JM’S 100 Days; So Far So…..

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 marks exactly hundred days since President John Dramani Mahama was duly sworn in as Head of State of Ghana after having been declared winner of the 2012 election by the Electoral Commission (EC) on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC.

In line with a worldwide tradition, the first hundred days of Presidents are assessed to highlight achievements and shortfalls. It is against this background that President Mahama’s administration is no exception.

President Mahama’s tenure has been perhaps the most challenging since the 4th Republic. It is however refreshing to acknowledge that, in spite of the challenges that greeted the Mahama-led administration; the President has been able to maintain strong economic growth in real and nominal terms in all sectors of the economy.

Though the President is yet to make other appointments, he has successfully put in place a functioning government within the first hundred days; out of which the budget statement and economic policy for the 2013 fiscal year has been presented and approved by Parliament.

And, no matter your political persuasion, one cannot help, but to give the Mahama administration some deserving credit. Though, and admittedly, the Mahama administration just like any other government in the world worth its sort, has made certain avoidable mistakes that, in natural sense should not form the basis on which the young government should be lambasted and discouraged.

Watching and following President Mahama’s every move over the past one hundred days, it leads to one conclusion; the man came to the office ready and well prepared.

Despite the main opposition party challenging his legitimacy, the President remains unshaken and has not used state apparatus to witch hunt his political opponents.

This outmost display of candor and political tolerance, even in the face of extreme provocations by elements within the biggest opposition party reflects the relative peace and unity the country is enjoying against the wish of others who have threatened mayhem and bloodbath.

In the midst of all of the refreshing happenings, the President’s budget as presented to parliament by the Finance Minister, Seth Emmanuel Tekper spelled out laudable targets that will give the country, especially the infrastructure outlook of the nation a major facelift, whiles focusing on job creation and investing in agriculture through prudent and accountable management of proceeds from the oil find.

Basically, he wants to cut back on government spending and channel a lot of the savings into social programs and infrastructural projects that will help improve the lives of the many poor in the country.

In fact, one of President Mahama’s best offerings over the past one hundred days was his brilliant address at the 56th Independence Day celebration, where he called on all Ghanaians to accept collective responsibility for the woes of the country and as such, must put their shoulders to the wheel and with a collective interest work towards ameliorating the challenges.

In the face of all these success stories, the President’s attribute as a decisive person has been brought to bear over the past hundred days. Whiles many Presidents facing the same challenges as President Mahama may have caved-in, the President remained resolute and took bold but difficult decisions, which he defended and rationalized creditably.

Among the difficult and bold decisions the President took was the increment of fuel prices in the midst of protestations of civil society of hardship in the country, the unprecedented reshuffle of regional Ministers from their native regions to other regions, which was geared towards fostering national cohesion and unity.

The late President was credited for forming his government with relatively young and enterprising men and women, but President Mahama’s appointments so far has surpassed that record, as most of his appointees are under age fifty; not forgetting the about thirty percent of females he has given the opportunity to serve in his government.

Good governance keeps featuring prominently in the Mahama-led administration. The judiciary, the security services, the media, statutory organizations such as the Commission on Human Right and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Judiciary, Parliament and Civil society have all been allowed free hand to operate without any interference or manipulation from the Executive,

Base on the retooling of some state institutions, we can also give a clean bill of health to the security situation in the country as of today. The Police, Ambulance Service and Fire Service are ever ready than before to protect and render selfless service to the citizenry. This is another feat worth commending.

Power rationing, acute water shortage, non-availability of gas which became a major problem to some extent has been checkmated. There has been a tremendous improvement in the supply of water and electricity. Liquefied Petroleum Gas is now available at almost all supply points, a development that has brought respite to both domestic and commercial users of the commodity.

Under the leadership of President Mahama, the Bui dam is on-going and near completion, a project when completed could possibly see Ghana as a net exporter of energy to other African countries.

A development that has sparked hopes among Ghanaians is how the President handled and continues to handle the unprecedented labor agitations that greeted his administration.

To cap the President’s high points, mentioned must be made of the processes being put in place to implement the priority projects highlighted in the 2013 manifesto of the NDC. So far, the President has set up a priority project committee that will work on ensuring that the Eastern region gets a public university and 200 Senior High schools are built across the country together with other priority projects.

As characteristic of all humans, the President’s hundred days in office has not been without unpardonable and avoidable gaffes. In as much we join in the chorus to sing the song of praise whenever some positive gains are made by the administration, there is also the need to point out where the government falls short in order to attract remedial measures.

The biggest challenge of the Mahama-led administration is communication. For the past hundred days, the government is yet to find its feet in so far as information flow is concerned. Mentioned can be made of how the Information and Media Relations Minister, Mahama Ayariga goofed on the President’s relationship with Andrew Solomon, the purported renaming of the seat of government from its original name since colonial days to Jubilee Flag Staff House.

Instead of the government setting the agenda on which issues to be debated by the populace, it had rather adopted a reactionary posture and always waiting for the main opposition party to raise an issue before they come to defend.

The government hasn’t also been proactive with its responses in confronting or in defending major issues that crop up. They keep the explanations to themselves and after the airwaves have been polluted with falsehood and half-truths, they then come out with the full facts. Cases in point were the Turkey Gold incident and the hanging pilgrimage of Pastors to Jerusalem.

Another challenge facing the Mahama-led administration, which if not checked could spell doom is the perceived lack of wider consultations with his party hierarchy in taking critical decisions, leading to some of them accusing him of being a domestic dictator.

This development is breeding anger among the rank and file of the party, who thinks President Mahama has marginalized the experienced hands in the party, who could have used their rich experiences in governance to help him prosecute the Better Ghana Agenda.

For this reason the President’s action has created a discord between the presidency and the NDC party; to the extent that, for the first time in the political history of the country, and in just hundred days in office, some leading members of his party are lacing their boots to unseat him at the party’s next congress to elect flag bearer.

In all, despite making some errors, the President has so far performed remarkably well and it is expected that he will do a serious post-mortem of his first hundred days as President and use the results as a benchmark to guide him in fulfilling the manifesto pledge of the ruling party.