I see election 2004 as yet another golden opportunity for Ghanaians to choose a party that will usher in a new leadership for this country for the next four years. Elections all over the civilized world are fought and won on certain key issues of national concern. The recently held U.S election in which President George Walker Bush won convincingly was based on two issues-security at home and foreign policy. Even though economic, social and other factors were also critical, voters in America chose President Bush because they claim he is tough, bold, strong, consistent and the one who could fight terrorists and guarantee the security of all American as against his main challenger Senator John Kerry who is seen by many as inconsistent, quite soft and not decisive. This demonstrates that issues are very important when it comes to choosing leaders during an election.
Bringing home this argument, what then should a Ghanaian voter consider before he or she cast the vote during 7th December election? Ghanaians too deserve to have a protocol of well defined bases which will enable them make informed choice about who should lead this country. This article therefore seeks to provide some basis about certain critical factors every Ghanaian has to know and understand before voting for any political party. Even though there are quite a number of political parties and presidential candidates in election 2004, I will only limit my discussion to only two major political parties in Ghana-the New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by President J.A. Kufuor and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) under the leadership of Professor J. E. Mills. I have chosen these two political parties because as far as election 2004 is concerned, it is well acknowledged that the battle for the presidency is a straight fight between these two parties.
To begin with, economic issues are worth considering because it forms the basis of quality of life of the people. At the time NDC lost 2000 general election, inflation in the country was hovering around 42 percent with interest rate between 45-50 percent. With the mandate of the people for eight years of uninterrupted rule, the NDC left this country in a great economic disorder. The man who was then the head of government economic team Professor Mills, now seeking the high office of presidency, could not deliver. Since the last four years NPP has been in power, inflation is now around 10 percent and the interest rate is about 18.5 percent. Ghana's foreign reserve boosted from only three weeks to almost four months within this four year period. Critics may argue that there has not been corresponding effect in the pockets of the ordinary Ghanaian. But they should not loose sight of the fact that a real take off of this economy will require sustained growth and even further downsizing these economic indicators. The question all Ghanaians must ask is that how can Professor Mills who was the head of economic team for the NDC government from January 7th 1997-January 6th 2001 and failed this nation ask Ghanaians to elect him as President? What actually can he do? He has been once tested and could not deliver and I do not think he deserve another chance because Ghana is on its way forward.
Another issue worth considering and comparing is the history of NDC and NPP. The NDC party was conceptualized, conceived and given birth to by one person. It is a party owned by one person who single-handedly nominated his vice president to be the presidential candidate for the 2000 general elections. It is a party which is deep rooted in hatred for the rich in society; a party which does not believe in freedom of expression; suppression of the press; a party that uses intimidation as its major weapon and night abduction of innocent people for what they believes in. A party that seeks tribal division of the very people it perceives to serve. This is a party calling on Ghanaians to vote for it. On the other hand, NPP is a party which does not belong to anybody but belong to all who believes in freedom, private sector development, a party which believes in the absolute freedom of the press, the judiciary and above all respect for the people they govern. The criminal libel law is no more in the statute books because of what NPP believes in. These are critical issues we as voters should always keep in mind, reflect upon them and make our conclusions about the kind of party or leader that can guarantee our freedom as individuals whilst pursuing sustainable economic power house for its people. If a party allowed this country to ruin; what have they learnt over the last four years that will warrant the stewardship of this nation into the very people who failed us? What has actually changed? Are they not the same faces now calling us to bring them to power?
One cannot fathom how the security agencies like the Ghana Armed Forces and the Ghana national Police Service were managed. These are very crucial institutions that need to be managed properly. During the NDC era, the Police Service was virtually neglected and as such it could not performed its duty of protecting the people and the military was not empowered but rather only a cross-section was trained and fully equipped to give protection to the President and his family. The Military at that time was trained and brought up to be feared by the very people they were supposed to protect. However, under the NPP government, even though there is much to be done for the Police Service and the Military, the real professionalism of the security agencies is being felt by all. The police service is now resourced and is now able to respond to any reported crime as an when they occur with the swiftness it deserves. I think the government has done quite well in this regard. The military is now performing its constitutional obligation and one can see that there is harmonious relation between the Military and the Police Service, which to me is a good sign of national cohesion.
Furthermore, the national health insurance scheme needs to be mentioned if one is comparing NDC and NPP. For quite some time this nation was practising a system called “Cash and Carry”. This system was brought by the NDC and a lot of people who could not pay for their hospital bills were not attended to. If a party claims to be social democrats and could not put in place structures/mechanisms to help solve the health needs of the majority of the people, then Ghanaians should be very careful of the kind of message NDC is preaching now. Even though NPP could not implement it as soon as it took office, the mere fact that it is now operational in most places in the country speaks volume about the party and what it believes in. Even the party who claims to be for the vunerable in society wanted to vote against the national health insurance bill when it was introduced in parliament. Whatever the problems associated with the scheme I think it is big plus for the NPP government as it has been able to keep faith with the people. This should be another basis for Ghanaians when they are casting their votes come December.
I also think that the level of development currently taking place in all part of the country has to be considered as we approach election 2004. In the past this country was developed based on whether a particular area voted for the government or not. Areas considered as opposition strongholds did not see development under the regime of NDC. Many towns in Ghana which did not vote for NDC were deliberately denied development projects. Even though Kumasi and other cities did not suffer the same fate, it was mainly due to their strategic position in the country. But what do we see today? Development projects are spread across the length and breadth of Ghana and every area is being given its fair share of the national cake. Why should a particular area or people suffer in terms of development because of what they believe in? When it comes to international arena, Ghana occupies a very unique position. The present government has restored Ghana's dignity and managed to develop healthy relations with its neighbours. Ghana now enjoys goodwill among comity of nation and this is due to prudent foreign policies adopted by the NPP administration.
Another comparison I want to make is how our former head of states have been treated in Ghana. The P(NDC) governments which do not believe in individual liberties deliberately eliminated all our former head of states for reasons that cannot be justified today. For sheer hatred, greed, fear and disrespect for the life of people, our past leaders were killed like fowls. What happened to our former President Dr. Hilla Limann is still fresh in our memories. We are all witnesses to the kind of ordeal Former President Hilla Limann went through under the rule of NDC government. He was totally neglected by the government and the government did not see the wisdom to take very good care of him as the only survival and sitting former President and even when he was seriously ill and needed government support he was denied all the privileges. Unfortunately he passed away just like that. The same person who unleashed such an inhumane act is now demanding everything one can think of from the State. This is sheer wickedness. Yet, the NPP government is doing all it can to ensure that the former President is accorded the kind of respect and dignity he deserves despite all his anti-development actions.
One cannot forget the treatment NDC party and its leadership gave to former Vice President Paul Ekow -Nkensen Ackaah. He was treated like stranger with no mouth in the then administration. The worst of all was when Mr. Ackaah was assaulted by his boss at the castle and yet none of the ministers and officials in the then administration did not make any statement about this barbaric act in our country history and now the same people are touring every part of Ghana to see the people's mandate. Let us not forget that NDC as a party together with its entire leadership does not have respect for Ghanaians and this has been demonstrated repeatedly with pride and dignity.
Lastly, a lot of people have been making a lot of noise about the murder of Yaa-Na and even go to the extent of politicizing this unfortunate incident in our history. But we tend to forget that when it comes to murdering and abduction, NPP have no knowledge in that profession. The party believing in the rule of law appointed a commission of enquiry to look into the case and due process of the law was followed which in the end exonerated some accused persons for lack of substantial evidence. Under such circumstance what again can the government do? Should it ignore the report by the commission of enquiry and come out with some form of kangaroo courts to deal with the situation? I believe that this would be in gross violation of the spirit and letter of their democratic beliefs and that of every Ghanaian. The pronouncement by Professor Mills to open fresh enquiry into the murder demonstrates their character as of non believers in the rule of law and the freedom of the judiciary because the statement clearly shows that the accused are already known and guilty of the offence. But the same party which is making a lot of noise about this murder just to win a political mark has up till today unable to even appoint any commission to look into Kume Preko killings in the brightest day light killings by its people. Up till now the killing of Nana Kofi Drobo, Former Chief Priest of Nwoase Shrine has not been investigated and the perpetrators brought to book. What kind of hypocrisy is this? Even though the Murder of Yaa-Na is very much regrettable I do not believe that it should be given a political underpinning as NDC is claiming.
In all these are the two parties and what they believe in. They differ in almost everything we can think off and as such, the choice of either of them to lead this country in the next four years will have far reaching consequences for us as a nation. Let us be guided by some of the issues raised above and others we are all aware of in order to make better and informed decisions about our future. The ordinary woman at Makola and Kumasi central markets will admit that the economy has changed for the better. Some businesses which do not really understand the mechanics of inflation and other indicators will agree that they are able to plan their businesses well than previously.
The slogan of “Sankofa” by NDC is quite unfortunate. What should Ghanaians “sankofa”? Are we going back for the intimidation, cash and carry, harsh economic policies that did not solve our problems? Should we go for a party that thrives on divisive tendencies and deceit? Should we go in for a party that hates the affluent in society? I think Ghanaians are more enlightened than before and they can see things quite clearly than before. I do believe that NPP has demonstrated during the last four years that freedom of association, the press, the judiciary and freedom in development are the basis of ensuring individual liberties.
Let us now reflect upon these and base on our convictions and beliefs choose the right leader and party to lead this country and let us not forget the past and I believe a lot of Ghanaians especially the youth of today are witnesses to the immediate past and will make a better choice for the growth of Ghana. The future of Ghana depends to a greater extent, the leader who will lead us and from my own conviction and what has taken place during the four years of Kufuor's administration, another term for NPP and President Kufuor is a choice for continuity in prudent economic and fiscal policies, private sector empowerment, continued enjoyment of absolute freedom, respect and dignity for the people both at home and abroad.
NDC failed this nation. NPP has done a good job and so let us all rally behind it because it has a tested men and women who can lead this nation into economic prosperity and social advancement. Let us vote base on reality and not lies, deceit and cheap propaganda by the NDC. A renew of NPP mandate is economic, social, cultural and moral victory for a brighter future. The future is a promising one under NPP because it is a human-centred, development-oriented, and forward-looking, with a strategic vision that will propel this country into greater heights.
Come 7th December, let the manifesto of NPP “Positive Change-Chapter Two” be on your lips and with the slogan “ Kufuor Nie Esono Nie” inspire and direct you to vote for a party that does not solve myopic but look far beyond the present.
Let God bless all Ghanaians and let us have a peaceful election come 7th December. Thomas Obeng Sweden Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.
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