The Ghana Development Centre (GhDC), a development policy and economic think-tank, has after a careful circumstantial and situational analysis of President John Dramani Mahama’s first one hundred days in office as President, decided to award the President an overall pass mark of sixty-seven percent (67%).
The GhDC believes that although there were significant areas of underperformance over the last hundred days, there were equally areas of bold and strong leadership, fast-paced decision-making, and clarity of purpose, which makes the President deserve the score of 67%.
Before we go on to provide justification for our marking scheme, it is important to first operationalise the 100-day concept.
The concept of ‘the first 100 days in office’ is an American invention, and traceable to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States of America (1933-1945). Available literature has it that F.D. Roosevelt entered office as President in the middle of the American Depression, which saw massive unemployment, economic collapse, and industrial breakdown.
“In his first hundred days in office, which began March 4, 1933, Roosevelt spearheaded major legislation and issued a profusion of executive orders that instituted the New Deal—a variety of programs designed to produce relief (government jobs for the unemployed), recovery (economic growth), and reform (through regulation of Wall Street, banks and transportation). The economy improved rapidly from 1933 to 1937, but then relapsed into a deep recession.” (Quoted in the Daily Post article on 16th April, 2013)
The term took on a symbolic significance thereafter and the period is considered a benchmark to measure the early success of a president.
However, Columnist for US News, Kenneth T. Walsh, wrote on 12th February 2009, that the 100-day standard is ‘not a perfect measure’, but could be a useful tool “for gauging Presidential effectiveness.”
“The underlying truth is that Presidents tend to be most effective when they first take office, when their leadership style seems fresh and new, when the aura of victory is still powerful,” he observed.
According to Walsh, Franklin D. Roosevelt was faced with the calamity of the Depression—“and he moved with unprecedented dispatch to address the problem”.
Indeed the performance of many future American Presidents within their first hundred days in office became a topical issue, which received a lot media attention.
New Presidents are expected to use their first 100 days to formally establish their Presidential footprints on their nation’s political soils. After assuming office in the midst of another economic meltdown, the current American President Barack Obama quickly began attempting to foster support for his major economic stimulus package, the ‘American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,’ within his first hundred days.
As evident from the above, there is no doubt that the 100-days in office concept is well established in American political culture. Back home in Ghana however, the story appears to be different.
The first time there was talk of the first 100-days in office of a President under the 4th Republican Constitution was in 2001 when then President John Agyekum Kufuor noted that the media and his critics did not allow him to enjoy the traditional 100-day honeymoon which he said was an established convention elsewhere.
Since there was no standard of measurement, there was no realistic way of determining whether the President has performed well or not.
Fast forward to 2008, then candidate John Evans Atta-Mills categorically outlined a specific list of targets which he hoped to achieve within his first hundred days in office. And after assuming office in January 2009, many analysts judged his performance vis-à-vis his promises and concluded that they were above average. Indeed the late President Mills awarded himself an excellent mark for the first 100-days.
The significant difference between then and now is that the ruling NDC did not set any categorical benchmarks in its 2012 manifesto by which it should be judged within the first hundred days.
This makes it difficult for anyone to do an objective analysis of the performance of the President in the said period. So comments about President John Mahama’s performance in the first 100-days would not be based on any rigorous academic standard of measurement and comparison. At best the President’s supporters would argue that they have been given a four-year mandate, and it would be prudent for Ghanaians to judge them at the end of the 4-year mandate. That for us would be a fair argument, but it still does not negate the right of citizens to subject the early performance of their President to critical analysis.
Before we get into the results of our assessment of President Mahama’s 100 days, we believe it is necessary to capture what others have said about the President’s performance.
As expected, the political opposition believes the President has failed in the 100-days. Former New Patriotic Member of Parliament for Ahafo Ano South, Stephen Balado Manu says the first hundred days of President Mahama has been characterised by misrule and unprecedented failure. He said the administration is bedeviled with a myriad of strike actions, electricity problems, water and gas shortages. (Radio Universe, Tuesday, 16 April 2013)
Another leading member of the NPP and former Attorney General Nii Ayikoi Otoo was quoted by the NPP’s Statesman Newspaper as saying, “…the performance of the president is nothing to write home about, not giving us any indication that he is prepared or capable
of tackling the hydra-headed challenges confronting the nation.” (Statesman Newspaper, 16 APRIL 2013)
Apart from IMANI, which gives the President a score of 47%, all other analysts were quite conservative in their assessments.
A Political Science Lecturer, Dr. Alidu Seidu has described the first 100 days of President Mahama’s administration as the most difficult and challenging in the governance of this country. He said the President has shown maturity in handling the energy crisis, and the labour unrest among others. Dr Seidu said even though the President has made some gains, more could have been achieved within the hundred days. (Quoted on GBC’s website, www.gbcghana.com)
Nevertheless, members of the government appear to be confident of their President’s performance so far. Minister of Lands, Forestry and Natural Resources, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini says the decisions taken by the President in the first one hundred days “shows he is decisive, and spot on issues”. Alhaji Fuseini said the energy crisis and the current labour unrest have not distracted the President but he has remained focused towards achieving the Better Ghana Agenda. (Quoted on GBC’s website, www.gbcghana.com)
The Ghana Development Centre’s assessment of the President’s first hundred days in office was based on performances in the following areas: Governance & Corruption; The Economy; National Peace and Security; Sanitation & the Environment; Foreign Policy Decisions; General Leadership; Job Creation; Health; Utilities; and Human Rights and Rule of Law.
Governance & Corruption:The Ghana Development Centre observes that although no major governance reforms or corruption legislations were announced within the first hundred days, the President has demonstrated enough commitment to ensuring that the governance institutions work to their optimum. The Centre also notes the President’s visible interest in ensuring that the recommendations of the Constitution Review Commission are implemented. We also note the President’s commitment and assurance that the Right to Information Bill (which was sent to parliament during the Mills administration) is passed into law.
On corruption, the Centre was impressed by the prompt manner in which the President responded to allegations of impropriety and conflict of interest against the former Chief Executive of the Micro and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) and institution of a formal investigation into the case. The prompt appointment of an Acting Inspector General of Police is also commendable. It has helped provide some stability to the Police Administration. For these reasons, we believe the President deserves a comfortable grade of 70% (A-).The Economy:It its 2012 election manifesto, the NDC stated a strong and resilient economy as one of its key policy pillars. The Centre salutes the President and his Finance Minister for their ability to hold the economy intact for the last 100 days despite the shuttering GH¢8 billion budget deficit for 2012. The double whammy of suffocating public debt, and the humongous budget deficit, coupled with incessant demands and pressures from the labour front could have landed any developing country economy on the tables of bankruptcy. But thanks to the personal leadership and commitment of the President, the country’s economy seems to be holding together. Inflation is still relatively low, the cedi is still relatively stable against its major trading currencies, and the country’s foreign reserves are also good.
The ability to implement a very difficult decision of removal of a significant proportion of subsidy from the pricing of petroleum products in such a robust manner is commendable. Also, the honesty and transparency demonstrated in attempting to open up and explain the causes of the crippling budget deficit could not be overlooked.
Finally, the ability to produce what the Centre considers a progressive and forward thinking national budget within such a short time is equally commendable. The Centre believes the President deserves a score of 68.5% (B+)National Peace and Security:The Centre believes the President’s performance in this important area is above average. Although Ghana came out of what has been confirmed by all as the most transparent election ever held in the country, the Presidential election challenge at the Supreme Court could have landed any typical African country into serious troubles. But the country has remained peaceful until now. The speedy appointment of an Acting IGP to take over from the retiring Paul Tawiah Quaye has led to relative stability on the police front. It has also turned out that this decision was spot on. Since his assumption of duty, Mr. Mohammed Alhassan has tried to establish his authority on the service and his decisions to increase the visibility of the police on the major streets and communities across the country has help in keeping crime down, and serving as deterrence to criminally minded persons.
The President’s personal pronouncements and reconciliatory tone has helped to keep the country together for the last 100-days. The Ghana Development Centre awards the President a score of 69% (B+) for promoting peace and national security.Sanitation and the Environment:If there was one area where clear leadership and actual commitment was lacking over the last 100-days, then it was sanitation. Although it is worth noting that the President recently launched a national urban policy, there was no way that could have resulted in a concrete action within the first 100-days. The Centre has observed that the major cities, particularly the capital Accra and the Garden City, Kumasi are still engulfed in filth. It is clear that the President is still yet to find a realistic and pragmatic solution to the waste and sanitation problem of the country. We admit though that the attitude of Ghanaians is the major cause of the sanitation problem. That notwithstanding, the Centre firmly believes that the President has failed in this area. So a mark of 36% (F) is befitting of his performance.Foreign Policy Decision:The Centre has observed that the President has made very little or no major foreign policy pronouncements in the last 100-days. Nevertheless, there is significant evidence of his growing respect and popularity among his peers in the West African sub-region, and the rest of the continent. His quiet diplomacy with the Ivorian government appears to have resulted in a significantly improved relations over the last 100 days. His engagement with colleague ECOWAS and AU heads of state has bolstered the image of Ghana greatly. He has visited Turkey on an Official Visit, and there are invitations to visit some countries in the West before the end of the year. These and the decision to accept to host Iranian President, Mohammed Ahmedinejad who incidentally is the Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement of which Ghana is a founding member, would help to reaffirm the country’s position in the group. But the absence of major pronouncements on Ghana’s foreign policy makes the President’s performance in this sector not very strong. The Centre therefore awards a score of 50% (C+) to the President.General Leadership:The Centre has noted the remarkable performance of the President in showing leadership in his first 100 days in office. He has set a new record of the fastest time ever spent in forming a government. Within the last 100 days, the President has appointed all his ministers and deputy ministers, as well as appointments into some keys positions. The President has also fully constituted the Council of State in record time. He has appointed the highest ever number of women into ministerial roles in the history of the 4th Republic. He has appointed arguably the largest ever number of young persons into ministerial and deputy roles in the history of the country. The Centre appreciates the clarity of purpose and vision on the part of the President and how he intends to lead the country for the next four years. His decision to move the Presidency from the Osu Castle to the Flagstaff House is exemplary. His personal decision to publicly file his tax returns for the year 2012 was also commendable. The Centre is therefore happy to announce an impressive 75% (A) score for the President.Job Creation:In the last 100-days, there has not been any major policy or decision by the President on how he will deal with the depressing youth and graduate unemployment problem. The much talked about GHc10 million Youth Jobs and Enterprise programme is yet to see the light of day. The allocation of funds has been captured in the Budget but the unexplained delay in implementing this programme has hurt the image and performance of the President in the last 100-days. The Centre is therefore compelled to award a measly 15% (F) to the President. Health:The Centre could not observe any major action or policy pronouncements of the President in the area of health in the last 100-days. Having said that, it is important to commend the President and his Health Minister for the excellent manner in which they have tried to manage the negative effects of the intermittent withdrawal of medical services by doctors and pharmacists in government hospitals across the country. In recognition for this, the Centre awards the President a score of 51% (C+)Utilities:The President handed to himself a major power and water crisis. It was the expectation of many Ghanaians that this would be brought under control. However, within the first 100-days, the power crisis did not end. It rather got worse with numerous missed and misleading deadlines. As if that was not enough, the Ghana Water Company also announced a water rationing exercise caused by broken down filters. In the midst of all these calamities, the underperforming utility companies were seriously lobbying for utility tariffs to be increased. We consider that as bad judgement.Human Rights and Rule of Law:An area of great concern for the Ghana Development Centre is the Rambo-style nature in which alleged Chinese illegal miners are arrested and treated. The number of reported cases of shoot-to-kill policy of the police towards alleged armed robbers in the last 100-days is worrying. Although the security agencies could be absolved of blamed because they are performing their law enforcement duties, it could equally be argued that these could have been handled in a better manner. Generally, we believe the President could not be blamed too much for the above. But the environment for the rule of law in the country is still solid. We give the President a score of 52% (C+)Summary:
The Ghana Development Centre admits that the concept of the first 100-days in office is not founded in law, and there is no objective standard or benchmark for judging a President’s performance in office for these few days. Nonetheless, Presidents are naturally expected to use the time to establish their footprints strongly on their nation’s soil.The Centre believes that the first 100-days of office of President John Dramani Mahama could best be described as a mixed bag. On assumption of office on January 7, 2013, the President was greeted with the calamitous ‘dumso-dumso’ (load shedding), water rationing, shuttering budget deficit, suffocating public debt, chaotic labour agitationsDespite all the above, we believe the President has carried himself maturely, and his overall performance is quite creditable. Hence our decision to award him an overall score of 67% (B+) based purely on merit.We gladly welcome criticism, debates, and counter ratings on our assessments and conclusions above. We believe that will help in strengthening our democracy.
JDM: First 100-days Results Table
General Marking Scheme: