Feature Article of Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Columnist: Suale, Karimu

Please, NDC Stop the Unnecessary Attacks

and Tell Us Your Vision For Ghana!

There is a saying that those who say it cannot be done should not stand on the path of those who believe it can, and are willing to do it. This saying has been on my mind ever since the NPP rolled out its vision for Ghana at the IEA forum and its delegates and campaign launch last Saturday.

I have been utterly disappointed as a very ambitious young Ghanaian- as have been other well-meaning Ghanaians, particularly the youth- by the response and posture of the NDC to some of the policies and programs envision by the NPP should Ghanaians give them the mandate in the December 2012 elections. By their utterance and actions, is NDC willing to invest in the people and future of this nation?

Let’s start with the economy. All over the world, economic policies and programs drive growth, jobs and wealth creation, and welfare. For the past three years, Ghanaians have been struggling to see the economic policy direction of this current administration with respect to these economic benchmarks. Growth in critical sectors of our economy- manufacturing and agriculture- has dwindled greatly. Multinational and multibillion companies are struggling to survive with the high levels of interest and ever worsening exchange rates, not to even talk about small scale businesses. Unemployment rate is moving through the roof! Ghanaians are paying high for everything except breathing of polluted air as a result of the massive filth that has engulfed our cities, yet we are told not to complain because there is something called single digit inflation! My God!

In the mist of these economic realities, it beats my imagination why the NDC should be attacking the NPP for promising to fix the problems and afford Ghanaians a decent living, especially when the attackers know so well that they are doing nothing about it yet they have the opportunity; and that the attacked has a track record of doing what they are pledging and willing to do. No one in the NDC can deny that Ghana was a highly indebted poor country (HIPC) when NPP took over in 2000. They turned the HIPC economy to lower middle income one by 2006. The NDC was working and hoping to attain this enviable feat by year, 2020 with their Vision 2020 program. When NPP told them that it could be done earlier than that, they said it was a complete impossibility. NPP did it by 2006, 14 years off! So, how can you tell me that NPP cannot turn this nation to an industrial economy? Why shouldn’t Ghanaians believe that they can do it with the undisputed track records of sterling economic management? Today, all the economic gains that brought us to the middle income status are been rolled back on daily basis. Certainly, had it not been because of some of the well-crafted economic policies left behind by the NPP, our economy would have been in a total mess.

When NDC took over in 2009, Ghanaians were told every day that NPP left huge debts behind. Well, today they are quietly reaping the economic benefits of the supposed deficits because a significant percentage of the deficits or debts were in capital account, which means that the money were been invested in the welfare of Ghanaians. I am talking of the building of stadia, roads, markets, hospital, schools to social intervention programs like capitation grants, livelihood empowerment against poverty (LEAP), school feeding, and NHIS.

The current government is struggling to complete some of these projects like the Suhum-Nsawam road. In an attempt to save their inefficiency, incompetence and non-performance, they tell Ghanaians that the NPP did not leave funding for these projects. The NPP contested the 2008 election, and surely they were hoping to win and continue with the projects, so how can you tell me they didn’t know what they were doing? I beg to differ! The most topical issue has been the free SHS education policy of the NPP’s flag bearer, Nana Addo. The essence of this policy is to provide quality and affordable education for every Ghanaian child at least to senior high school level to enable every child realise his/her God given talents and full potentials. This will also provide the critical quality manpower to help build the envisioned industrial economy we all yean for.

We all know that education and strong economy are the base structure of every prosperous economy. Yes, free education to JHS level is certainly costly, but the benefits are certainly by every imagination far greater than the cost! Who will deny himself education over cost when he can find ways to fund it? How then does the NDC question the cost of the education of the poor Ghanaian child, when NPP say they can find ways to invest in it?

It is only a forward looking leader who will take such a bold decision as to invest in the future of this nation, as only myopic group will say it is unrealistic. The NDC says free SHS education is a complete impossibility. When you ask them why, they say funding? This is an admission that they are not prepared to invest in the good people of this nation, especially the youth. As far as I understand the free SHS policy, the NPP wants to implement it in a very different economy they plan to build, not the current economy. I agree that they will have to start from the current economy. And I believe that is why the NPP has a vision of an integrated program of building an industrial nation with quality and affordable education to support its growth and ensure its sustainability and viability on one hand, and an expanded economy to support that kind of education on the other hand. So how can you use this current shaky economy to tell me this can never be possible? It means you lack vision, mission, and you certainly do not believe or know that governance is about improving people’s welfare and development. Isn’t surprising that some of the people who are employed or direct employees of NPP initiatives are those who are championing the ‘it cannot be done, it is unrealistic’ slogans? Take most of the top employees of the NYEP and NHIS for instance. Sometimes, I say they have not got any sense of shame to be going round saying that policies of the NPP are not realistic, when they are employees of NPP’s creations.

There is a saying that a progressive person will never say something cannot be done but always asked of how it can be done or provide alternatives. As I grow and advance in education, this saying has manifested itself in several ways and I always remember it before questioning anyone’s vision. In a democratic culture, it is not enough for you to come and tell me that what NPP is telling me is not realistic without providing an alternative. It only shows your incompetence and mental laziness. If you cannot do it, please, clear off, and allow the one who believe he can to come and do it!

Time up for campaign of emotions, ethnicity, chieftaincy and insults; let’s talk about the real issues- jobs and wealth creation, social welfare and security, infrastructure, health, education, sanitation, national security, rural and urban development, decentralization, individual and media freedom and rights, and good governance! Let’s talk about the future of this nation. Tells us what you can do. I always tell my NDC friends, please don’t get annoy with me; we are not fighting! Just tell me what you have done over the past three years or what you plan to do, without attacking anybody’s personality!

Election 2012 is about our nation, our future. Does the NDC believe in the youth of this nation? Then what is the worth of youthfulness without a vision? What is the essence of leadership without a mission? How then do you use youthfulness to seek leadership when you have deflated the very worth and essence by your utterances and actions?

For me, I will rather vote for someone with political experience, reliance, resilience, and maturity with clear vision to invest in the future of this nation and its youth, not the one who doesn’t even know where the road to the future of prosperity for the youth he claims to represent leads to.

Karimu Suale Karimu.suale@gmail.com