An Open Letter To Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghana’s President

Ref: The State of Ghana and Your Presidency
Feature Article An Open Letter To Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghanas President
MAY 13, 2023 LISTEN

Dear Mr. President,

It is with a mixed feelings to finally complete this writing to you, but with a sad heart- the atmosphere looks cloudy. Sir, there was a time in the 1980s to 1991 when you and I were on same wavelength. But as of now, your performance to expectations is below par. Most of Ghana is not getting value for money! Our environment and water bodies are being ruined and moneys being wasted! Ghanaians are not happy.

Let me break down the issues:

Is our Democracy working?
Sir, you exhorted us to be citizens and not spectators! I can assure you that I for one have made it my duty to be involved in how our nation is managed since my first letter as a student leader in California, to the Daily Graphic in 1970 and later to Dr. Busia in 1971 and to Col. Acheampong in 1972/73. I cannot believe it's more than 50 years and our people today seems to experience worse empathy from our leadership.

Let me note that our leaders from Dr. Busia's time till Dr. Limann used to show concern for inputs of citizens who wrote them, and replied letters from student organizations. However after the Rawlings era in the 1980s Ghana fell into this mindset that seemed to indicate the nation belonged to only a few with the gun and /or with absolute power. Leadership empathy seems vanished! Is that how democracy works? No!

The Psychological impact of long dictatorship on the rest of the society seems to be making us mere footstools of the rest of men, while a few even elected, with power, become like the armed men mostly turned thieves.

Good proposals, ideas and letters to solve our social, economic and technical problems are not even being acknowledged by people in Government who were our peers or even former students.

Of course your administration has destroyed the postal mail system by fantasy leapfrogging simple address systems! Mail that used to take 5 days by Airmail Express from California to Ghana now takes about two (2) weeks and one has to go to the post office.

The Economic downfall:
Mr. President- it is a shame that in a matter of 5 years Ghana seems to have changed from accolades of being one of the highest growing economies in the world to today being one with the highest inflation rate and poorest economic performers in the world. We are not getting “value for money” (to quote your own words) and it seems the “fundamentals”, as your Vice President would say, are very weak. They are so weak you are defaulting on loans from foreign nations or firms like the IMF, as well as to your own Bonds bought from countrymen!

Mr. President- since you and I are in our mature years and grannies, I will go straight to the point and not waste your time with sugary comments. I will make comments, give my advice and make my predictions. It is up to you if you ignore them. If some of these ideas sink in and your administration take advice maybe we can all still have a nation called Ghana and owned by Ghanaians in the next fifty years.

Mr. President- You have borrowed more money than all previous heads of state combined since independence. You said you would “protect the public purse”, and would not go to the IMF. Remember?? You failed on your own promises! In addition you authorized millions for the building of a Cathedral for your personal ambition at the expense of the taxpayer? Why?

The Christian Bible has cautioned us that “a fool and his money are soon parted” (Prov.21:20). Again in terms of borrowing the good Book told us “the borrower is servant to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7).

You and your administration have demonstrated reckless borrowing and spending without much discipline. You have compromised our very independence as a sovereign nation with debt, and selling gold mining rights to the Chinese in payment. Most of our regular mining operations give 90-100% to foreigners and 0-10% to the nation. Do you consider this prudent, wise and smart?

Mr. President, You have hired 110 Cabinet Ministers, more than 900 office staff, subdivided Ghana into 16 smaller regions and 275 districts. None of these districts and regions have any self-empowerment as in proper democracies. The leaders are appointed. This means the people don't have the powers to elect their own leaders to think and budget and generate internal local revenue.

Is that your model of efficiency management? No! It is a failed policy you inherited from the PNDC to Rawlings NDC.

The Rawlings dictatorship, converted into a centralized elected dictatorship, was known to you! It has psychologically damaged and seems ruined our peoples' desire for self-will and initiative! That is NOT democracy.

Please study Greater Accra region: after 65 years of independence, there is no database of home owners and businesses by which districts and towns can manage on their own like the old Town and District Councils did when you and I were young.

Mr. President, our 1992 Constitution is flawed and you know it! How can you be appointing thousands of Chief executives in a democracy when they have no clue how to generate revenue through business and real estate property taxes, and finance their own schools, water, electricity, decent roads and sewage systems for their towns!

Prudence in financial management is missing! Is this “protecting the public purse” you said you would?

You seem to have forgotten to add and subtract the moneys!

Mr. President, you yourself have indicated openly weaning away from the dependency on other nations, to the applause of most Western nations. What happened, Sir? Did you forgot that providing each Minister with salary and V8 and ex-gratia allowances, and living like there is unlimited funds, is reckless?

You did not do the math well Mr. President! Why do you keep spending and expanding when the money is not there? Borrow to pay your living? Not nice!

The Auditor Generals report for 2020 showed that even though your Presidential office budget for 2020 was Ghs 79.6 million, you actually spent Ghs 251.6 million, a 216% more than budget without parliamentary approval.

Mr. President, you are reported to be flying in Chartered Private Jet at $19,000 per hour to travel to Europe and America to attend meetings.

For God sake, what happened to you and what is wrong with you Mr. President? You were held in high esteem! These are acts of illegal spending and financial irresponsibility. It is an abuse of the Presidential powers! Period!

Sir, Do you have regular communication with your Finance Minister? What gives you that courage to spend moneys as you do? Did you as a private person not balance your household budget? How can you spend money you don't have? Is that not illegal in other circumstances in society?

Please consider refunding those moneys so diverted to your personal self while millions remain poor in Ghana! That is not good legacy!!

Excessive TAXATION:
Sir, there is enough studies and evidence that excessive taxation is counter to and actually works against Economic growth. Why are there so many retail consumption tax in Ghana? Some 40-50 years ago some of us did not understand American President Reagan when he talked about reducing taxes overall. He turned out to be right. The US economy bounced back after the downfall in late 1970s.

One can buy for example personal cars in the US, brand new or certified used (second-hand), for reasonable prices like $5,000; but at the ports of Ghana government taxes and duties created since the time of Dr. Kwesi Botchwey in mid to late 1980s still remains - some as high as 150-200% of one's cost in the US.

While trying to hurt or punish those coming from overseas, please remember that in the last 35 or so years the inflation rate created by these acts of desperation by then military PNDC never came down.

When inflation rate goes up, so do Bank Lending rates. This devalues your cedis also and starts the cycle of weakened financial status in global competition and desire to increase government taxes further!

It is really hard to go back! You also deplete Capital away from businesses! Is that a good economic thinking?

A good example is the e-Levy.

When it was introduced by your Finance Ministry they did the wrong calculations and stopped road and highway tolls. The sense and correlation of e-Levy and highway tolls, with all due respect, was ridiculous and reckless decision making. It was not wise! And so also any toll booth collections contracted to private companies

There is a general global perception that Ghana's economic performance and management is reckless and poor. I started writing this letter or article in Oct.2022 and by the time I am completing it in April 2023 Ghana's inflation rate is reported as above 46%, interest rate is above 50% and unemployment rate above 50%! (They stop reporting when the figures are so high).

Mr. President, why did you spend $600 million paying 400,000 or more University graduates on so-called NABCO? What kind of job training? Did you do a cost benefit analysis? How do you expect with rates so high and no capital to loan, that Employers will even have room to train anybody?

With the exception of the major oil and gas and mining companies most enterprises in Ghana are small businesses in trading, transportation, construction and services. Can a small Software company for example, borrow at 30-50% interest? What kinds of profit margin can they make in anything they are doing to take a loan at say 30-50% interest?

Mr. President- have you or any of your staff and that of the Ministry of Finance ever operated their own Business? It is tough!

In Conclusion

I'd like to advise you to sit down with people with the expertise in economics and Finance and

And figure out how to do the following:

  1. Find ways to reduce inflation rate to single digit! Cut down interest rates paid on Bonds to under 10%, and rather provide guarantees!
  2. Set aside moneys as Capital for small and medium businesses at reasonable rates of say less than 12%
  3. Tie ex-gratia payments to job performance review. Pay only to well performing officers. Some Ministers are a liability to the nation and deserve no such huge severance pay and retirement!
  4. Cut the Ministers and deputies to a maximum of 40 and reduce the Regions to about 8-10 maximum.
  5. Stop using private charter jets and fly Business or 1st class Commercial planes. Please refund all that money you have wasted to the Government and forfeit some of your retirement moneys due to you to show concern.
  6. Refund all moneys used for the Cathedral to Government. It was wrong to use tax moneys of the poor people of Ghana to do that without a referendum.
  7. In chapter 12 of the Constitution please have the powers given the President to appoint local MMDCEs all annulled and allow local elections of their leadership. This allows our local people to learn about democracy and self-empowerment without relying so much on one man in Ghana! No! That was a mistake in 1992, and let's figure out how to do that without violating the spirit of fairness and Justice, perhaps through a referendum.
  8. Solve the Galamsay problem by setting this as a Goal for the Ministers of lands, Natural resources and of Health. Give some incentives to create jobs in these rural areas!
  9. Don't sell Ghana to China! Your name will go down in infamy if you do! Figure out ways to pay back their loans and never tie human migration to loans. America built their nation by allowing immigrants of special skills and preference to be given a chance to contribute to their development. Ghana can and should do the same.

Sir, these are tough, but your name will be carved in the legacy of Ghana's effective leadership if you make fundamental and meaningful changes that affect people's lives long after you leave the scene!

Failing that it does not look good at all as of now for history!

I wish you all the best,

Long live Ghana.

Dr. Kwaku A. Danso (Apr.12, 2023)
Intn'l President- Ghana Leadership Union (GLU),
East Legon, Accra.