Dear Nana Addo, Dr Bawumia and the Entire NPP Members
The results of the Ghana 2016 elections have shown that the NPP message of hope, competence, delivery and substance has prevailed over the NDC message of division, ethnocentrism, bigotry, character assassination, lies, intimidation, machonism, insults, and propaganda. With a net gain of around 49 seats, clearly, NPP won the parliamentary elections by landslide as well as the presidential convincingly—with more than one million votes separating Nana Addo (the winner) and President Mahama (the loser). Today, Ghanaians have allowed substance to triumph over form; competence and issues based campaign to overcome politics of ethnocentrism and propaganda.
Surely, the NPP win is good for Ghana, as it presents the President and Vice President Elects, Nana Addo and Dr Bawumia the opportunity to assemble a competent team to rescue Ghana from the economic mess and serious corruption scandals that have characterised the President Mahama Government. However, as the win presents opportunity to NPP, so does it presents challenges and threats in the future. For example, NDC have signalled that they will reorganise and fight back strongly in 2020 (see: http://www.ghanaguardian.com/will-back-stronger-2020-johnson-asiedu-nketiah/). And surely, while NDC lost partly due to its propaganda message, I strongly believe they will continue to attack Nana Addo, his person and Government relentlessly, and whether NDC’s attacks and strategies will succeed will depend on how Nana and his team will govern the country.
Therefore, as we are celebrating this significant victory, it is also important to realise that Ghana did not reject President Mahama and his Government only because of their poor economic performance but also because NPP’s message of change and hope resonated better with the people. Accordingly, in all my humbleness, I will like to make the following suggestions to Nana Addo and NPP, which will ensure a better long term electoral performance for NPP as it is easier to retain power than to fight from opposition.
Forming a competent government and fighting corruption
There is no doubt that the John Mahama led Government lost the elections mainly because of their poor handling of the economy which has brought significant hardship on the people. The John Mahama Government has been the most corrupt government in Ghana’s political history as demonstrated by their over-involvement in dubious judgement debt payment, inflated contracts through sole-sourcing, several corruption scandals including GYEEDA, SADA, bus rebranding, Ford gift saga and etc. It is important therefore that, Nana, as you have promised, you put together a competent team selected based mainly on skills and competence rather than on acquaintances and etc. It is also necessary that your Government will pay serious attention to fighting corruption and should not fall into the same prey that have fallen NDC. Furthermore, because many NDC members have “loud mouth and sharp teeth”, they are able to attack NPP successively more than what NPP can do. Accordingly, it is important for NPP to do the right thing so that NDC does not win the favour of the people over their attacks. Therefore, Nana, please ensure that you assemble the most possible competent team.
Furthermore, with the fight against corruption being one of your main policies and indeed, one of your strong tenets, as you yourself is perceived not to be corrupt, it is important that you check your appointees against corruption. And allow the laws to deal with any of your appointees who will engage in corruption without fear or favour, no matter the relationship that you have with the person. In my view, one can only fight corruption if the same rules for persecution are applied to both party members and opposition members. Applying the same principle will provide you the moral right to pursue all the NDC corrupt activities. Accordingly, we will use the fight against corruption as one the factors to assess your success as a President because you promised numerous times that people whose aim is to enrich themselves should not join your government. Many people state that a president may not be the problem in terms of corruption but people that are surrounding him. Therefore it does not matter how clean you are if you do not get honest and incorruptible people to work with they will let you down. So please ensure that you appoint good people and also make them rigorously accountable to their actions.
The implementation of one district, one factory/one village one dam
Dear Nana, I also humbly entreat you to review your one district, one factory and one village, one dam policies before they are implemented. Although, in theory, the policies sound brilliant, there appear some implementation issues that you must consider before they can achieve the desire results. Firstly, because the $1m you have promised to provide for each district is very large amount, you will have to ensure that you put a credible and incorruptible people and system in place to overseas the appropriate implementation of the policies. Since the districts are somehow remote from the central government, the implementation of the one district, one factory/one village one dam policies can easily be turned into a vehicle for others at the district/village levels to enrich themselves to the detriment of your good intentions and the ordinary people the policies are meant to better their lives. It is therefore important that you establish an overseeing agency staffed with honest people at both regional and central levels to ensure that people do not misuse the money allocated for the projects just as it happened to the NDC SADA project. This must include all the processes for approving and implementing the projects.
Furthermore, it appears that the needs of the districts may be different and therefore, providing equal amount to each district may not necessarily be the efficient and equitable way of improving the lives of people at all districts. For example, a place like Tema already has a lot of factories and it may be appropriate that the money meant for there is used to improve some of the existing factories rather than establishing a new one. Similarly, some districts are richer than others, while others are smaller in population than others. Therefore, allocating an equal amount to each district based on ne size fit all, may not be an equitable way to achieve efficiency.
In addition, in terms of one village one dam, some have discussed that some villages may be too small and that providing a dam in such villages may not provide any significant benefit to the national economy and/or have significant effect on many people. Accordingly, in some cases, it may be necessarily to provide one dam to a cluster of villages close to each other in order to achieve an efficient use of resources. Accordingly, the size of the villages and the potential of the efficient use of the dams and economy activities that the dam may generate should all influence where the dams should be sited. The same should also apply to the one district one factory policy.
Spreading government appointments and appointing Mr Amidu as Attorney General
Unfortunately, the appointments of ministers and other government officials are usually based on winner take all, which is likely not to change substantially with your incoming government. However, there are many people who you can use effectively outside NPP or NPP stronghold to help promote strong governance. I am happy that Nana, you have already expressed that you may allow the minor opposition leaders to play a role in your Government. Obviously, Dr Nduom has a lot of experience from his business and as a minister in the former NPP Government. However, others like Dr Edward Mahama also have rich experience to contribute effectively to the advancement of the country.
More important, while I appreciate that naturally the party members from your strongholds will benefit most from your appointments, it is important that for the sake of regional balance and overcoming the NDC propaganda of accusing NPP as Akan based party, you select some of your minsters and other appointees from other regions as practically as you can to enable you neutralise one of the ammunitions of NDC. While NDC itself is guilt of that since most of its appointees are from the North and Volta, and Ashanti’s have particularly been marginalised, it is important that you do not follow the same route.
In fact, some have suggested that you should consider appointing Mr Martin Amidu as your Attorney General. For example, one Prof Lungu in his recent article (entitled: Serious Akufo-Addo will appoint Martin Amidu as Attorney-General of Ghana! on Ghanaweb (see: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/Serious-Akufo-Addo-will-appoint-Martin-Amidu-as-Attorney-General-of-Ghana-493492) stated as follows:
- "... We will say that when the record of history is written, it will show that Mr. John Dramani Mahama was more interested in grand-opening half-completed edifices than building institutions Ghanaians could count on to properly order their lives, the Ghanaian economy,...Mr. Akufo-Addo Dankwa, appoint Mr. Martin A. B. K. Amidu as Attorney-General of Ghana to begin cementing your legacy even before you complete estimating precisely what the election is worth to you and the NPP in the form of capital and a mandate, post-2016 NPP electoral victory...",
- “Nana Akufo-Addo Dankwa, do not squander your social and political capital before you really hit in time the venerable "Public Square" at the corner of Justice and Accountability.”
- “Deeds must matter more than talk!”
I do not need to elaborate the rational for Prof Lungu’s suggestion since we all know how Mr Amidu has shown interest in the fight against corruption to the extent of campaigning against his own party perceived to be corrupt. Of course, appointing Mr Amidu may receive resistance from some NPP members for one or two reasons including their fear that he may also pursue them if they engage in corruption but that is the only way corruption can be fought effectively. And in deed it will serve as deterrence to those who may intend to engage in corruption as he will pursue both NDC and NPP members.
Recognising the rising star Dr Bawumia as the natural success to Nana Addo
Unfortunately, the NDC has always argued that NPP is an Akan (dominated) party or even Asante/Akyem party. One of the main reasons NDC uses to support their argument is that since the inception of NPP in 1992 or so, all the presidential candidates of NPP has been either an Ashanti or an Akyem (Professor Adu-Boahene, President Kuffour and Nana Akuffo Addo), and that is why NPP did not support the former Vice President Aliu Mahama to become the presidential candidate of the party.
Of course this accusation is a mere propaganda by NDC, a party that has no good track record of economic management and as such cannot fight elections based on economic and other important issues that matter most to the people.
However, there is no doubt that the propaganda has hurt NPP and this is while even in this election that NPP has won convincingly, it still struggled in Volta Region. Accordingly, in order to defuse the NDC propaganda, it is important that NPP recognises that after Nana Akuffo Addo, it cannot fail to provide the NPP leadership to Dr Bawumia. The reason for this is simple. A failure to do that will give NDC the ammunition to successfully propagate that NPP is ethnocentric party.
Further, quite recently, Dr Kwasi Prempeh based in the US argued that because Dr Bawumia has raised his profile through his presentation as the star witness at the 2012 election petition, his economic lectures including his good grasp of economic issues, his youthfulness and as well as the prominent role he has played in the NPP campaign, he is in the forefront to succeed Nana Akuffo Addo. Dr Prempeh argues further that the profile that Dr Bawumia has built is considerably higher than what the former Vice President Aliu Mahama had.
Accordingly, while Dr Bawumia has not be an active politician for long, he has quickly raised his profile and though, there may be equally competent people such as Mr Allan Kyeremanteng, but as it stands, it is important for both the party and Ghana that Dr Bawumia will succeed Nana Akuffo Addo and that will cripple one of the main pillars of NDC campaign messages (that NPP is an Akan based party). Of course, Allan Kyeremanteng and others have been in the party longer but the reality is, even in corporate world some young people may quickly rise through the ranks due to their skills and other factors.
What will therefore be the use of giving the flag bearer to another person who cannot win instead of Dr Bawumia who is likely to win for NPP? Thus, as Dr Bawumia continues to grow as the shining star in NPP, his brilliancy on the economic front has given him the edge over all those contemplating of succeeding Nana Akuffo Addo. Although, he is relatively new to the Ghanaian politics he has grown significantly due to his ability to analyse issue, and former President Kuffour even says that the market women understands how he presents economic issues.
Thus, he has become a big asset to NPP and it is not strange that NDC attacked him and his wife during the campaign despite that the Vice President Amissah-Arthur could not respond to the economic issues that Dr Bawumia raised. It seems therefore that as it stands now, Dr Bawumia is likely to become the first non-Akan to lead NPP after Nana Akuffo Addo. And unfortunately for others, that is how sometimes things go. And failure by NPP to promote Dr Bawumia as their presidential candidate after Nana Addo will harm the electoral fortunes of NPP for long time.
However, if NPP appoints him to lead them and particularly if by then NPP has done well in Government, it will present an opportunity to threaten NDC in the three northern regions and that can change the electoral map in favour of NPP for a long time. In fact, NPP performed very well in the North in the 2016 elections, and the only thing left now is to appoint the competent Dr Bawumia as the presidential candidate in order to wrestle from NDC their dominance in the area.
As stated earlier on, the NPP significant win in the elections present both opportunity and threat to the party in 2020 and beyond. Therefore, the way Nana and his team, as well as the party tackle the issues discussed in this paper and others will either promote NPP and cement it as the dominant party in Ghana or it may go back to opposition even as soon as 4 years’ time. Personally, I believe Nana has the skills and competencies to achieve that with the support of Dr Bawumia.
However, it requires them to make tough decisions including fighting corruption vigorously in order to have sufficient revenue to undertake the projects promised during the campaign period. More importantly, promoting Dr Bawumia as the success of Nana Addo will definitely improve the fortunes of NPP in the North, and in deed such a choice will not be based merely because he is from the North but predominantly because he is very intelligent and competent, and thus hitting two birds with one stone.
By Joseph Annor (Master of Business in Accounting and CPA)