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04.05.2009 Feature Article

MANIFESTO OR A DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: WHICH ONE REIGNS

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By Sagito Musah Issakah

Thank Allah, we have all lived to see the one hundred days of the new administration and I am not in the position to tell whether they scored 100 percent or below 50 percent. What I know however is, and it is a fact, that the new government was not on a relaxing honeymoon. It went straight to business immediately the swearing in was done and something definitely has been achieved so far. Some may not agree but the spade is always a spade and not a shovel or something else.

'One hundred days', all Ghanaians thank you for coming in peace and going in peace. Forget about some hitches that accompanied you. Such, they say is life and we accept it since man does not have control over all events but some. The focus now is the rest of the days that will make up the four years rule of the new administration.

THE MANIFESTO

In the manifestoes of all parties are outlined positive programmes aimed at turning things around for a nation. In other words all the manifestoes by the different parties are aimed at changing the negative situations of Ghanaians to positive ones. No party will ever come out with a manifesto that will seek to worsen the plight of the people they seek their mandate to rule. However, at a particular time and in a particular election only one manifesto prevails.

On their way to the “control tower” the new administration sold out to Ghanaians what they will (and will not) do. They put all their “Ghana saving commodities” in their manifesto. The belief of Ghanaians now is that the manifesto will be the guiding gospel for the government in everything, decision and action taken. But should this be the case?

In the manifesto are programmes that are supposed to be the antidote for solving the problems of unemployment; various diseases that has plague the nation; the numerous numbers of children out of school; the plummeting and negative readings of macro economic indices; among others jeered towards the total improvement in the living conditions of all Ghanaians.

The questions that arise then are “what will become of the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy II and all its thematic areas; How about the millennium development goals-are they in the plans of the new government or otherwise? Are we going to see a new development agenda or the status quo will be followed-truncate the existing one and come out with a new one so that when out of office, Ghanaians will give him/her the credit for coming out with a “development agenda”? These among other questions arise especially now that we are told that the manifesto is going to be the guiding document of the new administration.

DEVELOPMENT AGENDA

The previous government, in taking over the mantle of rule, discarded the “Vision 2020” development agenda of Ghana and the government they succeeded and introduced the GPRS I and later II. The discontinuation of the agenda followed what has become a tradition since independence and showed how politics can play with the development issues of the nation.

Vision 2020 was supposed to be a comprehensive document with objectives that when followed religiously (at least that's what we were made to believe) should take Ghana to the all important development stage of 'middle income nation' and put the country on that all important pedestal that countries like south Korea, Singapore among other “tigers” find themselves on. The NPP government came in and said that vision was “a long distance one” so came out with the GPRS which, implemented in stages, is supposed to get us to that all stage by 2015. That is a short distance, right! A question arises, whether the indicators that are supposed to record positive results really recorded those positives expected?

The first indicator for Ghana to be considered a middle income state is for it to have a per capita GDP of over 1,025 dollars and below 6,055 a year. Where do we lie now, close to 20 years of vision 2020 and GPRS I and II combined. With all the resources that the Almighty has endowed this country, our per capita GDP to date is not up 1000 US dollars and indications as to us getting closer is still far remote. Unemployment rate still wallows within the range of 20% and 30%. Access to Health care and Education are still challenges that governments in and out still find difficult to improve. In the null shell 2015 will come and go and Ghana will still be a third world country. The situation will even be worse if political leaders and Ghanaians in general do not change our ways. This is pessimism that is guided by situations past and present created by different governments.

THE WAY FORWARD

Ghanaians for now are at a lost as to what the next development agenda is going to be. Is it going to be the continuation of the GPRS (meaning that we are going to have a GPRS III), or it going to be the going back for the forgotten Vision 2020, or better still, is it going to be the use of programmes in the NDC manifesto as the national agenda or we are going to see a new agenda coming into force.

The call has been many on the fact that Ghana needs a comprehensive national plan or agenda that will not be subservient to the wimps and caprices of politicians who wrestle power from their opponents. Luckily we have had different truncated development plans that we can consult for the way forward. It is no news that all the previous development plans saw their implementations bedevilled with challenges and inconsistencies. We can start from there.

The manifesto of the NDC should not be the bench mark for our forward march. The programmes found in the manifesto are all of good intentions and jeered towards the improvement of the lives of all Ghanaians of different political, religious and ethnic orientations. The development plans can take all these good intentions into consideration and of course other programmes from other parties and non-party institutions including the United Nations programmes. For instance the Millennium Development Goals whose achievement is supposed to lead us to a middle income status. After all at the end of the day, all Ghanaians are going to be the beneficiaries.

Ghana really needs to develop and to get there will not be easy and not definitely by just words of mouth, realistic and unrealistic promises by political leaders. We need to have a document that will be the 'Qur'an' or 'Bible' that guides policies of government.

The ball is now in the court of the new government to be able to do what some other governments could not do-come out with a comprehensive national plan that will stand the text of time; that will incur a protest from all Ghanaians where a new government decides to abandon it.

Long leave Ghana and Allah bless the new government with wisdom, good ideas and the strength to implement those ideas for the betterment of all Ghanaians and foreigners alike.

The writer is a concerned Ghanaian [email protected]

Sagito Musah Issakah
Sagito Musah Issakah, © 2009

The author has 21 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: SagitoMusahIssakah

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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