PENDULUM BY DELE MOMODU
Fellow Africans, please lend me your eyes, as you read through, what I consider, a very important article this weekend. On Monday, December 7, 2020, Ghana, certainly one of my favourite countries on planet earth, goes to the polls again, to choose its President, Vice President, and members of Parliament. The story of my unconditional and uncompromising love for Ghana, despite the occasional skirmishes with Nigeria, is not new to any of my readers and followers on social media. It is also a well-known fact that I have been interacting with Ghanaian leaders for over 20 years, beginning with former President Jerry John Rawlings, now of blessed memory.
The meat of my epistle to you today is that Ghana once again stands on the threshold of making monumental history, if things go according to plan for the opposition NDC party in the Presidential election next Monday. The incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo will duel with his immediate predecessor, former President John Dramani Mahama for the Presidential trophy. This will be their third time of slugging it out in keenly contested elections. Mahama won the first in 2012 while Akufo-Addo won the second in 2016. So, wither direction will the wind of fortune blow this time around? Who will win the third of the epochal battles between these two dynamic, but different foes? Personally, I will say it is too close to call even though I’m willing to place a strong bet on Mahama, for several reasons on ground.
One. Many Ghanaians generally feel a sense of disappointment in Akufo-Addo who they believe over-promised but has much under-delivered after attaining power. Except for the free education (in Senior High Schools), the great Nana has not been able to produce any real landmark achievements in the last four years. While Mahama can confidently point at world class projects that were conceptualized and actualized by his highly technical government, President Akufo-Addo’s achievement in the area of infrastructure development pales into insignificance when compared with the Mahama legacy of his first term in office.
Two. A government that promised to operate a shoe-string budget has become one of the most recklessly profligate in the history of democratic governance in Ghana with the personnel running the affairs of state. For starters, the President assembled over hundred senior and junior Ministers in a country of only about 30 million people. It is interesting to make the comparison with Nigeria which has almost 200 million people and just over 40 ministers of both categories. The Akufo-Addo government is packed full, with friends and family, cronies who are to a large extent, members of a particular clan. Surprisingly, the ruling government studiously forgot to look after its greatest catchment area of support from the Ashanti Region. This may become the NPP’s albatross and back-breaker on Monday. Mahama as the consummate politician that he is saw the maltreatment of the region in the distribution of the political spoils of war arising from the NPP victory in 2016. Mahama has therefore made spirited, bold and robust incursions into the Ashanti kingdom, hoping to garner about 40 percent of the votes which would be a major boost for his chances of electoral success at the polls. Mahama is realistic enough to know that the Ahanti Region is still a major stronghold of the NPP, but he nevertheless fancies himself and his running mate to make the necessary significant inroads into the votes of people who consider themselves greatly marginalised by a Government that they practically assisted in foisting on the nation.
Three. The economy is practically in shambles. The government has borrowed excessively and endlessly and there does not seem to be any hope or expectation that a new term would signal the termination of the ceaseless borrowing. The debt burden of this present government has become so humongous that some say, the debt of these past four years is more than all former governments accumulated and pooled together, without any sign that even just some of the borrowed money has been invested in capital projects that can enhance the industrialisation the country and ultimately create jobs for its multitude of unemployed youths. It had been the much-vaunted assertion of President Nana Akufo-Addo when he was campaigning that he would set Ghana on a path of industrialisation and technical growth never before witnessed in West Africa, not to mention, Ghana. He promised much but delivered precisely nothing in this regard. Instead of one industry and one dam per District that was promoted, promised and pledged during the 2016 campaign, the reality of the Akufo-Addo government’s performance was more like one toilet project per District. Such was the penchant for delivering on the toilet projects that the government has now become the butt (no pun intended) of serial jokes regarding the fact that the sensibilities of Ghanaians has been assailed by the malodorous discharges emanating from these contraptions. This has led to much disappointment and disenchantment by the teeming Ghanaian masses. The promise of one million US Dollars per District also never materialised and has since been long forgotten by the long-suffering populace subjected to great dissatisfaction, discontent and distress under Nana’s Government.
Indeed, to make matters worse, a lot of the notable projects of the Mahama administration embarked upon and almost completed have been abandoned patently through vindictiveness and spite, and without any reasonable justification. This is worrisome and of great concern considering the fact that the Government of Ghana either fully paid, or secured the loans, for the remarkable developments which Ghanaians expected that in the spirit of continuity and good governance, the incoming administration of Akufo-Addo would conclude and finish them for the benefit and betterment of Ghanaians of all political hues and shades.
Four. Too many atrocious and unpalatable scandals have surfaced in a government that largely came to power on the saintly promise to clean up Ghana and get rid of the alleged voluptuous and voracious greed and avarice of corrupt politicians and government officials in the preceding Mahama led Government. Unfortunately, this government has been hit left, right and centre by some highly odoriferous charges of malfeasance on the part of its leaders in high places. The Government has waltzed from one crisis to another and nobody has been spared in the gory details of allegations of sensational brigandage and pillaging. The climax of these supposed corruption in high places and of high offices occurred with the very embarrassing resignation of the Special Prosecutor who accused the President of a proclivity for protecting corrupt people by directly instructing him to drop certain investigations. What is galling for most people is the fact that they believed that this was the democratic administration that would clean the Augean stable, much like the late President J. J. Rawlings did as military Head of State, albeit not with the same kind of dramatic mass executions or killings. The passing of the revered, charismatic and much beloved Rawlings has put the issue of corruption and abuse of office on the front burner like never before. It has become an issue that is on the tongue of most Ghanaians today.
Five. Financial and economic institutions and organisations have collapsed like a pack of cards. Banks have gone under in suspicious circumstances amidst swirling allegations of insider trading, sharp practices, favouritism and downright abuse of office. Companies have caved in have groaned under the weight of great debt and oppressive business policies which have sometimes made little sense both in terms of logic and practicality. As a result, many Ghanaians have either lost their jobs or lost their investments or both. In several instances, government had been accused of witch-hunt and sharp practices in order to corruptly enrich its inner circle. Sadly, this intimate, seemingly incestuous clique of family, buddies, comates and chums has not given any reason to douse or dispel the rumours having regard to the astonishing and remarkable opulent lifestyle of those close to the seat of power.
I could probably go on and on, but what I have said should suffice to demonstrate why I believe that Mahama may be the odd on favourite to win this election. The opposition has taken advantage of the myriad of challenges facing the government. Even those who never liked Mahama, and many still don’t like him, have now agreed that Mahama was misjudged, abused and harassed out of power unjustifiably. Some are quietly saying that his government was composed of saints when juxtaposed with this present administration. What is not in dispute, is that the scale and level of tremendous achievement under the Mahama administration cannot be compared with the degradation and doldrums that Ghana appears to have been plunged into by the Akufo-Addo government. As some commentators have said it is akin to comparing sleep with death. It is noteworthy, that the media that lampooned, lambasted and lashed at Mahama at every opportunity in the past suddenly became deaf and dumb, possibly out of shell shock, under the present dispensation. I suppose they could not imagine what they were witnessing and the depths of failure, despair and pain that the country was plumbing in the new era of Akufo-Addo.
It is therefore not surprising that most opinion polls have tipped Mahama to win. Even if such polls could not be totally relied upon, as we have seen in the past, the mood in Ghana and the blistering campaign embarked on by the former President in practically all areas have combined positively to tilt the balance and odds of success in favour of John Mahama.
The clincher for many Ghanaians is Mahama’s choice of a female Vice Presidential candidate, Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, a Professor of Literature, first female Vice Chancellor of a State University in Ghana at University of Cape Coast, former Minister of Education and lately Chancellor of the Women’s University of Africa, amongst other phenomenal achievements. Her credentials and stellar accomplishments speak volumes for her as do her credibility and integrity. This is the first time a woman has been picked by a major political party in Ghana as a Presidential running mate. And it is not just any woman, because of her daunting laurels and great distinguished career. If their ticket wins, she will become the first woman Vice President of Ghana, just like the American, Kamala Harris. It is perhaps no coincidence, that like Biden, Mahama seeks to unseat a sitting one term President who had pledged and assured the best but has achieved infinitely and abysmally little. The omens and stars appear aligned and seem right for John Dramani Mahama!
Ghana has knack for leading the way in delivering many firsts in different parts of the African historical landscape, whether good or bad. This is one positive, notable and laudable historic first that many people, including me, would love to witness. I will certainly keep “JOHN & JANE” in my prayers as well as the peaceful people of the Republic of Ghana…