Arthur K: “A broken Ghana” instead of “A better Ghana”.


It is a year since the NDC swept into office promising “A BETTER GHANA”. For a President who graded his own performance proudly after his first hundred days, much was naturally expected in the first year.

There has been little.

There has, as expected, been an abundance of commentary. Some chroniclers of the Mills court, in the hallowed traditions of Squealer of “Animal Farm” and Goebbels of Hitler and the Third Reich, are loudly proclaiming that this is indeed our finest hour. The many who are not in the grips of sycophancy, however, know better.

In the judgement of the many well-meaning Ghanaians, including this author, the glee with which some are “celebrating” the obvious failures of this administration is surprising and unbecoming. The truth is that the failures of the Mills administration have been our collective failures and its successes, to the extent that they exist, were our collective successes.

It recalls the shocking glee with which some misguided Ghanaians celebrated the failure of ex-President Kufuor to win the coveted “Mo Ibrahim Prize”. President Kufuor’s honour would have been Ghana’s honour just as the NDC’s success would have been Ghana’s success.

On the performance of the NDC so far in government, there have been really very few things to write home about— like our victory in the World Under-20 tournament, our qualification for the World Cup and President Obama choosing Ghana as the only country in black Africa to visit in his first year. Honestly, careful examination of these successes will show that the foundations for them were laid while President Mills was toiling in the wilderness of opposition. Take Obama’s visit for instance. The visit was to recognize Ghana as a reliable partner and to acknowledge our strides in democracy—both mainly as result of things done by the Rawlings and Kufuor administrations.

To get to the crux of the matter, the failures of this administration have been legion. They range from the President, through the Presidency, to our international standing, violence, the rule of law, our political parties and our economy.

Let me begin with his Excellency. The normally erudite Professor has had difficulty sometimes with his delivery, including taking his oath properly but that is a minor point. The part about his tenure that should bother all of us is that he has had difficulty being taken seriously. Early in his term, he felt obliged to inform Ghanaians that we had voted for only one President! As to who was trying to be the second President, he never told us. Then recently, during his anniversary Press conference, it was revealed that he could not even get his own appointees to declare their assets as he had directed. When asked, he asked that the question be directed to his Ministers.

Well, that made me recall former Presidents Rawlings and Kufuor fondly. JJ would have pounded the table before a few Ministers to emphasize his point and JAK would have said “If you have failed to declare your assets as I directed fa madwuma ma me!” And that would have been the end of that. The Presidency has been an amateur show.

On an average day, there are at least two messages coming out of the Presidency— that is if Zita is quiet—one from Koku and the other from Ayariga and they are seldom the same.

On the corruption front, the President, who is regarded as not personally entangled in such matters has taken to defending the practice of Ministers travelling with their concubines abroad with the excuse that it has always been done and his definitions of corruption has become so convoluted that the wags are joking that the President now finds out the party of the offender before giving his definition. Now while he is passionately against corruption by former NPP operatives and is committed to jailing all offenders, actual and imagined, he is just as passionately against finding corruption in the ranks of the NDC, past or present.

Along the way, the corrupting of our democratic processes and institutions continues on pace. Just as DCE/MCE etc seats were bought, positions are being bought right before our eyes in the governing party. Last week, the losing candidate in the NDC National Youth Organizer race went on the record, to state that his better financed candidate, Ludwig Hlordzie, had in effect, bought the race. The NPP is yet to show that it is better than the NDC in this.

Our international standing has fallen “keke”. A few years ago, our President was such a regular fixture at G-8 summits that some started wondering whether they should be renamed G-9 with Ghana as the 9th member. Within a year of Mr. Kufuor’s exit, we are not even getting invitations to G-20 summits.

On the culture of violence and intimidation, Bawku, Tamale and Yendi are just as unsafe as the NDC came to meet them and Agbogbloshie has been added. In addition, we are making routine the specter of violence during our elections as demonstrated by the two by-elections last year and the party primaries now under way in both the NPP and the NDC. By the way, where are all those religious leaders who were praying for peace during the 2008 elections? Is peace any less important now than it was then?

Surprisingly, under the Law Professor turned President, the rule of law has been one of the major casualties. Non-judicial officers, including the BNI Director have brazenly and indiscreetly announced pending prosecutions for corruption and thus irreversibly tainted the coming trials while the President looked on. The BNI has trampled on people’s due process rights while receiving praise from the President. Commendably, the courts have shown some praiseworthy intolerance for that.

Our economy has lost the buoyancy of the Kufuor years due to a combination of global difficulties and irresponsible conduct by the government. The irresponsible conduct has been manifested by a desire to question every agreement signed by the previous government and threats to investigate such deals, while the Central Bank, in defiance of basic laws of economics has kept interest rates and the cost of money high while they have been falling around the globe. The result of this is that investor confidence has been undermined significantly. As a result of this loss of confidence, while the young elsewhere have been focused on technology, some of our youth—indeed too many of them, have been focused on gaining control of toilets!

Our political parties have not fared well. Both the NDC and the NPP have been in the throes of divisive forces threatening to tear them apart. The NDC has at times not looked like a responsible governing party at all while the NPP, beset by its own internal problems, have not been an effective opposition. Indeed, former President Rawlings alone has been a more effective critic of the Mills administration that the entire NPP Parliamentary group. He has been a prophet Jeremiah, out there in the wilderness, exposing the mediocrity of his party’s Ministers and the dullness of the Mills presidency.

Indeed, the joy with which this former dictator has taken to partisan politics and the battle against our return to the “culture of silence” that he introduced must be commended by all. It is a great service to his party and our country. In response to the divisive forces unleashed in both major parties, they are trending towards a new theocracy and sycophancy that tolerates no dissent. Spokesmen of party establishments are quick to pronounce “fatwas” on any dissenters and threaten them with reprisals in a manner completely alien to the democratic culture.

Just as the successes enumerated at the beginning of this piece do not have their roots in the Mills government, most of the failures predated the Mills administration. They have just accentuated most of them and added a few of their own for good measure. The problem is that our nation does not have time to waste. President Nkrumah said that we were so far behind in development that we should achieve in decades what others had achieved in centuries. On that timeline, a year is a long time.

Let the President and his government realize that no government can succeed just on its record of persecuting its opponents. To succeed, the NDC needs to do things for real people.

Things like the provision of roads, schools, hospitals, peace, jobs, and to quote the NDC’s campaign “putting some money in peoples’ pockets”.

In 2012, if the NDC has delivered on most of these things, nothing that others say will matter to the people. There will be a “BETTER GHANA” and the people will know.

On the other hand, if it fails to deliver on these things, regardless of how many opponents are in jail or how long the President’s convoys are, it will be a “BROKEN GHANA” and the people will know it.

Let us move forward, together and have a great Year!

Credit: Arthur Kobina Kennedy.