I recall many years ago while schooling in Cape Coast that an English Teacher who had just arrived in Ghana for the first time picked on the promotion of a local football match between the Venomous Vipers and the Mysterious Dwarfs, in a Friday edition of the Daily Graphic.
I recall the Englishman smirking and remarking that a match between a venomous viper and a mysterious dwarf ought to be a “must watch” just to see how dwarfs (who are mysterious) can outwit vipers (who are venomous) or vice versa. What I don’t recall, is the outcome of the duel or the Englishman’s fulfillment of his curiosity. Suffice it to say that the rest is history.
As Ghana prepares for Election 2016, the 6th in this 4th Republic, preparations and commentaries have started to emerge in various forms and outlets, and in this 21st Century where the social media appears to carry the day, I am yet to hear of the battle between “The Thieves” and “The Stealers”.
In advance of this mythically mysterious and venomous billing, I am reminded of an opposition politician’s assessment made a few years ago of the government: “These people are not THIEVES oh, they are STEALERS”. This use of the word “stealers” generated so much ridicule and media attention until a morning show host read a dictionary definition to prove that “stealers”, though rarely used, did not just drop from nowhere.
The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has long maintained that the two leading political parties in Ghana amount to the same thing—dukadaya. Just as thieves and stealers both commit robbery, both the current NDC administration and the NPP have kept Ghana in a backwards slide due to their mishandling of the nation’s finances; and both therefore deserve to be in the Jail House and not the Flagstaff House or the Parliament House.
A former President has recommended Nsawam to one of the robbers but to avoid collusion in the jail house, prudent and precautionary measures suggest that the thief must be made to find a home at the Usher Fort while the stealer is made to reside in Nsawam.
Ghana remains a nation made poor by clueless, mediocre leadership, unprepared to meet the challenges of the day and to use forward looking vision and self-determination to overcome the challenges we face. We are still divided along ethnic lines and by politics of hate and a winner takes all system locked in a death struggle between the NDC and the NPP that defines every problem and opportunity in the land.
Consequently, if ever there was a time to rethink how Ghana chooses its Chief Executive Officer and Law Makers to occupy the Flagstaff House and Parliament House; this is it, right now – to get serious about the process. But why should we worry about 2016 now when the Nation has many other pressing issues to deal with?
Because the two leading political parties who have profited from the system’s many imperfections are busy trying to lock down the next election with a broad strategy to marginalize genuine fresh ideas and new approaches, limit Presidential debates, and undermine the ability of the grassroots to distinguish between competence and incompetence, so that a coronation of their Candidate may occur.
Faced with this prospect, progressives need to focus on 2016 now in order to expand the debate and make real the promise of democracy with the need to identify and promote reformers who seek a cure and reforms that will offer the promise of hope. A few recommended reforms below will suffice.
We (PPP) believe the introduction of the Independent public Prosecutor would prevent what appears to be state-sponsored corruption as the current arrangements make it possible for government officials to engage in wrongful termination of contracts with impudence while others orchestrate and cover up activities in the booming judgment debt industry.
The PPP wants to strengthen Parliament to perform its legislative duties effectively and will encourage the constitutional reform to abolish the provision that allows Ministers of State to also serve as Members of Parliament believing that this move will make a large pool of qualified, experienced, and talented Ghanaians whose expertise is currently unused and therefore lost to Ghana, available for governance.
Concurrent with this objective is the solid determination to give Parliament the facilities and resources needed to pass good laws and critically and constructively review proposals submitted by the President.
The PPP has identified problems with the implementation of the Political Parties Law which the EC since the nation’s Fourth Republic began in 1992 has not enforced that is, Political Parties must:
1.Be national in Character
2.Have offices opened in at least two-thirds of all districts in the country
3.Have officers elected at the constituency, regional and national levels under the supervision of the EC, and
4.Provide Financial Reports
As it stands, the EC has not only failed to audit existing political parties throughout this Fourth Republic, but it has also never published the entire polling station results for any of the five elections so far held under its auspices, thus, denying researchers the ability to organize and analyze the data. (This would be a good time for the EC to release the 2012 polling station data for all 22,002 polling stations while it considers moving to a fully electronic voting system similar to that used in Brazil, Mexico, etc. as a step to restoring integrity to our electoral process. But I will not hold my breath.)
The PPP wants to ensure that our schools offer quality, affordable education that will improve the career prospects and life expectations of our youth. In a nation of over 25 million people, it should be worrying that only 241,000 students completed a 12-year basic education and qualified to take the West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE).
It should cause alarm that out of this 241,000, less than 30% passed. We want to implement solutions such as adding kindergarten to the public school system; introducing a compulsory element in FCUBE; and building a sports facility in every district.
The PPP will work to ensure that every household in this country enjoys uninterrupted water and power supply; that our inner cities witness significant renewal in sanitation and housing; that our road infrastructure is not only expanded but also made safer for our people; that district chief executives are elected at the local level; and that the purchasing power of government is used to support local enterprises.
Even in this era of big money and big spin election campaigns we must draw attention to the need to control money in politics and turn attention to the work of expanding the economy to absorb the youth. The system of legalized bribery, as has been practiced in previous elections must cease. Presidential elections should involve citizens shaping the character, the content, and the direction the Nation should consider, as very important.
Ghana in 2012 had worse-than-expected deficit that triggered a 40 per cent increase in the public debt, which went up from Gh₵ 24 billion (42.6 percent of GDP) in 2011 to Gh₵ 33.5 billion (46.7 percent GDP) in 2012. The effect and impact of the recent rise in petroleum prices has also imposed hardship of all types on the working poor.
The NPP and NDC have both cost Ghana too much, for too long. Bizarre revelations by various commissions and media outlets have exposed how flagrant violations of financial improprieties by both leading parties have caused financial loses to the state throughout the 4th Republic. Here are a few examples:
1.Media reports indicate that the current Commissioner of CHRAJ currently stays at the Best Western Hotel where the taxpayer is billed $450 USD daily—bleeding Ghana’s coffers of more than $148,000 USD in rent alone. Likewise, President Mahama—after huge sums of money were spent to furnish Flagstaff House—still occupies the bungalow he moved into as Vice President, while Vice President Amissah-Arthur also continues to stay in the Bank of Ghana (BoG) Governor’s residence, forcing the current Governor to live elsewhere at tax payers’ expense. No wonder the CHRAJ Boss’s alleged extravagant and reckless dissipation of public funds on accommodation has gone unnoticed for over 3 years.
2.The scandal involving the payment of Gh₵144 million to Subah Infosolutions Ltd., a subsidiary of Zoomlion Ghana Ltd for no work done.
3.Government’s struggle to retrieve €47 million illegally paid as judgment debt to Waterville while Gh₵51 million was also paid to businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
4.The Gh₵47m controversial guinea fowl, afforestation project sponsored by the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA)
5.In 2011 alone, according to the Auditor-General, Ghana lost a whopping Gh₵173,174,541 because of financial irregularities alone. He lamented that “The cataloguing of financial irregularities in my Report on MDAs and Other Agencies has become an annual ritual that seems to have no effect because affected MDAs are not seen to be taking any effective action to address the basic problems of lack of monitoring and supervision and non-adherence to legislation put in place to provide effective financial management of public resources”, and about “poor cash management practices resulting in failure to pay revenue collected into the Consolidated Fund, tax irregularities and un-authorised payments, as well as non-availability of adequate records on revenue collected”
6.The immoral acquisition of a state bungalow by Mr. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey which was dismissed by the Supreme Court on a technicality that the issue of abuse of office and conflict of interest were supposed to have been filed at the Commission For Human Rights and Administration Justice (CHRAJ) forgetting that a similar purchase by the Chief Justice was quickly abandoned when news of the sale became public.
7.The controversy surrounding the $24million USD sale of the Ghana National Petroleum Company’s (GNPC’) Discovery 115 drill ship, by Mr. K.T. Hammond to compromise a suit that had been taken against GNPC and the government of Ghana by Societe Generale, in a bid to pay a settlement of $19.5 million USD.
I could go on listing incident after incident to prove both the NDC and the NPP have abetted and profited from the system’s many imperfections, but Ghanaians are well aware, as a recent survey shows that Ghanaians have little to no trust in the country’s leadership.
Every election cycle is an opportunity to shape our future and in 2016 we will have a clear choice and a chance to elect to the Parliament House and to the Flagstaff House, Progressives who believe that our economy and democracy should work for everyone every day, for the Prosperity of all in Peace, including those on the National Daily Minimum Wage (NDMW), which for 2014 was increased by 14.5 per cent, from Gh₵5.24 to Gh₵ 6.00 per day.
As citizens committed to progress, prosperity, and peace in our nation, we cannot allow the two leading parties to engage in politics as usual—hurling insults at each other for doing the very thing they are doing or have done—while nothing gets done to improve the lives of Ghanaians. Progressives need to focus on Election 2016 now, so that we can expand the debate.
The PPP, as a party of the future, has come to stay and if we are to build a Better Ghana from the Private Sector, which is the Engine of Growth, then the people of Ghana need to be wide Awake under the Sun to achieve Prosperity in Peace.
So which will it be in 2016? The Venom or The Mystery? The Thieves or The Stealers?
Well, because I am angry and hope you are too, I say the wide AWAKE progressives – The Progressive People’s Party – PPP. Party Papa Paa.
Over to you Ghana. I hope you remain Awake.
God Bless our Homeland Ghana.