During the 2012 electioneering period, when political activity was bustling, campaign posters were flying all over and politicians were… well, being politicians, I found myself undecided of whom to cast my vote for, although I was somewhat eager to exercise my constitutional right to do so. I consider myself a floating voter, strictly because I do not hold membership or owe allegiance to any of the political parties in the country.
In order to make an informed choice, I decided to liken myself to a beautiful woman looking for love and needed wooing. Yes! I wanted to be courted and carefully seduced by the political parties. And like the fair maiden I was pretending to be, potential suitors needed to present me with their various proposals. After which I’ll carefully consider each individual proposal on its merits and decide who among them was worthy of my love.
After months of promises, campaign tours, relentless radio and television adverts, I found myself highly disappointed when I woke up on the morning of December 7 even more unsure of whom to vote for. To put it bluntly, none of the parties or flag bearers convinced me. Not a single party or presidential candidate was able to present me with clear-cut, logical reasons why they deserved my vote more than the other.
Between the two front running political parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) none offered anything even remotely close to what I was looking for.
For starters, both the NDC and NPP made Education the focal point of their campaigns. They both highlighted education as the biggest problem facing the country. Although I can appreciate the fact that I’m not half as enlightened as the leaders and policy formulators of these parties, I completely disagreed with their assertion. The way I saw it, the single biggest problem our country has faced and continues to face is the problem of Unemployment.
Think for a second about the number of “educated” yet unemployed people we have in this country. We’ve got countless basic, secondary and tertiary level graduates lying idle in every nook and cranny of this country. For example, Kofi Mensah, a second class upper, political science graduate from University of Ghana, who’s been unemployed for the past 3years, is currently sitting under a mango tree having a calabash of palmwine with old men his grandfather’s age, despite his acquiring the highly touted education. Tell me what benefit education is to Kofi’s current situation. People make it seem as though acquiring education alone solves all mans’ and societal problems. Who are we kidding?
Much noise was also made about the cost of education and how it has become virtually impossible for most Ghanaian parents to pay their wards’ fees. And then there was the issue of one-side wanting basic and secondary education to be made free rapidly whiles the other side, although agreed with the concept of free education felt it should be done progressively.
To all these, I say bollocks! Ghanaian parents have always been able to pay their kids’ fees. I admit that times are hard and it’s becoming increasingly difficult but as important a thing is as the education of their children, parents and guardians have always found a way. Some parents have sold family properties and personal possessions just to put their children through school. Usually, all the pain and hardship these families endure quickly turns to tears of joy and happiness when their child graduates with a degree or diploma certificate. The hope is that not for long, that child will secure a good paying job, become independent and even occasionally pitch in with the family’s upkeep. One can imagine the sheer horror of such parents if after many months and years, and not for lack of trying, their educated child still cannot get a job and spends his/her days lingering aimlessly and continues to be a burden on them. For such parents, their ward’s education is just “as useless as-someone would say-nipples on a man”.
Look at the number of public and private educational institutions we have in this country. Look at the thousands of students who gain admission into these institutions and thousands more who graduate each academic year. Ask yourself how many of these graduates actually find their way into the nation’s labour force. How many of them become gainfully employed and contribute to the financial stability of their families. For most of these people, life after national service is nothing but long hours on their parents’ couches sleeping and watching repeats of Mexican telenovelas.
Let no politician tell me therefore that education is our biggest problem when we clearly have dozens of educated folks all around with no means of contributing their quota to the developmental agenda of the country.
The point I’m making here is really simple… if my parents were able to pay my fees (regardless of the degree of difficulty they went through) all I ask for in return is that I get the opportunity to put that education to good use and in the process improve upon my life and that of my immediate society.
So you see the reason why I wasn’t the least bit amused by the campaign shenanigans of Nana Akuffo Addo and John Mahama. I wasn’t buying whatever they were selling and personally, I thought their campaigns were simply some sort of competition to see who could make the most promises or who could sell the grandest populist idea to its followers and the general public. Last year’s campaign period, I presume will go down in the country’s history as one in which the most campaign promises were made. One party even promised to build hostels for “kayaye”.
Dr. Papa Kwesi Ndoum, founder of the Progressive Peoples’ Party (PPP) however, was the only candidate who gave me a bit of hope. He appealed to me primarily because he addressed my issues best and was the only candidate who seriously raised the topic of unemployment and job creation. He also seemed really committed to finding lasting solutions to the problem. No wonder he is affectionately referred to as “Edwumawura” Aside his emphasis on job creation, in my view, he was the candidate who proposed the most pragmatic and implementable ideas.
However, I knew very well there was no chance in hell Dr. Ndoum would become the next president of Ghana, simply because it was pretty clear the direction in which last year’s election would go, as has all other elections in this country for the past 20years. Ghana’s elections for some time now have been extremely two-dimensional. It has always been a straight battle between the NDC and NPP and I knew very well the 2012 elections would not be any different.
Being the smart politician that he is, Dr. Ndoum did put out a very intelligent campaign advert juxtaposing his situation to that of President Thomas Yayi Boni of Benin who was also an “outsider” at some point but somehow managed to beat the odds and inspire change among his people. Dr. Ndoum was trying to prove that his task, though difficult wasn’t an impossible one. But as I feared, the advert had very little impact on his fortunes. And like someone said “Ghana is not Benin and he, Dr Ndoum is not Yayi Boni” I didn’t vote for him either because I knew very well my vote wouldn’t make a difference.
If ability to provide comic relief was the overriding factor in electing our commander-in-chief, Hassan Ayariga, flag bearer of the Peoples National Convention (PNC) would’ve won by popular acclamation. He was the toast of the campaign period and virtually warmed his way into the hearts of all Ghanaians with his controversial statements and his crude and unrefined command of the English language. Loved as he was, very few people took him seriously. If he had won the elections somehow, the entire country would still be in shock.
Dr. Michael Abu Sakara Foster, although came across as a very fine gentleman and expressed himself most eloquently, wasn’t going to become president either simply because his party, the Conventions People Party (CPP) is still in some kind of political wilderness. Even though this was the political party of Ghana’s first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the party still has a long way to go before establishing itself as a third political force. They never stood a chance in 2012 and it was apparent to any objective by-stander.
So here we are, ten months into the John Dramani Mahama led administration and there seems to be a wide sense of dissatisfaction and disgruntlement among the populace. It must be said however that the first half of the year was a bit challenging especially as the administration had to deal with the issue of the election petition and the uncertainty that surrounded it. It is a well-known fact that businesses don’t thrive in an uncertain environment. Entrepreneurs and investors alike are always cautious of investing their money in an economy that couldn’t provide any guarantees. Nobody knew what the outcome of the petition was going to turn out to be and that scared a lot of potential investors away.
There is also the issue of the bloated national wage bill, a problem that government still doesn’t have a clue how to solve. The problem mainly boils down to the introduction of the single spine salary structure and the huge presence of “ghost names” on the public workers payroll. It has been reported that government wage bill rose by a staggering 47% in 2012. The ballooning wage bill in turn is causing a sharp increase in Ghana’s national deficit which is expected to reach 10% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the end of this year.
Regardless of the challenges, many Ghanaians-myself included-feel this administration could’ve and should’ve done better… much, much better. The sheer incompetency, indecisiveness, misplacement of priorities, lapses in judgment and administrative gaffes that have bedeviled the administration are unpardonable and at times plainly avoidable.
Just to name a few, the government has proposed taxes on condoms, international calls and emails which many Ghanaians found preposterous. The awkward subject of the renaming of Flagstaff house and the national hockey pitch, which simply exposed the government to wide-spread public ridicule and made the entire administration seem like a joke. And then we have the perennial issues of unpaid workers’ salaries and allowances, countless strikes and industrial actions, spiralling national debt (which the World Bank has currently cautioned us about), issues of corruption (GYEEDA, Akonfem etc..), fuel and utility price hikes and the latest in a long list, is news that players in the senior national team, Black Stars, will each receive a mind boggling sum of $15.000 (GH₵30.000) as winning bonus for their crucial world cup qualifying match against the pharaohs of Egypt.
As I sit behind my laptop and ponder as to what went so terribly wrong with John Mahama’s seemingly promising administration that has turned it into an absolute failure so far, I find myself asking one simple question, is there really a viable alternative to this? Could any member of the opposition say with a degree of certainty that things would’ve been significantly different under their administration? Would things have been better or worse? Could they look Ghanaians in the eyes and tell us in all honesty that they wouldn’t have awarded the Black Stars with these bonuses? After all, regardless of which administration it is, football has always been a passionate topic and the recipient of unfair advantages in the past as well.
The main opposition, NPP has a track record too. Considering they are the same party which when in office bought two presidential jets, built a presidential palace, awarded the executive and legislature ridiculous ex-gratia payments, squandered funds on Ghana @ 50 parks and toilets, most of which still remain uncompleted, I seriously doubt the story would’ve been any different. Contrary to campaign promises at the time, the former President Kufour led NPP administration, run one of the most expansive cabinets with just too many “special aides” Anybody wants to imagine the administrative costs they must’ve incurred in their 8years.
Lest I forget, this is the same party whose members of parliament boycotted their parliamentary duties simply because their flag bearer who lost the elections quite clearly, was holding the entire country to ransom in the form an election petition which they subsequently lost. As the petition was before the highest court of our land and the judges were doing their possible best to arrive at a verdict, one would wonder what reason the minority had for neglecting the duties that their constituents queued up for hours and elected them for. These same irresponsible MPs will now complain about the caliber of people currently holding ministerial positions when it was their duty to take part in the vetting process and ensure that “unqualified” persons did not make it into the executive; a duty which they neglected on such frivolous grounds. So I ask again, will these people have done any better if they had been elected?
It’s high time our leaders and Ghanaians as a whole began putting national interests ahead of political, ethnic and religious preferences. It’s the only way we’ll ever make any progress.
I did not vote in the 2012 elections because no matter which party it is, the value is always the same; politicians pursuing their own parochial, self-serving agenda to the detriment ordinary Ghanaian taxpayers.
I’m glad I didn’t vote for John Mahama. Why? Because it would’ve been more painful for me watching the apparent failure of his administration knowing very well that my vote helped put them there.
But then again, I didn’t vote for Nana Akuffo Addo either and if given the chance again with the benefit of hindsight, I still wouldn’t.
Article BY: Israel Ahedor