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06.12.2020 Opinion

The battle of the last dance... Nana Addo Vs Mahama

By Abdul Razak Wumpini Mohammed
The battle of the last dance... Nana Addo Vs Mahama
LISTEN DEC 6, 2020

Never has, and perhaps never will, an election be this crucial feature of Ghana’s democracy than now. This is not only a contest between manifesto promises but of track records as well. Both Nana Akufo-Addo and John Mahama have served their first terms in office as Presidents already (Mr. Mahama having served as Vice President prior to his ascension). The historic battle of the first termers for a second. Who stands tall? Whose track record trumps the other? Who will potentially retire the other?

Talk, they say, is cheap. Manifesto promises could be the usual mere rhetorics (just talks). Actions, however, as they say, speaks louder than words. The actions of these candidates in office are their records, while their manifesto promises are just talks (at least for now).

Our elders say that, the stronger man is the one who swears on his father’s grave. Thus, the candidate who is shown to fulfill his manifesto promises more the one is to be trusted more. The 2020 elections will be won and lost on party ideologies and issues such as free SHS, jobs, corruption, and economic performance.

The free SHS policy should be the most critical and effective issue at deciding the elections this year again. It is thus unsurprising that the NDC candidate has now pressed so forcefully on us all the debate of who introduced the visionary education policy. The former President, having lambasted the policy in the past, and describing the promise in 2016 as “a whimsical promise by a desperate politician” just to win political power, now attempts to pad himself on the back for purportedly introducing the policy in 2015.

Do not forget also that a lot of adverts were targeted by the then governing NDC against the free SHS policy. Why the NDC demands credit for free SHS now actually defies logic and integrity. The about 1.2 million Ghanaian children and their families who have benefited from the free SHS policy so far know who actually implemented the groundbreaking policy. The importance of the free SHS policy though is overlooked. As many say, and rightly so, it is a pro-poor policy. However, it also has a pro-rich persuasion (not anti-rich, anyway).

How many times have we witnessed in our communities rich people dying and the education of their children dying alongside? Why do the rich people purchase education insurance policies for their children? What free SHS now does to even the rich is give them assurance of their children’s education even after they have passed away. Thus, saving the money they would have used to pay insurance premiums. Now, the NPP promises no-guarantor system for students loan at the tertiary levels.

This gives every Ghanaian child progressing to the tertiary institutions the opportunity to secure loan for their further education with much ease. Thus, no child committed to pursuing education will ever be halted on their tracks for financial reasons. All the student needs is their Ghana ID Card! The NDC promises payment of half (now full😂) tuition fees for all tertiary students for the 2020/2021 academic year only. As they say, this policy is aimed at mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. After completing tertiary education, graduates expect jobs. This brings us to job creation and employment.

Free SHS, when it was promised, indeed seemed too ambitious. It did seem a mere political talk especially given that the incumbent government at the time had just cancelled the trainee allowances, cancelled allowances of Arabic instructors, cancelled voluntarily national service allowances, restriction of back-pay to only 3 months tops, increased existing taxes while introducing new “nuisance” taxes and froze employment to the public sector in an economy that was growing negatively in an increasing rate. But President Nana Akufo-Addo did not only implement the free SHS in his first year in office as promised, he honoured his promise to all the previously cancelled allowances while reducing tax rates and abolishing some completely.

He also implemented the Planting for Food and Jobs which has boosted Ghana’s agricultural sector making her a net exporter of some cash crops under President Nana Akufo-Addo. In line with the vision to add value to raw materials and building a Ghana Beyond Aid, the One District One Factory policy is well on course too. These policies have created several job opportunities for the youth.

From the creation of Graduate Unemployed Association of Ghana under Mr Mahama to the creation of the Nation’s Builders Corps (NaBCo) under President Nana Akufo-Addo, the difference is pretty obvious. Today, Mr Mahama, who told the unemployed graduates that he was not a “magician” to create jobs for them, promises to now summon “magic” to create 1 million jobs just to win your nod. Can you trust him? This is the same man who said he was “a dead goat” that can no longer feel the pain of knives (demonstration).

On the toes of the 2016 elections, Mr Mahama finally put on show what turned out to be the final nail to his coffin. The attempted bribe of Chairman Bugri Naabu by Mr Mahama to burn Nana Akufo-Addo was a dark day of our beautiful fledgling democracy. Fast forward to 2020, in his failed attempt to equalise his Ford bribe exposè, Mr Mahama has now commissioned his party to publish what Manasseh Awuni Azure described as “a malicious propaganda” video against the incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo imputing bribery allegation on Nana Akufo-Addo as President in 2017. In the said video, one sees campaign t-shirts with the inscription “Arise for Change” being presented to the President. First, who gives campaign t-shirts to a politician just after he won political power and forming a government? As my friend will say, no campaign after elections.

Again, who in their right senses will present t-shirts with the inscription “Arise for Change” to an incumbent President who naturally seeks continuity? Finally, it is no secret that the NPP’s campaign mantra for 2016 was “Arise for Change”. Thus, it is not gullible to reason that the donation which is misrepresented in their doctored video as a bribe was actually given and taken prior to the 2016 elections. Every political party in every country where state funding of political parties is not applicable accept donations in the same fashion and manner.

They go out to solicit the donations even. In Ghana, it is foreign donations to political parties that is wrong and unlawful. But the donors in this instance were citizens of Ghana, unless the contrary is shown. No harm done! Meanwhile, Mr Mahama in his last deed was perhaps the illegal signing of three mineral leases constituting “about 79% of Ghana’s known bauxite resources” to his brother, Ibrahim Mahama, on the 29th December prior to government transition on 7 January 2017.

If one is never found to be corrupt, he is not. Mr Mahama was not corrupt until we found him in the Ford, Bugri and Airbus sagas. Nana Akufo-Addo is not a perfect man though. No man is. Each and their unique imperfections, and he certainly has his imperfections too. For now, Nana Akufo-Addo has never in all his long years in public service been tagged (not even by his fiercest opponents) as corrupt.

They said he was arrogant, sniffed and dealt cocaine, womaniser, and all the incredible name-calling, but never was he ever described as corrupt (until this doctored video surfaced). And we know that the most dominant characteristic of most politicians in Africa especially is corruption. Why has a 70+ years old man in public service almost all his life was never tagged as corrupt? Now, one may allege corruption against people close to him but never he himself. But we know that, no man should be punished for the sins of another adult man. The problem with Mr Mahama is not just the corrupt activities of his erstwhile government, but his own direct participation in bribery and corruption.

Needless to say, much as many Ghanaians will and are disappointed in the Nana Akufo-Addo administration for the several allegations of corruption, many will rightly feel that the alternative in Mr Mahama is not any better. As James Maddison noted, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and the next place, oblige it to control itself.”

So if men were governed by angels, there would not be any need for checks and balances. Likewise, if men were angels. For men are men who govern other men, alas, some of these fallibilities are expected. There is no man-run government anywhere in the world with no fallibility. Men steal or do one evil or another (politicians, yes, but also civil servants, security officials, men of God, ordinary citizens). Men do good too (men of God, civil servants, security personnel, ordinary citizens, and yes, politicians too).

Despite the indiscretions of the Nana Akufo-Addo government, we know that the NDC under Mr Mahama is and will actually be worse. As our elders say, the chief’s hairstyle is emulated by the youth. To put it brutally, vote the lesser of the two evils. There is no angel among men. Dagombas have a saying that, all men sum up to nine over ten. Thus, there is no perfect man anywhere. Your vote is and should be for the one who is better on the balance of comparability. And each has their unique scale with which deeds and misdeeds are measured.

Like in 2016, this is yet another opportunity for Ghanaians to reaffirm the relevance of elections as a democratic value in shaping the future of a country. We learn from 2016 in Ghana and last month in USA that it takes a total collapse of an incumbent to lose a second bid. Has the Nana-led government collapsed that extraordinarily? With few hours until elections, vote wisely. Vote for the candidate who will improve your life, not impoverish it. Vote President Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP! The battle remains the Lord’s!!!

God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong!

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