23.01.2024 Feature Article

Dr. Naah asks: Is it President Akufo-Addo who is that bad as President or his handlers?

Dr. Naah asks: Is it President Akufo-Addo who is that bad as President or his handlers?
23.01.2024 LISTEN

This question has been lingering in my mind for the past 7 years and l need to voice it out rhetorically now and back it with my own assessment from a distance as a concerned Ghanaian.

On the back of political oratory, Nana Akufo-Addo seemed to have been a promising President of Ghana for his three attempts. He became third-time lucky to lead this great country of ours.

This Presidential dream of Akufo-Addo was largely attainable due to deliberate ‘1:1 promises’ given by the NPP Party coupled with the call of Nana Akufo-Addo made to Ghanaians to also try him and see. In fact, President Akufo-Addo primarily came to power on the back of calculated sloganeering and a message of experimentation. Ghanaians listened but the Presidential legacy of Akufo-Addo so far is highly challenged and woeful in my estimation.

Since Akufo-Addo’s elevation to the Presidency, his style of leadership brought a lot of unspoken intimidation, high sense of insecurity, corruption scandals, nepotism, etc. Nothing seems to be working well on a myriad of fronts under his leadership. It appears the center cannot hold, and things have fallen apart on various fronts: economy, corruption, natural environment, and other parameters under the Akufo-Addo-Bawumia-led regime.

This agitates my mind to question whether President Akufo-Addo is that bad as President or his handlers in the Jubilee House. Read to the end of this piece to know my answer to the rhetorical question asked. But let us first look at Akufo-Addo‘s performance and style of leadership on the following fronts.

Governance front
As soon as President Akufo-Addo was inaugurated amid his plagiarized speech, he kicked off his regime by setting a record of the largest or most bloated government of 110 ministers since the inception of the Fourth Republic. This did not include other political appointments such as the District Chief Executives (DCEs) for local government administration, government administrative staff, heads of institutions, etc. for just 27 million Ghanaians then in 2017.

With this bloated government size, Nigeria had only 35 Ministers then with over 200 million people and the UK had a total of 120 Ministers for a population of about 65 million people then.

When Ghanaians, especially the Opposition NDC complained of the elephant-size government, President Akufo-Addo told Ghanaians that he was in a hurry to deliver the goodies for Ghanaians and needed more hands to do so. By the end of the first term of the Akufo-Addo government, there was little to show for the bloated government. As if calculated, this Akufo-Addo-Bawumia-led regime started to instill a lot of fear in Ghanaians and virtually intimidated them by silencing any critical voices. There has been an increasing crime rate as well as general insecurity with high-profile killings such as late Amed Suale, late Hon. J.B. Danquah, etc. in Ghana.

In fact, those critical voices from key stakeholders during former President Mahama’s regime have been silenced till date. The Akufo-Addo-Bawumia-led government has performed so poorly in the Media Freedom Index, with the killing of Ahmed Suale as the unfortunate highlight. In a well-functioning democracy like Ghana, this should not have happened.

Economy front
The reckless spending of this governing NPP regime coupled with the refusal of President Akufo-Addo to significantly downsize his government coupled with the unbridled borrowing by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta and corruption scandals are some of the immediate causes of this current economic meltdown. This worst economic crisis has led to the implementation of the excruciating Domestic Debt Exchange Program (DDEP), collapse of indigenous banks and other deposit-taking institutions, from ‘taxation to taxation’, etc. under this Akufo-Addo-Bawumia-led government.

Other macro and micro economic indicators e.g. inflation rate, exchange rate, government debt to GDP ratio, etc. have worsened over the past 7 years instead of getting better under this Akufo-Addo-Bawumia-led government as promised in 2016. For instance, the US dollar - Ghana cedi worsened from GH₵ 4.17 per $1 as at 12.12.2016 to GH₵12.99 per $1 as at 22.01.2024. This declining trend is also very stark in the debt to GDP ratio from 55.9% in 2016 under former President Mahama to 92.4% in 2022 under President Akufo-Addo.

Furthermore, the lack of sustainable jobs to absorb the teeming Youth has led to joblessness. Heading to the IMF for the $3 billion bailout last year is a testament of the weaker fundamentals of the economy under the very watch of President Akufo-Addo, Ken Ofori-Atta and Dr. Bawumia to seek financial and policy credibility.

Corruption front
The general lackadaisical attitude to fighting corruption under the Akufo-Addo-Bawumia-led government is so worrying. During the IEA presidential debate in 2012, Nana Akufo-Addo promised to employ the ‘Ana’s principle’ to fight corruption when voted into power in his second Presidential attempt. The politically non-aligned Investigative Journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas has ironically been silenced under the Akufo-Addo regime.

Corruption scandals have rather ballooned Nana Akufo-Addo which earned him unenviable names such as ‘Mother Serpent of Corruption’ and a ‘Clearing Agent’ for his actions in the corruption fight in Ghana. Botched Agyapa deal and PDS scandal as well as misuse of Covid-2019 funds by AG’s report, Akonta illegal mining saga, and National Cathedral building scandal are just a few examples of corruption scandals to mention.

Natural environment front
On the environment front, worsening High Tech Galamsey (HTG) operations for gold have made nonsense of Ghana’s efforts made to conserve our local natural environment including the water bodies and Forest Reserves as well as addressing the global climate crisis. The expose on ‘Presidential Galamseyers’ by Prof. Frimpong-Boateng under Akufo-Addo’s supervision is clear case of losing the galamsey fight despite putting his ‘Presidency on the line’. Very regrettable to say the least! As a Climate Enthusiast and Environmentalist, my heart aches to see the devastation caused to our Forest Reserves and major rivers in mining areas of the country as captured by Erastus Asare Donkon of the Joy News.

Looking at the unimpressive performance of President Akufo-Addo as outlined on the governance, economic, corruption and environmental fronts above, let me give my verdict on whether Akufo-Addo is a bad President, or his handlers are to blame.

The buck stops with President Akufo-Addo, and he is blameworthy for the blunders of his government by demonstrating vindictive and divisive leadership style. As the leader, the President must take the ultimate blame for all the mess created in the country on all fronts under his watch. As William Shakespeare succinctly put it, ‘uneasy lies the head that wears a crown’.

The Vice President, Dr. Bawumia and handlers of the President cannot be left out in this assessment. The appalling economic performance coupled with the recent public vituperative views of the President, among others, on voting patterns of some sections of Ghanaians and development initiatives of his government suggest that his managers and the Vice President in the Jubilee House are equally blamable for not doing enough to draw his attention.