TOWARDS 2016, ISSUES MUST LEAD

This piece would focus on a litany of issues. As a writer, I would seek to bring the perspective on the issues I would raise based on facts and figures where appropriate for the appreciation of all of you.

As we approach the 2016 elections, we must be clear in our minds that, this election would be contested on a series of issues including the track record of the various political parties, the track record of the individual candidates, the achievements of the two main political parties that have had the chance of ruling under the fourth republican constitution, as well as the characteristics of the various candidates.

It would be completely out of place to assume the New Patriotic Party under the leadership of former President Kuffour had not achieved anything. That would be far fetched and disengenous on the part of those who would seek to approach debates from that angle.

Mention can be made of some flagship programs brought in place by the NPP. The National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) was brought into being. Metro Mass Transit (MMT) was brought into being upon the collapse of the OSA Transport system that was operational under the Jerry John Rawlings regime. The National Health Insurance Scheme was given a milage after it was piloted under the Rawlings’ administration. The School Feeding Programme was also brought into being. These issues would be discussed in deeper spectrum in subsequent paragraphs.

The National Youth Employment Programme was brought into being to help deal with the massive unemployment situation that persists in this country. Soon after the ascension of the throne by the NPP, Ghanaians were asked to go queue to be registered for job opportunities by the government. Many years after the registration, and nearing the exit of the NPP administration, the NYEP was implemented to honour a campaign promise of providing jobs to all Ghanaians “able and willing to work”.

Today, many models under the programme have been added. Mention can be made of the Youth Enterprise Support programme (YES) which had been seen giving financial support to young men and women to enable them realise their dreams.

As stated, the Metro Mass Transit was brought after the collapse of the OSA transport system that was operational even after the exit of the NDC under Jerry John Rawlings.

Today, even though the company is in some distress resulting in buses parked at the various depots of the company, the NDC under the Mills and Mahama administration has invested heavily in sustaining the company. It is appropriate for government to ensure immediate investment to enable the parked buses back on road. That said, just recently, some 117 buses were procured and handed over to the company to boost its fleet of buses.

The National Health Insurance Scheme was not in its current state when it was started. When it begun, people who had the health insurance card could not use their cards anytime they travel out of their home districts. It was not until the NDC came into power in 2009 that conscious efforts were made to make the Insurance Scheme truly national giving meaning to its name – National Health Insurance Scheme. In its current state, one could move from one district or region to another and still be able to use the card to access health care.

The health insurance OPD attendance under the NPP was about some 9 million. Today, the record is at about 29 million. This explains the growth of the scheme over the years. Today, more Ghanaians are on the scheme than before. Ghanaians are currently accessing health care under the Insurance Scheme than before.

The school feeling programme is a commendable programme that was birthed by the NPP administration. This was a policy that was wholly funded by the Dutch government under the NPP. Following allegations and suspicion of corruption, the Dutch government caused an audit at their instance. It was revealed in the audit that pots used for cooking were procured at ridiculous prices. Cups for drinking water were equally procured at unit prices that could each buy many pots for cooking.

As a result of the findings, the Dutch government withdrew its support for the programme nearing the end of the term of the NPP. At the time, the programme was feeding some 400,000 school children.

Again, the audit report had discovered wrong targeting of the programme which was feeding students other than schools that really needed the help.

Today, the programme had been expanded to feed some 1.7 million students with funding solely from the coffers of the government of Ghana.

Approaching this election, one thing stands tall. The president of the Republic of Ghana John Dramani Mahama has a team of men and women who are working to sustain the party and government in power. In the same light, the candidate of the opposition NPP has team of men and women trying hard to dislodge the ruling party.

What remains significant, and especially in social media is that, while the team for the president are engaged in estoling the virtues and record of their candidate the president, the team for the opposition candidate are countering their attempts with insults.

What I would be expecting at this time is, having elected the candidate for 21 months now, some policy direction would have been made available upon which the team would be busy marketing their candidate, however, that is not the case.

I am tempted to ask, what alternative is he bringing for which he is seeking power? It is understandable for them to attempt to shield their plans, but, don’t they think the Ghanaian voter must know the product he or she would be buying?

It would be appropriate to measure the Ghanaian voter with some level of intelligence. The average voter today is more sophisticated than before. This places at a disadvantage, any candidate or team that seeks to look down on the voter of today.

ASK

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