WHY YOU MUST HEAD TO THE POLLS

Elections are a civic duty implored on every citizen of voting age to participate in deciding those who govern their state(s) over a period of time. The right to vote, has been fought for as a civil inalienable right which resulted in the loss of lives of many who stood to demand those rights. Back in the days, the right to vote and participate in decision making, was a preserve for a category of people. The many whose lives are affected by the decisions of the few, had no right in choosing who makes those decisions on their behalf.

Several civil rights, aside demands for freedoms from discrimination from access to public places and the unimpeded right to use state establishments, were hinged on the rights to vote and be voted for. Granting these rights, did not come easily. Unfortunately, many have rather chosen to reluctantly exercise these rights, and in some cases, refused to exercise them over what they say are the unprofitable gains in participating in voting.

Elections, no matter how they are viewed, at the national and parliamentary levels, are meant for the selection of leaders to steer the affairs of a nation to a “desirable” end. Unfortunately, and I must admit, many who seek political power, are engrossed in securing personal benefits over the welfare of the masses they are expected to provide for.

Ghana had had her version of its unique democracy. Indeed, the tenets of democracy are universal. Their eventual ends are to improve on the total infrastructure, both economic and social, provide jobs, and create an even and equitable opportunity for citizens to aspire and pursue their potentials to the end while granting them the freedom to choose their leaders and to change government anytime they desire to do so. Since independence, various military interventions were witnessed in Ghana. Indeed, the third republic was interfered with, giving way for the inception of this fourth republic that we are participating in today. Restoring Ghana to a republic in 1992, came as a result of the lack of our citizens to exercise their democratic rights which are greatly rooted in the rights to vote and be voted for.

Since 1992, we have held elections to elect leaders such as Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings of blessed memory, John Agyekum Kufour, late John Evans Atta-Mills, John Dramani Mahama and currently, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo.

The 2016 elections were quite unique. We witnessed a sitting President losing his quest for a second term to a candidate who was trying the presidency for the third time. The promises that were made in the 2016 elections, were quite unique. While the incumbent president was mindful of promises that may trigger the Ghanaian electorate asking why the promises being made were not executed while he had his first term, the opposition candidate had his free range to make promises that one can best describe as lofty, given the outcome.

Key among the promises made at the time by the current president were that he would protect the public purse, fight corruption, transform Ghana, among other promises. Indeed, in his promise to fight corruption, he promised to establish the Office of Special Prosecutor who was supposed to be the last stop in the fight against corruption. Prior to the establishment of that office, the President is on video to have promised the Ghanaian people that he had no space for those who were seeking appointment into his government to make “more” money. Upon the creation of the Office of Special Prosecutor, the President is on record to have stated that the Office of Special Prosecutor would instill the fear of God in corrupt officials.

Video credit: Ghanaweb.com

In the selection for the Office of Special Prosecutor, he went to Mr. Martin A.B.K. Amidu, a known anti-corruption crusader with the enviable title of Citizen Vigilante. Before his approval, long in 2016, Mr. Amidu went on a live video to appeal to the electorates to vote for Nana Akufo-Addo in the 2016 elections as he believed he would fight corruption at the time he Mr. Amidu had fallen out with the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the party he was a member of from its inception.

Mr. Amidu took office in 2018 following the creation of his office through an Act of Parliament. Over the period, many were those who were questioning his output after his constant public outbursts. Little did the public know that the very environment he required to work effectively, have been denied him. Key among such, are permanent staff and the needed salary. It emerged eventually that for 2 years, he worked without salary. He worked with staff on secondment, and without an established permanent office to enable him function.

What Mr. Amidu made us understand was that the President was interfering in his work as Special Prosecutor in the matter having to do with the Agyapa Royalties deal which can squarely be laid on the doorsteps of the Finance Minister who is a brother to the President. According to him, the President was making every effort to save his brother who could be a subject for investigation and possible prosecution. In the first place, Mr. Amidu erred in submitting a summary of his report to the President. Be that as it may, he never asked the President to act as a conduit in conveying the response of the Finance Minister, his cousin to he Mr. Amidu.

Fast forward, a couple of days ago, Mr. Martin Amidu had had to resign his position as the first Special Prosecutor after two years of occupying that office. Prior to his resignation, he undertook a corruption risk assessment into the Agyapa Royalties deal which sought to monetize our gold royalties. From his report, several infractions were identified which according to him, may require further investigations. Per the law establishing his office, he reserves the right to launch extended investigations into corruption and corruption related offences bothering on procurement.

Page one: Mr. Martin Amidu’s resignation letter

Page two: Mr. Martin Amidu’s resignation letter

Page three: Mr. Martin Amidu’s resignation letter

Page four: Mr. Martin Amidu’s resignation letter

In a response obtained from the President through his Executive Secretary, the President was exercising his discretion to ensure the other side, the affected party in the report, is heard. As stated, Mr. Amidu never solicited this help from the President. In any case, if Mr. Amidu had proceeded with his criminal investigations, and had processed the finance minister for court, he would have had the opportunity to have his side heard. Putting one in court on allegations of corruption, does not automatically imprison the person. That right for fair trial which provides the rights to defense, would have been exercised and or granted. Therefore, any action taken by the President to push the Special Prosecutor to incorporate the response of the Finance Minister into his assessment report, is tantamount to interference in the work of the Special Prosecutor who was expected to be independent in his dealings.

What has resulted in this whole drama, which in my view, is highly avoidable, is cronyism. The appointment of family members and friends into the government of President Akufo-Addo, places him in a position to act as a family head in government and as a result, intervene in all matters that would implicate his family members, rather than showing leadership in assembling corrupt appointees before the courts for trial over wrongdoing. The President has placed himself in a position of conflict – to watch his brother(s) taken through the courts for possible imprisonment when he could save them? In order to avoid such entanglement, it is advisable to compose a government with people who have no clear family relations that could weaken the commitment to fight corruption.

Readers must be clear in their minds that by waking to a situation where the President has paraded his family members and friends in his government, was a betrayal of the trust of the people. In 2016, he was emphatic to the people of Ghana that he would not operate a government of family and friends (ghanapoliticsonline.com › akufo-ad…Web resultsAkufo-Addo: “I won’t operate a family and friends government in Ghana … ). At the time, he was criticizing a single family member of President John Mahama, Mrs. Joyce Bawah Mogtari who was then a Deputy Minister for Transport. She was and is a lawyer, holding LLM in Maritime Law. Till date, she has not been cited in any corrupt deals four years after leaving office. So, to wake up to the current President appointing close to 60 members of his family in his government, is a betrayal of the trust reposed in him based on his promise.

The signs that led to Mr. Amidu resigning, are those that are predicated by the weaknesses of composing a government made up of family and friends. It weakens the leader, and makes him weak to fight corruption. It was never expected that Mr. Martin Amidu would make statements to the fact that the President was merely paying lips service to the fight against corruption. To him, the president has lost that fight totally, has shown no will to allow his office fight corruption, and as a result, resigned from a position he was expected to hold as a “poodle” of the President.

Two key promises were also that his administration would protect the public purse as well as transform Ghana in eighteen (18) months. I choose to put these two promises together because they interrelate. If one is able to protect the purse, one is able to use the proceeds from the purse to transform a country. At the time these promises were made, Ghana had about 86 ministers and about 600 Presidential Staffers. That list was considered large. Soon after taking office, Nana Akufo-Addo appointed 110 ministers and 1164 Presidential Staffers into office and later increased the list to 125 ministers and about 1,700 Presidential Staffers. This automatically increases the wage bill, increases the state expenditure on emoluments, providing accommodation, vehicles, and other offers including cost of foreign travels. One cannot protect a public purse with this ab initio.

The people of Ghana expected that based on the President’s promise to transform Ghana, that must be in line with his large government. Indeed, some individuals who spoke on the size of government, gave the president the benefit of doubt in relation to his vision to transform Ghana. As we speak, the promise to provide every village in the now five Northern Regions a dam, is nowhere near fulfilling. The promise to provide a factory per district, is nowhere near accomplishing. The promise to provide every constituency in the country the equivalent in Cedis of 1 million USD per year, has not been fulfilled. The promise to provide jobs, rather resulted in the collapse of businesses and job losses. The promise to build 350 senior high schools from scratch, has seen no school under construction. The promise to provide every village with water and to solve every toilet problem, has not been fulfilled.

The Ghana promised to be transformed in 18 months, has not seen anything close to that. Today, the people of Ghana who have access to potable water, continues to reduce because the current government has not deliberately expanded access to water as the population expands. Electricity expansion has slowed to some 2 percent in the last almost four years. This has resulted in government extending its target for universal access to electricity. While at that we must have at the back of our minds the fact that in history so far, this government has received more revenues than any government, and had borrowed than all governments put together since Ghana’s independence. Unfortunately, there are no massive infrastructure to be credited to the loans and revenues secured over the period.

The major interchanges ongoing in Accra including Pokuase, Obitsebi Roundabout and the completed Tema Motorway Roundabout projects, are traced to the John Mahama regime. The designs and funding for those projects, constituted part of the loans secured under the Mahama regime. Out of the over 150 billion Cedis secured in loans by the current administration of President Akufo-Addo, the only interchange that can be traced to its debts is the Tamale Interchange. Today, Ghana’s infrastructure drive has reduced. The records would show that capital expenditure has dropped significantly since 2017 compared to what it was in 2016.

The only government flagship, free SHS, had faced a glitch resulting in the introduction of a double track system because even this foreseeable challenge, we did not prepare for. We could not expand infrastructure in the various schools to accommodate the surge in numbers. In its third year, we are still not sure when this challenge is to be addressed fully.

Under the John Dramani Mahama regime, every district in Ghana can boast of one development project or the other. Nationally, monumental projects are seen. Today, the Akufo-Addo government cannot point to any projects in the health sector that match the Ridge Hospital, Bank of Ghana Hospital, Maritime Hospital, University of Ghana Medical Centre, Dodowa Hospital, Afari Hospital, Sewua Hospital, and the many hospitals, Polyclinics and District Hospitals across the country.

Few days shy of four years, the Akufo-Addo government cannot point to any single school they built that come close to the E-Blocks being built by the Mahama Administration ahead of 2016. Out of a commitment to build 200, some 123 were started with 46 completed before H.E. John Mahama left office. This government has not designed a single school, let alone construct same. The government of President Akufo-Addo cannot boast of a single public university that seeks to provide space for higher learning for our youth.

This government, since taking over, has not added a single megawatt to the national power stock even though it claims to have solved all our power challenges. However, we have been told severally of how the John Mahama administration left behind excess power that we did not need. How he left excess power, but was unable to solve Ghana’s power challenges, only operatives of the Akufo-Addo led government can help us solve that puzzle.

Ghana heads to the polls in a few days. The Ghanaian electorate has the opportunity to restore this country. The rights to vote, as stated above, is one that we must not and cannot toy with. There is need for the electorates to prove that indeed, they have the welfare of Ghana at heart. Building infrastructure, is development in every developing nation. No developing nation can be said to have developed without good roads, without state-of-the-art hospitals, without good schools, without potable water, without electricity among others. From all these indicators, it is just easy to look back into the administrations of the front runners to determine who has done better. In the area of roads, hospitals, schools, water, electricity, etc, John Dramani Mahama stands tall.

In the fight against corruption, while one would admit that John Mahama is and was not a saint, he handled corruption better than the man who promised never to let corruption come close to him. John Mahama was able to jail his appointees and processed others for court. He was able retrieve monies paid wrongly, back to the state. He never shelved any of his appointees accused of indulging in corruption. On the other hand, President Akufo-Addo is playing the saint. He presents to us, an image that he is working with angles who are clean and can never engage in corruption. He has shown lack of commitment in the fight against corruption. He has shown that at no point, would he allow his appointees who are dominated by family members in strategic areas, to be tried for corruption.

John Dramani Mahama, Flagbearer, NDC

As a result of that conduct, Ghana has lost the fine opportunity of benefiting from the skills of Mr. Martin Amidu who has shown commitment to fight corruption no matter whose ox is gored. The promise to fight corruption, has been proven a rhetoric under the Akufo-Addo government. In order to restore some dignity in our governance, we must elect a leader who has at least shown that commitment to allow his appointees who have gone off-track, to answer for their actions. A further step to keep President Akufo-Addo in power, means concealing corruption and protecting corrupt officials, while fighting and intimidating those who would attempt fighting corruption.

Ghana deserves better from you as an electorate. This opportunity to exercise your civic duty must not be overlooked, nor exercised wrongly. We cannot be seen rewarding weak leaders who promise one thing and do the opposite by flooding government positions with familial relations that ends up tying their hands from being able to demand accountability. December 7th, offers each and every one a glorious opportunity to make a difference in restoring our country back on the path of development. I have made a choice, and that choice, is to give my vote to His Excellency John Dramani Mahama.

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