President Kufour?s speech to parliament on January 4, 2005 was laced with half-truths, while at certain parts he was outright dishonest. It therefore, came as no surprise that a debate on it was opposed by NPP members of parliament with the NPP Speaker of parliament finally ruling against it.
Short of a more detailed response, Ghanaians can take note of the following:
1.It is dishonest to claim, as the President did, that he has upheld his pledge on the 7th of January to ?uphold the national constitution AND PROMOTE THE GROWTH OF MULTI-PARTY DEMOCRACY".. and that "HAPPILY WE HAVE REMAINED COMMITTED TO OUR PROMISES..", when Alhaji Mobilla a POLITICAL OPPONENT WAS MURDERED BY THE SOLDIERS WITH HIS BROTHER AS DEFENCE MINISTER.
2. It was dishonest to claim, as the President did, that the National Reconciliation Commission?s "hearings were also to generate a record of the activities of the DARK DAYS AND DRAW A LINE SIGNIFYING THE END OF THOSE UNHAPPY PERIODS" when in the 4 YEARS of NPP rule, we ARE STILL EXPERIENCING THOSE DARK DAYS WITH THE POLITICAL ASSASINATION OF ALHAJI MOBILLA, AND YA-NA AND 40 OTHERS. No wonder in the president?s display of outright dishonesty no mention was made of Alhaji Mobilla's POLITICAL ASSASINATION.
3. It was dishonest to claim, as the President did, that "in the past 4 years,....our long stagnant and drifting economy has been stabilized and is now poised for accelerated growth and development". The WB data however, shows that the rate of growth of the GDP from 1992-2000 is about the same as between 2001 - 2004. From the Bank Group website: http://www.worldbank.org/data/, we find the following Economic Ratios and Long-term Trends, which again show that the president was not being truthful to the Ghanaian public:
1982 1983 1992 1998 2001 2002 2003
GDP(US$ bns) 4.0 4.1 6.4 7.5 5.3 6.2 7.7
1982-92 1992-2002 '01 '02 ?03 '03-'07
Average annual growth(%) GDP: 4.7 4.2 4.0 4.5 5.2 4.9
GDP per capita 1.1 2.0 1.9 1.9 2.5 2.6
Exports goods &services 6.8 9.6 0.3 -1.7 2.7 4.2
1998 2001 2002 2003
GNP (GNI)[US$ billions) 7.1 5.8 5.5 6.5
GDP (US$ billions) 7.5 5.3 6.2 7.7
GNP per capita (US$) 380.00 290.00 280.00 320.00
Yes, the interest rate (hence the cost of capital) has dropped from 40 to 26% but this is NOT a basis for "accelerated growth and development". With inflation at 12% and the cost of capital at 26%, can president and his NPP government HONESTLY tell us what they EXPECT the INTERNAL RATE OF RETURN (DISCOUNTED CASH FLOW RATE OF RETURN) of a typical company to be in order to make INVESTING IN A PROJECT WORHWHILE?
The "too much cynicism in our body politic and strongly promoted through the media" should not be blamed on "some ELEMENTS within the political divide". 47% of Ghanaians strongly believe the NPP did a very poor job during the 4 years. This is nearly half of the population who have seen their LIVING STANDARDS ERODED during the NPP rule characterized by GREED, NEPOTISM and VIDINCTIVENESS.
3. The president claimed that "on our reaching the completion point [of HIPC] in record time six months ago, Ghana became the immediate beneficiary of the cancellation of US$2billion of our external debts, with a further US$2 billion to be cancelled over the next twenty years at the rate of US$100million a year". If JAK is not cooking data to enable his NPP government look good, he should do well to reconcile the claim above with the following news below. The least Ghanaians can expect from their president is the truth and dealing with them honestly.
The news item in July 2004 on Ghanaweb.com titled "IMF And World Bank Support US$3.5 Billion in Debt Service Relief for the Republic of Ghana" included the section quoted below:
"Total debt relief under the enhanced HIPC Initiative from all of Ghana's creditors amounts to US$3.5 billion in NOMINAL TERMS . This assistance is equivalent to a REDUCTION IN NET PRESENT VALUE (NPV)  TERMS of US$2.2 billion, as agreed at the decision point. Ghana qualified under the fiscal criterion and the debt relief was calculated to bring the NPV of debt-to-government revenue ratio down to the HIPC threshold of 250 percent. IDA will provide debt relief under the enhanced HIPC Initiative amounting to US$1.4 billion in debt service relief (US$782 million in NPV terms), to be delivered through a 67 percent reduction in debt service on IDA credits from 2002 to 2022. The IMF will provide debt relief of US$112 million in NPV terms on payments falling due to the IMF during 2002 to 2009".
4. The increase in remittances from ~US$400 million in 2001 to US$2 billion can hardly be attributed to the confidence of Ghanaians in the economy. Rather, it reflects the greater dependence of Ghanaians in Ghana on their overseas residing compatriots. And this greater dependence since 2001 can more honestly be explained on the basis of the hardships Ghanaians face in Ghana. Not to mention the fact that the Bank of Ghana is now collecting more accurate data on remittances.
5. The president claims that the "record-setting yield [of cocoa] is the result of the mass spraying and high-tech programme". Were the cocoa trees planted during the 4 years of NPP rule? What "high-tech programme" was he talking about? If the record-setting yield was partly the result of work done by previous governments, Ghanaians have to be told. In my line of work, using somebody?s work and ideas without acknowledgement is tantamount to intellectual fraud.
6. The president could claim that "the institutions of state are coming into their own with the Legislature, the Judiciary, CHRAJ, SFO and NCEE are becoming more and more vigorous", when we know the following to the contrary:
(a) The NPP controlled Legislature serves as rubber stamp, and approved the bogus "IFC" and "Chinese Salon" loans
(b) He has packed the Supreme Court and judges sitting on cases not going well for the NPP have been removed from the cases, and
(c) CHRAJ is being used to harass political opponents with the International Commission on Human Rights in Geneva requesting the NPP government to respond to abuse of the rights of some Ghanaians
7. On the fight against corruption, the president could claim that he "took [the minority leader's] comment [last year] as complimentary, and as indicator that [his] administration's commitment to the fight against corruption has become established". This is outright dishonesty, and confirms the charges of corruption reported in an article against him posted by Dr. George Ayittey on the Ghanaian internet forum Okyeame in 1997 after the 1996 elections detailing among others the fraudulent manner cars were purchased for his presidential election campaign. Not only has the Castle the seat of government been turned into a Visa Racketeering Centre under his watch but a minister working in his office who was involved in various corrupt deals was only removed from office and not prosecuted because he is considered as the president?s "son".
8. The dishonesty and hypocrisy IN the president?s address were highlighted in his presentation of the Dagbon crisis. It was as if we do not know that the Vice President, his former Minister of Interior and Chief of National Security all belong to the faction that MURDERED the Ya-Na and 40 others, and that after 2 years not a SINGLE PERSON is in jail for the BARBAROUS AND HEINOUS CRIMES.
The December 2004 elections clearly showed that our country is divided. Ghanaians deserve the truth and genuine efforts at reconciliation.
Michael Gyamerah, Ph.D.
About the Author: The Author?s interests are Chemical and Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology teaching, research and development, and the study of economic history