General News of Thursday, 8 January 2015
Source: Today Newspaper
Yesterday, January 7, 2015 was exactly two years when President John Dramani Mahama was sworn into office as the 4th successive President in the Fourth Republic of the country.
Until his investiture, President Mahama was the caretaker President, following the demise in July 2012 of Professor John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills, the then substantive President, to whom the former was his vice.
President Mahama won the 2012 General Elections by obtaining 5,574.761 votes representing 50.70 per cent whilst his closet rival, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP,) garnered 5,248.989 representing 47.74 per cent.
Mathematically, President Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) won the 2012 presidential elections with a difference of about 325 votes. And by that victory, though the NPP contested that result at the Supreme Court, political pundits argued that President Mahama’s campaign message was full of hope and that might have reposed the confidence of Ghanaians in him, hence his victory.
Indeed President Mahama in his inaugural speech waxed lyrical with great optimism for the country and pledged to keep the promises he made in on his campaign trail.
He emphasised that Ghana was on the road to achieving enormous transformation and was moving forward at a rapid pace with new resources and alliances being formed.
But two years down the lane after his assumption into the highest office of the land, Today can confidently say that most of the promises made by the Mahama administration to Ghanaians still remained unfulfilled. And only God knows when those promises will be fulfilled!
Among these promises were solving the unemployment situation, making the energy crisis a thing of the past, improving education and infrastructures; stemming down corruption and solving the water shortage problem.
Others were good governance, tackling the environment, making the economy strong and building strong institutions by way of resourcing them adequately.
However, a critical analysis by Today on President Mahama’s two years in office shows that the president’s performance has been nothing more than abysmal which has brought untold hardships on Ghanaians.
On the issue of energy, in the run-up to the 2012 elections at the Institute of Economic Affairs’ (IEA) Presidential Debate in Tamale in the Northern region, President Mahama who was also the presidential candidate of the NDC promised that load shedding would be a thing of the past by the end of 2013, claiming that 820 megawatts would be added to the generation mix.
He re-inforced his commitment to solving the energy crisis when in January 2013 in his State of the Nation Address in Parliament he averred “that I shall work to ensure that every household in this country will soon enjoy uninterrupted water and power supply.”
But two years after that pledge, load shedding has reached an alarming stage with unpredicted interruptions causing havoc to homes and industries.
The fact of the matter was that the energy crisis rather worsened in 2014 with no immediate end in sight.
There were several protests by Ghanaians as a result of that which saw many Ghanaians hit the streets and threatening to beat Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) officials. And following the power cuts many companies were compelled to lay off some of their staff as a means of cutting down operational cost.
In fact, that worrying situation compelled President Mahama to relieve the then Managing Director of ECG, Rev. Ing. William Hutton-Mensah of his post.
In dealing with unemployment President Mahama promised to provide meaningful jobs to Ghanaian youth to help rid off the incidence of armed robbery in society and also alleviate poverty.
He added to this promise that he would ensure that the Ghanaian youth would find money in their pockets by giving them decent and gainful employments. But the story is completely different as the unemployment situation has worsened under the current administration.
For instance, for the first time in the history of Ghana, an Association of Unemployed Graduates was formed under the watch of President Mahama.
Education and infrastructure
In the areas of education and infrastructure, what the president said in 2012 is contrary to the current situation.
In his 2013 State of the Nation Address President Mahama said: “Our young minds desirous of opportunities for basic and secondary education shall have the space in our schools and shall have quality, affordable education that will improve their career and life expectations.”
He further promised to improve the country’s education at all levels – however, the Basic Education and Certificate Examination (BECE) has recorded worst results since his assumption into office.
Instead, only tea cups embossed with the president’s portrait had been given to these pupils.
Further, in pursuance with continuity, President Mahama also promised to provide all basic school pupils with school uniforms and eliminate all schools under trees.
Nevertheless, contrary to these promises, after two years in office, in spite of the oil revenue, only 20 per cent of the pupils received free school uniforms while there are still a greater number of schools under trees.
Still on the plethora of promises by President Mahama, he assured Ghanaians that he would prosecute all corrupt ministers and appointees without asking for evidence.
And in spite of the president’s commitment to fight corruption, the country in 2014 recorded a number of corrupt scandals including the payment of over 7 million to non-existent national service personnel, wrongful payments of monies to private companies like Rlg, Subah Info-solutions and Zoomlion Company Limited.
Others were GYEEDA, SADA, the controversial sale of Merchant Bank and what broke the camel’s back was the decision by the Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to spend about 200,000 US Dollars on rent alone.
On the economy, President Mahama, through his Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Seth Terkper, in the 2013 Budget boasted of having achieved macro-economic stability and growth on the basis of a strong real and external sector performance, including low rates of inflation and the build-up of substantial foreign exchange reserves.
“We have achieved these goals against the backdrop of the global financial crisis; we have also acted decisively to implement policies that address the challenges that occasionally confront our march forward,” Mr. Terkper was reported to have said on the floor of Parliament.
But statistics available show that the cedi depreciated considerably with inflation moving to double digits; there were also persistent power interruptions, accumulated debts to contractors, bulk oil distributors, payroll arrears, all these and others accompanied by periodic strikes and threats on the labour front.
These were ample evidence in the ratings by the Private Enterprise Federations (PEF).
For instance, PEF described the year 2014 as the most difficult year for businesses across the country.
What is more an Afrobarometer survey released in 2014 indicated that about 76% of Ghanaians blamed government for failing to improve their living standards.
It is also obvious that the Mahama administration albeit is two years, is the regime that is most hit by strikes and demonstrations in the annals of the Fourth Republic.
And notwithstanding the economic shocks Ghanaians had experienced in the first two years of President Mahama’s administration, Today can say without any form of contradiction that the country should prepare to face further wrangling in 2015 as symptoms of financial distress are quite imminent.
That, Today research further uncovered, was due to profligate expenditure by the executive and the high increase of public wage bill coupled with “ghost names” phenomenon in the public sector.
For example, the government in 2014 expressed worry over spending of 70 per cent of domestic revenue on public-sector salaries.
Despite an improvement in public financial management, our findings showed that consistent negative fiscal surprises had eroded investors’ faith in Ghana as the country awaits the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme to support policy credibility and bring sanity in our structure.
On the issue of environment, President Mahama promised to clear all filth in the cities within 100 days.
That promise, again was re-echoed in his 2013 State of the Nation Address when he said; “that our inner cities shall witness significant renewal in sanitation and housing.”
But today, after two years in office, Ghanaians are battling with cholera as the country is ranked the second dirtiest in West Africa.
Indeed the cholera outbreak that hit the country in 2014 was so horrific that it claimed more than 150 lives and infected over 17,000 people—the worst in 30 years.
The country’s water bodies continue to be polluted due to the operations of illegal miners known in our local parlance as “galamsey.”
Though in the face of all these difficulties, information available to Today shows that President Mahama in his first two years in office made some positive strides within are worth noting.
For instance, President Mahama took the bold decision against all odds when on July 1, 2013 he ordered the removal of subsidies on fuel and Liquefied Petroleum Products (LPG) something his predecessor failed to do because of political expediency.
And as the result of the removal of fuel subsidies, Ghana was able to save 760 million cedis last year.
Among some of his achievements included the commissioning of Bui Hydro power project in May 2013 which provided about 133 megawatts of power to augment the energy supply in the county.
Others included the inauguration of the final phase of the $800 million project in the Brong-Ahafo region in December 2013 to complete the total 404 megawatts of power project and the commencement of work on the $100 million three-tier Kwame Nkrumah Circle interchange in Accra.
However, it is obvious from the analysis above that his failures outweigh his achievements in his first two years in office.