.

It is, indeed, an undeniable fact that we choose to exercise our voting rights by electing a president in anticipation that the said leader will form a formidable government to run the affairs of the country to the benefit of all and sundry.

But all said and done, it would be absolutely wrong for anyone to suggest for a moment that every leader can prudently steer the nation to the right direction if given the opportunity.

There is no denying or ignoring the fact that Ghanaians became fed-up with the extreme harsh conditions amid corruption allegations (Bus branding, Brazil World Cup, SADA, SUBA, GYEEDA, SSNIT, MASLOC, NCA, Ford Expedition Vehicle, amongst others).

Unsurprisingly, therefore, on 7th December 2016, discerning Ghanaians found in the septuagenarian Akufo-Addo , a redeemer, in whom they reposed their absolute trust to set them free from the Mahama government’s unpardonable economic enslavement.

Ex-President Mahama abysmally mismanaged Ghana’s economy by moving the economic growth of 14% in 2011 to 3.4% and single digit inflation to 15.4% by December 2016.

Take, for instance, a chunk of Ghana’s scarce resources was wasted on dubious judgement debt payments, purported to be around GH800 million, including the GH51.2 million to Woyome, $30 million to the Waterville and $325,000 to Isofoton which resulted in the drastic reduction of capital expenditure, and as a consequence, most contractors were not paid by the erstwhile NDC administration.

What is more, Mahama’s government could not mobilise our revenues efficiently as the likes of former President Mahama’s brother, Ibrahim Mahama, was caught evading import taxes to the tune of GH12 million.

More so, the Mahama’s government wilfully misapplied a $175 million loan facility secured in 2012 which was to provide seven district hospitals.

The good people of Ghana were shocked to the bone when over GH200 million SADA funds invested on trees burnt down and guinea fowls mysteriously flew to the nearby Burkina Faso without a trace.

Honestly, but for President Akufo-Addo’s timeous intervention, Mahama’s administration would have shockingly given away over 58% of Ghana’s bauxite to family and friends just about a week before exiting power.

Given the circumstances, the thoughtful critics cannot be far from right for suggesting that if discerning Ghanaians had not graciously intervened by showing the dreadful economic managers (NDC) the exit through the universal adult suffrage, the terrible errors in decision-making and the rampant corruption would have wiped out Ghana off the world map without a trace.

Given the circumstances, it would be unfair for sceptics to argue that all politicians are the same when in power and therefore there is no need to change from one to another.

Let us face it, politicians have different levels of temperament, competence, experience, knowledge, skills and abilities, so they are never the same, as a matter of fact.

In any case, there is enough evidence to counter the sceptics who insist that politicians are the same when in power. Take, for instance, President Kufuor, who worked studiously to move Ghana from the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) status to a Lower Middle Income status when he took over from former President Rawlings in 2001 cannot be referred to as a laid-back leader.

It is well-documented that “during the year 2001, debt as a percentage of the GDP was not only unsustainably high and crippling but also deprived Ghanaians from money which could have been used for needed developmental and social projects”.

The fact though, is, the benefits of the HIPC were “unprecedented during the Kufuor’s regime from (2001-2008).

Macroeconomic indicators began to stabilize and Ghana’s debt stock was significantly reduced by about $4 billion within that period (BOG).

There were Rapid infrastructural developments as well as social and policy reforms. Ghana was then moved from an HIPC economy to a middle income economy under the Kufuor administration (Mutaka Alolo, 2012).

By the end of 2008, Ghana's economy had been quadrupled to US$ 28 billion, a period of eight years under the NPP. The average GDP growth of the NDC from 1993-2000 was 3.8% while that of the NPP from 2001-2008 was5.2% with economic growth reaching 6.3% in 2007 (Daily Guide, 2016).

Disappointingly, however, during Mills/Mahama’s eight years, they managed to uproot the good foundation laid by President Kufuor and his NPP government.

Take, for example, under Mahama’s government, Ghana’s total debt ballooned from GH¢9.5 billion to a staggering GH¢122.4 billion by the end of December 2016 with a little to show for.

This means that about 93% (i.e. GHC113 billion) of Ghana’s total debt since independence was accumulated under the NDC government from 2009-2016.

It is important to note that the previously single digit inflation and budget deficit doubled astronomically.

To be quite honest, Ghana went into the throes of economic collapse due to mismanagement and wanton corruption under the leadership of Ex-President Mahama.

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

Moreover, the high inflation rate remained 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).

Besides, President Mahama’s coarse government dragged the economic growth from around 14 per cent in 2011 to around 3.4 per cent as of December 2016.

Nevertheless, before the insidious coronavirus, the Akufo-Addo’s government efficiently raised the economic growth. Ghana’s economy grew provisionally by 8.5 percent in 2017 compared to 3.7 percent in 2016 (Ghana Statistical Service, 2018).

Indeed, Ghana’s economic growth, just before the pernicious coronavirus, stood at around 8.6% from 3.4% in December 2016.

Interestingly, in the first two years of the Akufo-Addo’s administration, the Industry sector recorded the highest growth rate of 16.7 percent, followed by Agriculture 8.4 percent and the Services 4.3 percent.

Services share of GDP decreased from 56.8 percent in 2016 to 56.2 percent in 2017. The sector's growth rate also decreased from 5.7 percent in 2016 to 4.3 percent in 2017.

However, two of the subsectors in the services sector recorded double-digit growth rates, including Information and Communication 13.2 percent and Health and Social Work 14.4 percent.

The Industry sector, the highest growing sector with a GDP share of 25.5 percent, had its growth rate increasing from -0.5 percent in 2016 to 16.7 percent in 2017.

The Mining and Quarrying sub sector recorded the highest growth of 46.7 percent in 2017.

The Agriculture sector expanded from a growth rate of 3.0 percent in 2016 to 8.4 percent in 2017. Its share of GDP, however, declined from 18.7 percent in 2016 to 18.3 percent in 2017. Crops remain the largest activity with a share of 14.2 percent of GDP.

The Non-Oil annual GDP growth rate decreased from 5.0 percent in 2016 to 4.9 percent in 2017. The 2017 Non-oil GDP for industry recorded a growth rate of 0.4 percent, compared with 4.9 percent in 2016. Growth in the fourth quarter of 2017 reached 8.1 percent compared to 9.7 percent in the third quarter (GNA, 2018).

So who says that all politicians are the same when in power?

As a matter of fact, it would be most unfair to put for instance, Dr Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah and J. J. Rawlings in the same basket and compare their achievements.

For if nothing at all, Dr Nkrumah was a chivalrous industrialist who built hundreds of factories and only for President Rawlings to off load all to his cronies through his somewhat infelicitous Economic Recovery and Divestiture Implementation Programmes.

In the same vein, it would be boundlessly unreasonable to put President Kufuor and President Mahama on the same pedestal in terms of the implementation of social interventions.

For if nothing at all, President Kufuor and his NPP government pragmatically introduced the free Maternal Care, the School Feeding Programme, the National Health Insurance Scheme, the Mass Transport System, the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), the National Youth Employment Programme, now known as GYEDA, and many other social interventions.

Likewise, it will be incongruous to put Akufo-Addo and Mahama in the same basket. This is because the former has prudently introduced important policies and programmes in a little over four years in power, while the later failed to introduce a single social intervention in eight years.

In addition, before the pernicious coronavirus, the Akufo-Addo’s government managed to move Ghana’s economic growth from a disappointing 3.4% under former President Mahama to around 8%.

And the previously double digit inflation (15.8 in December 2016) was reduced drastically to around 7.5% within a short space of time.

My dearest reader, would you be sincere enough and name just a single social intervention that has been implemented by President Mahama and his NDC apparatchiks who claim to be social democrats?

It is not entirely correct for anyone to assume that all politicians are the same once they are in their comfort zones and therefore it is a complete waste of time to go out there and vote.

Ghanaians should not make the calamitous mistake by putting all politicians in one basket and thereby unfairly ‘crucifying’ a charismatic leader who can put forward expedient policies such as one district one factory, one village one dam, one constituency one million dollars, Free SHS, amongst others.

Take my word for it, dearest reader, the future is indeed looking bright under the septuagenarian President Akufo-Addo, who against all odds, managed to safeguard Ghana’s bauxite which Mahama’s administration shockingly decided to give away 58% to family and friends just about a week before exiting power.

In sum, we can confidently deduce that discerning Ghanaians made the right choice on 7th December 2016 and 2020 by electing the septuagenarian Nana Akufo-Addo and retiring the sexagenarian John Dramani Mahama.