Feature Article of Monday, 19 November 2012

Columnist: Wiredu-Mensah, Kwame

Who Deserves Your Vote?

With about three weeks to election in Ghana, I am certain that majority of the voting population have made up their minds who they will vote into power. There are people who no matter what have decided not to vote at all. I believe, also, that we have a few who may still be uncertain as to who to vote for. If you are uncertain of your choice of president for Ghana for the next four years and your uncertainty or your indecision stems from the fact that you do not know the candidates or the parties they are leading then, I would like to draw your attention to some recent trends.

Ghanaians have recently tested two political parties and four heads of state. Jerry John Rawlings under the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Agyekum Kuffour under the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the late John Evans Atta Mills under NDC and recently John Mahama the former vice president who succeeded him after his untimely death. These four men mounted the presidential seat with intent to lead our nation in the right direction and to leave a legacy. What each one did along with their respective parties they represented should matter to those of us who are still undecided and to those of us who are certain of their choice which may be based on sympathy.

The longest serving head of state, Jerry John Rawlings, came into power through the barrel of a gun and later transitioned into an elected president. He did his best to implant democracy firmly on the ground which I believed many Ghanaians admire. From “Junior Jesus” to JJ Rawlings, he came with a big hatred for the wealthy people. In the late 1990s when Ghanaians were trying to make a living in the United States of America (USA) and to help their families in Ghana and to help Ghana as well, JJ Rawlings wrote to the US immigration not to grant political asylum to Ghanaians because they are only in the US to seek greener pasture. So, most Ghanaians were denied permanent residency because of the content of the letter our former president wrote. He made it clear that they are here for economic asylum and not political asylum. Is it wrong to make a living and to help others? No, I don’t think so. And because of his actions, JJ haltered the progress of most Ghanaians abroad.

Also, President Rawlings could be remembered for some rural electrification and development projects that were completed during his term. He can boast of shortening the length of years that we spend in school by changing the traditional secondary school system to junior and senior high school system. Not withstanding the decrease in the years spent in school, the cost of education increased during JJ’s term. During his term, university students started to pay rent. The economic burden on parents and families worsened. Economically, Ghanaians suffered. One can hardly think of any social intervention that JJ implemented.

President John Kuffour, also, came and gave his best. Most of his policies worked well for Ghana. During his term, foreign investments boomed. He implemented the National Health Insurance Scheme, free health care for pregnant women, free lunch for pupils and he can, also, boast of some rural and urban developments. He created jobs. Most of the policies he mentioned when he was campaigning for president were implemented. It is just a matter of fact that he left a legacy. Irrespective of ones political affiliation, if one refuses to applaud president Kuffour and the NPP for these accomplishments during his term, then it could be mere hatred. For the first time in over twenty years, Ghanaians were somehow satisfied with their leader.

Then came the late president Mills. I am not really sure if I am being politically bias, but I could hardly think of any major accomplishment by the NDC under the leadership of the late president Mills. The National Health Insurance Scheme that was created by Kuffour suffered and it is still suffering. Payments by the scheme are being delayed and thus forcing private clinics and hospitals, and even government hospitals to refuse to accept our own insurance. Some salaried employees including teachers suffered salary decrease not withstanding the high cost of living in Ghana. Unfortunately, Mr. Mills expired before the end of his term. Can you think of any legacy?

For the few months that John Mahama has sat on the throne, can one think of any achievement or any clear policy that he has for the next four years? Now, Nana Addo Dankwah Aku-Addo is promising Ghanaians free tuition during senior high school (SHS). Instead of John Mahama making his policies clear, he is only attacking Nana Ado’s policy. I think Ghanaians would love to hear Mahama’s policy and not his attacks. With all the resources that we have including the recent discovery of oil, what makes free SHS impossible?

In conclusion, it is very obvious from the track records of the two parties that, the NPP under the leadership of John Kuffour alone has done a lot for Ghana and left a legacy compared to JJ Rawlings and Atta Mills combine. With almost twenty years of JJ Rawlings rule, eight years of Kuffour and almost four years of Mills, based on the brief analysis of their works above and the legacies they left, it should be easier for you to vote wisely and to vote with intent to save Ghana and for a better future.
God Bless Our Homeland Ghana!

Kwame Wiredu-Mensah
New York, USA