It has been a while since I placed my pen and ink on a long paper for my readers. Much so because, there were too many issues happening within the political space. Hardly does one issue settle than another coming up for discussion. In the end, none of the issues get discussed conclusively, making it difficult to keep track of the happenings within the political space. But, for me, what I am really appreciative of is that the people of Ghana today, would have a better understanding of the issues surrounding governance as they compare the realities and juxtapose with the promises given them ahead of the 2016 elections. As the 2020 elections approach, we must begin assessing the impact of government efforts as against what it crusaded against for which power was handed by the electorates in the 2016 general election.
In a discussion with a colleague, I posited that we need to begin engaging intellectually over the reality. In that discussion, I told her about the fact that in the past administration led by His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, the reality of prices of goods and services in the market, stood better than it is today. This cannot be argued over because, no matter the factors you would wish to attribute this to, the reality does not change. The disposable income of citizens remain the same, while prices keep skyrocketing. What this leaves is that it makes the people feel the economic hardship than ever before.
The issue bothering on the current reality of the Free SHS, on the two track system, came up for examining. I presented to her the reality having to do with the reduced contact hours, the fact that current students in the various Senior High Schools, would have to leave the few textbooks in their possessions behind for those taking over from them. In the end, these school children return home with no materials to keep them busy until they go back to school. This leaves a responsibility on parents who can afford, to go into the markets to buy textbooks for their wards. We must not limit our scope. Can we ask what becomes of those whose parents cannot afford to buy these textbooks, and whose children are expected to sit the same examinations at the end of the third year?
The reality we equally have to examine is that even at the tertiary levels, our various universities do record massive failures. On many occasions, several other students at the tertiary levels trail papers which they would have to retake and make the grades before they are allowed to graduate. Let us not forget that these students mainly sit their final examinations on the expiration of the fourth month under the semester system, yet, some do fail. Today, we have successfully reduced the contact hours of our wards many of whom age between 14 and 17. Not only that, we are depriving them the full composition of materials both in school and at home, and on top, compounding them with these difficulties, while we expect them to prove their worth at the end of the third year. How can we expect to achieve quality in this form?
This is where those who have held on to a position of quality education would have their say. It is important to recognize that education is the key to enlightenment and the solution to challenges. However, when this education process does not seem to address the fundamental issues with regards to education and only focuses on passing people through the system, we would achieve no results, but to build a society where certain job placements would be rejected by the “uneducated” graduates.
Then we looked again into another issue. I must emphasize that my other colleague voted for the current administration and remain “hopeful”, a word she kept referring throughout our conversation. The point is this, how do you hope in a seemingly hopeless situation? You hope when there is something happening that you can point at. In the case of the SHS, I presented to her that if by now, we are aware of a procurement process being vigorously pursued to acquire textbooks to address the lack of same in our various schools, then we can be hoping. If we are seeing a massive infrastructural development aimed at adding more blocks to contain the worsening congestions, then we can be hopeful. If we have seen a rigorous move at training additional teachers to contain the pressure as a result of the double track, then we can be hopeful of the situation. To the extent that these critical aspects of the immediate challenges are receiving no known attention, we cannot be deceiving ourselves with “hope”.
A little historical background at this stage would help our understanding. In the areas of nurses and teachers, the regime immediately after our independence, instituted measures which were adopted and executed by other regimes, though the regime after the 1966 coup distorted the plan. Until recently, government took up a greater responsibility on our children in the nursing and teacher training colleges. The idea was that as a nation that was short of teachers and nurses, following the conscious plan by the colonial regime to restrict the provision of these essential officers, there was the need for the state to commit into absorbing fees of these categories of students, while paying them allowances alongside as a means of motivating them.
For some time now, the situation had gotten to the point where supply of these professionals, exceeded not the demand, but the facilities available to provide them infrastructure to work in. As economic activities deployed and get into the hands of individuals, and as the profession began assuring some job stability, coupled with the rising spate of unemployment, many more of our brothers and sisters saw these areas as the ‘educational insurance’.
In order to ensure that we contain the situation, it was suggested that, not only are demands to attend these schools rising, but, it appeared even without the incentive of allowances, the various training institutions are able to admit to full capacity. That meant that more people would graduate to need hospitals and schools to work in. Mind you, no teacher completes school to work in a factory, but in a classroom block, just as nurses would require no other place than the hospital to work in.
In the wisdom of the then president, John Dramani Mahama, would it not make economic and social sense to refocus and channel the resources used to motivate people in school, towards building more schools and hospitals to provide them ready jobs after school rather than enjoying the allowances and complete school without jobs for years? I would have thought this was a rational idea. But, within the political space, it was irrational. So, the then opposition saw it as an opportunity to rally a campaign for power around. So today, nurses cannot demand less.
The plan was that those who would have some difficulties in paying for their courses, could easily apply for loan to support their education. This is a phenomenon in many developed countries. It is nothing new for students to apply for loans for support in their education. This is rightly practiced here in Ghana. The students at the various universities and technical universities are assessing support through the same means. However it ought to have been taken, a campaign was waged and an election won on the same basis. So it would really make mockery of agitations for jobs when we would have had a perfect and justifiable alternative.
In our discussion, I told her that if the current president would seek reelection, it would be tough for him. We are so quick to refer to the margin of difference between the NPP and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the last elections. It is important to recognize that the said margin established the expectations of the people based on the promises of the NPP against what the NDC was doing. The difference in margin in the 2020 elections, would speak to the extent that those expectations were met or not met. If not met, it would overturn.
In examining the reality, Ghanaian graduates needed jobs, so they voted for the highest promises to provide jobs. Have they gotten the jobs? Recently, a socio-economic group, pegged job loses above a million Ghanaians. If citizens who were promised jobs, are not getting employed, but rather, those who were hitherto employed, are losing their jobs, to what extent have their expectations been met? Institutions are shutting their production lines, laying off workers, while those who are yet to, are delaying in the payment of salaries. To what extent are these affected individuals satisfied with the change they voted for?
The people of Ghana may have been led to produce the margin they provided based on the campaign on corruption and how we were told corruption was not being dealt with, and how the NPP would deal with corruption. From the top of the head, one can simply conclude that under these two years, corruption cases recorded under President Akufo-Addo, exceeds the entire four years of the John Mahama administration. However, the speed with which these cases are recorded, do not get addressed in the same way. Just recently, the Managing Director of the Ghana Maritime Authority was accused of spending a total of One Million Ghana Cedis the equivalent of US$200,000.00 (Two Hundred Thousand Dollars) to extend a two bed-room house to a 4-bed-room house. What we need to ask is, how much was used to put up the original structure with the cost of land and fence wall? Not only that, he was accused of procuring eleven (11) air-conditioners to power the 4 bed-room house. On top of that he was accused of spending a whooping Ghc10,000 (not five star hotel) as cost of buffet for 17 individuals placing the cost per head at Ghc588. I only thought these were wild allegations. But, the man himself admitted the expenditure and proceeded to justify the spending as befitting his “status”. He is still at post.
Just a few days ago, an officer of the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), called on governments to show commitment towards fighting crime by prosecuting their officials allegedly involved in corruption. He got suspended for that call.
Are the expectations that brought about the margin of defeat woven around the way corruption is being responded to? The two Deputy Chiefs of Staff were cited in corruption by one of their own. In the process of investigation, the Criminal Investigation Department officer leading the investigation Mrs. Maame Yaa Tiwa Addo Danquah, was allegedly caught on tape negotiating mitigations from the accuser. Yet, in the end, she was promoted to the position of Director General of the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service by the President, while clearing the two Deputy Chiefs of Staff. There are numerous cases to be cited and how they were all dealt with in similar fashion.
Have the expectations of those who rated President Akufo-Addo to fight corruption been met? That is what would determine the margin of the 2020 elections.
Many were those who were taken to believe that indeed, the NPP was going to build a factory per district, a dam per village (later restricted to the three northern regions), a million US Dollar per constituency per year. Have all these been met? Have we seen any indications that by 7th December, 2020, every village in the restricted areas would have a dam, that all districts including the additions, would receive their factory by 7th December, 2020 and that every constituency is on the way to receiving US$4 million by the 7th of December, 2020? These are the things that would determine whether or not, the NPP could keep its margin.
Then, I went on to indicate how difficult it would be should President Akufo-Addo take a bold step to renew his mandate. I presented that unless he is not trying again, the people of Ghana would take nothing less than what he promised them.
Indeed, and as a matter of record (for emphasis), people are aware of things that the Mahama administration had done. No amount of delays in inaugurating them, would associate them with the current president. No amount of delay in commissioning the Kotoka International Airport Terminal 3 would take away the fact that it was built by President Mahama. No amount of delay in opening the Ho and Wa Airports, would take away the fact that these were built by Mahama. Today, everyone who passes the beautiful Ridge Hospital knows it was built by Mahama. When they get to Circle, Kasoa, the Tema Roundabout, the Pokuase Multimodal interchange, they see the craft of John Dramani Mahama. Indeed, his handwriting at the Obitsebi Lamptey Roundabout at Kaneshie, is delaying. But, when it eventually start, we shall see the handwriting of John Mahama all over it. Today, everyone who passes by an E-Block, the structures (a minimum of 1,000 students per structure) that contained part of the pressures of the Free SHS, sees the handwork of Mahama.
So many can be pointed in the road sector. The asphalts we see in Accra and Kumasi are all the handworks of Mahama no matter when the work was/is done. Indeed, some 70 plus kilometers of roads in Accra were earmarked for asphalting. Then we proceed to the University of Health and Allied Sciences in Sokode near Ho in the Volta Region. Anyone who sees it, sees the handwriting of John Mahama. The Kejetia Market, the Kotokuraba Market, the Ho Central Market, the Sewua Hospital in the Ashanti Region, the Afari Hospital, the Wa Regional Hospital, the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital, the Gomoa Dawurampaong Polyclinic and the numerous others across the country, the Fish Processing Factory, the Komenda Sugar Factory, all, cannot pass without one seeing the handwriting of John Mahama, not to forget of the Maritime Hospital, the Bank of Ghana Hospital at Cantonments, the Legon Medical Centre and the expansion works at the Police Hospital in Accra. These handwritings are too glaring to ignore. In the end, Ghanaians would ask you to show them what you have used the monies borrowed for.
These were the things Ghanaians were seeing, but were told were not enough. No one should be deceived into thinking that Ghanaians thought these were not needed because the NPP said so. They voted for what they thought would give them more than they were seeing at the time. Teachers definitely appreciated that more schools meant more teachers having space to teach. Nurses were aware that more specialist hospitals, more regional hospitals, more district hospitals, more polyclinics, more clinics and CHPS Compounds, meant more places for more nurses to work. These are the extent to which the NPP and President Akufo-Addo would be measured. To show what his huge borrowing which some pegged at Ghc60 billion, has been used for.
She admitted there is hardship in the system. To that I told her that Ghanaians would expect nothing less than a comfortable life based on their promises. That they were made to believe their situation was worse under the Mahama regime. They would expect nothing less than a life better than what we saw under John Mahama. That Ghanaians today are buying Nan 2 (for kids) at a price far higher than they were under Mahama, that Ghanaians are paying more for a can of NIDO than under Mahama, that they are paying more for less in the areas of petrol, rice, maize, ball of Kenkey, a sachet of yoghurt among others, they are worse than they were under Mahama.
My colleague appeared to hold brief, asking for more time. I tasked her to examine the number of months it took for President Akufo-Addo to declare the then Professor Mills of blessed memory, a Professor Do Little. It was a verdict he passed less than 6 months after the late Professor took office. What more time would we require to pass a verdict of a president who has done 22 months in power? We can simply measure him by his standards. When you establish principles against what someone else established on the same matter, it is important we hold you to your own principles when the need arises.
In my July 10, 2018 publication titled LETTER TO HE JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA I was sure of this day and beyond. I was sure that the manifestations of the governance prowess or President Akufo-Addo into the 2020 elections, would make President Mahama the hero who was wrongfully taken off the stage for a weaker person to take his position, and it is manifesting. In the end, my joy is that we have something so strong and solid to present to the people of Ghana. In him, we would have a president who work with policy documents, whom we can measure based on documents developed. In him, I know we would have a president who would not run to clear his appointees of wrongdoing. We would have a president who is not a lawyer, but who would execute his constitutionally mandated duties with a clear understanding of the law, without interference with the independence and autonomy of institutions whose autonomy is guaranteed. In him, I know we would have a president who shall be committed to upholding the freedoms and liberties of citizens to free speech, expression, association among others.
I see the 2020 elections as a turn-around. Ghanaians have an opportunity to demand politicians to stick to the issues and to present their respective records for the world to see. Four by four (4/4) I call it; where the two frontrunners would have the opportunity to defend their four year mandates for the people to know who executed his mandate to the expectations of the citizens.
This is what I want to see. We can do it, and this, we must do if we expect progress in our democracy that must aim at improving on the lives of the people.