After the 2008 general elections in Ghana, Dr. Cobina Arthur Kennedy, one of the fore runners, and former flag bearer aspirant of the New Patriotic Party – NPP, wrote a book, obviously a sequitur of the reasons among other things that caused the New Patriotic Party its unsuspecting defeat.
The book which has the infamous title, “CHASING THE ELEPHANT INTO THE BUSH, -The Politics of complacency.” enumerated several reasons why the NPP lost from the perspective of the author who was instrumental in the campaign of the party in 2008’s general elections. Fast forward to 2016 some eight years down memory lane, the then opposition, National Democratic Congress -NDC who took the reins of political administration, held it for two consecutive terms and still bidding for a reelection to serve a third consecutive term which will possibly be a record in the annals of the country’s democratic dispensation. The party, led by H.E John Dramani Mahama, has carved a niche for itself in terms of infrastructure development notable among which include but not limited to; hospitals, roads, portable water, schools, revamping of some factories which hitherto, were defunct et cetera and thus had received, praises from a section of the Ghanaian population, a few local media houses and recently some international publishers.
The party however is caught up in a web of restless uncertainties due mainly to their inability to forecast a win of the elections based solely on the massive infrastructure projects it undertook during its tenure of office. Whereas the ruling elites had never failed to cease seize the opportunity to trumpet its achievement in infrastructure, the league of opposition parties led by the NPP on a number of occasions, chastised the government, saying touting infrastructure as an achievement is mediocre because every government executes some form of infrastructure development and more so, it was the duty of government to provide infrastructure. Tagged the sitting government with corruption, neglect of redistributive programs aimed at alleviating poverty, unprecedented hike in unemployment mainly among the youth, and monumental incompetence, a word that has become a household word, used by both literate and illiterates who don’t even understand what the word means.
Coincidentally, the media houses, both electronic and print seemed to have fallen in love with the opposition with some journalists openly declaring support for the leader of the opposition party and thus skew every political discourse to one that will portray the NPP and its leader as the only panacea of the quagmire of problems bedeviling Ghana.
Sad as it may be, could the pro opposition media houses and the opposition be expressly wrong in their complaints? Is it not the duty of every administration to undertake infrastructure projects? Couldn’t the government interlace the massive infrastructure development, with social interventional projects that will see to the bridging of the income gap and reduce unemployment and consequently alleviate poverty by widening the brackets of the middle income earners? Your guess on this is as good as mine.
With days to elections, the opposition New Patriotic Party and its leader Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo, ably supported by Dr. Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia will stop at nothing but sing the hope song hinged on employment, provision of a one village one dam, one district one million Dollars for development, one district one factory, Zongo fund among others and promised to wean Ghana from borrowing for developments.
The questions everyone is however failing to ask the NPP and Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo are;
1. For the 216 administrative districts in the country, Ghana, which factory will be sited at where and how it would be funded?
2. If the NPP and Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo promises to wean Ghana from borrowing for development how do they intend to undertake their projects or are they intending to declare Ghana HIPC upon assumption of office again? Or perhaps they are just campaign promises?
3. If all governments undertake infrastructural development and so the NDC should not rejoice in their achievement in the success chalked in the sector, why was the infrastructure projects undertaken by the NDC’s John Dramani Mahama not in existence before he came into power?
4. If the infrastructure development projects being undertaken by the John Dramani Mahama led NDC are not good for which the NPP is calling for a change why promise to continue those projects when they are elected? And if it is good and needs continuity why change the administration that envisioned and actually implementing such projects?
These are the questions that should occupy our minds in making decisions on the 7th December polls. The development of every country follows any one of two paths. Either a free market neo liberalism or redistributive socialism. The former allows individual or private entities a free will to determine the production and distribution of goods and services whereas the latter, governments determine the direction of production, distribution and allocation of resources which is aimed at ensuring equity. In crude simple terms we can have growth or fairness, but not both. The economist Arthur Okun in the 1970s called this the “big-trade-off”. So the big question is what are we trading the next four years of our future on December 7th, 2016 for, growth or fairness?
Are we going to see the elephant chased into the bush again or this time, the umbrella is going to be folded? The answer lies in the thumb of Ghanaians.
Richard Kwasi Anim
The writer is the President for the Distance Education Students’ Representative Council. University of Ghana & Majority Leader of the University of Ghana Parliament House -UGPH