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Opinions of Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Columnist: Mohammed Rabiu Adam

Which government built what?

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana

One of the major activities that characterised the electioneering period is the commissioning of projects by an incumbent government. The commissioning of such projects undertaken largely signifies the government fulfilment of its campaign promise to the electorates. This among other things enables the government to seek re-election.

Prior to the 2016 presidential election, the then President John Dramani Mahama was seen on the television screens commissioning projects. This commissioning task led to some Ghanaians calling him Mr Commissioner. As December 2020 creeps closer, His Excellency, the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo has taken the centre stage of commissioning projects. This phenomenon will continue until the elections are over.

When the President Nana Addo commissioned the phase one of the Tema interchange and the University of Environment and Sustainable Development, there was some verbal chaotic scene on the traditional and social media as to who built what and who did not. There were also some people calling for public acknowledgement and credit to be attributed to someone believed to be the brain behind such projects. As the debate continues, the biggest beneficiaries of such projects are Ghanaians.

Political parties come to power with the hope of changing certain abnormalities in governance it identifies as dear to Ghanaians for that matter should be given the mandate to roll out such ideas to the people.

Undoubtedly, this year’s December 2020 elections will have achievement as one of the indicators which the electorates will use as a basis to cast their votes. The cacophony surrounding which government built what project necessitated the writing of this article with an attempt to provide such a framework for identifying which government built what.

Political parties seeking the mandate of Ghanaians to rule are required to have a manifesto. This manifesto is a document that succinctly captures what a particular party intends to do when given the power. Due to how significant it is, other political watchers like IMANI, CDD, IDEG among others placed such value in the document. The manifesto is the biggest and most valuable document that the rational voters used to make an informed decision as to which party understands socio-politico-economics of a particular prevailing moment prior to a general election. It is the projects and promises captured in the party manifesto that are translated into the government policy when a party is given the nod. The manifesto therefore became the number one means of measuring the performance of a party in government. Political parties having a manifesto is a requirement in relations to the general election.

The second means of fact checking as to which government did what is the recorded campaign promises made to the people during campaigning. Ideas, visions as well as goals captured in the party manifesto become the basis for party hierarchy and leadership to meet the electorates thereby wooing them for votes in order to implement those beautiful promises in the manifesto. The various media houses in an effort to present such accurate and unbiased reportage do record the political newsmakers for their viewers and listeners. Beyond distinguishing which government built what, the recorded materials help to identify such politicians who are addicted to lying to the electorates when given the podium. Service to the people must come with some appreciable level of credibility in our body politics.

Besides the party manifesto and recorded campaign promises, the State Of Nation Address (SONA) by a President also aid in knowing what exactly that government said he will do and the means of funding such projects will emanate from. The SONA, which is a constitutional requirement in line with Article 67 of the 1992 constitution (President Messages) gives the President of the land the opportunity to speak to the representatives of the people in the Parliament House on what it intends to do with the mandate given. The SONA over the years have become a means self-evaluating of performance by one government to the other. The SONA arguably provides the avenue for the party in power to present such a picture of what happened in the previous years’ and what exactly it plans to do and how. The president is able to catalogues projects and programs it has successfully rolled out, the on-going projects and finally what it plans to do in subsequent years to come within the mandate given. Clearly, the SONA is a significant means of determining which government did what. The standard of governance in Ghana has been reduced to comparison of performance between political parties in power (NPP and NDC) and not necessarily accounting to the people what the party in power has promised to do for the people.

Another means of tracking which government undertook what particular project is the annual budget presentation by the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance by Article 179 of the 1992 constitution is required to present a budget on behalf of the President to the Parliament. Budge is a means of allocating funds to projects and programs the government is undertaking and equally intends to undertake. It means where the government outlines a comprehensive revenue generation and means of spending the funds expected to be raised for a financial year being considered. In this regard, if a particular budget presentation does not capture a project or program then that very budget could not be said to be responsible for executing such projects or programs. Then, further backward steps need to be taken to check for veracity of who built what.

In conclusion, it should be noted that commissioning of projects has become means of campaigning for political power. It is not surprising that commissioning of such projects by president Nana Addo has led to public debate. Besides that, there must be that basis to acknowledge government for continuing projects and programs initiated by their predecessors as government is a process.

The culture of abandoning projects started by the previous regime must be stopped for it is the intended and targeted communities that are deprived from benefiting as Ghanaians. The standard of measuring government performance must go beyond mere comparison of NPP and NDC politics because beneficiaries of these beautiful projects are Ghanaians. Ghanaians will continue to be there but political parties like NDC and NPP will one day become history.