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Ghana needs normalization government now for just one term

By Kweku Duodu Essuman
Article Ghana needs normalization government now for just one term
DEC 9, 2021 LISTEN

Friends, Fellow Ghanaians, Countrymen and women, I greet you. My name is Kweku Duodu Essuman and I am a resident of Ngleshie Amanfro in the Ga South District of Greater Accra Region.

Permit me to address you on this simple but pertinent message I have titled, “Ghana needs Normalization Government now for just one term.”

In the ensuing exposé I will explain what I mean by Normalization government, go ahead with why we need such a government at all, why we need it now, and why we need it for just one term of four years. I will then proceed with how to bring such a government into being under the current constitutional and political dispensation and finally conclude with some action plan.

1. Normalization Government

By Normalization Government I mean a stop gap government, or a specialpurposed government, a “neutral” government or better still a one-term government that will target the implementation of policies and strategies fundamental to the socio-economic development of the country which past governments have ignored and current and subsequent governments formed by political parties can also not implement over time. This Normalization government should be constituted necessarily by an independent candidate President, a Vice President and not more than nineteen (19) ministers who will all hold office for just one term and be excluded permanently from future politics of the country. You will know later why this conditions are necessary.

2. Why Normalization Government

Every political realist will agree with me that under the current political dispensation our national politics will be dominated by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for the next thirty to forty years if not more. However there are some fundamental actions, policies, programs and strategies that should be put in place to fast-track our development which these two parties have failed to implement and will fail to do so, should they be in power even for the next century. The wish by some Ghanaians for a third force also seems illusionary as I have already alluded to, but should even another political party emerge to replace the existing two dominant parties I am of the opinion that the problems we are encountering politically and economically as a country will persist. The problem is not with the political arrangement we have developed under the fourth Republican Constitution as some seem to suggest; that is, two major parties of almost equal strength and a number of minor parties which are of no significance. Perhaps for an ideal situation, after the Normalization Government has sanitized the political terrain, we will need to strengthen these two major parties at the branch and ward levels in addition to the already well organized constituency and national structures and develop two or three minor parties that can be individually or collectively strong enough to determine which of the two dominant parties wins power at any point in time. The problem is therefore the inability of governments formed by political parties to handle some critical developmental issues as a result of institutional, attitudinal and some self-inflicted socio-economic bottlenecks.

What then are these crucial issues impeding the development of our country which these governments formed by political parties are finding almost impossible to fix?

They are many but I will dwell on these four major ones to make my case;

  • Changing the 1992 Constitution and some Acts of Parliament inimical to the development of the country
  • Fixing the economy
  • Reducing the rising political temperature
  • Mobilizing all Ghanaians home and abroad for nation building

3. Difficulties in Changing the 1992 Constitution and some Acts of Parliament

Let’s take the first issue, the difficulties governments formed by political parties face in changing the 1992 constitution. The Constitution is the legal framework that guides our governance system, provides the rights and responsibilities of citizens as well as serves as the prime law of the Land. The 1992 fourth

Republican Constitution has been the most sustainable but has also been identified by most well-meaning Ghanaians as a major source of our national problems and need to be changed.

Long before the recent #FixTheCountry demonstrations re-ignited calls for change in the 1992 Constitution and followed up with the gathering of one million signatures for the purpose, there have been in the past more cogent requests in that direction from notable Ghanaians with diverse backgrounds.

Prof Ransford Gyampo of the Political Science Department of University of Ghana and the General Secretary of the Legon Chapter of University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has in the past couple of years suggested several times in interviews on air that “the 1992 Constitution has outlived its purpose” and need to be changed. Mr James Kwabena Bomfe (a.k.a. Kabila), a past General Secretary of CPP, at the least opportunity on various Radio talk shows attributes all the nation’s woes to the 1992 constitution and calls for its change. Archbishop Duncan Williams in an interview with Paul Adom Otchere on Metro TV’s Good Evening Ghana program in March 2019 suggested that Ghana should have a period of twenty five years election- free period within which the leading political parties should agree to alternate power for the nation to fix some of the constitutional and developmental challenges. That is a serious suggestion bordering on constitutional change. On the same program the eminent Archbishop asserted that failure to effect the suggested change by 2024 might plunge the nation into chaos. May Almighty GOD have mercy to avert any such calamity.

Our first President of the fourth Republic, the late Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, who superintended the promulgation of the 1992 Constitution and was clearly interested in the Presidential elections conducted in 1992 but refused to accept so until the eleventh hour and manipulated the system to favour his purposes and thus created most of the weaknesses, also called for a change in the constitution in his 2018 June 4th celebration address.

When President Obama of the United States of America visited us in 2008 and made that profound statement that Ghana needed strong institutions but not strong men, he was categorically referring to amendments to our constitution.

Ordinary Ghanaians have expressed similar concerns and fears daily on what I consider lamentations on various Radio & TV programs hosted by Bernard Avle, John Hughes, Kwame Sefa Kai, Dr Randy Abbey, Paul Adom Okyere, OB, Nana Aba Anamoah, Captain Smart, Odiahenkan Kwame Yeboah, and a number of other Radio and TV talk show hosts whilst Social media is awash with several #ChangeTheConstitution campaigns by mainly the youth.

The current year has witnessed perhaps the loudest calls for a change in the 1992

Constitution. Apart from the agitations by the #FixTheCountry and other youth groups, hardly a day passes without one call or the other for a change in the constitution in both social and traditional media.

Dr Kobina Arthur Kennedy, a past NUGS President who championed the antiPNDC alutas of the mid 80s, a staunch member of the NPP and a regular contributor to topical national issues in social media, in one of his recent write-ups titled “Moving the FixGhana Movement Forward” had this to say on the 1992 Constitution; “The fundamental truth is that the 1992 Constitution needs significant reforms.”

Another Ghanaian icon, Sir Sam K. Jonah in a lecture at the Rotary Club of Accra East, on the topic ‘Down the Up Escalator: Reflections on Ghana’s Future by a Senior Citizen’, which generated varied responses in both social and traditional media, also commented on the 1992 Constitution as follows: “Firstly, to have a meaningful democracy, we cannot continue on the path of a tripod with one leg stronger than the other two combined. We must commit to review the experiment with the aim of strengthening accountability and ensuring that democracy delivers real development to the people. Democracy is meaningless unless it is capable of improving the living standards of the people and providing decent living conditions for at least the very poor in our society. To achieve this, the Constitution must change.” (emphasis mine)

Dr Asibi O. Abudu, a former Chief Economist of the Bank of Ghana in an interview on Joynews’ AM Show on 23 May 2021, likened the 1992 Constitution to a coup d’état. Hear him; “I don’t know where the 1992 Constitution got its inspiration from but it doesn’t obey the laws of democracy. This is because democracy says we should have three separate wings, all of them independent of each other with equal weight. But the 1992 Constitution which I consider a coup d’état does not do that.” He goes on further to suggest that constitutions must be changed every 25 years.

The former Chief of Staff at the Presidency under the administration of John

Agyekum Kuffour, Kwadwo Okyere Mpiani recently suggested in an interview on Citi TV that the Vice President position be removed or replaced with that of Prime Minister among other constitutional change issues.

Another clergy, the Rt. Rev. Prof. Osei Sarfo-Kantanka, a past Bishop of the Kumasi Diocese of the Methodist Church Ghana has also recently added his voice to the need to change the 1992 constitution. Speaking at the launch of his book titled: ‘Who owns the land and who rules the land’ in Kumasi on 21st September 2021, Prof. Sarfo-Kantanka said after a careful view of the poverty issues and the governance system, “you cannot help but come to the conclusion that there are so many things with our constitution which are not right. And we need to take a whole look at it.”

I agree with Prof Gyampo, Mr Kwabena Bomfe, Sir Sam Jonah and all those who are of the opinion that the 1992 Constitution has not only “outlived its purpose” but is a major source of our woes as a nation and need to be changed. Our rancourous political and electoral system, vigilantism, weak and poor performing state institutions including the Legislature and some security agencies, corruption and bad governance practices, reckless judgment debt payments by the State, the Energy sector crisis, financial scandals that gets no one punished, environmental degradation including galamsey and plastic menace, poor economic performance and a host of national problems can all, in a way, be attributable to the 1992 Constitution.

The prime objective of the 1992 Constitution seems to be the consolidation of our democracy and rightly so, in view of the instability that characterized previous constitutions. That explains most of its limitations; the hybrid system that undermines Parliament’s supervisory power and the creation of a strong Executive President that has control on almost all state institutions including purely commercial state owned enterprises and corporations by way of appointment of not only CEOs but Board members of these organizations, the accommodation of the transitional provisions in spite of strong misgivings on them as well as acceptance of other clauses that compromised transparency and good governance practices were all done ostensibly for consolidation of our democracy. As said already, it is also true that most of the limitations of the Constitution were the results of deliberate manipulations by the late Flt Lt J. J. Rawlings to serve his purposes.

However by 2009, after two successful changes in government it had become apparent that the fear of coups d’état which posed a major threat to the fourth republican Constitution in 1992 had significantly gone down. Media pluralism as well as the changed global outlook on coups d’état had all contributed immensely to allay the fears of Ghanaians. Though there have been incidences of instability in recent times including a case of secession led by the late Papavi and the alleged coup plot by Dr Mac Palm & co currently in court, Ghanaians in general have lesser fears of any overthrow of the 1992 Constitution now than it was the case prior to 1992. Besides, the eight year rule each by both NDC and NPP from 1992 to 2008 had brought to the fore all the issues of corruption, winner-takes-all, nepotism, cronyism and bad governance practices that had their roots in the 1992 Constitution. In simple language the 1992 Constitution completed its job and revealed all its weaknesses by the end of 2008 and needed to be changed by then.

Perhaps in response to public outcry on the need to change the Constitution then, the NDC government under the late President Prof John Evans Atta-Mills inaugurated the 1992 Constitution Review Committee (CRC) on the 11th of January 2010. The high powered Commission which had Prof Albert Kodzo Fiadzo as the Chairman and the erudite Lawyer Dr Raymond Akongburo Atuguba as the Executive Secretary submitted its report to Government on the 20th

December 2011. Government, in accordance with Article 280 (3) of the

Constitution, issued a White Paper within six months after receiving the report and got it gazetted on 15th June 2012. In the White Paper, Government accepted most of the recommendations of the Commission and provided reasons and alternatives for the recommendations rejected.

The next step was the implementation of the accepted White Paper recommendations, and here, permit me to quote what the White Paper itself said on this. “The next step after the issuance of this White Paper is the implementation of the recommendations which have been accepted. For this purpose, Government is setting up a 5-member Implementation Committee with the mandate to implement in strict compliance with Chapter 25 of the Constitution on ‘Amendments to the Constitution’, the recommendations that have been accepted by Government.” The White Paper goes on further, “The Implementation Committee is to start work immediately, (emphasis mine) but because this is an Election Year, it is most likely that actual processes leading to amendments may have to be deferred till after the elections.” Unfortunately we lost President Prof John Evans Atta-Mills in July 2012 but thank GOD the elections came on successfully and the same NDC party won to form a government this time under President John Mahama. One would have thought that the election results had made it easier for the implementation of the White Paper recommendations since the same party that initiated the processes of amendments was still in power. However, the John Mahama-led NDC government could not implement the White Paper recommendations, neither have two successive NPP governments under President Nana Akuffo-Addo been able to do so in spite of advocacy and agitations by some citizens including Lawyer Sampson Lardi Ayenini, the host of Joy FM’s Newsfile program and the current Journalist of the Year and some concerned CSOs and lately the NDC.

Now the million dollar question. Why have the numerous calls for a change in the 1992 Constitution in the past fallen on deaf ears and the CRC report failed to be implemented and the recent agitations failed to illicit any response from officialdom?

Countrymen and women, the fact of the matter is, no government formed by a political party can implement any meaningful constitutional change in this country. I repeat, no government under NDC or NPP or any other political party can undertake the needed Constitutional amendments that we all desire and implement. I will give reasons later.

4. Some Critical Concerns that the Fiadzo Committee and White Paper did not address

Going through the White Paper it is not hard to fathom that the accepted recommendations that cannot be implemented to date are not even touching on some of the controversial chapters and clauses that are of greater concern. For instance some of us believe that no meaningful amendments to our Constitution can be made without expunging entirely Article 71 which has not been touched by the White Paper recommendations. It has been one Article our political elites have used to perpetuate George Orwell’s Animal Farm situation on Ghanaians since 1992. The system whereby majority of public servants are under Single Spine while a small group of the same Public Service, mostly of the ruling class, have special undisclosed remuneration arrangement is not healthy. What justification does our political elites have in cancelling end-of-service benefits to the average worker in the early 90s because it had become a burden on the national purse and go behind in the Constitution to install hefty ex-gratia to themselves? End-ofservice benefits to both private and public sector workers which were nowhere near the ex-gratias of today, were paid only once usually on retirement after say twenty to forty years’ service, and that had to be cancelled because it was hurting the economy. Now gargantuan ex-gratias are paid every four years to political elites and what is more disturbing is that they are paid irrespective of whether the beneficiary is still in public service or off.

By this arrangement some politicians in public service might have taken multiple ex-gratia seven (7) times since 1992 and continue to be in service. Some Members of Parliament argue that theirs are not ex-gratia but accrued salary arrears paid after their actual salaries are determined at the end of the four year term. Which other public servant gets his or her actual salary determined after the end of term of service? As if that is not enough the list of Article 71 beneficiaries has been expanded over time, according to the Trades Union Congress [1] (TUC) and the latest additions are the wives of the President and Vice President who are now officially to be paid monthly salaries for roles conferred on them by convention and political machinations rather than by the Constitution or statutes. There can be no justification for this and need to be scrapped. It is time all public and civil servants, from the President to the least in the Public service, are placed on Single Spine. The TUC, in the above referenced Press Statement, collaborates this stance too.

The Fiadzo Committee also did not touch on the huge powers of the President that weakens the other two arms of government and other pertinent recommendations I have enumerated below.

By the White Paper recommendations that cannot be implemented, the President still appoints the IGP, Electoral Commissioner, and heads of other Commissions, Regulatory Bodies, Authorities as well as State owned Enterprises and Corporations.

If the CRC report without such amendments cannot be implemented all these years, which party can attempt that comprehensive change we all desire?

What therefore makes it difficult for governments sponsored by political parties to change the 1992 Constitution?

5. Why Governments formed by Political Parties Find it difficult to change the 1992 Constitution

Firstly, to NPP and NDC and any other political party, changing the 1992 Constitution meaningfully when they are in power is like giving one a dagger to stab oneself, and no rational person will do that. The 1992 Constitution, as it is now, provides parties in government enormous political and economic advantages over their opponents apart from the normal incumbency advantages.

Therefore when parties are out of power you see them clamouring for change in the constitution as the NDC is seen seriously agitating now with electoral reforms including appointment of the Electoral Commissioner by a neutral body. Let them come to power and their narrative will be different.

Take the huge power at the center where the President has some control on all public institutions by way of appointments which also provides jobs for the boys and compensating positions to party financiers.

A new President, I understand makes over 7,000 appointments, I stand for correction. The President not only appoints heads of Commissions, Regulatory Authorities and public Institutions of sensitive nature but also appoints directors of Boards as well as CEOs of various public and quasi-public organizations including purely commercial public entities. In some instances even middle level management positions have been politicized and appointed from Jubilee House. The Public Affairs Directorates of some public institutions have been hijacked by party operatives in addition to several party men serving as Personal Assistants (PAs) attached to almost all senior public positions.

Apart from these 7,000 appointments, members of parties in power become beneficiaries of public contracts, selective sale of public property including prime land, and sometimes illegal operations such as “galamsey” and chain saw logging. Even at the grassroots level it is on record that management of public toilets changes hands immediately government changes, whilst party members fight over School Feeding contracts. Even though most of these appointees are very competent with requisite academic and professional qualifications backed by appreciable years of experience, their loyalty to the party often undermines their effectiveness. Members of Parliament openly boast of the number of their constituents they are able to secure jobs in the Security Services and other public institutions. How can any government sponsored by a political party dare change this “juicy” but very worrying trend?

One may be tempted to say that some members of political parties kill and maim for power just for these benefits rather than the national interest and will resist any attempt by their respective parties to do the right thing.

Secondly, should even a party have the political will to carry on with the needed constitutional changes as in the CRC report, it will fail with implementation because of the mistrust and rancour that exist between our two leading parties, NDC and NPP. The mistrust and pettiness are so deep that the common grounds needed for such a national exercise to be carried through cannot be reached. It has been said, though on a lighter note that, the only time our two parties agree on issues is when remunerations for the various arms of government are fixed. Even a common name for our seat of government is currently contentious. It is Jubillee House when NPP is in power, and changes to Flagstaff House when NDC takes over. For a change in the constitution to materialize there should be national consensus. All stakeholders should have one common goal, the national interest. This cannot be achieved under any of our dominant parties or any other party, so meaningful amendments to the 1992 Constitution cannot happen under their watch.

In Nana Akufo Addo’s first term an attempt was made to tackle only one issue; the election of MMDCEs on partisan lines, that is to effect changes in Articles 55 (3) and 243 (1) of the Constitution. These were two harmless clauses out of the over one hundred and ninety (190) amendments recommended in the CRC report. We are all witnesses to what happened. Initially the NDC supported the move because it seemed good for our decentralization efforts. Then after wasting so much scarce resources and time on it the NDC left the boat and as a result the whole exercise was aborted. If these parties could not agree to a change on just one issue, how can they agree to change the whole Constitution?

The Right to Information Bill took about twenty years to pass and the implementation of ROPAL is still in limbo all due to the fact that our two dominant parties do not trust each other.

6. Some needed amendments to the Constitution

Some of the crucial amendments that should find their way into any new Constitution include the following:

On Local Governance, we need not only elect MMDCEs whether on partisan or non-partisan lines, but have to deepen our decentralization efforts, strengthen the human capital of District and Municipal Assemblies and increase the District Assembly Common Fund from the current 5% to about 20%, by amending Article 252 (2) and also ensure that no deductions whatsoever are made at the top before regular disbursement. This will not only kill the winner-takes-all syndrome but enable MMDCEs to be more responsible for the development of their respective localities. The disbursement of the funds should be regular and also be done at a desk at the Ministry of Finance instead of a whole Secretariat for the purpose to reduce cost of governance. Assemblymen and women can be paid and trained on birth and death data collection as well as security information gathering in addition to their normal Assembly responsibilities. This will help fix our huge national data problem as well as solve the situation where communal violence and other security concerns are left to conflagrate after weeks of tensions without the attention of National Security.

On the Presidency the age limit of 40 still touted by the CRC report and the White Paper seems unnecessary in this age where twelve year olds are gaining admission to do degree programs at our premier University. After all, there are no minimum education qualifications for the President thus giving room for Maame Ekua Donkor and the like to contest, why should there be age limit? I have talked about significant reduction in the appointing powers of the President already. Most of the sensitive appointments can be taken over by a bi-partisan Parliamentary Committee and Councils of some Institutions like the public University Councils do with the appointment of Vice Chancellors, while the Public Services Commission is resourced with Human Resource experts to handle other public appointments. The recommendation in the CRC report and the acceptance in the White Paper that the President pays tax is in the right direction but in its implementation the President as well as other top government officials should all be seen every month filing their tax returns to motivate Ghanaians do same. In view of the cost and tensions involved with re-run of presidential elections can we explore a system that always produces a winner one time.

The CRC report recommends a cap on the membership of the Supreme Court to fifteen (15) and that is accepted by the White Paper. The number seems to be still large and can be reduced to nine (9) which compares favourably with other richer democratic countries like the US. We need to be very mindful of cost of governance at this level of development even though democracy is said to be expensive. If the suggestion from some legal experts to decouple the Minister of Justice position from that of the Attorney General is legally feasible why don’t we go ahead and do it but rather keep on wasting resources on the newly created Office of the Special Prosecutor without achieving the desired results? The Executive will certainly not be comfortable with an independent non-Cabinet member Attorney General but it seems that is what we need.

The Council of State currently seems to be an avenue for keeping some Senior Citizens in government with perks. Council of State members who are not full time public workers and should be earning sitting allowances are now part of article 71 salary earners and beneficiaries of car loans. If we want the Council as a second

Legislative Chamber let us be forthright with it. As it is now the Council’s role and advice to the President should be more binding or else it should be scrapped.

For more transparency in governance, the Declaration of Assets and

Disqualification Act 1998 (Act550) should be amended for assets declared to be audited and published.

More transparency should be thrown on award of public contracts by publishing shareholders and directors of winning companies.

Since Members of Parliament are not agents of development but essentially law makers and monitors of Executive actions, attempts to reduce the cost of governance, which should be of utmost importance, should consider reducing the number of electoral constituencies from the current 275 to the initial 200 or less. The increase from 200 in 1992 to 275 to date has been the result of gerrymandering motivated by NDC/NPP rivalry and unnecessary politicization rather than national interest.

State funding of serious political parties should be considered in discussions on universal participation in political activities as well as the fight on corruption.

A third reason why we should consider changing the entire constitution one time is that attempts to do that piecemeal will not only be time wasting but unnecessarily costly. For a change in any of the entrenched clauses of the Constitution there should be a referendum and one of such referenda was scheduled for 17th December 2019 for the change in Article 55 (3) referenced above. In fact the process was aborted when the Government realized the opposition NDC was going to campaign for a “NO” vote. The President in his working tour at Cape Coast recently reiterated that anytime the NDC changed their mind to support the proposed amendment he will readily re-initiate the process. But is that necessary? Why not attempt changing the whole constitution in response to the numerous requests?

Clearly, only a one-term Normalization Government that has no allegiance to any political party can have the needed political will and the trust of all stakeholders including our two leading political parties to change the 1992 Constitution meaningfully.

7. Difficulties in Fixing the Economy

Apart from the difficulty in changing the constitution, a second reason, and perhaps the most compelling, why a Normalization Government is urgently needed is the inability of past and present governments to fix the economy and the likelihood that no future government sponsored by a political party can do so.

There is everything wrong with the Ghanaian economy. The economy size of about USD70 billion is just too small and its expansion should be the number one priority of all future governments. There is also the weak structure that has been highlighted in the literature by economists and in various budgets by the politicians. In most economies normally, it is growth in the primary productive sectors such as Agriculture and Manufacturing that drive growth in the Services sector. In the case of Ghana, a booming Services sector has been superimposed on a weak, shrinking, unproductive Agriculture sector and a dying Manufacturing sector resulting in what can be termed “kwashiorkor” economy. The 2022 Budget puts the sectoral distribution of Nominal GDP for the first two quarters of 2021 as follows: Services - 51.9%, Industry – 26.7% and Agriculture – 21.3%

Recent efforts by the Akuffo Addo governments to resuscitate the two prime sectors with the Youth in Agriculture, Planting for Food and Jobs, Rearing for Food and Jobs and 1D1F programs are in the right direction but like all party manifesto programs their sustainability cannot be guaranteed. Ghana’s sovereign debt has soared to 76.1% of GDP as at June 2021 according to the 2022 Budget statement. Though part of the increase is explained by Covid expenditures and banking sector clean-up it is a worrying trend and an albatross on the economy. There is also the dual phenomenon; a relatively small, organized and controllable formal sector of the economy that provides the bulk of government revenue, and a huge amorphous informal sector that lacks data and difficult to manage. Added to these are the average Ghanaian’s poor attitude of preferring foreign goods to locally manufactured ones which undermines every effort to boost local production and other nation-wrecking vices such as corruption, smuggling, tax evasion and general indiscipline. All these seem to be beyond the capabilities of governments formed by political parties to fix. Why?

Fixing the economy implies putting up well thought-out plan (often medium to long term) to restructure the economy by prioritizing agriculture and other productive sectors of the economy with heavy investments to make them more productive and efficient, leading to food self-sufficiency and supply of needed inputs for expansion in the manufacturing and industrial sector to absorb the teeming unemployed youth.

A cursory glance at the ABFA (Annual Budget Fund Amount from oil revenue)) Utilization by Priority Area for Jan-Sep 2021 in the 2022 Budget Statement will give you an idea of where our priorities lie as a country. Whilst Education & Health Services Delivery and Roads, Rail & Critical Infrastructure had allocations of GHS808.61 million and GHS1,385.00 million and utilization of GHS412.76 (i.e. 51.0%) and GHS828.64 million (i.e. 59.8%) respectively out of a total budgetary allocation and utilization of GHS2,585.10 million and GHS1,420.04 million respectively, Agriculture had a paltry GHS10 million budgetary allocation and only GHS2.93 million (i.e. 29.3%) utilization.

Fixing the economy also entails taking measures to formalize the huge informal sector to expand the tax net to increase government revenue, increase exports to ensure balance of payment surplus to stabilize the domestic currency, adopt appropriate policies to make the public sector more productive and efficient as well as incentivizing the private sector to champion the growth agenda. Making a conscious effort to tackle attitudinal challenges such as the high foreign taste of the average Ghanaian and fighting corruption should be high on the agenda to fix the economy. Fixing the economy demands setting right priorities with all policies, including social interventions, assessed first on their impact on the economy before all other considerations. Since the private sector is deemed by all to be the engine of growth, it should be the fulcrum of all national developmental policies and reflect in sectorial policy directions as follows:

  • Quality education from kindergarten to tertiary for all at minimum public cost
  • Quality health services for all at minimum public cost
  • Quality infrastructure for all at minimum public cost  Quality justice system for all at minimum public cost  Quality security for all at minimum public cost.

In other words, wherever possible the private sector should be motivated to take advantage of all programs directed at the growth of the economy and thus reduce public funding for such programs. With this in mind, the implementation of the very laudable Free SHS program for instance, wouldn’t have sidelined private schools and made them redundant at great economic cost to their owners and the nation as a whole and saddle the public purse with the total cost.

8. Why the Economy cannot be fixed

These are solutions to our economic woes known to even Economics students at SHS level and some have been repeated in national annual budgets year after year.

The question is why can’t they be implemented if they are known?

The same lack of political will and mistrust between our two dominant parties. Any attempt at restructuring the economy should begin with a medium to long term economic blueprint. We can call it the 10- 20- 40- or 100- year Development Plan, Strategic Plan or Marshall Plan. It is the economic framework that underpins the country’s economic developmental agenda and encapsulates its long term vision.

The importance of National Development Planning cannot be overemphasized. The father of Development Planning in Ghana, the late J. H. Mensah in 1963 revealed: “… the real value of a plan is to give to the nation a sense of direction and to institute a system of purposive discipline.” [2]

The Catholic Bishops Conference in a communique issued at the end of their annual Plenary recently advocated that the adoption of a National Development Plan by our governments should not only be backed by law but be made an entrenched clause in the constitution, signifying the importance they attached to the subject.

Therefore whilst the Constitution serves as an indispensable legal framework that guides governance of a country, the National Development Plan can be said to be the indispensable economic framework that directs the economic development of the country. All governments including NDC and NPP governments under the 1992 fourth Republican Constitution acknowledge this fact. So what has been done in this regard within the past twenty nine years?

.The country’s attempts to put up development plans as framework for spearheading development from 1992 include the following:

  • Ghana Vision 2020 developed in 1995
  • Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (2001-2003),
  • Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (2004-2007) and
  • Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda I, II, and III (2010-2013), (2014-2017) and (2018-2021) respectively.
  • Currently what seems to be in place is the Ghana Beyond Aid Program being part of the broader Ghana Care Obatanpa Agenda of the Nana Akufo-Addo II NPP government.

All of these except the 1995 Vision 2020 Agenda seem to be short term planning documents whose outcomes have not been desirable. They are also documents put together by technocrats at the Ministries.

The first serious attempt from 1992 to get the country a comprehensive universally acceptable long term development blueprint was the 40-Year National Development Plan (2018-2057) by the Mahama-led NDC government. The document can as well be termed the vision of Ghana @ 100. Unlike previous plans, the 40-Year Development Plan was the baby of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), then led by Dr Kwesi Botchway, the Chairman of the Commission and Dr Nii Moi Thompson, the Director General.

This long term development plan (LTDP) seemed to be unique and strategic since its implementation was to be tied to the Africa Union’s (AU) 50-Year Agenda 2063 and the 15-year Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

A lot of resources (both donor funds and counterpart GoG funds) went into its preparation since stakeholders were consulted across the country, including input from the then main opposition party, NPP. The plan was supposed to start in 2018 and three years down the line, nothing has happened. What are the obstacles impeding the implementation of the 40-Year Development Plan or an amended version?

Firstly, like the Constitution, the National Development Plan (NDP) embodies the economic vision of the entire country over specified time frame and should therefore be universally acceptable. The 40-Year Development Plan of the Mahama government was therefore dead at birth the moment dyed-in-the-wool NDC gurus like Dr Kwesi Botchway and Dr Nii-Moi Thompson were appointed to champion its preparation, even though the duo are among the finest economists the country can boast of. Though the main opposition Party might have sent some input, they were not ready to support its implementation due to such partisan considerations they could not voice out because they would have acted the same.

Couldn’t we for once, in the national interest, have appointed less known partisan qualified Ghanaians to head the NDPC? The mistrust between these two dominant parties at play again. NPP fears, as the authors of the document, NDC would take electoral advantage of it when implemented. If not, what else? Why has the document been abandoned since Dr Kwesi Bochtway and his team resigned the moment NDC lost power in 2016? Note, NDC would have done the same thing if it had been the other way round. It seems only a ‘neutral’ government in the form of Normalization government can muster the needed political will to get either the 40-Year Development Plan or its amended version implemented soonest.

Furthermore, party-sponsored governments, as we have them, cannot implement long term development plans because such documents place enormous restrictions on their manifestos.

Since the early 90s when the extension of electricity to rural Ghana without proper long term planning enhanced the political fortunes of the NDC, our two dominant parties have resorted to such ill-planned, short-term, consumer-based, votewinning, ‘free-free’, sometimes populist manifesto promises to guide our economic development. Manifesto programs and initiatives such as the many ad-hoc policies in the education sector including the transformation from an internationally acceptable, now elitist GCE “O” and “A” level system to a localized JSS/SSS, JHS/SHS system, school feeding at the Basic level, overnight conversion of

Polytechnics into Universities, construction of E-Blocks, free SHS and attendant Green and Yellow tracks, and others like LEAP, free maternity care, construction of airport at Ho, state sponsorship of religious pilgrimages and construction of national cathedral, establishment of Zongo development fund to the exclusion of other deprived areas, creation of new regions, Agenda 111 and a host of others, though sometimes laudable, seem to be politically motivated rather than well thought out programs fitting into the long term developmental strategy of the country. If a LTDP is in place governments will be restricted in what programs they prioritize and that might go against their electoral fortunes at least in the short term; hence their reluctance to implement a LTDP.

Now let’s look at why governments sponsored by political parties cannot fix the economy even if there was a long term plan to follow.

Most of the strategies to be adopted to transform the economy and move it from the current GDP of USD70 billion to say USD200 billion in about 10 years or to USD400 billion in say 40 years are of medium to long term duration. For instance if we want to double our GDP in ten years the economy should consistently grow at an average rate of 8% including election years. Strategies to modernize Agriculture including prioritization of irrigation schemes for all-year round production, solving the perennial flooding problems of our major cities and towns, the construction of a new capital city as being proposed in some quarters, or the construction of transformational infrastructural projects such as the USD28 billion Railway master plan will certainly span over four years. The capital requirements for such projects are also so huge that whatever the financing arrangement, their implementation would affect other short term projects that appeal to the electorates. That is what the Economists call opportunity cost. Results of such transformational projects are usually not felt within four years so cannot be used to win votes in the short term. Hence the reluctance of politicians to pursue such essential long term programs.

Expanding the tax net to cover butchers and khebab sellers, market men and women, some professionals in the private sector, artisans and others in the huge informal sector, for instance, is the right thing to do in fixing the economy but will happen at a great political cost since opponents will deliberately misinterpret it as government being heartless to make it unpopular. This is evident in the initial hostile response from the opposition NDC to the government’s initiative to expand the tax net through the newly introduced electronic transaction tax. Though the elevy tax seems not to be addressing the long term reorganization of the informal sector to make it more productive and efficient, it is likely to rake in more revenue to pluck the holes Covid 19 and 2020 elections expenditures had created. But for the first time under the 4th republic the opposition NDC has rejected the 2022 budget and thus torpedoed the e-levy tax amidst constitutional controversy in parliament. As usual the NDC seems to be taking full political advantage of the Covid 19 induced hardships at the expense of the bigger national interest of rebuilding the economy. But can anybody blame them for doing that? As the major opposition party they have every right to ensure the average Ghanaian is not overburdened with unwarranted taxes targeted at resolving fiscal challenges perceived to be caused by election 2020 over expenditures rather than Covid 19 fight. Note, the NPP would act the same way since both parties are in the business of seeking their party interest first before the national interest. The NDC will continue to make NPP unpopular by attacking any sound but tough policy aimed at salvaging the economy in the short term let alone agreeing on tougher medium/long term policies aimed at ‘fixing the economy’. In a crisis period like we have now and with a hung parliament, one would have thought that the NDC should have been consulted on the major issues of the budget but we all know that is not possible. The plain truth is that the tough decisions needed to transform or fix the economy can make the ruling government unpopular and make it lose elections. Political parties are formed basically to win power and consolidate it hence the difficulty in truly fixing the economy.

Take the ‘galamsey’ issue that should be resolved as part of any plan to fix the economy. It is not only hurting the economy and the environment but poses a serious national security risk since Ghana risks importing drinking water in the next decade should we fail the galamsey fight. Both the Mahama and Akuffo-Addo I governments failed in the fight to stop it and the current efforts to bring the malaise under control might also fail. Why?

It is an understatement to say the practice is undesirable. The economic cost of galamsey is unquantifiable. Apart from the land degradation and its associated threat to our major export crop, cocoa, high-cost treated pipe-borne water has become undrinkable nationwide as a result of the malaise. However, galamsey has become a major source of livelihood to many in Ashanti, Central, Western, Eastern and parts of the Northern regions. These people have become a formidable electoral constituency and can blackmail any party that dares to touch the source of their livelihood. That explains why any efforts to stop the practice are relaxed during election time and the current efforts by the dynamic Lands and Forestry Minister, Hon Samuel Abu Jinapor are bound to be stopped by December 2023, if not earlier. In fact any party that insists on stopping galamsey should be ready to lose a chunk of votes in those regions, and the NPP became a victim in the 2020 elections and are likely to suffer the same fate again in 2024 if they pursue the galamsey fight. The practice also involves powerful political and traditional persons.

As a solution, one of the country’s very seasoned journalists and veteran political activist, Kwesi Pratt Jnr, has been advocating for a total ban on gold mining and not only galamsey and I agree with him. The simple reason is that we of this generation have taken our share of whatever gold GOD deposited in our land and should leave the remaining for future generations. Perhaps they may manage it better. Over a century the country’s mineral wealth has benefited mainly foreign interests and a few individuals rather than the entire nation but has destroyed our environment and threatens our very survival. The economy can be developed without gold. Which of our political parties can dare stop galamsey let alone ban gold mining altogether?

It seems only a one-term Normalization government can stop the practice and initiate planned measures to expand the agriculture and manufacturing sectors to absorb the large number of our youth depending on gold mining for survival.

Other tough decisions that cannot be addressed by governments sponsored by political parties as part of fixing the economy include corruption and expansion of domestic production capacity

Corruption is another canker that all past and current governments have paid lip service to its fight because they are just incapable of stopping it. Our democracy has been monetized to the extent that political activity at all levels demands huge sums of money, including Assembly elections. Though the general membership of political parties is supposed to contribute to the funding of the parties, this is not the case. The bulk of funding comes from patrons and political entrepreneurs. These patrons have to be rewarded with juicy contracts and appointments which often corrupt the system. There is also the 10% illicit payments from public contract beneficiaries to awarding agencies and officials at various administrative levels often to fund political parties. Funding of political parties is therefore deeply seethed in corruption and thus makes it difficult for these parties to fight the canker. The canker has permeated all aspects of our national life and need to be confronted head on. Corruption should become high risk crime with heavy penalty. There should be more transparency in assets declaration and should include a lot more people in public responsible positions apart from the politicians. Since those who are to lead the fight are the very culprits, you can imagine the outcome of efforts to eradicate it.

We also need to expand domestic production capacity not only as a national security strategy (at least COVID 19 gave us that lesson if nothing at all) but as a sure way of resolving our dire unemployment problem and balance of payment and associated exchange rate challenges. This has also been touted in several budget statements yet we keep on importing food items like tomatoes, onions, carrots and sometimes plantain and “kontomire”. We are importing everything imaginable from China. If we cannot build fighter planes and sub-marines as well as join the

Space race, can’t we also raise chicken and grow enough tomatoes to feed ourselves? That is why the current government’s efforts in establishing factories under the 1D1F program should not suffer the fate of a similar program under

Osagyefo’s Import Substitution Initiative (ISI) program even though the former involves private participation.

Efforts to expand local poultry capacity to reduce the large imports of frozen chicken is being undermined by high cost of feed locally whilst all attempts to salvage our dying textile industry seem to be frustrated by smuggled cheap textile imports.

Kantanka, Apostle Kojo Safo’s car brand, has been with us for the past twenty years crying for patronage to expand production. Government upon government have visited the company’s annual exhibitions to make promises of supporting the venture. What has prevented government, which has the largest purchasing power, to order say 10,000 Katanka vehicles annually for Ministries, Departments, schools, hospitals, Security and other governmental agencies? Government can take equity interest in the company to enhance their production capacity and take measures to flood the Ghanaian market with their products. That will not only create a local industrial giant like TATA of India but help to solve our unemployment challenge significantly. PROTON is the commonest car in Malaysia used by most public servants including the Prime Minister not because it ranks amongst the best market brands and the most economical, but because it is a Malaysian brand. If Ghanaians are not buying Kantanka vehicles who else will, in spite of Accra hosting African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat? It should be part of the Trade Ministry’s policies to grow local corporate successes into African giants if not global.

Buy made-in-Ghana goods promotion should be a major government policy as part of any strategy to fix the economy and not the ad-hoc, once-a-year promotions we have been witnessing. It should be part of our education curriculum from the basic level. Cocoa drink should be the commonest on the Ghanaian soft drink market and with the strong promotion of other cocoa products we should target processing over 60% of our cocoa. The value added products and the remaining raw exports will earn the country higher revenue whilst the average Ghanaian also enjoys the good nutrients in cocoa apart from the jobs the measure will create. How long are we going to import finished oil products and export raw crude whilst Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) struggles to survive mainly as a result of political interference in its operations? Such nationalistic economic decisions often go against powerful individuals, foreign and party interest hence the dragging of feet in prioritising them in our developmental agenda.

8. Reducing the rising political temperature

A third reason for instituting Normalization Government is the need to reduce the rising political temperature that threatens the very survival of our democracy. Since 1992 Ghanaians have had to pray for successful elections and sustenance of our democracy every four years during election time. Our elections have been bedeviled with violence and sometimes deaths and it has taken the grace of GOD to prevent a Kenyan or Cote d’Ivoire situation. The war drums for 2024 elections have already started sounding. The NDC have declared publicly that they are no more going to Court on any electoral petition and every subsequent electoral difference will be settled at the polling station and you know what that means. Former President John Dramani Mahama forcefully reinforced this position in his recent ‘Thank you Tour’. “Elections are won on the grounds, not Supreme Court. Next time we will take due notice of that. We are going to fight and make sure the right things are done,” he said on GBC URA Radio in Upper East Region.

They (NDC) have boycotted Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meetings because they do not see eye to eye with Mrs Jean Mensah, the Electoral

Commissioner, and have started demonstrations against perceived bad government actions and inactions. They have also initiated stakeholder engagements on electoral reforms which can generate tensions in the coming elections depending on the reactions of the EC and the ruling government.

Within NPP too there are strong indications that the choice of presidential candidate is going to be more turbulent than ever and can generate sensitive religious tensions not only in their primaries but in the country as a whole. NPP are poised to beat the 8-year change-in-government cycle for the first time and have launched the war cry “beating the 8” whilst NDC, boosted by the 2020 results, sees

2024 a done deal. What an “all die be die” or “do or die” affair! The new law against vigilantism is virtually ineffective and only GOD knows how campaigning for 2024 elections is going to be like. Two institutions, the Ghana Police Service and the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), now National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) who are responsible for maintaining internal security, are perceived to be so politicized that not even the appointment of one of the finest in the Service, Dr Akufo Dampare as the substantive IGP and the youngest to occupy that position at

51 and his initial no-nonsense style of policing, gives security experts and the Ghanaian populace in general the confidence that things might change for the better especially in the political terrain.

The bare fact is that if we go with business as usual, 2024 elections might tip us over the cliff. Both parties have kick started their campaigns with salvos from the most likely candidate of the NDC, former President John Dramani Mahama, during his thank you tour and the incumbent, President Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo during his recent project inspection tour as well as other hawks from both ends. As already indicated, as usual 2024 elections will be a battle between NDC and NPP but this time more violent and likely to destabilize our democracy. Let’s all agree to support an independent candidate with ‘normalization agenda’ to win the presidential elections with both NPP and NDC in opposition. That will guarantee the independence of our Security institutions, enhance their effectiveness and certainly reduce the political tensions and keep intact our democracy.

9. The need to mobilize all Ghanaians for development

A final reason why we should bring a Normalization government to power is the need to mobilize all Ghanaians, home and abroad for nation building. Only members of parties in power and their patrons have found themselves in public positions as a result of the winner-takes-all syndrome. Though both NDC and NPP are endowed with smart young professionals and experienced politicians, they all agree that the phenomenon where governance involves only a section of Ghanaians at any point in time does not augur well for our development. It is only President Kuffour who has ever appointed an outsider, Dr Kwesi Nduom, into his Cabinet. Hardly had non patrons of the two dominant parties been given appointments. By so doing we have ignored essential Ghanaian expertise, home and abroad. There should be national policy of enticing Ghanaian experts abroad to partner those at home or government to develop essential projects. For instance the right environment should be created for Ghanaian experts home and abroad in the medical field to establish at least one world class health facility that can entice Ghanaians and other African nationals who seek medical care outside as well as collaborate with Nogouchi to produce vaccine here. The current government’s efforts to establish a Vaccine Institute with a seed fund of USD25 million need to be collaborated with the private sector, especially Ghanaian professionals abroad since the venture is expensive according to experts in the field. Ghana abounds in professionals of international repute in various fields and all such should be searched for and mobilized to assist in nation building. Many of these professionals do not want to be identified with our two dominant parties for obvious reasons and therefore will forever stay on the fence if there is no change. Proper change for development should embrace Ghanaians in all sectors, and it seems only a ‘neutral’ government can bring that change.

10. Recent events that should have united us for development

Recent events have also proven that our two dominant parties can never come together for the national interest as witnessed in the Sanchi Economic Forum under Mahama-led NDC government in May 2014 which NPP boycotted. The pandemic that brought the whole world to a standstill literally for weeks and has shaken even strong economies and caused millions of lives, gives cause to every nation, Ghana inclusive, to rethink its developmental strategy. Wealthy countries have injected huge sums of money to rebuild broken families and businesses. Ghana’s stimulus package of GHS600 million is yet to have the desired impact. In fact what should have happened was the whole country coming together to rethink our development path. Unfortunately COVID-19 hit us in an election year when the strong partisan forces would not allow us to talk unity in the national interest.

Then the unprecedented election results that yielded a hung parliament provided another opportunity for our two dominant parties to come together to lead our developmental agenda. What did we see? Right from day one during the election of the Speaker we sold to the world our divisive nature in a very nasty way and has since not turned back.

Then the #FixTheCountry movement hit the social media and attracted national attention because it had the tendency to develop into an Arab spring. Instead of arousing the nation to a serious discussion of fixing the economy, the usual NPP/NDC blame game prevailed and the promoters of the movement were asked to fix themselves first. Their plan to embark on demonstration was thwarted by the Police until the Courts quashed the Police injunction. The non-partisan demonstration mainly by the youth was finally staged in August 2021 with the call on the government to change the constitution and fix the myriad of national problems as their main concern. Subsequently they have taken the demonstrations to Sekondi/Takoradi and another one staged in the capital a few days ago. It is over three months since the initial demonstration took place and nothing new seems to be happening as a result and nothing will happen irrespective of the number of new demonstrations staged. What again can bring us together to fix the country? The simple answer is that NPP and NDC governments can only provide us with some development by worsening our debt burden to provide some interchanges, roads, hospitals, schools and some vote-winning social interventions but cannot take the hard decisions that will transform the structure of our economy to put us on a sustainable growth path to “fix the country” and solve our huge unemployment and low incomes problems. They can as well not do away with the bad governance practices that threaten our democracy. Yet they are the ones likely to win subsequent elections irrespective of demonstrations and expressions of frustrations by whoever.

11. Sentiments of some Ghanaians on the future

Echoing the sentiments of many Ghanaians, Hiplife musician, Barima Sydney born Sidney Kofi Ofori recently stated frustratingly on Kastle FM that no political party in Ghana can ever help the country to move forward. “In Ghana no party whether NDC, NPP or whichever political party can ever help us to move forward” Sidney told Amansan Krakye in an interview.

In a social media post titled “Why I Stopped Criticising the Nana Addo’s NPP

Admin”, Kwadwo Agyapong Antwi succinctly captures the despondency post

2024 Ghana depicts as follows: “I have stopped criticising this government because I believe that criticism ought to emanate from hope/expectation. And it takes an impossible dose of irrationality to have any iota of hope for the remaining tenure of this administration. I believe that the NDC will win the 2024 elections. And then what? Why would any objective person also hope that a future NDC administration will be any better? Aren’t they also waiting to pick up the shovels from where the NPP will leave them and dig us even deeper into the abyss? The trend of all the negative macro indicators should scare anyone who calls this nation home: youth unemployment is going to get worse, the Ghana Cedi is going to depreciate further, inflation and general cost of living is going to get worse, the debt burden is going to get worse. The security implications of these, coupled with the ripple effects of regional instability, are going to get even more dire. If you think things are bad now, imagine Ghana in say the next twenty years if we continue to play the ostrich.”

Then he continues with some ray of hope but fell short of proposing something concrete like the Normalisation Agenda. “The reality remains that, despite the numerous challenges we face as a nation today, this is actually the best time and perhaps the only window of opportunity we have to work assiduously to turn the fortunes of this nation around. The challenges we face today are but a microcosm of what lies ahead. In twenty years’ time, we would have lost the leverage,” he added.

In a recent interview with Samuel Atta Mensah on Citi TV’s Footsteps program the eminent Professor Emeritus Stephen Addai, one of the greatest Change

Management gurus of our time, reiterated his strongly held belief that Ghana needs committed, competent and selfless leaders outside the NPP/NDC establishments for real change to happen.

Some names of prospective presidential candidates for the 2024 General Elections have already popped up. On the NPP side apart from the two front-runners, the Honourable Minister of Trade, Allan Kyeremanteng and His Excellency the Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, other names doing the rounds in the media space include the maverick Kennedy Agyapong, the Assin Central MP and businessman, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Joe Ghartey, a former Attorney General and MP for Essikadu/Ketan constituency, Mr Boakye Agyarko, a former Minister of Energy, and Dr Konadu Apraku an economist and member of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th parliaments. On the NDC side only Dr Kwabena Duffuor, a former Finance Minister has so far given signals of challenging former President John Mahama in the primaries. Barring any significant anti-establishment happening such as the Normalisation Agenda being proposed, Ghana’s next president will certainly be one of former President John Mahama, the Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and Trade Minister Allan Kyeremanteng. Then what? The same merry-go-round system of running national affairs as expatiated by Agyapong Antwi above.

The Catholic Bishops Conference in the communique referenced above commented on the hardships the average Ghanaian is going through as a result of government actions and inactions and that seems to have fuelled the opposition NDC’s attacks on the government as if they have something better to offer should they win the next elections.

I believe the Normalization Agenda being proposed is one credible solution to the political dilemma confronting all of us and can fulfil the aspirations of many wellmeaning Ghanaians like Kwadwo Agyapong Antwi and Professor Stephen Addai. Let us all help to shape the agenda and mobilize Ghanaians to fund an independent candidate to win the 2024 Presidential elections.

12. Why Normalization Government now

Why should we have such a government now and not anytime later and here I mean by 2024 elections? I have already said we should have had this type of government in 2009 when NDC and NPP had eight year rule each. When there is even period of governance between the two they might both be more receptive to any arrangement to clean the political field for them. We lost 2009 but by the next elections in 2024 each would have had sixteen (16) years. If we miss 2024, it might take another sixteen years or eight to succeed in getting ordinary members of the two parties respond positively to any meaningful change.

Secondly, lessons from COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that any delay on our part to rethink our developmental agenda poses a great risk. The situation where people had money but could not obtain essential medicines and access health care abroad because all national borders had closed should inform us that every plan to expand local capacity in all sectors should begin immediately without delay. Plans to change the 1992 Constitution and to put in place a universally accepted Development Plan and start its implementation cannot go beyond 2024.

Lastly, agitations by the youth in recent times to get authorities fix the country are signs of what can befall us as a country if we fail to act now. Joblessness and frustrations among the youth pose high security risk and we have to fix the country now. Some of the youth have as a result resorted to very reprehensible unGhanaian attitude of insulting our leaders including eminent chiefs held in high esteem openly mainly in social media. What is more worrying is that they are receiving applause in some quarters and their numbers are increasing. That is where we are getting to and it is quiet dangerous.

The former Chief of Staff at the Presidency under the administration of John Agyekum Kuffour in the interview referenced above also expressed his fears of a possible uprising by the youth. “I am not really bothered about a likely coup d’etat. I worry about a possible uprising that could arise out of unemployment in the country. You see somebody who has nothing to lose, has finished university with nothing to lose can get up one day and decide to cause chaos. I fear there may be a similar occurrence as was witnessed in Tunisia sometime back if we do not tackle the high rate of unemployment,” Mpiani lamented.

He admonished the current government to treat the matter with urgency, but can anything meaningful be done without serious long term planning and a paradigm shift from the way we handle our national politics?

Day-light armed robberies as well as heinous and horrendous murders are giving our Security experts sleepless nights and becoming a serious national concern. Though there can be no justification for such abominable acts we cannot divorce such actions from the frustrations the youth are facing and the get-rich-quick craze that we are all guilty of. The rampant use of the Military in quelling communal disturbances and resultant needless deaths in recent times is heightening our already volatile political climate. Plans to reverse this worrying insecurity trend should start now with Normalization government for 2024.

13. Normalization Government for just one term

Why should we have this Normalization government for just one term of four years? Though the seeds of corruption are sown when parties in opposition struggle to power with the support of patrons and political entrepreneurs, they become more corrupt when they try to consolidate power. In opposition they do not have access to public funds but rather promise financiers with juicy contracts and appointments but when they are in power all state funds and resources are under their control and can decide to use for whatever purposes, good or bad. It is when governments are going for second term when you see ostentatious campaign with large billboards and new cars. A Normalization government can fall into the same trap and defeat the purpose of fighting corruption and setting good governance standards if it tries staying in power for more than one term.

Secondly, this government will be acting as an umpire and should be trusted by all stakeholders for it to succeed in changing the Constitution and putting up a Development Plan as well as carry along all Ghanaians for national development. Furthermore an independent candidate must not only garner at least 50% of NPP and NDC votes to win elections but should win the trust of the two parties to be able to effect the needed changes enumerated above. Party loyalist will switch camp for an independent candidate only when they are assured such a move is in the long term interest of their respective parties and that the independent candidate is not going to capitalize on that electoral success to entrench himself/herself in power. Therefore to win the trust of NDC and NPP members an independent candidate with Normalization agenda will not only have to convince them with a good message but assure them of not entrenching himself/herself in power. The transitional provisions in the new constitution should therefore have this one term clause as well as bar all key members of the government from future politics of the country. This is necessary to win the trust of all stakeholders and to take decisions only in the national interest.

14. An independent candidate winning elections

I believe you are now convinced that we need a Normalization government but wondering how any independent candidate can win elections under our current circumstances even with the assurance of one term tenure. It is true that no independent candidate has performed creditably in any elections since independence and the simple reason is that none has had a message that resonated well with the people. They all simply found existing party-led governments to be corrupt and incompetent and wanted to replace them. None had the support of well-meaning Ghanaians.

I expect Ghanaians to first accept or buy into this Normalization agenda in both the traditional and social media, help to shape or fine-tune the agenda, craft a manifesto around the agenda and then mobilize Ghanaians to fund the agenda’s independent candidate in the 2024 elections. It is my hope that if well-meaning Ghanaians including opinion leaders from all the regions come out openly to support such a candidate, the average Ghanaian will do same.

The next phase is getting parliamentary candidates to push this agenda through in the Legislature. Since some of the anticipated constitutional changes are going to affect members of parliament it might be difficult to get NDC and NPP MPs to give their support. In order not to frustrate the programs of the Normalization government there will be the need for influencers in various constituencies, especially those who have not openly identified with existing political parties and their affiliates, to contest parliamentary seats on the one-term normalization agenda to be in Parliament.

15. Nature of the Normalization Government

The lean Normalisation government of not more than 19 ministers should be composed of competent and very qualified Ghanaians who will have the national interest and the future of our children as the only motivation in being in government. This means all ministers of this government will be in Cabinet going by the existing 1992 Constitution and a proposed reduction of the current twenty nine ministries to nineteen is given below.

CURRENT

1. National Security
2. Finance
3. Trade & Industry
4. Defence
5. Interior
6. Foreign Affairs
7. Attorney General & Minister of Justice
8. Local Government, Decentralization, & Rural Development
9. Parliamentary Affairs
10. Communication & Digitization
11. Food & Agriculture
12. Energy
13. Education
14. Health
15. Lands & Natural Resources
16. Roads & Highways
17. Works & Housing
18. Transport
19. Fisheries & Agriculture Development
20. Railway Development
21. Sanitation & Water Resources
22. Tourism, Arts & Culture
23. Gender, Children & Social Protection
24. Chieftaincy & Religious Affairs
25. Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation
26. Employment & Labour Relations
27. Information
28. Youth & Sports
29. Public Enterprises

PROPOSED

1. Total Security
2. Finance
3. Trade & Industry
4 Local Government, Decentralisation & Rural Development
5. Parliamentary Affairs
6. Food , Agriculture & Fisheries Development
7. Energy
8. Education, Youth & Sports
9. Health & Sanitation
10. Lands, Natural Resources & Environment
11. Works & Housing, Roads & Highways Infrastructure
12. Transportation – (Road, Maritime & Aviation)
13. Communication, Science & Technology, ICT Development
14. Business Development (Public Enterprises, Tourism, Arts & Sports business)
15. Gender, Children & Social Protection
16. Justice
17. Culture, Chieftaincy & Religious Affairs
18. Information
19 Employment & Labour Relations

This government should not increase our public debt by borrowing to execute new infrastructure but rather prioritize expanding government revenue internally to complete the numerous existing uncompleted projects scattered all over the country after putting in place a new Constitution and a LTDP within the first year of coming to power. Members of this government should not have the luxury of travelling outside unnecessarily and if possible be under travelling ban to concentrate on the onerous job ahead as well as reduce cost of governance and set the right standards. Therefore purchasing a new aircraft for the presidency should not be a priority.

The government should prioritize removal of the numerous distortions in the economy, one of which the Finance Minister confirmed in 2017 but has failed to correct as promised. In a 3News reportage on 20th September 2017 Mr Ken OforiAtta, addressing CEOs of SOEs at the 2017 edition of the State-Owned Enterprises policy and governance forum, identified the situation whereby CEO’s of SOEs earned more than the President as a distortion that needed to be corrected. He is quoted as saying, “we currently have a mirage of remuneration schedule that we don’t quite understand…I think we need to begin to rationalize it to make it clear where remuneration ends so that it does not go beyond the presidency”, he said.

“Some of you take thrice what the president earns and I think we should look at that based on what you do,” he added.

It is four years since the Finance Minister made that assertion but CEOs of SOEs continue to earn more than the President and will remain so until real change happens because all such CEOs are powerful financiers of the party at various levels.

There are many such distortions in various sectors which this Normalisation government should rectify as part of fixing the country. Politics has become the most lucrative business and attracting all our sharp brains instead of the direct productive sectors. This is a major distortion that should be corrected.

This government should be transparent in all sectors and also set the right standards for subsequent governments to follow.

16. Call for Action

Since this is a non-partisan national agenda, I am calling on all Ghanaians; Nananom, opinion leaders from all the sixteen regions, the Christian and Muslim communities, Labour, Corporate Ghana, Professional Bodies, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Media, our noble Farmers and Fishermen groups,

Academia, the Student body, Men and Women in the Arts including Celebrities, Ghanaians in diaspora as well as #FixTheCountry proponents and followers and the Youth, to give this normalization agenda a serious thought and let their opinions be heard.

It is said, “leadership is cause, everything else is effect.” Let us all help fix the leadership challenge first and all other challenges shall fall in place. God bless our homeland Ghana. I thank you all.

#NormalizationGovernmentNow


[1] Press Statement on the Salaries of Spouses of President and Vice President dated 12th July 2021 by the Trades Union Congress (Ghana)

[2] Thompson, N.M. (2015) Black Star Rising: A 40-Year Journey towards a Just, Free and Prosperous Society. The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Accra International Conference Centre, Ghana

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