President Akufo-Addo has virtually described as a scam a promise by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer, ex-President Mahama, to create one million jobs, denouncing the politics of using promises and lies as a voting mechanism to get back power.
He has consequently urged Ghanaian voters not to fall for promises by leaders who are fond of taking “glory in lying to the people”, saying “one thing which is of concern to me is the credibility of our political process.”
“He (Mr. Mahama) just moves around promising; he brags too much,” the President fired in an interview on Accra-based 'Oman FM' last Friday night. “I am hoping people of Ghana will surprise him so he will know Ghanaians don't have short memories,” he added.
The NDC flagbearer, while introducing his running mate, vowed to create one million jobs by the end of his term in 2024 when he is given the nod, claiming the next NDC government has plans to run an aggressive job and entrepreneurial programme in the public and private sectors.
However, speaking in an interview on 'Oman FM', President Akufo-Addo wondered how his predecessor, who is seeking re-election after his heavy defeat in the 2016 general election, was going to make do his promise, after supervising a freeze on public sector employment during his administration
“Ghana is a very interesting country. Somebody has come to say he will create one million jobs when given the opportunity. The governance of this country was in his hands and one million recruitments into the public sector were prohibited.
“There was a freeze on public sector employment in our country and up to today we have not heard how many jobs he was able to create in the four and half years he was in office,” he said code-mixing the Twi and English languages.
“But suddenly, you say you can create one million jobs. Eh! Apart from that, I heard him say 250,000 jobs will be created in Upper West alone. So it means the rest of Ghanaians in the 15 regions will share the 750,000 jobs to be created.
“It tells you straight away that the person is just building castles in the air. It is important for all Ghanaians to be wary of a leader that takes glory in lying to his people because he is seeking power,” the President pointed out.
According to him, since the development of the country is very important to him, he continuously pursued his dream to run for the presidency until he was finally given the mandate to govern, indicating that he feels that there are so many things that must be done to ensure the development of Ghana.
“If you could remember, when I went to Parliament, in my first message of the state of the nation address in 2017, I indicated that I was a man in a hurry. Some people thought I was only bragging, but I meant it because it does not take long for four years to come.
“And also if you have something to do within four years, it must be done quickly. So I asked God to give me the strength to enable me to do the work I pledged to do.
“Up to today, I can say that God has listened to my prayers and helped. Rebecca too is part of the success story. She does not trouble me and gives me peace of mind to concentrate in order to get the job done. So I am able to focus,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo, who is also the New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer for this year's election, said every Ghanaian was aware of the economy his government inherited, adding “it is today that some people want to say something new.”
“The fact of the matter is that Ghana on 7th January 2017 was in a bad state. It is because of that the former President who I succeeded was voted against by Ghanaians. We all saw that the nation was heading towards a wrong direction,” he noted.
According to him, both the economy and education were in bad state and that one could not tell which sector was doing well, intimating “so when we came, if you can remember, the things we talked about were the claims by my predecessor of unprecedented infrastructural developments.”
President Akufo-Addo said his first tour of the country revealed that the unprecedented infrastructure claims were a hoax and that “anywhere in the country the people complained of bad roads which was their major concern and preoccupation. Obviously, coming to the grips of the road sector was a major problem.”
He acknowledged that finding a way to fulfill the fundamental manifesto promises of the NPP in the 2016 campaign was another major problem, particularly “the radical education promise – the Free Senior High School (SHS).”
“Some people had argued that we could not fulfill our education promise and I was deceiving Ghanaians as it was a voting mechanism. They said I had not thought through properly, and I felt that for the sake of confidence and for me not to lose the trust of Ghanaians, I was determined that our biggest promise which is the Free SHS policy be implemented in the first year of my government.
“The truth must be told that not all the people in my government agreed to this because of the cost involved and, of course, no Finance Minister is comfortable doling out money for major expenditures.
“Left to him alone, the money would be kept and remained untouched. But the determination was there. I felt that it was important for credibility. One thing which is of concern to me is the credibility of our political process,” he added.
He said he told his appointees that the NPP that he leads needed not “to continue on the path where someone promised to do something and when he got the opportunity to be in government he failed to honour that promise. It does not help the country in its progress.”
“We need to do what we promised the people that we would do so that next time when someone comes out to say that if you vote for me I will do ABC the people can trust and repose confidence in him,” he posited.
The President stated that it is important such social contract is honoured and that fulfilling the 2016 NPP manifesto promises, especially the critical ones right from the beginning, were a major task for him, and admitted that it was not easy for the government because the economy had been run down with no money in the national kitty.
“At the same time of taking these decisions about fulfilling your manifesto promises, you are also to start taking decisions that will put the economy back on track. And the time we came we had an IMF programme,” he recalled.
“So we therefore had to put the economy back again and deal with the question of deficit, discipline in public financing and the banking crisis. All of these things were there so the first few months were difficult for me, but I said to everybody in the cabinet and government that I did not want to hear anybody complaining about how difficult it was.
For him, it was not surprising that the growth rate of the economy was the inherited 3.4 per cent – the lowest in 20 years, which was brought to over 8 per cent in the first year of his government and went ahead to record 6.87 per cent for the subsequent year and consistently grew it up until the Covid-19 came in, saying “we had an average growth of about 7 per cent of GDP.”
“And you kept hearing statements that Ghana was one of the fastest economies in the world. I believe that we have laid the foundation for growth. The Covid-19 has been very destructive, but overall, we have been able to contain it and still positioned the country for a rapid recovery,” he pointed out.
“We have been told already by the Bank of Ghana that the recovery of the Ghanaian economy is proceeding quicker than already being anticipated. All of these are happening because the fundamentals we laid down were in good shape,” the President said.