The first term of any new political administration governing a country is often accorded unflinching support and goodwill by the citizenry. In the first two years out of the four-year term, even the opposition party sometimes relax and give the benefit of the doubt to the new administration to see how they can show some difference in the running of the affairs of the state.
Unfortunately, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has put on a yeoman`s performance to successfully squander all the gargantuan political goodwill given to it by the Ghanaian populace.
The government has suddenly forgotten where they were before they assumed political power. The trappings of political office, the stardom and women it brings to their doorsteps has made some of the president`s appointees go bonkers. The urge to amass free wealth to fill what they lost in opposition for 8 years and sponsoring the then candidate Akufo Addo for 12 years has erased every iota of common sense in these current political appointees of the president.
Consequently, this administration which touted itself as being composed of geniuses have within a twinkle of an eye changed their abhorrence towards corruption and incompetence to commit the same corrupt acts they vehemently accused their predecessors of engaging in.
The sad reality is that, this change from non-corrupt leadership to smelly scandal-courting government, emerged at the very embryonic stage of the Nana Addo`s government. It looked like the party was unsure of winning power and did not put up proper structures and personnel in place to take over from the incompetent John Mahama`s National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.
Even the fact that the president could not find any competent person in the Ghana Police Service (GPS) to take over from the Inspector General of Police John Kudalor speaks volume of the president`s readiness to assume power. Otherwise, why would the President appoint an over-aged police CID man, Asante-Appietu as IGP on contract?
Gradually, Professor P L O Lumumba`s words seems to be gaining traction when juxtaposed to what the NPP administration is currently doing in the country. As Professor Lumumba rightly echoed, it is amazing how stupid highly educated people can be when thrust into a position where they keep a key to the vault. So far, the NPP is disappointing its teeming intellectual and middle class voters and civil society partners who put serious faith in the government. As the opponents of the government, especially the opposition NDC and their media allies, scorn and mock at the never-ending scandals and sheer incompetence being displayed by the NPP, the public is gradually losing faith in the government.
The government`s own communications team seems to be losing oxygen because not everyone is stupid enough to put their integrity on the line to defend every silly mistake committed by the government. Not everyone is ready to go to town to defend indefensible scandals such as the premix fuel diversion, BOST Contaminated Oil Scandal or the visa scandal which rocked the country in the wake of the Commonwealth games that took place in Australia.
Un-executed Policies and Vain-Policy Sloganeering
The Akufo Addo government made serious campaign promises whilst in opposition which endeared them to the Ghanaian voters. Following its landslide electoral victory over the NDC`s John Mahama, the new government rolled out its massive development policies such as “Planting for Food” (P4D), “One District One Factory” (1D1F), “Free Senior High School” (Free SHS), creation of the Office of Special Prosecution, various models of youth employment initiatives and others to ensure socio-economic transformation in the country. So far, the government has been able to implement the Free SHS policy which has enabled 90,000 young people to enrol in SHS, current recruitment of over 100, 000 young men and women into the National Builders Corps (NABCO); Office of Special Prosecution has established and Martin A. B. K. Amidu and Lucille Lamptey have been appointed the Special Prosecutor and Deputy Prosecutor respectively.
The government has provided foreign investors with the most predictable entry point into West Africa by positioning the country as the best investment destination in the sub-region. Nana Akufo-Addo’s government kicked oﬀ its first quarter in office with tax reforms in the 2017 National Budget by reducing various business tax rates, signaling eﬀorts to improve the business environment. There has been a reduction in the base rate recently. The government has further successfully introduced the National Identification Cards and Digitized Postal Address System, digitized drivers licence and vehicle registration, the paperless operation at the ports and interoperability of payment system in the financial sector; which are all geared towards the modernization of the economy.
Apart from that, the President also came out with his own afterthought transformational and Pan-Africanist economic policy, Ghana Beyond Aid. In this regard, the president made bold statements to world leaders such as US` Donald Trump, German`s Angela Merkel, Frenchman Emmanuel Macron, and others that Ghana with its abundant natural resources and sound economic management under his leadership is ready to develop on its own without reliance on foreign aid. The president moved round the world to re-echo his sloganeering policy, Ghana Beyond Aid. At every local and international forum, the president loses no opportunity to hammer home his Ghana Beyond Aid policy. This moves suddenly shot President Akufo Addo into global political stardom as he received massive support and praises from the world, especially the global Pan-Africanists movements, global African family (people of African descents) and the Africans in Diaspora. But as it stands now, it looks like the President just engaged in policy sloganeering with Ghana Beyond Aid, rather than conscious effort to carry out the agenda. This is because the government has not shown anything different from the corrupt and incompetent administration it came to replace.
On the government`s own campaign policies, its flagship policy, 1D1F still remains a mirage because the huge sums of money expected from the Chinese loan of US$15 billion to be used for projects under the 1D1F has not flowed in. This has led to regular postponement of the policy`s implementation. In fact, Deloitte, an accounting and tax advisory firm had cautioned that the 1D1F initiative can be successful only if there is a conscious effort to promote made in Ghana goods to create demand for these factories. The Planting for Food policy is also yet to be implemented to ensure food security in the country, just as General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong`s Operation Feed Yourself (OFY) boosted the countries agricultural production and food security. This government has also shown his intention to follow the old tradition of ignoring laudable projects and policies initiated by former regimes. It is quite laughable that an ultra-modern University of Ghana hospital build under the last administration has been left to waste away. Where lies the novel changes which this government promised Ghanaians?
Litany of scandals and incompetence in the first year (2017)
Right from the very day of the president`s inauguration, plagiarism scandal rocked his administration. In his inaugural speech, President Akufo Addo copiously utilized paragraphs from the speeches of former US Presidents George Walker Bush and Bill Clinton and the Nigerian President, Mahamadu Buhari without attributions. This serious intellectual dishonesty on the part of the President`s speech writers casted dire doubts on the president`s sincerity and swallowed the important policy statement delivered by the president in his inaugural speech. This faux paux also gave breather to the opposition NDC to suddenly wake up from the painful comatose which the devastating electoral result had condemned them into, to come out to describe it as an international embarrassment.
Right after that, the president officially broke the heart of his neutral supporters following his appointment of so-called “110 competent Ministers of State.” This was against the president`s own averments in the opposition that he would not expand or engage in the over-bloating of the bureaucracy. Despite the President and his own team of government communicators’ attempts at explaining the rational for over 110 ministers for a small country like Ghana, the Ghanaian citizenry, especially some Civil Society Organizations subjected any of their explanation into intense criticism to prove that there was no need for that huge number of ministerial appointees.
In the end, what the government had so far proved to every Ghanaian is that the 110 ministerial appointments was nothing more than ‘quid pro quo.’ The president just rewarded people who had helped him over the years to become president. His appointment of over-aged Asante-Appietu solidifies the view that the president is shamelessly engaged in defunct political spoils system. All his appointment is about ethno-kinship and political loyalists and the deep pockets who sponsored his campaigns.
Coming on the heels of 110 ministers, was the twin scandals of the Bulk Oil Storage Transport (BOST) contaminated Oil and the diversion of premix fuel for the fisher folks. BOST allegedly sold 5 million litres of contaminated fuel to two unlicensed companies; Movepiina and Zup Oil, making Ghana lose about GH¢7million in revenue. Even as the embers of the BOST scandal rages, the country was rocked again with the alleged diversion of pre-mix fuel meant for the fisher folk. The NPA’s investigations revealed 200 cases of diversion between January and November 2017.
Unfortunately, the president could not order the interdiction of the Managing Director of BOST to ensure transparent and fair investigation into the contaminated oil scandal. This created an impression that the President was not ready to subject his appointee to fair and just investigative process to stem the corruption at BOST in the bud. Thus Mr. Franklin Cudjoe of IMANI, a policy think tank called on the President to initiate fresh investigations into the BOST scandal.
Mr. Cudjoe contended: “This whole mockery of governance can be made clean again by a singular act of the President for fresh inquiry into the activities of BOST in the last 8 years, and all persons liable for fuel fraud to be held accountable. But we want immediate answers to the present fraud. It is simply early in the day for a new government with boundless optimism.”
Whilst the whiff of scandals seems to have died down, then suddenly the next alleged scandal, popularly known as Cash-for-seats, also made its grand entry. It was alleged that officials of the Trades and Industries Ministry extorted US$100,000 from expatriates for a “presidential seat” at the Ghana Expatriates Business Awards (GEBA) organized by Mr. Ashim Morton`s firm in collaboration with the Ministry. This allegation also raised public eyebrow leading to asking of questions about the non-corrupt image carved for the president and his appointees. The public outrage and the opposition`s consistent bashing of the President of having knowledge about the extortion led to full-scale Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry on the matter.
Then, just before the year elapsed, in the December, another stinking allegation of scandal perverted the imminent Christmas air. This time, Mavis Hawa Koomson, the Minister for Special Development and Initiatives budgeted GH¢800,000 of taxpayers’ money to build a new website. Following the massive public uproar over the issue, Madam Koomson, made a shocking 360 degrees turn, claiming that the GH¢800,000 was a typographical error and that the actual amount was GH¢80,000.
Apart from these major hits against the NPP in 2017, the opposition NDC made other politically laced allegations such as the controversial US$2.25 million Kenbond (ala Templeton`s deal), bribery allegations against Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko over his ministerial appointment and musician A-Plus` allegation of corruption against two deputy chiefs of staff, Abu Jinapo and Francis Assenso.
…2018 and the scandals goes on unabated!
If 2017 was a bad start for the NPP, it was expected that the party would learn from it and give the public their best in 2018. For many political pundits, the NPP had learnt its serious mistakes in the first year that political goodwill has its limitations and even objective party supporters and sympathizers have a limit to which they can stomach corruption in their own party or government. Thus the party was expected to offer its best this year.
Unfortunately, the NPP government could not extricate itself from scandals. The Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Sports Authority (NSA) got entangled in the immoral and disgraceful visa racketeering scandal to ever rock this country since its independence in 1957.
The Australian security agency arrested and deported about 60 so-called Ghanaian ‘journalists’ who allegedly attempted to enter Australia by false pretences in order to cover the ongoing 21st Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. These so-called journalists turned out to be party supporters and private citizens who were looking for opportunity to emigrate to Australia. This rotten scandal caused President Akufo Addo to suspend the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Pius Enam Hadzide and the Director General of the NSA, Robert Sarfo Mensah.
Following the Visa racketeering scandal, was the issue of incompetence, mismanagement and arrogance which rear its ugly head at the Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing Company (GCMC), where the political firebrand and an NDC import, Frances Ewurabena Assiam heads as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). In her confrontation with the GCMC board chaired by Frank Boakye Agyen, former Member of Parliament (MP) for Effiduase-Asokore to stay off the disbursement of a GHC5million stimulus package sought by the government for the company, Madam Assiam allegedly ordered the lock out of the company`s premises compelling customers to leave without their cylinders.
Madam Assiam, according to media reports, has been accused by the board for mismanagement of the GCMC, the disposal of assets of the company, award of some contracts without the approval of the Board or the Energy Ministry and dismissing senior staff. This has forced the GCMC board to suspend Madam Assiam. This open disrespect towards workers and corporate governance mismanagement of the State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) was what the NPP government fought against and promised to offer the best of management to ensure efficiency and maximization of profit.
This month alone has already witness two scandals and one Public Relation nightmare from the presidency. Madam Ursula Owusu Ekuful, Minister of Communication (MoC) has entered a very bad deal, which some political pundits have described as “conscienceless heist”, of US$178 million with Kelni GVG/Communications. It is said that the deal is akin to the abrogated one with Subah and Afriwave, and it will bring nothing new to the government. Indeed, Franklin Cudjoe who blew the whistle on this rent-seeking deal maintains that the argument by the MoC that the call monitoring equipment they are buying for KelniGVG to at the cost of US$63 million and could still be new in the next 10 years to be used by the National Communications Authority (NCA) and Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), after GVG is gone, is quite ridiculous.
Thus on his Facebook page, Cudjoe mockingly queries the propriety of the MoC`s reason: “Why spend our money to buy equipment for a company to use, pay them US$1.5 million every month for 10 years only to have your own Ghana people use the very equipment after 10 years? Assuming it was even necessary to buy the equipment; wouldn’t the best thing to do will be to have your own officials trained to use the equipment after say one week of training?”
This is mouthful! Clearly someone who sponsored the president is being made to recoup his money and no amount of criticism shall force the hands of this government to back down. If it is not about unrestrained move to satisfy someone at all cost, why will a government elected with an overwhelming wave of optimism sadly get that political goodwill doused by the cold reality of political gambitry? In the whole of Ghana, with a population of 30 million people, we have only 55 ambulances, yet our so-called smart NPP dudes are happy to spend US$178 million (GH¢200,000 every day for 10 years) without any clarity on returns on a contract largely undefined.
Whilst the MoC`s rent-seeking and a heist of a deal was unfolding and gaining traction, Peter Mac Manu`s alleged ‘kokofu football’ scandal at the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GHAPOHA), where he reign supreme as the Board Chairman, rudely ruptured out. The four Workers’ Unions of GHAPOHA have accused the former NPP Chairman and Campaign Manager of President Akufo Addo campaign of milking the Authority dry of millions of cedis through “bad corporate governance practices.” It has been alleged that the wife of Peter Mac Manu has taken over ticketing for staff travels and the Authority “is being priced at cut-throat prices…We are paying two and three times more than other competitors are offering for ticketing.” The Union further accused Mac Manu of awarding a US$4 million contract to wire the newly constructed electrical and materials block of GHAPOHA to his own company, and whilst facilitating a contract on an LNG Project, he requested the management to let the company pay US$200,000 for 25 years.
In the midst of the MoC`s and Mac Manu`s scandals, which has led to massive crossfire between Franklin Cudjoe and George Andah, and the NPP supporters (led by Gabby Asare Otchere Darko, in the corner of Mac Manu) and the workers of GAPOHA, the nation`s ace investigative prodigy, Anas Aremeyaw Anas` tape number 12 on his latest investigation into football surfaced. It was alleged that Kwasi Nyantakyi, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) President, was caught on a tape making false representations to some investors that President Akufo Addo is in his pocket and he can get to him through some members of the presidents team at the Jubilee House, especially Francis Assenso.
Consequently, the President in haste ordered the CID to arrest Mr. Nyantakyi who had travelled overseas, as soon as he lands on the tarmac. This arrest has been criticized by legal pundits, such as Professor Stephen Kwaku Addae aka Kwaku Azar as ultra vires. Others have described it as petty and worse PR nightmare.
Though, Mr. Kweku Baako, in his submissions has denied that Nyantakyi ever made that statement and had faulted the presidency for leaking the information to the public, but ABU JINAPOR, Deputy Chief of Staff has supported the propriety of the arrest claiming “the president conferred with his lawyers and others who believed a prima facie case has been triggered for investigation.”
At the party level, Hajia Fati, who was hired to put fear of the Lord in internal and external Akufo Addo`s opponents has also displayed how governmental power can be utilized to terrorise, abuse and beat the hell out of one`s political opponents and even media personnel without any security agency daring to effect an arrest. Hajia Fati`s hefty slap on the Adom FM reporter, whom she thought was an Agbogbloshie Market Onion Seller, shows how violent the NPP has become to the ordinary Ghanaian who hitherto knows NPP to be law-abiding and peaceful political tradition. Why Hajia Fati still maintains an office at the NPP`s Asylum Down Headquarters without any job description continues to beat the imagination of many people in the party. But who are you to say anything!
Freddy Blay, Chairman Hopeful, has also shown us that when political parties win power the executives of the parties also record serious financial breakthroughs in their bank accounts. He has promised to give 275 buses to each of the constituencies in Ghana from a fund he has refused to name its source. This has also attracted serious criticisms and mockery for the party.
Can Akufo Addo and the NPP change the trend of mockery?
From the way some party supporters have turned their frustrations on the so-called neutrals in the party and outside and have launched inglorious campaign of character assassination on them, it looks like the mockery by the party`s opponents is going to stay for a long time unless the NPP changes its approach to handling issues and reducing corruption. On the brighter side, the NPP seems to have quite an intelligent folks in their midst who are not in government, but can always be relied on to give constructive criticisms to the government and proffer solutions to the myriads of conundrums afflicting the party. These people are ready to help at any moment when called upon.
Unfortunately, the brainless loyalists who are trusted by the President will never allow that to happen. These people who have boasted their way into the inner sanctum of the president`s “kitchen cabinet” and in inseparable relationship with the President`s trusted family members who call the shots in this NPP government, feels threatened by anyone brilliant and smarter than them. They go about taken screenshots of what people posts on their Facebook Timelines, Twitter pages and Wassapp Groups to blackmail and denigrate their reputation to the powers-that-be. For these kind of people and teeming youths they have employed as communicators and moles on social network platforms, NPP and the President does no wrong in any decision they make. They are still living in the present with opposition politics-mentality. For them, it is also their time to rape the country to make themselves as bourgeoissies just as others before them had done.
All these buffoonery and corruption by the government can go on with it accompanying mockery from the opposition because we still do not have proper constitutional checks on our politicians. It is still easy to lie your way to power and steal without being caught. It is that easy, only those who want to get caught get caught! No wonder, Dr Theo Acheampong contends that: “Ghana is a procurement economy. Every major public policy problem has been reduced to a procurement opportunity by its political elites in collaboration with their business class conspirators. We can’t cure corruption if we don’t deal with this rent seeking culture, the base which stems from the very nature of opaque campaign financing and excessive executive power borne out of the Fourth Republican constitution.”