At long last, the battle for a search of flag bearer for the largest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has come to an end in Ghana when last Saturday the 23rd day of February, 2019, the Electoral Commission, declared former president, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, winner among 6 other contenders for the position of leader of the party. By 01:00GMT Sunday, the final results were announced, giving the former president a resounding victory with 95.23 percent of total valid votes cast, polling 213,487 votes of a total valid votes of 224,184. He came up in this contest with the likes of Hon. Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, the Member of Parliament forNadoli Kaleo, and 2nd Deputy Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Professor Joshua Alabi, former Rector of the University of Professional Studies – Accra (UPSA), Mr. Sylvester AdinamMensah, former Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Dr. Ekow Spio Gabrah, a former minister, Mr. Goosie Tanor, and Alhaji Nurudeen Iddrisu, a business man.
In an election that was marked to be peaceful without any recordof an incidence aimed at marring the beautiful exercise, enthusiastic delegates, made up mainly of branch executives, constituency executives, regional executives, national executives, and former appointees, were seen across the various 275 constituencies in the country with an additional polling centre created at the party’s headquarters at Adabraka, engaging in their civic duties of electing a flag bearer to lead the party into the 2020 elections with the hope of winning the mandate of the larger Ghanaian public to take back the country and to steer its affairs.
The National Democratic Congress, lost the 2016 elections in a bid to secure a historic third term running, to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in what members of the party have described as painful. The then candidate and president of the Republic, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, handed power to Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo.
The 2016 elections was conducted with what NDC members,including the former president, described as vile propaganda against his regime. The nation had witnessed massive infrastructural development from across the country with every single District said to be witnessing one project or the other.
What makes his victory at the internal polls significant is that he comes up against which ever candidate the NPP brings up with a huge record of achievements, can speak to his very conduct as leader, and can take the government on on its projects and policies on the various sectors and their impact on the lives of the citizens since he had been there before.
Former President Mahama, having led the country as president, had suffered various forms of attacks, the most being allegations of corruption. Corruption, even in advanced countries, remains a challenge to deal with. What is significant in the fight against corruption, is the way and manner a leader shows commitment in dealing with it, reflecting in the will to hand over appointees to be dealt with by the state when allegations of corruption are made against them.
Notwithstanding the numerous allegations that were made against appointees in his government, we saw efforts made to allow the investigative bodies to take their position and to investigate issues of corruption under his government to the extent that some of his own appointees were processed before court. Even though some individuals internally might not be satisfied about the decision to have tried, his own people in court, many were of the view that such a decision is in the right direction, and borne out of a strong will to run a country that is safe of corruption. Today, we are witnesses to a government that has been hit with allegations of corruption, some of which have been openly admitted, but without the political will from the president, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, to deal with them decisively.
In his manner of handling allegations of corruption, it appears President Akufo-Addo is running his government with a strategic mind’s game. To him, it appears once no member of his government is standing trial for corruption, then everyone would believe he is running a clean government. As a result, he took up a very strange approach of wiping clean, every case of corruption brought to his attention. On top of the head, one can easily remember how he dealt with cases like the contaminated millions of litres of oil at the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport (BOST) where procurement breaches were cited in the discharge of the said litres of oil by the then Chief Executive Officer;Kelni GVG where issues were raised with the manner the contract was awarded and the cost involved; Cash for Seat where extortion was cited using the presidency to extract monies from businessmen at a meeting with the president; Oslo Gate in which a property was said to have been acquired at a price that was believed to be overly inflated in Oslow, among others. In addition, his handling of cases of corruption at the Ghana Cylinder Company, Ghana Maritime Authority, Ghana Export Promotion Council, etc., are issues that are measurable in the eye of the public.
Evidently, the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by Transparency International, has passed a damming verdict on President Akufo-Addo’s handling of issues of corruption, automatically, disapproving of his formula of clearing his appointees of allegations of corruption, aimed mainly at creating the impression that he is working with angels.
The 2020 elections would mark a significant mile stone in Ghana’s democracy. The NDC stands a greater chance of cutting short the mandate of the NPP after a single term in office considering the performance of the government so far. In managing the economy, even though there are efforts aimed at presenting some solid macro and micro economic indicators, it stands contrary to the reality on the ground. In the past, when Ghana’s current vice president, Dr. Mahamud Bawumia led attacks on institutions of state anytime they released their economic figures, and cast doubt on their credibility, the heads of those institutions were neither agents nor assigns of the NDC. How can same figures be believed when today, such institutions are headed and populated by family members, agents, assigns, business partners, and former colleagues of people in government? Is it possible for the Bank of Ghana, following the footsteps of Dr. Bawumia, to release figures and be seen to be on the side of independence when the institution is headed by a brother to the lead lawyer of the NPP in their election petition case of 2013 and former parliamentary candidate of KlotteyKorley, populated with former colleagues of the current Minister of Finance who is himself a cousin to the president? This begs the question.
Fortunately, in his measurement standards, Dr. Bawumia made it simple with these quotes “when in doubt, observe the exchange rate”. With these words in mind, today, the exchange rate is worse than before. Today, a dollar is exchanging for Ghc5.25 and to the pound, Ghc6.7 per pound. When they inherited an exchange rate of a dollar to Cedi at 4.2, “observing the exchange rate” today, can we be in doubt of the performance of the economy? Today, importers are complaining of astronomicincreases in the cost of clearing goods at the port which some pegged at 100 percent and more. This cannot be a performing economy, when on top of that as a result of the cost attached to clearing these goods, prices of these goods that eventually findtheir way onto the market are on a constant rise.
It is important to note that the NPP, then in opposition, made the case that they would protect the public purse, with vile attempts at attacking the then government of President Mahama of running a large government. Today, while the then administration was run on a ministerial portfolio of 86 ministers, the Akufo-Addo government is running on a list of 111 ministers, with threats of rising to 123 following the creation of six new regions. In addition, the list of presidential staffers increased from a little above 600 under President Mahama to over 1,600 under President Akufo-Addo.
Ghanaians, under the administration of President Mahama, who were buying a gallon of petrol at a cost of Ghc14 but are today,buying same for Ghc23. At the time it was selling for Ghc14, we were told that the price per gallon was high and a sign of the insensitive nature of the Mahama administration. If we could not justify the sale of a gallon of petrol at Ghc14, can we justify the sale of same for Ghc23? This is how far things have deteriorated. Adding, there were allegations of the Mahama administration running what they called family and friends government. At the time, the only family member of the president was Mrs. Joyce Bawah Mugtari, a holder of LLM, Maritime Law. This, we were told, was so wrong to have warranted the description of his government as being a “family and friends government”. Today, we have a government in which the president has appointed his own daughter, his direct cousin as Finance Minister, his ‘baby Mama’ as an ambassador, his former business associates, his kinsmen are spotted at every sector of the economy. If one was wrong under Mahama, how can this magnitude be accepted under Akufo-Addo?
The elections of 2020, provides a clean platform for the two leading political parties to tell Ghanaians what they have done. In particular, if the current president, Nana Akufo-Addo would be brought back for a second term bid, he would have an opportunity to map his first term against that of John Dramani Mahama who is now the leader of the NDC. When you were given the opportunity, with the resources at your disposal, what did you do with it? This is a question that would be on the lips of Ghanaians.
Ghana is a developing nation. Even though several schools of thoughts have dealt with the subject of development in different forms, making the subject a matter of relativity, for a developing nation that is lacking infrastructure in road, health, education, water, and until recently, electricity, there is no substitute for physical infrastructure. The people require the construction of their roads, building of schools from basic level to the university, provision of water, both to urban and rural communities, extension of electricity to every part of the country, the provision of hospitals and making healthcare accessible to people wherever they are.
In the period ahead of us, and into the 2020 elections, the NDC, with its leader in front, would compose a policy plan – manifesto, to outline how it intends coming back to finish off what it started. There is no alternative to trade for our domestic traders, to providing them with the needed market infrastructure. In this regard, the Kotokuraba Market, the Ho Market, the newly completed Kejetia Market, among others, comes in handy. These are modern markets that allow access to all aspects of services needed to facilitate trade.
In a nation that is burnt on ensuring that majority, if not all of its citizens are educated, government has no alternative to building schools. In this regard, also, the Community Day Senior High School concept, the likes of University of Health and Allied Sciences in Sokode near Ho, the University of Sustainable Development in the Eastern Region, among others, built by the NDC, comes in handy.
There is no alternative to the provision of physical infrastructure in health, to building hospitals and medical infrastructure across the country. To this end, the likes of Ridge Hospital, University of Ghana Medical Centre, Dodowa District Hospital, FomenaDistrict Hospital, Wa Regional Hospital, Bolgatanga RegionalHospital, Kumasi Regional Hospital, Kumasi 37 Military Hospital, Madina Polyclinic, Gomoa Dawurampong Polyclinic, among the numerous other polyclinics, district hospitals, CHPS compounds across the country, comes in handy.
There is also no alternative to providing decent traveling experiences other than building physical roads, railways, airports, among others. In all of these sectors, Ghanaians can see the handwriting of the former president and now leader and flag bearer of the NDC, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama years after he had left office. The Pokuase Interchange remains his baby, the Tema Roundabout and Tema Motorway expansion project, the Obetsebi Lamptey Roundabout near Kaneshie (yet to be started), all remains his babies. Ghana’s physical infrastructure, to a very large extent, in their modern form, can be attributed to his vision. He had a plan outlined for his government, and was guided to improve the infrastructure deficit of the nation in his term as president of the Republic.
It was a beautiful event in the early hours of Sunday, when he called on all his contenders to come on board and to help him and the NDC secure victory in 2020. What was even remarkable was the fact that even before his speech, all his six other contenders had called him to concede defeat and to promise their total support towards ensuring victory in the 2020 elections.
The National Democratic Congress can achieve its objective into the 2020 elections standing united, and working together as a team. That is why the support given the winner by the various other aspirants is significant. The aspirants must go a step further to ensure they engage their various supporters to put aside whatever differences that may have arisen during the internal contest to ensure that the overall objective is achieved. While at that the supporters of the flag bearer must put aside also, any acts or words that may have created disaffection, to ensure that the campaign for 2020 is all-inclusive. What has passed was a battle of ideas, and no contest comes without division among ideas. Once the delegates have reposed confidence in a candidate, they are in effect, ordering everyone in line for the common agenda. The nation requires a formidable force, and having governed this country than any other political tradition, the NDC has no alternative than to stand together into 2020.