The 2020 elections in Ghana present a strong dilemma to the loyal citizen of the country. This is because, they are compared to choose between a party in power which has inculcated and systematized corruption, dubious and scandalous dealings as part of its administration and an opposition party that has a record of engaging in haphazard corruption, persistently mismanaging the economy and then handing it over to the IMF.
This dilemma does not affect party members who vote according to party colours instead of national colours. I use the word “patriot” according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary rendition, which signifies a person who loves his or her country and is ready to boldly support and defend it. In these regards, members of parties who make their parties a priority to the detriment of the nation fail the litmus test for patriotism; their priority is their party.
Party members do not see any evil so far as it is being perpetrated by their party members but they see huge evil saucers in every move of the other party. This party people are always suspicious of every move and even good intentions of the other party. They do not have a problem because they have already chosen who should rule, but the dilemma lies with those who are looking for a better Ghana.
I express the view that corruption is endemic in Ghana’s politics, and the two leading political parties have demonstrated little desire to build the country and improve the lot of the masses. In contrast, they have seen the opportunity to rule as an avenue to amass wealth for themselves, and they have demonstrated mediocrity in the ability to lead.
I also believe that the ruling party has done very well with implementing the free secondary education, but they have demonstrated greed and corruption to the core. I provide reasons to support my notion that the administration is focused on milking the nation and even using the COVID-19 situation to cash in with a substandard testing system operated by a shady company. Because of this, Ghanaians who are looking for the development and good of the nation will have a hard time as to who to vote for since both NDC and NPP are poor managers and their candidates have shown insensitivity and strong corruption tolerance as leaders.
NPP Governments have always entertained Corruption
In 2001 when John Kofi Agyekum Diawuo Kufuor took over from the longest ruling administration of the late Jerry John Rawlings, there were great rejoicing and the sense that the corruption endemic in the Ghanaian society was going to be banished finally was heightened.
To the disappointment of many, the first action the president took was to use the state funds to furnish a part of his private residence which was augmented by a “philanthropists.” The ruling NPP administration soon entrenched corruption as an inherent part of their administration. A retrospective reflection of the Kuffour administration will show how various corrupt practices such as kickbacks, procurement breaches, sole sourcing were institutionalised to milk the nation.
I remember the hotel Kuffour scandal, nepotism, manipulation of the judiciary, vindictiveness and an attempted secularization of the Ghanaian society. When they had become full of themselves and have covered themselves with pride and arrogance, they were kicked out of power and the underdog in the elections; NDC took overpower.
NPP losing the 2008 elections was a shock to many observers because the Kuffour administration has performed extremely well despite the loots. The implementation of National Health Insurance (NHI) in place of the devastating Cash and Carry System was a milestone. The administration has steered the economy from the clutches of the IMF through the HIPIC program. Both the Micro and Macro levels of the economy were showing signs of virility with initiatives such as Metro Mass Transit, National Youth Employment schemes, Distance Learning, LEAP and re-denomination of the cedi.
The administration had successfully prospected and made Ghana a petroleum-producing nation with a presidential palace that breaks from the colonial pattern of "power in the castle" legacy. However, the general climate of corruption, manipulation of state institutions, pride and arrogance, infighting and the crude manner the administration handled issues such as petroleum and cocoa pricing, disrespect towards teachers and the challenges associated with creating new Districts contributed to the defeat of then candidate Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, whose aguena mantra nearly ended his political carrier.
NDC has Problems with Managing the Country
On assuming office, the Mills/Mahama administration abandoned almost all the projects of the defeated NPP government and allowed the NHI to enter a process of hibernation contrary to the backdrop of their campaign promise to improve it and implement a onetime health insurance scheme premium regime.
The late president, however, assumed a strong anti-corruption posture, but the image of his vice was tainted in various corrupt activities, including the air-bus dealings. The corruption perception index shot up with the demise of the president as his vice took over the government. His brother Ibrahim Mahama was alleged to be indulging in various self-enriching activities with government machinery, amid various rumours of rot.
The whole nation fell into power crisis popularly referred to as “dumso”, a representation of the erratic nature of power supply. The power crises which begun with the administration of the late president became entrenched and intense. The then-president John Dramani Mahama gave various assurances on different platforms to “fix” the problem, but the situation got worse.
In a desperate move, the NDC administration entered into contracts with many power institutions resulting in the production of excess power, yet the outages continued unabated. Over the years successive governments have failed to solve Ghana’s power problems from the root, such as a massive change of wiring; there are still places in Ghana where the wind causes electric sparks and automatic power outages. But governments have always focused on power generations.
Before the demise of Professor John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills, the administration was overwhelmed with mismanagement of the economy, comparing him to hand it over into the icy hand of the IMF. Ghanaians, therefore, had to swallow draconian conditionality such as a halt on public sector employment and hikes in utility bills. The four years leadership of Mahama’s government after Mills was marked with crass mismanagement, a show of impudence with rhetoric such as yentie obia, ogun funu, demonstrating the president’s unwillingness to listen to opposing views.
Then the “babies with sharp teeth” came up; several uncultured elements sprang from the NDC government, attacking and disparaging many prominent people in society, including the founder of the NDC himself. The party’s leadership started castigating against pastors, professors and chiefs with impunity. Impunity, show of power, corruption and statements like, “if the country is too difficult, leave” were on the lips of NDC faithful and the president turned a death ear to them.
In 2016, the Ghanaian electorate spoke back to the cocky government and relegated it to a new status; opposition. The defeat was so resounding that the electoral commissioner hid in silence, reluctant to declare a winner. The commissioner then started making statements that implied the possibility of fraud, but she finally declared NPP the winner of the elections under a huge pressure. Her posture was unbecoming of a referee, she showed clearly that she was not comfortable with the results, giving credence to the view that she was in bed with the ruling government.
The Hope of a New Dawn Turned into a Nightmare
The coming to power of the current president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo raised hopes that the country is finally going to get rid of corruption and grow with industries. The one District one factory, one village one damn campaign mantra was a lifeline to many. There was a general anticipation that he could take a similar stand like Prof. Mills but he would have the tenacity to enforce corruption free governance.
The expectations among the citizens skyrocketed when he implemented the free SHS with such speed and zeal and the fact that it encountered only few setbacks. He proved his sceptics wrong and the “free SHS sakawa” song was stilled forever. Mahama had also promised at the latter part of his presidency to implement a free SHS policy, an effort to silence the then opposition leader but failed to realise it.
Nana Addo’s decision to stop, the pollution of water bodies caused by small scale mining was a noble one and was greeted with praise. Ghanaians were gleaming with hope and confidence, “the messiah has been enthroned.” The media collaborated with the government to wage war on small scale mining (galamsey) and the initial results were stunning, some of the dirtiest rivers waters became transparent and free from pollutants.
Observes began to praise the president, but suddenly, “things fall apart.” It came to light that, it was robbing Peter to pay Paul. The masses had no right to get their daily bread from the mines, it is reserved for high level party stalwarts and those who could pay. All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.
The excavators and other mining machines confiscated from the miners were stolen by these NPP activists and returned to the mines under new ownership. The spate of armed robbery increased and the economy was affected negatively because so many people depended on small scale mining, either directly or indirectly.
The president could not put in place a system that could sustain the income of the people while preventing them from polluting the rivers. He rather used brute force, sending hungry military men after miners in the dangerous terrain and causing many young lives to be lost in the process.
The team which was supposed to curb the menace were busily enriching themselves by taking bribes in order to permit mining activities. The results of the action of the president is that, the poor are banned while the rich could mine, marking a height of insensitivity of the Nana Addo’s leadership.
As if creating joblessness among the youth that resulted in insecurity was not enough, the government started going after opponents in the financial sectors in an effort to render the opposition parties financially incapable to supporting their parties. Several thousands of people have to lose their lucrative and secured jobs to what the government termed “financial sector clean up.” The exercise can best be compared to an amputation of an injured limb. Ghana does not need a crude amputating surgeon rather, Ghanaians are looking for “ƆyƐ adeƐ yie” a healer.
The Nana Addo administration keeps demonstrating amputation mentality, but such rough procedures renders patients invalid, thus leading a nation in such a manner hampers the growth of the nation and the citizens become victims. Ghana needs a leadership that can save the few businesses through application of creativity, wisdom, and skills irrespective of how the conditions are.
The current administration ignores the fact that governance involves the harnessing of knowledge, skills and wisdom. Thus, in such a situation, consensus building is key, not application of ignorance of appointees who might have their own hidden agendas. When a finance minister who is competing in the finance sector mutes the idea of a clean-up, he certainly has his own shrewd agenda.
It is not strange that after clearing other competitive banks, Databank Financial Services Limited ends up being a beneficiary of the infamous Agyapa project, oh I forgot to add “on merit.” I will ask a simple layperson question, “how can a vibrant bank like GN bank which has to its credit two hundred and sixty (260) operational branches in all the then ten regions of Ghana found lacking but the capital cantered Databank Financial Services Limited found to be sufficient?
It is obvious that the government issuing a directive through the Bank of Ghana requiring universal banks operating in Ghana to increase their minimum stated capital from GH¢120 million to GH¢ 400 million by the end of 2018, was a part of a hidden agenda. This is because recapitalization of this margin gives credence to the notion that the intension was not just treacherous, but a calculated attempt to remove targeted banks from the system.
A government that will spend a whooping GH¢ 10. 98bn, an equivalent of $2.1bn which constitutes over 3% of the nation's 2019 GDP, besides the additional GH¢ 21bn just to destroy businesses instead of building them is clueless and insensitive. To make matter worse, the limited number of opportunities was distributed among government officials, with Osafo Marfo two sons clenching position in highly paid government agencies.
One may think that president Nana Addo, who claims that he has not experienced poverty before, might not understand what the poor and jobless citizens go through in Ghana. That might have influenced his various insensitive decisions on business wrecking. But the question is, how would a wealthy leader be employing close relationships and even giving state appointments to his daughters while jobs are so scarce?
If the president is so rich and still displaces struggling families in favour of his daughters, then it is a mark of insensitivity, self-centeredness and greed. That job could support at least one family when a qualified person is appointed from outside the “royal” cycles. The president should have rather supported her daughters to establish businesses that could employ others.
The wanton dismantling of industries and rendering people who were gainfully employed redundant dwarfs the effort to reduce unemployment with structures such as the graduate employment schemes, planting for food and jobs and other initiatives because these are temporary measures that are subject to termination by another government. Furthermore, these interventions are not sources of sufficient income to beneficiaries as compared to incomes from the banking sector.
We have a scenario now where well-paid employments have been destroyed and people’s life-saving stacked in obsolete banks, a reminiscence of Jerry Rawlings era of military dissipations. Observers can only see that, the minister of finance has utilized his uncle’s power to crash his competitors in the crudest way.
The Watchdog Role of the AG, Poses a Challenge to Corrupt Appointees
One government appointee who needs to be commended for outstanding work is the Auditor-General (AG), Daniel Yaw Domelevo. He has been diligent, bold and zealous in his watchdog roles as AG. It is not strange that some corrupt elements in the government are at loggerhead with him. It seems that he has bitten more than he can chew by attracting the ire of the senior minister who has been to court to get exonerated from his procurement violations. Actually, NPP appointees are always innocent so far as NPP is in power.
Osafo Marfo is aware of how corruption has eaten into the fabric of the judicial system, and how easily the justice system can be manipulated. The reputation of our judicial system is ridden with political prejudices, biases, and corruption. The president’s power to appoint judges and transfer them through the chief justice could be very manipulative, which ex-president Kuffour used to his advantage.
I recall vividly the incidence which led to the Supreme Court, 5-4 decision that ruled that the Fast Track High Courts then trying NDC leaders like Tsatsu Tsikata, Ibrahim Adam, Kwame Peprah and others were unconstitutional. President Kufuor, asked his Attorney General to seek a review of the case.
He then appointed to the Supreme Court two Judges, one of whom was presiding over one of the unconstitutional Fast Track High Courts, and had the decision reversed 6-5 to declare the Fast Track High Courts constitutional. The courts are thus no haven of truth and justice, the powerful can have their way and the right of weak trampled
Osafo Marfo and his cohorts are now after the Auditor-General (AG), Daniel Yaw Domelevo and he has been duly taken off, after all he created the avenue and made it possible for the system to be used against him. Domelevo represents a threat to corrupt NPP officials. I must commend the president for maintaining him against all odds, despite the circumstances behind his appointment by the previous government and his “media happy” attitude.
Domelevo is making it difficult for corrupt elements in the government to operate freely, but he is often impetuous and acts like a politician who is bent on undermining the government. Because of this, he sometimes makes mistakes with utterances that are incongruent with his status as AG. Such actions render him vulnerable to various attacks from government officials. Domelevo has saved the nation from many dubious deals that characterizes the NPP government, and his absence is presenting an opportunity for unscrupulous elements in government to have a heyday.
No wonder, some agents of the NPP government are making an effort to tarnish his image with fictitious investigations. Maybe Martin Amidu should have taken up the fight against corruption seriously in his absence! Unfortunately, the office of the Special Prosecutor (SP) who could check the corrupt elements in government could be best described as, a white elephant. The SP’s office is clearly a political gimmick to show a fake commitment to the fight against corruption.
Although Martin Amidu himself is a force to be reckoned with, but the government has tactically gagged him and turned his office into a toothless bulldog while he refuses to become a puppet. I share the opinion that the two NDC officials who were in the NPP government, Martin and Daniel, given the right tools and free hands to work, they would contribute substantially to the fight against corruption, and render it a risky endeavour in Ghana. However, Ghanaians woke up to meet a bomb shell, he throws in the towel, he seems to say to Nana Addo, “enough is enough, I will not have anything to do with your corrupt government.”
Martin could be useful to the nation, at least he has been able to stampede the infamous Agyapa deal. Though people like the investigative journalist, Manasseh Azure, think he should have resigned long time ago, but such a character is needed in such a corrupt jungle. His resignation gives credence to the high intolerance and rot in Nana Addo’s government. We now have a government which supports attack on journalists and saturated by contract killings.
If the police force cannot protect the citizens, why should they be exist? There are so many killings while the police and the security apparatus just dance and the president does nothing? People are rather advocating for extra protection for politicians (MPs) whose inactivity is causing loss of lives. What about the mobile money vendors being killed, are they not equally important citizens? Government should focus on making it impossible for people to take arms and kill others rather than looking only at the security of just a few.
Exploitations, insensitivity and Corruption in Nana’s Government
Nana Addo government started on the wrong footing when it comes to corruption, because it is alleged that most of his appointees have been appointed through a particular queen mother in Ghana who charges money for her lobbying services. This might have contributed to the historic gigantic size of Nana Addo’s government. There are still loyal NPP members waiting for the opportunity to enter the government, after paying money to the queen mother in question.
Therefore, it is not strange that the government gave birth to “contract for sale” and Joseph Siaw Agyapong’s Jospong Group of Companies and Zoomlion are still in business with the government, though the NPP leadership had pointed accusing fingers when they were in opposition. This Agyapong man built his businesses on corruption, underhand dealings, over invoicing, similar to Mr. Contract for sale who does not want to admit and change from his evil ways.
One of the characteristic of corrupt politicians is their inability to show remorse. Adjenim Boateng Adjei whose schemes have produced so many poor roads and thus caused ghastly accidents in Ghana is pointing accusing figures here and there and some myopic journalists are defending such nonchalant posture of evil. I heard one of such journalists accusing the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) of injustice. Journalists should be rather pointing to the perpetrator of evil, that because of his greed, many lives have been lost and families devastated.
He should be held responsible for the road carnages which have devastated many lives. There are brilliant children who have to drop out of school after losing their parents through road accidents, while Adjenim’s family is enjoying all the luxuries. How can Adjenim Boateng Adjei be awarding contracts to people who knew nothing about civil engineering and road constructions? Nana Addo should explain to Ghanaians why he could appoint someone who was already indicted by a committee of enquiry for procurement bleaches few years ago during the Kufuor administration? Does he apply due diligence when giving appointments?
Adjenim is not alone in this, the NPP administration is ridden with corruption, the president’s appointees find every avenue to milk the nation. This led to the government contributing immensely to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ghana. This is because, instead of making funds available to the vulnerable through a safer means, they were cooking food and distributing them without adhering to social distancing protocols. They were pre-occupied with creating an avenue for party faithful to make a profit. There were many well to do party members that were invited to come for some of the relief items. In fact a high number of the items and money were used to show appreciation to faithful party members.
The milking from the COVID-19 situation has not stopped, the NPP government has put in place a system to exploit travellers to Ghana by using a less accurate COVID-19 antigen test system to extort money from the travelling public. While the test is being conducted by Ghanaians, a foreign company with a shady background is receiving the money. The government is so insensitive that people who cannot pay are detained in the airport, including nursing mothers, which could spark another wave of infection.
Many passengers have gone through various forms of harassment regarding the limited avenues of exemptions because the staffs of Frontiers Healthcare Solutions Services Limited are pre-occupied with making money but not helping to curb the spread of the virus. A president is supposed to be a father of the nation, but Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo is focusing on extorting money and enriching himself and cronies, ignoring the problems that the travelling public are going through.
The NPP government should explain to us why a foreign company should be given a job that Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research of the University of Ghana could adequately handle. These chain of companies associated with the testing, such the Frontiers Healthcare Solutions Services Limited, Healthcare Services Limited (FHSL) and others which was incorporated in Ghana just 40 days before the air border opening and their shady links and roots rings an alarm but the hardened heart president refuses to hear. Personal gains are preferred to national building and development.
Nepotism and Cronyism
Nepotism and cronyism has been a part of Ghana’s political landscape, but what is described as family and friends” government started with the Kuffour administration. His first defence minister was Hon. Kwame Addo-Kufuor his brother, a physician who knew nothing about defence. Though there were highly qualified experts, the president claimed he does not trust anyone as much as his brother.
He did not trust even those who fought for him to win power as much. I was surprised that the media did not take him on after such utterance in the glare of the camera. Ghana is a developing economy, thus when a president appoint family members, especially those who do not qualify for the position in question, it is an act of selfishness because they do not serve but they rule and plunder. If the president’s brother had committed a fraud, the president would use state apparatus to cover up.
The loser in such a situation is the nation and the poor bear the blunt of the mess. The trend of appointing lay people to take ministerial positions is a mark of mediocrity, incompetence, cronyism and the height of disloyalty to the nation. Such an act has caused the underdevelopment of the African continent. Such appointments mark a waste on our human resources, making the ministers and their sectors vulnerable to manipulations. In the international scenes, Africans are generally seen as having low intellect, because these ministers sit in seminars and discussions as underdogs, taking everything offered without offering constructive criticism.
When they raise objections, they routinely give feeble and childish reasons which most of the time attract chuckles and indignations. It is not because Africans are ignorant or lack intellect, but the ignorant in the fields are presented as experts due to nepotism, cronyism and greed. Ghanaians have been slighted, look down upon and belittled in the international scenes due to our government unpatriotic, selfish and boom boom actions of putting square pegs in round holes.
Cronyism Leads to Square Pegs in Round Holes
Nana Addo has also followed his formal boss’s footsteps by appointing many ministers who are ignorant in their field of assignments. One of the most devastating appointments is a health professional who is serving as education minister, and an expert rather serving as a deputy. Due to the ignorance of the minister, a milestone in our education is infested with a problem which the Kuffour government already dealt with. Problems associated with the computer placement system should not re-surface in Nana Addo’s period and create problems for the nation.
Instead of accepting responsibility, the sector minister attributed his failure to the work of the opposition party. He accused the NDC of carting people just to create confusing but he failed to provide any proof for his babbles. If the Akkufo Addo government is to be a serious one, he would have replaced him immediately. He went further and attempted to introduce free-sex culture into our education system, then despite his huge remunerations attached to his position, he went ahead to rob the poor by taking away their scholarship.
The free SHS is a lifesaver but the sector minister Matthew Opoku Prempeh is a disaster. Look at a greying old minster using his position together with other ministers such as Adwoa Safo to take a scholarship meant for the poor in society. These scholarships that the ministers took and wasted them on their pleasures show how wicked, insensitive and greedy, they are, in fact they are devilish. Instead of helping the poor and vulnerable to access such lucrative scholarships, old boom boom like you who have already gotten enough education to become leaders in Ghana have grasp the support for the poor and peruse them.
If some people dreamed that the NPP administration under Nana Addo could be full of insensitive people with such looting mentality, then it would be only few people. What is even more problematic and laughable is the quality of appointee at the District level. Some of the president’s appointees are crass illiterate to the marrow, such individual serving in a party that prides itself with intellectual piety is a spat on common sense and decency. Nana Addo appointing illiterates into high offices is a “paradox of contradictions.” A typical example is the DCE of Dormaa West, a woman who cannot even read well is the representative of the president of Ghana in the District. Meanwhile, there are several graduates who can easily serve in this exalted position, but a stark illiterate has been appointed, this is pathetic.
The President cannot be Absolved from Corruption
The discussions above make it absurd to see our president, Nana Addo Dankwa as incorruptible. It is impossible for an incorruptible leader to work with such a corrupt batch of people, allow rot a free reign and still want to continue for another four years. Ghanaians are not looking for simpa payin but a responsible leader who can make life comfortable for the people in a sustainable way, a leader who cracks the whip when he has to. If Nana is incorruptible, why is he still entertaining sole sourcing in his government?
An incorruptible president would promptly abolish all corruption prone procurement methods and even restrictive tendering would not be countenanced. The NPP government who is using these methods are aware that they are susceptible to corruption and the methods have been hampering our development, so why is Nana’s government still using them? Has the NPP not spoken against sole sourcing and its repercussions so loudly in opposition? Now they are benefiting from the lapses, thus it is alright. This is unpatriotic, rot, hypocrisy and double standard on the part of Nana’s administration.
I salute our president for the free SHS, it is a mark of a good leadership on one hand. On the other hand, he has also demonstrated a high level insensitivity and poor leadership qualities, especially in his nephew’s sector. In a swoop, he has rendered thousands of Ghanaians unemployed and destroyed many businesses that could support the economic growth. He has made many families hungry and vulnerable while he is fattening his own family on the best of Ghana’s resources.
Due to cronyism, an illiterate false prophet like Owusu Bempah could become a board member of a national program. Many people forget that this false prophet who prides himself as adequately prophesying the victory of the current government also prophesied that Nana Addo was going to win against Prof. Mills, in 2008 when Nana was certain of winning but his prophecy failed miserably culminating in a disastrous defeat. There were indications that even the late president was not even prepared for the post.
He also prophesied that Nana was going to win against President Mahama in 2012, but lost. Nana wining in 2016 could be seen by anyone who examined the political climate. Ghanaians were fed up with staying in darkness while government officials were showing opulence and throwing insults all over. A president who promised persistently and failed persistently, the “I will fix it” mantra could no more be tolerated. Owusu Bempa also prophesied that Trump was going to win. An intellectual in the calibre of Nana should know better!!
Locating the Realms of the Dilemma
The dilemma that Ghanaian patriots must be grappling with is the fact that, both NDC and NPP, the two leading parties have disappointed the masses in the fight against corruption. And none of them have the moral right to campaign on corruption. The NPP administration is full of selfish, corrupt, insensitive leaders led by a president who is self-centred and appears not to care about the suffering masses. Nonetheless, Nana’s administration has bestowed a great treasure to the masses, which is the free high school for all. The NPP has introduced priceless social interventions that support vital aspects of life such as the health insurance scheme that ended the harsh cash and carry system and many others I have already listed.
These interventions were supposed to have come from the social democrats (NDC) but they rather focus on infrastructural developments. The NPP need to know that, the people find, the rot, conflict of interest, dubious dealing, extortions at the airport unacceptable, and it is through the ballot box that will sound loud enough to a complacent bath of people. However, the NDC could not present a reliable alternative candidate, though there are countless people who could change the situation.
This 2020 elections, both NPP and NDC have equal chances of winning, but the margin of voter apathy might increase as disappointed voters might stay away from voting, but the patriots have a decision to make. It is factual that Mahama has a good chance of winning, but will it help Ghana, considering his poor track records? Lest I forget, I would like to remind Nana that the industries he promised Ghanaians are still outstanding! And the extortion at the airport should cease!!!
Rev. Ahenkora Siaw Kwakye
Presbyterian Church of Ghana