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Opinions of Monday, 24 November 2008

Columnist: Annor, Joseph

Who should you vote - NPP or NDC

(Akuffo Addo or Atta Mills?

As 7 December 2008, is drawing closer and closer for Ghanaian to cast their votes to choose the President and MPs, it is imperative that the records of NPP and NDC are compared in order for voters to make an informed choice between the two parties, as it appears impossible that no other party other than one of the two will win the elections. Therefore in the next few pages, I will attempt to compare their records in several areas.

Economic

There is no doubt that the economy has grown significantly under NPP. It is believed that when NDC left office the GDP was about $4 billion. However, since NPP came into office the GDP has increased by four times to $16 billion. This is a very significant achievement. A friend, who lives in Australia, visited Ghana recently and on his return to Australia, he said that Ghana has improved significantly, since he last visited Ghana in 2002 and I visited in 2003. He said that for instance, some developments such as overpass (under) pass bridges, which used to be seen mainly in the developed countries, are now found in Ghana. He continued to state that the development that he witnessed such as road constructions is amazing.

It is also believed that when NDC was in office the minimum wage was about $0.60 per day. However, the NPP has increased it to about $2.40 per day. In this regard, even if the effect of inflation is taken into account, you can still use the minimum wage under Mr Kuffour to buy at least three times of what you could have bought under Mr Rawlings’ minimum wage. Thus, workers real purchasing power has grown significantly.

Further, the inflation has stood significantly lower under NPP than NDC, despite the astronomical increase in crude oil price in the last two years or so. Fortunately, the oil price has started to come down. Moreover, under NPP, the cedi has been significantly stable against the major world currencies. Clearly, the NPP is the better economic managers to manage the Ghanaian economy for the benefit of the ordinary Ghanaians. If Ghanaians make the mistake to vote NDC back to power, all the money from oil that has been found will go into their pockets.

Further, NDC is anti business. We all know that under NDC and its predecessor PNDC, businesses and properties of many Ghanaians were deliberately destroyed or confiscated. A case in point is the complete destruction of Mrs Duantuah’s properties in 1999/2000, when the relationship of his son and that of Rawlings’ daughter came to an end. In the past, Appiah Minka and Siaw’s businesses, to name a few were confiscated and/or destroyed. Further, Mr Rawlings wife bought Nsawam division of GIHOC for herself and her 31 December movement; she virtually paid nothing for the sale. The Ahoi family also nearly sent Ghana Commercial Bank into bankruptcy.

Mr Rawlings and his PNDC are known to have burnt down Makola and other major markets in Ghana, depriving the ordinary citizens their source of livelihood. The writer was a student at Ghana Secondary School in Tamale, when Mr Rawlings’ men (soldiers) burnt Aboabo market in Tamale. Imagine how much of Ghana’s GDP was wiped off because of this senseless market burning, and how it would have impacted on the economy for many years to come.

Most importantly, with the young achieving eminent economist, Dr Bawumiah as the running mate of Mr Akuffo, their team possesses better economic managerial skills than Dr Mills and his running mate John Mahama, therefore NPP is the train that those who care for the prosperity of Ghana has to embark on.

Corruption

As far as corruption is concerned, I believe some members of both NPP and NDC are corrupt. For instance, a case has been cited in a Norwegian court indicating Mr Rawlings and PV Obeng as recipients of kickbacks, to influence the decision to make a Norwegian company the sole manufacturer of cement in Ghana.

Further, not long ago, Mr JH Mensah asserted that $7 million out of $10 million loan that Mr Rawlings secured under PNDC to refurbish Tema Food Processing Factory, was unaccounted for, and as the PNDC used only $3 million and the rest of the $10m went missing. Further, Rawlings has not been able to provide any tangible reason for the expensive education and living expenses provided to his children in Europe. Any genuine income he has received since his days of buying ‘yoko gari’ on credit till today cannot pay for the expensive living and educational expenses of his children in Europe. On the other hand, I also believe that while there was no evidence to charge Dr Anane of NPP, the source of the income he remitted to his son in America appears suspicious.

Health

There is no doubt that both two parties have struggled to achieve much improvement in the health care. However, with the introduction of the national health insurance scheme by NPP, it appears it has performed better than NDC on the measure of health. Further, women now have access to free antennal and postnatal care, something which happens mainly in the developed world. NDC in their 20 years could not implement anything like that and indeed, they even opposed the introduction of the law that was passed in Parliament to implement the national health insurance scheme. Clearly, more people have affordable health care under NPP than NDC; so you do not want to go back to NDC cash and carry system, which makes many people vulnerable to death, otherwise would have recovered from their illness.

In October of this year, it was reported by GNA and Ghanaweb that Dr Osei Akoto, Head of Child Health Directorate of Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital commended management of Ghana Health Service (GHS) for introducing sickle cell screening for new born babies at hospitals to help reduce child mortality in the country. All these are some of the measures that NPP has introduced to improve the health of Ghanaians, although, much still need to be done but the resources are limited. And it appears from what we have witnessed that NPP is the better option, as they can better improve the situation.

Education

I was at University of Ghana when the PNDC, the predecessor of NDC started to introduced the JSS education system. The system was implemented in very bad way, while the Ministers (Secretaries) of P/NDC sent their children to school abroad. In fact, the then PNDC Secretary of Education, Mr Abdallah fast tracked his children to get them to the old secondary school system, so that they skipped the JSS system. While the concept in theory may be fine, not much consideration was given to how it could be implemented successfully, with the direct consequence being the falling standards of our educational system. On the other hand, the NPP has introduced free feeding for students, as students in some selected school across the country take free lunch. Moreover, it is anticipated that as the economy continues to grow under NPP, the policy will roll over through out the whole country.

The NPP has built and/or rehabilitated a lot of school buildings. And it has been noted by Mr Arthur Kennedy of NPP that under NPP no school child attends classes under a tree as it happened under NDC. If you vote NDC back and your children’s school buildings need repairs, they will not do it and if they fall apart, your children will study under trees.

Human rights

It does not even worth to compare the records of NPP and NDC in relation to human right issues. Under Mr Rawlings’ P/NDC, many people were killed, some went missing and others were maltreated. Even in the last year of his reign as a President in 2000, Mr Rawlings continued to put innocent citizens in military and police custody without giving them the right to defend themselves. Many journalists were innocently put in police custody and some of the lucky ones who escape custody had their offices smeared with human waste (toilet), as they were accused of criticising Mr Rawlings and his regime. On the other hand, under NPP, there is not a single person that has been unlawfully detained and all people that are arrested for breaking the law have access to defend themselves in the court.

Clearly, the human right records of NPP are extremely superior to P/NDC. The NDC regime has been the harshest and most brutal regime in the history of Ghana. I think we do not want to go back to the Dark Age again.

Religion

Christianity is the most popular religion in Ghana, with majority of Ghanaians are or professed to be Christians. Further, a significant percentage of the Ghanaian population are Moslems. With these two religions put together, their members will account for any where between 70 to 80 percent of the entire Ghanaian population (I stand to be corrected).

Despite the significant numbers of the membership of the two religions in Ghana, we have witnessed that the NDC has publicly identified itself with the devil. Mr Rawlings has on several occasions appealed to the “so called Antoa Nyamaa” to prove his innocent and not long ago, he made that appeal again. Similarly, his subordinate Ohene Agyekum, the Chairman of Ashanti Region NDC branch also appealed to the same river, which to them and others it is ‘purported to be a powerful deity’.

Folks, the issue is Ghana is a country with the overwhelming majority of its population either Christians or Moslems; do we therefore follow the NDC which subscribes to the belief of idol worship? As a Christian, I am very much aware that the Almighty God hates idol worship. In fact, one of the Ten Commandments he gave to Moses was about idol worship. We also know from the Bible that when ever the Israelites worshipped idols they were conquered by their enemies and taken captives. Therefore idol worship is one of the most grievous sins before God, as God does not like his glory to be shared with objects.

While an individual can decide to worship his or her own idol, it is seriously dangerous to allow our national politics to be openly influenced by idol worship. For this reason, I think we should consider carefully the effect (calamity) that Mr Rawlings and his cronies' subscription to idol worship can have on the fortunes of the country. It is therefore dangerous to allow the National Demonic Party to come back to power with its Antoa Nyamaa worship mentality. Dear fellow Christians and Moslems, please use your votes to say no way to Satan, by rejecting Mr Rawlings and his followers and the river and things like that they have chosen to put their faith in. We worship the Omnipotent and everlasting God, and we should stand up against the introduction of idol worship in our politics, as that will doom us. In the US, religious issues usually play significant role in their elections.

The presidential team

In the past members of NDC themselves, including the high profile Dr Spio-Gabrah have reported that Professor Mills is a sick man and his deteriorating health cannot cope with the duties of a President of Ghana. Folks, there is no doubt that Professor Mills is sick and we cannot afford to entrust the destiny of over 20 million people into his hands. There are many people in Ghana who do not want us to mention the Professor’s health. However, in the recent campaign of the US presidential campaign, the age and health of Mr John McCain was discussed all the time, as some people felt that it was a significant issue to consider in the elections. In fact some even went as far as calculating the chances of his skin cancer reappearing and the likelihood that he could die out of that if voted into office. So we do not have to vote for a sick person as a President of Ghana, as we have much to lose. I remember when Indonesia had a President who was old and had lost one of his eyesight and the other not good enough as well, and he appeared very weak. He did not last long before he was swept outside. So how do we have to vote for a person we know that his physical health will not enable him to perform diligently the challenging duties of a President of Ghana. The truth is Professor Mills has past his prime and has therefore outlived his usefulness to serve as the President of Ghana.

In contrast, despite Mr Akuffo Addo is about the same age as Dr Mills, he appears physically fit. So please on the voting day do not gamble with your destiny, vote for Akuffo Addo.

Further, whether Dr Mills could be his own man is another matter. Already, Nana Konadu Rawlings has indicated that they would not treat him with ‘kids gloves’, if he takes decisions that they do not favour them. With this in mind and together with his health status, it is doubtful if Professor Mills could stand up against the controversial Mr Rawlings, his wife and their supporters.

Author: Joseph Annor - BA (Hons) University of Ghana; Master of Accounting (UTS, Australia); Graduate Diploma in Accounting (Monash, Australia); CPA Auatralia