Very soon the good people of Ghana would have the opportunity once again to make another historic decision about who and which political party should lead Ghana for the next four years. Come 7th December 2004, Ghanaians will be called upon to choose between a party that ensures and guarantees individual liberties and the empowerment of the private sector and the party that restricts and kills private sector initiatives. The aim of this article is not intended to focus on the achievements or otherwise of the ruling NPP government, but rather it is intended to make certain comments about some issues raised by Professor Evans Atta-Mills in his recent tour of Parts of Northern and Brong Ahafo regions of Ghana.
In every electioneering campaign, it is usual that parties present their manifestos to the electorate for greater scrutiny so that informed decisions about which political party will best serve their needs and interest can be made. It is also usual in the political arena for both the government and the opposition parties to criticise each other with the view of winning votes. These are political gymnastics and are in consonance with modern politics. Due to the high illiteracy rate coupled with sheer ignorance of the electorates in our part of the world, some political parties overdo certain things which ultimately create mis-information and misjudgements which do not benefit us as a nation.
Upon reading between the lines and analyzing the statement by Professor Mills in the article on ghanaweb on 28th October 2004 during his campaign tour of some part of Northern and Brong Ahafo regions, some of us are at sea because some of us cannot fathom the ideals he and his NDC preaches.
In the first place, Professor Mills described Kufuor as incapable, inexperienced, and selfish and that Ghanaians should support him to wrestle power so that doom will not befallen on Ghanaians.
Prior to 2000, every Ghanaian conscious about the Ghanaian economy will bear testimony to the fact that Prof.Mills who headed the Economic team was not functioning leading to the very bad shape of the economy of which NPP inherited .
From the little that we have seen and my personal observation over the last four years, I would like to state emphatically that President Kufuor is the leader with the most agile capabilities, experienced politician of our time, and the most selfless and human-centred President Ghana has ever had since independence. It therefore sounds very absurd when people with high pedigree in the area of politics could make such untrue and unprofessional statement of this sort. Ghana is best footed today than it was during his time as the vice president.
There is also another statement from Prof. indicating that majority of Ghanaians are grappling with more serious socio-economic difficulties and misery under the NPP government. What I want to point out is that after having left a completely broken down and shattered economy, does he expects recovery with electric effect? If he really believes in realism then he should know that it was totally difficult for the new government to restore the economy back on track and improve the lives of the people within the four year mandate.
Improving and uplifting the socio-economic well-being of people involves wealth creation and this can be achieved through the empowerment of the private sector. His party and the NDC government provided and sought only short-term solutions to our socio-economic problem and that is why it is very difficult for them to understand and accept a party that seeks not only to finding answers to our immediate problems but to lay down a solid foundation and to develop long-term problem solving framework that will make the economy strong. Ad-hoc problem solving is not the right way. I would even expect that despite politics, professor ought to appreciate what the NPP government has done so far.
It is very unusual for prof.to describe the government as arrogant and corrupt. While admitting that corruption is a social problem and cannot be wiped out completely from society, NDC government is credited as the most corrupt government in our country's history. It was a period where people from nowhere acquired great wealth but did not account for them. The signs are very clear on the wall that there is no government that has shown arrogance and pride consistently as the NDC did. The use of the phrase “Handing over to whom” by Chairman Rawlings repeatedly reflects how the rank and file of the NDC government showed great disrespect and arrogance to the good people of Ghana.
Why should Professor Mills be talking about incumbency and the use of state resources by ministers of state and party functionaries during electioneering campaign at this time? His party was the first offender and repeatedly use state resources in that regard. This is not to suggest that state resources should be abused by incumbent government. But the problem is that the use of state resources to achieve political advantage happened during his administration. If he now thinks it was wrong then he should make a confession to the whole nation.
The statement that majority of Ghanaians are impoverished due to high tariff, and high school fees needs to be looked at critically, because is he suggesting that the plight of the ordinary Ghanaian worsened during the four year period of the NPP rule? If Prof. is not aware, then let me state that more communities are enjoying regular supply of water now than before and many towns which used to get water supply once in every week in the past, are today getting 24 hour supply of water and indeed many communities are experiencing the same situation now.
I do not think succeeding governments would ever follow the footsteps of the NDC government whereby dashing of cheap money was their strategic and competitive weapon. Many individuals were not empowered to find something meaningful to do but rather fed with money they did not actually work for. These are the people who are now complaining of serious economic and social difficulties. This bad legacy of the NDC during its two term which created impoverishment is what the current NPP government intends to correct because money should be earned through hard work. The proverb that “it is better to teach a child how to fish so that when he grows he can fish himself” is very crucial and relevant.
Why should professor Mills criticise the concept of property-owning democracy adopted by the NPP? What is actually wrong with this concept? The concept of property owning democracy means empowering individuals to own properties so that they can manage it well. If this concept is bad why should we make a lot of noise for individual to buy and own shares in a company? Is it not property and why should we encourage individuals to make savings from the individual perspective?
Why should we be fighting over ideologies now? What is important now is to fashion a system that will work for the country. Pure socialist and capitalist ideals are fading out and what countries are doing now is the movement to the centre-a system of socially-oriented democracy but it is private sector led. Countries like United State of America and UK which are capitalist states and are all moving to the centre but they are private oriented. These countries also provide unemployment benefits to the unemployed generated mainly from the private sector. This shows that the empowerment of the private sector being preached by the current government is meant to provide the basis upon which the social services can be delivered. Wealth needs to be created in order to provide for the social services he is preaching now. It has been shown in the past and the present times that businesses are well managed by private individual and not state and through the empowerment, businesses will grow and the multiplier effect will be manifested which will create employment for the people.
If the policy of property-owning democracy is not a good option, why did the NDC gurus rush to buy some of the divested state owned corporation shrouding the whole deal in secrecy? What do they make out of Vanef STC and many others? These were state companies that were given to individuals in a very dubious way but which ended up in a total mess. What was the brain behind the numerous divestitures of companies when he was the vice president? Is this Professor Mills term social democracy-using political power to completely give away state properties to individual in such a manner?
Let us also remember that countries who are in the fore-front of this social democracy concept are even thinking twice as it has been found to be unsustainable in the long run. Let us not define property-owning democracy in terms of tangibility but also intangibility as well because the investment drive that are being preached and the need for people to own shares are all property which is not recognised.
The most disturbing statement by Prof. which reads “The NDC, after realizing its past mistakes and shortfalls, had formulated better policies to transform the lives of the people, particularly the rural poor.” I think this statement demonstrates that his party was very incompetent and I do not think this nation can afford to gamble again, by entrusting the governance of the nation into people who have shown gross incompetence in their eight year rule. Governing a nation requires people with the sound abilities and strategies to solve the country's problems but not to do experimentation with it. By publicly acknowledging such incompetence at that highest level means that his party has nothing new to offer Ghanaians.
Let me state that Ghanaians are very pleased with Kufuor leadership and the direction Ghana is heading towards. The government is working very hard to restore hope to the hopeless and to the poor brighter future prospects. We should not forget that we do not destroy the rich if you want to help the poor nor do we destroy the strong by helping the weak.
Literacy is social problem and we must all fight to eradicate from society so that with an enlightened and literate voter, politicians will not get the opportunity to play on their ignorance by polluting their mind with all sorts of fabricated and untrue stories.
The Ghanaian voter is gradually maturing politically and could easily discern truth from falsehood and reality from hypocrisy. Let us all learn to send the right message to the people for them to make their judgements. Distortion of facts at this crucial electioneering time will be counter-productive as people will definitely go into archives before they make their own decisions.
In conclusion, let me say that voters do not only base their preference for a particular party or the success of a person's economic policies but also other important factors such as personal safety, intimidation and harassment, freedom of speech and association, the rule of law, the independence of the media, absence of night abduction and disappearances and a whole of factors are taken into consideration. Whatever limitations the ruling NPP might have caused during their tenure, I think they have laid a solid foundation upon which the future of Ghana will be built and nurtured.
Politics of deception is history and we all should learn to call a spade a spade but let also recognise we can never escape from our past deeds. They will continue to hunt us even if we veil ourselves and hide behind it. The people of Ghana have already made up their minds for the party they will again entrust the governance of this nation into for the next four years and let us wait for this important day-7th December where views about the ruling government and others will be explicitly manifested.
I am of the opinion that professor Mills will be able to sell himself more to the electorate by echoing his past achievement as the Vice President of this nation than resorting to the old NDC tactics of falsehood. God bless Ghana and its people.