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06.10.2008 Editorial

NPP, NDC and unrealistic pledges


We have today carried two interesting stories, from both the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Whilst the NPP says it is capable of raising $22 billion to fund the free secondary education pledge it has made to Ghanaians, the NDC is also promising to rid Accra of all forms of filth, within a hundred days of coming into office. The party is also promising to empower both the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to prosecute cases that would be brought before them.

The promises being made by the two leading parties are very good, because it would benefit Ghanaians if they are able to implement them. But, as the saying goes, it is easier said than done.

The NPP has repeatedly told Ghanaians that the size of our economy is $16 billion, but now telling voters that they are capable of raising $22 billion, to support the pledge of making secondary education free. It is important to note that this is not the first time the NPP is making such a promise to Ghanaian voters.

In their 2000 manifesto the party promised, among other things, to make the appointment of District, Municipal and Metropolitan chief executives by universal adult suffrage.

After they had been voted for, the party failed to implement the policy.

Top party officials are now giving an alibi that the structures were not in place to implement the policy, when the party has been in power for almost eight years now, and could have put the said structures in place. With such a policy failure, is the NPP still expecting voters to believe in the $22 billion they are proposing to raise, to fund secondary education?

The Chronicle is very skeptical about this pledge, because secondary education is only a fraction of Ghana's total spending on education. We are, therefore, asking the leadership of the NPP to explain to Ghanaians, how much they are going to spend on Primary up to Junior High School education, and how much they would spend on tertiary education in a year.

They must also tell Ghanaians the cost of running other sectors of the economy within the same period. If they are able to provide this information, Ghanaians would then be the best judges, as to whether they would be capable of fulfilling this pledge.

In the case of the NDC, The Chronicle finds their promise, to give prosecutorial powers to both the SFO and CHRAJ very interesting. Readers would recall that following intensive investigations conducted by The Chronicle, CHRAJ decided to investigate certain government officials during the days of the NDC government, for allegedly acquiring wealth beyond their means.

Since CHRAJ did not have prosecutorial powers, it submitted its report to the government, headed by former President Rawlings. Surprisingly, not only did the NDC government fail to implement the recommendations of CHRAJ, it also issued a white paper clearing the investigated officials from any wrongdoing.

Despite what appeared to be a clear cover-up of wrongdoing, the then government stood its grounds and defended the decision. Today, the NDC is telling Ghanaians that it would empower the aforementioned investigative bodies, with prosecutorial powers when they failed to do so, when the party was in power.

For Ghanaians to believe in what they are pledging, The Chronicle suggests that the political parties must sign an undertaking and deposit it in the court, to implement what they were promising.

Failing to do that, nobody would take their pledge very serious, because as the adage goes, “once bitten, twice shy.” If Rawlings, who is vociferous about corruption today, could not do same when he was in power, then Ghanaians must be careful about what the party he founded is proposing. The Chronicle also suggests that the manifestos of the various political parties should be given legal backing, so that should they fail to implement them on assumption of office, one can go to court to enforce it.

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