A year has just passed since the nation voted the New Patriotic Party (NPP) into political office, with Nana Akufo Addo as President.
On reaching Kumasi on my way to my village, around this time last year, the euphoria in Kumasi about the victory of the NPP was so electric that bakers had special bread made which the street vendors called “Nana Aba” (meaning “Nana has come”). At almost every traffic hold-up, one would be accosted with the bread, amidst ecstatic shouts of “Nana Aba”, almost expecting one to buy it. Last week, when I arrived in Kumasi, that special bread had vanished from the streets; so had the shouts of “Nana aba”. I wondered what had happened.
In the months and weeks before the victory of the NPP, a day would not pass without hearing someone on radio or some other media, claiming that if Nana Akufo Addo were voted President, Ghana would turn into a “paradise”, where there would be no corruption or any suspicion of corrupt acts by government appointees; where there would be no nepotism; where there would be such effective management of the financial and economic affairs of the nation that, the country would be awash with money to afford everyone the opportunity to improve their well-being. Each district would have one new factory, each village in the savanna areas would get one dam, trainee nurses and teachers would have their allowances (“alawa”) restored, each constituency would be given one million U.S. dollars, in addition to the normal District Assemblies’ Common Fund for the development of their districts.
There would be jobs for the youth. Students in high schools were asked to vote for NPP because, with Nana as President, they would no longer pay school fees. The promised prospects were mouth-watering. It reminded me of my primary school days when the teachers used to make us sing a song which ran as “Me’pe Jerusalem a’kor” (meaning “I wish to go to Jerusalem”), which made us to think that Jerusalem was in Heaven. It reminded me of some three verses in the Bible where it is stated: “For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass”. (Deuteronomy 8:7-9)
I understand that the word “Paradise” originates from the Persian language. It is supposed to be a sort of ‘pleasure garden, garden of delight.’ To say we are in “Paradise”, means that we will be enjoying the fruits as in “the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7). In that “Paradise”, there is supposed to be no sin and the devil and death will be defeated enemies. After all, “The Battle is the Lord’s”. And as stated in Revelations 21:4, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away”
I remember in the days of the electioneering campaign. One of my nephews would go on local campaigns, completely body-painted in NPP colours, with a “chop box”, topped with a pillow and a folded blanket, all on top of his head, shouting “Free SHS! Free SHS!!” I also remember, especially one gentleman, called Kwamena Duncan on Peacefm, He would shout himself hoarse to the extent that, sometimes I wondered whether someone was squeezing his balls as he spoke.
It was not only him. Several other NPP members or supporters were spreading the message of hope that Ghana would turn into a Paradise if Nana came to power. Indeed, it was Nana Akufo Addo, who led the biblical message of hope when, at a rally in Nsuaem-Kyekyewere, in the Assin South District declared “I’ll take Ghana to the promised land” (GNA; 27 August 2008). He was soon followed by Mr. Joseph Ampomah Bosompem, who, on the eve of the 2008 elections, clarion-called on the electorate to vote for Nana Akufo Addo for a transformation of the land into a “Paradise” (Daily Graphic; 5 December 2008).
In 2011, Hon. Adwoa Safo, NPP MP for Dome-Kwabenya also declared: “Nana Addo is the hope for Ghana. He is the one taking us to the promise land. ….. Today, when you sell, people don’t buy, and the only reason is that there is no money to spend.” (Ghanaian Chronicle 13 June 2011). One Kofi Amenyo, a prolific columnist on Ghanaweb, declared, that “An NPP government led by Akufo-Addo will transform Ghana into a paradise’’ (Ghanaweb; 19 August 2012).
Even the chiefs joined in. The Chief of Boso, in the Asuogyaman constituency, Osabarima Agyeman Boasia II did not want to be left out. He declared “Ghana is in pain. When Moses died, God chose Joshua and told him ‘Be strong and courageous’. These were the two words God told Joshua. It is these same words I am also telling Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, so he can lead us through the Red Sea to the Promised Land,” (www.pulse.com; 2 July 2016).
It might, for example, be useful to revisit the promise to restore the allowances of nurses and teacher trainees. Whereas nurses were paid their allowances in September and October 2017, the payments have since dried up. They were not paid for November and December 2016. We are now in January 2018 and the allowances are nowhere to be found; neither is there any sign that they will receive something in January 2018. Was is some conjuring trick, which in my village, we call ‘hanya’?
Sometimes, the dexterity of politicians at doublespeak impresses me. Although Nana Akufo Addo promised free SHS to the then SHS students, it turned out, after they voted for him, that it would only be the new entrants that would benefit from the free SHS promise. Alas for my “chop-box”-carrying nephew. He was so sure that on the day of the election, I heard him shouting “time aso ooo, time aso!” Now he is no longer shouting. And so are the teeming vendors at traffic lights, who were confident that they would be ushered into jobs as soon as Nana “comes”. They are still at the traffic lights hawking; this time without their party scarfs and T-shirts.
During the election campaign, the NPP promised a state of affairs where there would be equal opportunities for all. However, not long after they won power, the NPP National Youth Organiser, Sammy Awuku declared “We’ll fly only NPP supporters to Russia 2018” (for the football World Cup tournament). He went on: “It is time for us as party to take care of our party people”. He called on government appointees to “make sure that “if it is NADMO, if it is School Feeding, if it is Youth Employment Agency, that our party people need those jobs, let’s support them and get those jobs”. (kasapafmonline.com , 1 August 2017).
Earlier on, Anthony Abayifa Karbo, Deputy Minister for Roads and Highways, had cautioned MMDCEs that they had been appointed to “first consider New Patriotic Party (NPP) supporters for jobs and other appointments before any other person could be considered because it is their right, considering their efforts towards the party’s victory” (www.mynewsgh.com; 25 July 2018). He added, “I want to implore the DCEs here, please, party first! People have worked, toiled and struggled for the party to come to power. This is the time for the party people to enjoy, let us not negotiate that and make sure our party people get these opportunities”
Sammy Awuku’s position was soon confirmed by the NPP General-Secretary (John Boadu) who declared that government appointees would be given preference to NPP supporters in recruitment and the award of contracts, insisting that “there is nothing wrong in considering the jobs and contracts to their party people who have toiled to see the party in government”. (www.Ghanaweb.com 30 July 2017). He followed it up in November 2017 when he maintained that the NPP government would not provide jobs to other Ghanaians at a time when NPP members had not had jobs. (www.rainbowradioonline.com; 1 November 2017). He stated this in the wake of an earlier proclamation by another leading member of the NPP, Mr. George Ayisi Boateng, that, indeed, NPP members are more Ghanaian than non-NPP Ghanaians (www.citifmonline.com; 31 October 2017).
Similarly, in January 2017 when the NPP took control of the economy, the value of the Cedi to the US Dollar was GH¢3.95. At the time of writing this article, the rate was GH¢4.52.
Yet in 2012, when the Cedi to the U.S. Dollar was GH¢1.92, (Ref. https://currencies.zone/historic) Dr. Bawumia lamented about how “the current state of the local currency was lamentable because the Cedi was virtually collapsing” (Daily Guide; 31 August 2012). What should one say now then, when in “Paradise” today, the Cedi to the Dollar is GH¢4.52, the highest rate since 2008?
While preparing this article, I spoke to some contractors in the Western Region that I know. It was sad to hear that certificates of a particular road contractor, which were submitted to the Western Region Co-ordinating Council in September 2017 are yet to be received in Accra. Similarly, a GETfund contractor, whose certificates were submitted to GETFund in Accra in 2016, has not yet been paid. And there are numerous more examples like these. I wonder what is going on. After all, we were made to believe that this government would encourage the private sector.
In any case, what happened to the NPP Manifesto pledge (2016) “to establish an automatic mechanism for transfer of statutory funds to designated agencies such as the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETfund), District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) and NHIS as stipulated by law”?.
As a government that expresses concern about the need for financial discipline in the economic system, one would have thought that one year into their administration, they would have made good of Dr. Bawumia’s promise to introduce a Financial Responsibility Act to instill discipline in the system. Where is it?
According to the “Report of The Auditor-General on the Public Accounts of Ghana – Ministries, Departments, and Other Agencies (MDAs) for the Financial Year Ended 31 December 2008”, it was stated in paragraph 54 of the report, with regards to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Public Sector Development and PSI (where Mr. Kyerematen was sector Minister) thus: “Contrary to Regulation 14(1) of the Financial Administration Regulation, the Ministry opened and operated an account at the Accra High Street branch of Barclays Bank in October 2005. An amount of GH¢2 billion was transferred into it from the Ministry’s main account which earned an interest of GH¢7.8 million, and the GH¢2 billion later withdrawn”. No one knew what happened thereafter.
That brings us to the issue of “One District, One Factory” promised by the NPP. We have only three more years to the end of the mandate of the NPP. Yet one of the cardinal components of the “Promised Land” appears to be eluding us. In August 2017, when amidst a colourful flourish, the President cut the sod for the beginning of the Programme, he promised that by the end of 2017, fifty-one districts would have started the implementation of the One-District-One-Factory programme (www.citifmonline.com; 25 August 2017). The year has ended and we haven’t yet seen even one of such factories. To add salt to injury, the site for the Ekumfi Pineapple Factory, where the sod-cutting took place, has turned into a wilderness which grass-cutters have virtually turned into a theme park and where deer are fattening themselves in readiness for the next deer-hunting festival (aboakyer).
There are solid potentials for the establishment of an export-oriented chocolate factory using the brilliant research findings of the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) to compete with the ones currently being produced and marketed worldwide by China (with Ghana cocoa). CRIG has also put out both liquid and cake soaps, brandy, and pomade using various parts of cocoa, which can be produced on commercial basis. Why is the programme not investing in these? Or is “Paradise” still only interested in Ghana being raw material producers without the addition of value?
While one is yet to see the $1 million for each constituency, one is still waiting for the beginning of the “One Village, One Dam” for the northern areas. One is still waiting for the overhauling of the Western and Eastern railway lines. One is also waiting for the beginning of the sinking of at least 25,000 new boreholes and an additional 300 small town water supply systems in the rural areas and small towns, knowing that we only have three years left of the mandate. One is waiting for when the construction of storm drains in Accra and other cities and towns would begin, since this is a massive job.
One year on, one is yet to witness the beginning of the programme which will ensure that kindergarten places are available for all four-year old children in the country.
Before I end, allow me to comment on one laughable thing about this “Promised land”. In some times past, Ghana used to have an airline called Ghana Airways. Because our governments could not see it managed efficiently, they sold it and turned the main aircraft into a restaurant. Then they sold the other assets of the airline at knock-down prices to themselves, including people who are Ministers in the current government. Then a foreign airline, which is being run competently than ours continues to ferry our elite into foreign lands. Lo, and behold, a Minister of the party that sold the Ghana Airways turns round to accuse that foreign airline of having bedbugs in their plane. The Minister also moans about the departure lounge being moved from Terminal 5 Heathrow to Terminal 3. She said this although the then Ghana Airways used to operate from the same Terminal 3. Then the Minister accuses the foreign airline for not giving gifts to Ghana. Aba!! Why did you sell your own airline then?
When our leaders do these things and some mad man insults us, then we get angry. The one who goes round shitting all over the place (excuse my language) and the one who says, “you have shit on yourself”; who is to blame?
One is wondering whether it is a case of “Paradise Lost” (John Milton) or “Paradise Regained” (John Milton) or maybe Paradise Postponed! What sort of Paradise is this?
By: Kwasi Adu