Ghana has come to this point once again. And as part of our commitment to democracy and its practice, we shall have to elect a president in the next couple of days. We shall have to elect a leader who would represent our collective desires and aspirations. In doing so, we must have so many things to ponder over before arriving at a decision that would stay with us for the next for years.
Very important to me as a writer, is the need to safeguard peace and security. I believe that in order to have a free and safe society to enable me go about my business and guarantee me the space to occupy your thoughts, I require a peaceful country where I shall not be chased for writing opinions that are not welcoming to the authority of state.
In this same process, I require a deep reflection over a leader who has the track record to deliver on what he is promising me. While at that, I must equally review the record of the leading opposing party that could be elected to form government.
Fortunately, I happened to chance upon a copy of the book, 4 YEARS OF POSITIVE CHANGE; SO FAR SO GOOD, a book that can be equated to the GREEN BOOK under His Excellency John Dramani Mahama’s government. Perhaps, this exercise would not have been necessary, but for the caption in the Foreword of the book 4 Years of Positive Change which sets the tone for this discussion.
In his words, and in the 1st paragraph of the Foreword, the then Minister of Information, Hon. Daniel Botchway, captured “When we assumed the reigns of power in January 2001, we promised, among others, to undertake vigorous infrastructural development to ensure the rapid growth of our nation”.
That is not all, paragraph eight (8) of the same Foreword contains “The book entitled “Four Years of Positive Change…So far so good” is a pictorial record of only some, not all, of what this government under HE President John Agyekum Kufour has achieved in the first four-year mandate that the people of this nation gave him”. One can only assume the achievements captured are the prime ones under that government.
In their anticipation of victory for having done so well, they concluded in the Foreword in the 9th paragraph “It is testimony of what President Kufour and his team will do in the second four-year mandate that the people of this nation gave him. With the support of all we can scale even the greatest heights”.
Considering the fact that they never gave a breathing space to His Excellency John Dramani Mahama over the past years moments after he ascended the reigns of power legitimately from the mandate of the people, one would be beaming with ecstasy to view and “read” the pictorial presentations of their achievements. To one’s amusement, the supposed achievements would pass for theatre comedy.
Before proceeding to address the substantive issue, I have consistently been taken into a mental process trying to understand how one is able to look on a paper and tell that the votes tallied on that paper are supposed to go for him and not where they went. How possible, could it be, that as I enter a polling booth secretly to vote, you assume the vote I cast was supposed to be for you and not the candidate so declared? You really can’t make a meaning at certain things. However, this nation had endured such a mental exercise for 8 solid months.
Well, back to the subject. In the four years of the supposed positive change, from page 7 to the last page, 60, one is greeted with images that would blow one’s mind. For instance, page 15 contains an image with the caption “President Kufour visits Norway”. That was supposed to be part of the presentation of achievements. All visits with Heads of States during that period were captured and presented to the people of Ghana as reasons that warranted a second term which they were actually given.
Fast forward, the NPP sourced for achievements including Elmina Castle, Fiema Monkey Sanctuary in the Brong Ahafo Region which are contained in page 40 of the document. On page 43, some group of young men in the Winneba Traditional Area returned from the bush with a live antelope as part of their tradition that had lasted hundreds of years prior to the NPP winning power. That one was also captured as an achievement under the New Patriotic Party when they had the opportunity to govern this country and as a show of what they did.
In order not to be presented as disingenuous to the administration, some physical structures are identified in the book. These structures are embossed with designs captioned “HIPC Benefits”, an indication of projects funded by HIPC grants and not from the government of the day. For instance, on page 37 of the book, one can see “Construction of a three classroom block at Essumeja, Ashanti Region”.
On page 38, I see an image that is not unique from the nature of Kindergarten Blocks provided for the Fanteakwa District under His Excellency John Dramani, captured for a Junior High School as “A modern school block at Nzema in the Western Region”. Before you get carried away by the use of “a three classroom” it is actually a three unit-classroom block.
Curiously, on the same page 38, one can see a structure captured “Construction of eight seater aqua public place of convenience for the Women Training College Institute at Amanful-Bekwai, Ashanti Region. This is simply, a KVIP with such a sophisticated name – aqua……. under the NPP when they had the chance.
For all these, the projects were trumpeted and drummed into our ears. We were told not to risk retuning power to the NDC when they were printing such documents with our taxes. Today, after the people of Ghana decided to returning the NDC to power, we are reaping the fruits of electing a government that is centred on the interests of the people.
In the NDC version of a print out, from page to page, one can see images of infrastructure, the size of which the NPP cannot point a hand at and say let us compare. None, and I mean none! In education, the NPP cannot compare. The NDC had over these past few years, added public universities to the national stock. We can all reference the University of Health and Allied Sciences, the University for Mines and Technology, and a third coming up, the University of Environment and Sustainable Development at Somanya in the Eastern Region.
In the history of Ghana, aside Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, it is only the NDC that had added 5 public universities to the three existing ones. So today, if we have young men and women who are able to boast of having attended universities in Ghana, you must at least be proud of the NDC for thinking about your future. Would you have been better without a university? And how easy or difficult should it be to point a hand and insult a government or party that had ensured you attained higher education?
In the history of Ghana, the NPP and its antecedent groups, have not a single Regional Hospital to their record. Indeed, the NDC had ensured each region, that was deprived of same is getting its fair share of the national cake. Today, as we speak, the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital is receiving massive infrastructural development. The Upper West Regional Hospital is coming up with speed. We have ensured that we lift hospitals to the state of teaching hospitals to enable us train our medical students across the country.
That is not all, having identified the need to provide nursing schools for our children who would want to venture into the profession, the NDC had increased Nursing Training Institutions from a little over 30 to 90. The NDC had over the years invested in the Ghanaian economy to provide skills and training to our people.
On the basis of this, the GREEN BOOK was launched to provide an opportunity for you to review the achievements of His Exellency President John Dramani Mahama. The book justifies, with the few achievements captured in it, the need for President Mahama to be given another term. If we are to reward parties on the basis of the records they have all provided in their printed documents, documents they have officially approved to be released into the public domain, the NDC is justified to stay in power for over 30 years with this speed of transformation.
It is better to democratically elect a party to remain in power continuously for over 50 years so long as the interests of the larger people are being addressed. When I look at Ghana today, the few who are yearning for change are those who have been promised one thing or the other. As a writer, I can boldly say, with the greatest conviction, that I do this not because of any promise from anyone to be settled, but for the collective interest of Ghana.
I want my son to grow and have access to modern schools. I want my son to grow and when he chooses to become a doctor, have the best hospitals anyone can find in the world, in Ghana, to work in. I want my grandchildren to grow and have the understanding that a government elected by the people of Ghana had established factories hitherto collapsed so that when they choose to go into engineering, they can have the industries to practice.
Nothing can be achieved in a vacuum. Everything takes planning to be achieved. As we can see, Ghana is developing with planning. Just a couple of days ago, the near “impossible” Western Railway that had been a subject for 8 years budgeting under the NPP, was opened with a modern air-conditioned train for the people of the area. You cannot risk your vote in a promised future that is so unclear. No woman would sack her husband and marry another one who has never made clear his vision to her. Stay with JM, stay with the NDC and stay with development.