By Michael Addai
If for nothing at all, the Akufo-Addo led NPP government should be rewarded with 4 more years for their bold, forward-looking, transformative initiatives that continue to be life-changing events for many Ghanaians.
Since coming into power, this government has embarked on major projects and programmes, all in its first term in office, that seek to, strategically, develop every corner of the country. Those achievements thus far, clearly buttress the above assertion for 4 more years.
This assertion can be justified by the following overview of achievements listed below.
First, the management of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has surpassed expectations. Even though we still have a long way to go, globally, with the pandemic to successfully control it, the government’s leadership alone and its prompt acceptance and quick implementation of public health measures, guidelines and protocols has been judged as superb and one of the best in the world — even better than some of the so-called developed countries. Whereas, the attitudes and responses of some leaders of these so-called advanced countries to the pandemic have often times been cavalier and sometimes they led with disinformation, lies, non-facts, abject dishonesty that sought to undermine the science of the disease resulting in complete failure in overarching coherent response in their respective countries as the pandemic raged on, this NPP government, fronted by the president, approached the pandemic with all the seriousness it required and led with diligence, honesty, facts, integrity as well as following the science. The government continues to encourage the public to abide by all the public health guidelines and protocols with mandate in most cases. Ghana has consistently been in the green zone on W.H.O COVID-19 infection rate chart with less than 10% baseline infection rate. COVID-19 testing has become a common place and testing per capita is higher than that in most countries e.g. United States. All these went hand in hand with other COVID-19 reliefs or ‘freebies’ enacted by the government to soften the blow and impact of the disease’s repercussions on people lives and businesses. Examples include, free water consumption for all Ghanaians, free electricity for life-line consumers, soft loan and alleviation programmes to support small scale business as well as the setting up of loan guarantee facilities to support large scale enterprises and job creation. More lives have been saved in Ghana as a result of this phenomenon leadership. This is really a big deal!
Secondly, to fulfill its manifesto pledge and to demonstrate its long-term commitment to education, the government successfully implemented the free SHS programme with the innovative double track system to accommodate the expected increase in enrolment. The programme has benefited more than 1 million children who hitherto would have been deprived the opportunity to have a secondary school education. It also affords kids from poorer backgrounds to also attend some of these so-called privileged schools who otherwise would have been hindered to do so by poverty. Besides all these, there is also a massive expansion of infrastructure in the education sector including construction of high schools, completion of universities, polytechnics, technical institutes and vocational training centres. To make matters more pleasant and sweeter for the first batch graduates of the free SHS policy, the government has introduced a scholarship scheme for their tertiary education. This, indeed, is a great deal for those beneficiaries.
Thirdly, the economy has been run smoothly and proficiently in such a way that even under COVID-19 and other fiscal constraints, it has allowed the government to continue to provide needed adequate funding for health care and educational sectors as well as other projects. And for that matter, the government’s strategic development of every corner of Ghana has led to massive infrastructure projects (either completed or on going) across all sectors in all the 260 districts. Road construction is springing up all over the country from the north to the south. To boost agriculture production and to avoid waste there are 1 village 1 dam and 1 district 1 warehouse initiatives with greenhouses and training centres. Coupled with these, the government successfully implemented the ‘planting for food and job’ policy that has increased food export and added value to the bottom line of farmers. This policy also seeks to attract the youth to the agriculture sector. The government implemented the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) to solve social problems and to address graduate unemployment situation. This initiative alone could lead to potential meaningful employment for the youth. As part of the efforts to develop Zongo communities, the government set up the Zongo Development Fund to deliver social impacting policies and infrastructure through entrepreneurship and vocational programmes.
With the health sector, in addition to COVID-19 reliefs, there are construction of district hospitals, Infectious Disease Center, children and maternity blocks, the introduction of drone technology to immediately deliver essential health and medical supplies to remote areas, provision of 307 well equipped state of the art ambulances to all constituencies. There is also the completion and construction of water and sanitation projects in all the districts including the provision of boreholes and toilet facilities. The government is also providing 470 market related infrastructure projects including market complexes and rural markets.
Fourthly, in accordance with the government’s pledge to move the country beyond aid, it has embarked on full throttle, a large-scale industrialization agenda never witnessed before in the 4th republic. Among other projects being undertaken by the government include; the digitization of the economy, the famous 1 district 1 factory (1D1F) project to build and revive local factories — there are, so far, 183 1D1F companies which are either in operation or under construction. The rehabilitation of the entire Railway lines and the revamping and construction of airports are all already underway to improve the transportation system in the country. There are also massive investments in sea defence systems, ports and fish landing sites, as well as security, and the energy sectors. The disruptive ‘Dumsor’ era, the man-made problem that Ghanaians unwillingly became used to under the previous NDC government was put to an immediate stop under this NPP government in its first year to allow Ghanaians to enjoy continuous electricity supply. In addition, the government managed to get VW to establish an assembly plant in Ghana.
Furthermore, the timely intervention and the successful bold reforms of the banking sector saved the sector from its imminent collapse. Some of the systemic failures of the sector that have lingered on for generations and became more apparent and worst under the previous NDC government include abject lack of rigorous supervision, endemic flouting of banking laws, use of depositors’ savings as slush funds by some bank managers, owners, directors for their selfish lifestyles were extinguished in order to put the sector on a stable footing. To deepen decentralization and bring government closer to the people and put inhabitants in charge of their own affairs, the government successfully created 6 more additional regions.
Some Reservations though:
Even though one can arguably say that this government, within 4 years, has done more than what the P/NDC governments combined were able to do for their entire years in office, there are still some areas that one would have wished they had actually shown more actions than talking/preaching or promising.
For instance, their inability to prosecute fully the former NDC officials who have allegedly embezzled public funds. One stands to be corrected but the question remains why after years of shouting corruption from the roof top of the alleged corrupt practices of these former NDC officials there hasn’t been any meaningful prosecution brought to bear on these alleged malpractices yet? If the intention was to, deliberately, go soft on these former officials and allow them to go scot free (even though real crimes had been committed) so that in an event that these NPP officials also committed similar crimes and were found wanting on their day of reckoning, they would expect same soft treatment being meted out to them, then they are sorely mistaken and wrong because an average NPP voter is more politically astute and unforgiving of shortcomings of their own than they’re given credit for. This lack of clear conviction of purpose to prosecute these alleged criminals has emboldened the NDC apologists to continue to spew their ‘KGB-Giuliani-Trumpian’ style falsehoods and lies. This has allowed them to engage in shameless propaganda to deceive their gullible, undiscerning supporters to gain power by any means cruel or foul.
Also, all NPP governments have this tendency of taking things for granted with the opposition party. It’s this attitude that led this government to appoint someone from the opposition camp (against all odds and conventional wisdom) to head its maiden flagship institution purposely created to fight corruption — the office of the special prosecutor (OSP). The motive of the said appointment was understandable and the rationale behind it was sound but to choose someone who clearly has no temperament for that office and more so a cadre from the infamous senseless June 4th revolutionary era, was a recipe for delay tactics, excuses and eventual disaster.
The mentioning of the OSP recalls the government’s initiative, the Agyapa Royalties deal. This is an innovative way of maximizing profits from our enormous natural resources since the old ways haven’t helped us much to maximize our profits as a nation. A clear example is the deplorable state of our mining cities and towns, particularly Obuasi, an ancient mining area where the richest of gold is mined and has been the backbone of Ghana’s economy besides cocoa until crude oil was struck on our shores. This innovative way that has been employed by the East Asian tigers, the Gulf and Arabian states to access quick funds from offshore to maximize profits from their meagre natural resources to develop their respective countries wasn’t fully explained and thoroughly trashed out to the public.
By the way, how come these CSOs and think-tanks never came out with all these brilliant ideas of maximizing the royalties from our mineral resources until the government came out with this innovative way of possibly maximizing these royalties. All their criticisms, so far, about this deal appear to be like ‘their way’ or the ‘highway’ despite the government’s efforts to address all the legitimate concerns raised. The corruption risk assessment caused, instigated or initiated by the government to be conducted on the deal by the OSP shows the government’s genuine transparency and it’s a sign of a government which has nothing to hide, gain nor lose. Any corrupt government wanting to cheat the system wouldn’t have exposed itself to self-scrutiny by allowing an independent entity to find faults and raise red flags in its own programme so that any concern could be addressed.
Another area of concern is the lack of vigorous education and campaign to change Ghanaians’ entitlement attitude towards public property. It’s this attitude that allows some people in both civil and public institutions feel that they’re entitled to take advantage of their positions in these government institutions to enrich themselves by expecting ‘compensations/favours’ from clients for rendering the very same services they’ve been employed to do so in the first place. A comprehensive public and civil sector reforms requires complete change of attitude and mindset of some of these workers in rendering best customer service to the public and acting with integrity.
Consolidations of gains:
The NPP governments, so far, have shown to have a clear vision of development plan for Ghana in the 4th republic. The Kufuor government made giant strides with its forward-looking signature achievements like Capitation Grant scheme to achieve universal primary education, School Feeding programme to reduce hunger and malnutrition while boosting domestic food production and the National Health Insurance Scheme that abolished the ‘cash and carry’ system to provide complete health insurance to average Ghanaians for the first time. Ghana would have been a different place altogether with development and advancement had it not been interrupted by the bad NDC government for 8 solid years. Majority of Ghanaians having experienced these impactful advancements want no more interruption hence the need to vote for 4 more years for this presidency because the alternative is stalemate, retrogress and national disaster.
In conclusion, notwithstanding these teething reservations, the NPP government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo truly deserves to be given a second term in office in order to sustain the gains of achievements so far made within the space of 4 years in office. This forward-looking, laudable 21st century development agenda needs to be consolidated for the good people of this beloved country called Ghana.
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