Behind what appears to be a fair call by concerned citizens for Government to fix certain aspects of the economy is what appears to be a sinister attempt to launch a vicious attack on the hard-earned reputation and legacy of President Akufo-Addo and his Vice Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.
The plot is so turbid that an honest attempt, which is a citizen's right, to explain how the duo have done their best to fix large portions of a broken system they inherited and what they are doing now to alleviate the plight of citizens following the covid 19 pandemic is unfortunately misinterpreted as “shameless hypocrisy”.
The achievements that President Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia have attained for the country following their election in 2016 are enviable, should be written with golden ink and guarded jealously. For some of their critics, they particularly see using the current plot as a veiled attack on the personality of H. E. Dr. Bawumia and his much anticipated future leadership role in breaking the eight (8).
This is why in our quest to respect and tolerate the view of these critics, it is important to also make a case on how President Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia deserve more praise and support under the current circumstances rather than the berating that we see these individuals engage in the name of free speech.
‘By their opposites, the value of things are appreciated’:
A practical way of appreciating the value of things is to know how unpleasant their opposites feel like. For instance, the experience of a severe headache helps one appreciate the value of sound health. Thus, in order to fully appreciate the efforts President Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia’s Government has put in place to alleviate the plight of Ghanaians, we need to reflect back at the situation they inherited and what they have done positively. This should not be wrongly misinterpreted as ‘equalization’ because the two are grossly incomparable. Besides, it is not wrongs we are comparing to know which is the lesser evil. Rather, we are bringing out facts about how different the two are to enable us appreciate our current situation. For the sake of brevity, I will focus on a few areas that Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia have successfully fixed after the destruction caused by their predecessors. It will be followed by a synopsis of the status quo that Covid 19 has left us with.
President Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia took the reigns of power in 2017 and were confronted with an economy that was sent by John Mahama’s administration to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout. The IMF described the program as one whose aim was to “restore debt sustainability and macroeconomic stability”. This unfortunate economic crisis that John Mahama’s Government had plunged this country into came after the NPP Government under President Kufour had successfully weaned Ghana out of similar IMF programs that he inherited from the previous NDC Government. By entering the program, Ghana which is proudly called the black star of Africa was categorized alongside countries like Zambia which at that time had the worst performing currency until it was overtaken by Ghana.
The conditions of the IMF program occasioned by the NDC Government’s incompetent management of the economy brought immeasurable hardships on the populace key among which was the ban on recruitment.
After winning the elections in 2016, President Akufo-Addo through his Vice Dr. Bawumia worked very hard in a space of less than four (4) years to move Ghana from one extreme of poor economic fundamentals to an excellent feat where Ghana was described as the fastest growing economy in the world. This was an enviable growth pattern that put Ghana in the spotlight for important investments and trade deals until the world was plagued with the Covid 19 pandemic in the same year. It is therefore strange to hear the NDC being loudest in recent times with criticisms when they should have been applauding President Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia for cleaning the mess they left behind.
For a period of close to 5 years under Mahama’s Government, thousands of young Ghanaian graduates did not know what public sector employment meant due to a freeze on public sector recruitment. This period was the difficult moment for the Ghanaian youth. It led to depression and increased crime rates among the youth who could not find meaningful sources of income.
To curb the unemployment menace, President Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia’s Government has through the job creation programs and initiatives created over 2 million jobs. This includes employment into the public sector and other initiatives like NabCo, planting for food and jobs, etc. Today it is very hard to point to an idle graduate who is at least not engaged in any of the job initiatives by the Government.
President Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia inherited a healthcare system that had a completely broken down pre-hospital emergency care system. The Mahama Government in its usual murky deals procured not-fit for purpose 56 vehicles at a whopping 5.5 million dollars. These vehicles were rejected by the National Ambulance service. In fact the first 30 consignment was rejected and described as substandard by then Health Minister Alex Segbefia. President Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia realizing the importance of pre-hospital emergency care revitalized the Ambulance unit by procuring and supplying 307 ambulances for all the constituencies and some key state institutions.
On the health insurance scheme that was saddled with arrears, President Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia’s Government settled the about 1.2 billion NHIS arrears inherited from Mahama’s Government. This together with the introduced mobile renewal platform for NHIS cards brought the health scheme back to life with increase in access to healthcare.
Prior to 2017, Ghanaian parents spent an average of 500 million cedis per year on the education of their senior high school children. This amount posed a burden on most families and kept brilliant students whose parents could not afford to pay out of school. The economic burden that these drop outs posed to society could not be quantified. After assuming office, President Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia successfully implemented the campaign promise dubbed free senior high school education. This policy which was fiercely opposed by the NDC has been successful in graduating over 300,000 students with over 400 of them scoring all 8A1s in the final WASSCE exam representing the best performance in about 6 years.
President Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia also fulfilled a campaign promise of restoring the teachers and nurses training allowance that was abolished by the Mahama administration. The implementation of this policy increased the enrollment in the teaching and nursing training colleges which supply critical sectors of our economy.
5. Taxes and Fuel Price increments
After mismanaging the economy and finally going to the IMF for relief, the Mahama administration employed all manner of avenues to increase revenue which included the taxing of condoms and cutlasses. They also introduced over 15 taxes which the NPP rightly described as “nuisance taxes” and proceeded to abolish them when President Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia came to power.
Furthermore, for the 4 years of Mahama’s presidency we saw petrol prices shoot up by approximately 92 percent. On the contrary, the first 4yrs under Akufo-Addo saw our petrol prices go up by approximately 24 percent.
It is therefore sad to ignore these basic fundamentals and to proceed to try and create a similarity between the “nuisance taxes” we saw due to incompetence and the taxes that have been introduced now as a control measure to the devastating impact of covid 19.
‘Time to come to terms with the devastating impact of covid 19 on the global economy’
The time has come for all and sundry to come to terms with the negative impact that the covid 19 pandemic has had not only on the Ghanaian economy but the global economy as a whole. The devastating effects of this pandemic has been rightly described as the largest in several decades. The good thing is that events surrounding the covid 19 are not as obscure as the virus itself. We all saw and felt the weeks of lockdown; We saw the closure of all land, air and sea borders; We saw the closure of schools for several months; We saw people loose their jobs and worst of all we read or know people who lost their lives as a result of the pandemic. Do we in all fairness think that our buoyant economy that was described as “skyrocketing” will be the same or immediately improve after all these events even as Covid 19 still rages on? I believe all honest souls will answer in the negative. And granted there is the need to fix the country following the devastating effects of these events, do we think condemning a Government that has put all its best to give Ghanaians the best during the pandemic is a much better way of solving the problem than giving them a pat on the back with words of encouragement and support? I leave the answer for the people of fair conscience to answer.
Dr. Issah Imoro
Issah Imoro (OD)
Student, Master of Science in Optometry (Orthoptics and Padiatric Optometry)
University of South Eastern Norway
Mobile: 0047 91274793