NPP PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, YAW BUABEN ASAMOA AT THE PARTY HEADQUARTERS ON NOVEMBER 11, 2021
JOHN MAHAMA AND THE NDC HAVE NO PLAN: THEY WILL SET YOU BACK
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, stakeholders in our growing democracy and friends, despite pressing concerns to do with re-energising livelihoods, funding public infrastructure and services and putting people back to work in this difficult Covid-19 recovery period, we are being forced into a premature 2024 general election campaign by the posture and pronouncements of losing Candidate Mahama.
We have to be ready. We have to respond. Many well-meaning Ghanaians and friends of Ghana worry that John Mahama’s attitude and words set Ghana back and so it’s critical that the NPP is ready. Former President John Mahama and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is not the alternative.
Ladies and gentlemen, John Mahama wants us to believe that he cares about Ghana and he has solutions to Ghana’s perennial problems of weak revenue mobilisation, high debt investment in infrastructure, rigidities in job creation and general difficulties in generating and protecting livelihoods. It is not true. Whatever John Mahama is doing now is about John Mahama and his personal gain. We do not believe it’s about the people of Ghana because none of his sayings has a plan for Ghana. His track record in governance in Ghana shows that he is unable to help Ghana progress.
Indeed, any would-be political leader of this era who refuses to recognise the true depth of social and economic stress imposed by Covid-19, seriously amplifying existing challenges, shows that he is only bent on taking power for his own purposes and not for Ghana.
The most powerful democracy on earth, the United States of America, has had to spend trillions of dollars in deficit financing of public infrastructure to kick start employment and pay direct cash subsidies to victims of Covid-19 amid job losses in the millions. They have a publicly funded programme to administer Covid-19 jabs to over 300 million people. We in Ghana, by virtue of our weak position in the world of international finance, do not have the luxury of deficit financing our way out of our economic difficulties.
Our Government is obliged to finance roads, energy, water, sanitation, ICT connectivity, education, health and salaries and support job creation from a weak tax base, expensive loans and inadequate concessional grants.
Faced by these traditional challenges, the NPP has articulated a vision of Ghana Beyond Aid, and is seeking through innovative measures to expand the tax base, clean up revenue leakages, tighten expenditure controls and diversify economic activity into value addition for international competiveness. We have a plan. We have a road map and we are implementing it.
On the other hand, John Dramani Mahama is seeking the mandate of the NDC to lead again for the fifth time. The first time was by default as he was sworn in as President on the sad demise of H.E Professor Atta Mills. He delivered a ‘critical policy actions’ paper in September 2012 in which he decried all the ills of Ghana without any workable solutions. Then he bulldozed his way to the nomination in 2012, winning an election that was disputed in the Supreme Court for eight months.
His first term Presidency was distinguished by his declaration to Parliament that the beautiful middle income economy inherited from Kufuor had been ‘chewed to the bone’ under his leadership and, despite the lavish economic forum held at the Royal Senchi Hotel, supposedly to develop “home-grown” economic solutions, the return of the same economy to the IMF.
As President, he took the nomination in 2016 without challenge, going on to lose the 2016 elections with a record margin for an incumbent. His own party review blamed him for the loss, citing a rising culture of monecracy, waning political ideology leading to ethnocentrism, neglect of social democratic focus in policy making, alienation from voters and poor messaging that did not resonate with the worsening living conditions of the people.
Perhaps for redemption, but more likely for economic reasons, his party gifted him the nomination in 2020, only for him to lose again. He is yet to recover from that loss, leading him to all manner of stale and incredible allegations about the 2020 general elections. Don’t get it wrong. It’s deliberate. The allegations, however incredulous, are designed to reinforce his dubious claim for a fifth run at NDC leadership for the 2024 General Elections. Hence the elaborate “thank you tour” concluding with a televised “thank you” lecture on the 10th November 2021.
Ladies and gentlemen, Ghana is a multi-party democracy. It requires the participation of diverse political parties to be functional. Per Article 55 of the 1992 Constitution, political parties are to help form opinions and take charge of implementing ideas acceptable to the people. Indeed, Article 55 (3) says
“… (a) political party is free to participate in shaping the political will of the people, to disseminate information on political ideas, social and economic programmes of a national character, and sponsor candidates for elections to any public office…”
So the real question, ladies and gentlemen, as demanded by the Constitution. Has the NDC, under former President and several times candidate Mahama, presented credible political ideas and a social and economic programme capable of moving Ghana beyond the present and into a future of wealth creation? Please let us together examine briefly his claims against his delivery.
John Mahama and the NDC are yet to deliver one socially sensitive policy for the benefit of Ghanaians to justify their tag of social democracy. The monumental failure of the ‘one time premium’ NHIS proposal is a glaring example.
They collapsed Free Maternal Health Care. They delivered a few cargo vans in the name of ambulances. They opposed drone services to improve medical supply delivery. They struggled with the capitation grant for schools. They barely sustained Mass Transportation. They sunk MASLOC with alleged corruption. They just about managed to continue with LEAP and School Feeding, leaving heavy arrears. Above all, they opposed and continue to oppose free education, a policy that is perhaps the most socially inclusive in the Fourth Republic.
On the ‘thank you tour’ campaign trail, John Mahama, who is seeking your mandate to come back into Government for only four years, spoke about four themes, none of which he offered solutions for.
He talked about the 2020 General Elections being violently rigged against his victory. Only he talks like that. The rest of the country and the international observer community know otherwise. CODEO corroborated the EU findings of a free fair, peaceful and credible election, whilst several media houses called the election for President Akufo-Addo well before the EC formally did.
Within six months, in the teeth of Covid -19, a brand new voter register was compiled and voting done and declared in free fair and peaceful conditions. For the first time ever, the entire electoral process was paid for by the Government. The Government also guaranteed the most peaceful Ghanaian election ever by ensuring that political vigilantism was eliminated.
The very unfortunate deaths occurring from a security incident during counting is not reflective of the entire election and its use to describe the election is disingenuous and an affront to the families who lost loved ones. So apart from John Mahama’s fertile imagination and the cabal in the NDC leadership who prop him up, everybody else, including the Supreme Court of Ghana, knows that John Mahama lost the 2020 Presidential elections fair and square.
His second favourite topic is abandoned projects. It is now clear that no matter the response, he will insist on his abandoned projects mantra. Because it sounds good in his ears. Yet, if he had really done infrastructure in the interest of Ghanaians, the projects would have returned him to power. The truth is that with the IMF in charge, he had no money to do roads. He mortgaged the Road Fund to the hilt and sneaked through the backdoor of Kufuor’s cocoa roads initiative to overburden COCOBOD with billions of questionable road contracts.
His suspect E-Block accounting will be dealt with in other fora but his record of signing onerous ‘Take or Pay’ contracts and high priced natural gas deals have to be exposed for the financial problems they continue to pose to the economy. His inability to fund fuel to run power plants protracted “dumsor”, causing havoc to businesses and social life, an admission he made to Parliament several times.
His third favourite topic is about current debt and how he was accused of borrowing excessively. Of course, if you borrow recklessly, you need to be told. His IMF journey was because of his inability to manage the dangerous territory into which he led our financial sector. He confessed in Parliament how recklessly the financial sector had been mismanaged leading to major losses in savings, incomes and jobs for banks and savings and loans financial houses. Former President Mahama was the architect in chief of the financial sector bubble and its collapse. Simpliciter. He can never run away from putting us on the path to mega debt.
In any event, in seeking to lead this country for only four years, he has not contributed positively to any conversation on restructuring the financing patterns of this country. How and where is he going to refinance the current public debt and run his programs, if any? His only solution is the IMF. In that case, what new thing is he bringing? Indeed, in refusing to admit the economic ravages of Covid-19, as well as laughing off the international financial magazine analysis that the NDC MP Sam George’s advocacy style could cost us some standing on international financial markets, the former President continues to keep the question of his incompetence on the front burner.
Arguably, with the whole world in deficit financing mode, this is the best time to get the old financial rules that disadvantage developing countries re-written. And that exactly is what President Akufo-Addo and his financial advisors are doing. Business as usual will not deliver the resources needed to bridge our significant infrastructure and social capital gaps.
Finally, former President Mahama talks about corruption. He is asking Ghana to give him-the walking embodiment of corruption-the mandate to come and fight corruption. His solution to corruption fighting in his critical actions paper of 2012 was that he would lead by example. This example had to be investigated by his own President for doubtful Aircraft procurements, is implicated as Government Official One in the Airbus bribery Scandal and signed off on $1.2 billion to deliver a project eventually done for $4.6 million, a difference of 26,000% savings. This example was swallowed by alleged organised judgement debt shenanigans. He can talk about corruption, but he has not the faintest inkling of integrity to combat it.
His attempt at dealing with employment is totally laughable. Researchers assert that since the NDC collapsed what was left of Dr Nkrumah’s state industries and public service expansion in the 1980’s, it was the NPP under President Kufuor which started active state support of employment creation through the Presidential Special Initiatives and the National Youth Employment Programme. Former President Mahama bastardised these programmes with ghost names and dubious modules leading to flying Guinea Fowls. Graduates were organised under an unemployment umbrella and the IMF stopped him from recruiting.
In spite of his long stay in power, aspirant Mahama is yet to learn any lessons about public sector finances for job creation. In his speech, he complains about a gap in financing of the public wage bill. Then he states the creation of one million jobs in the public sector. How is he going to fund those jobs? Has he so soon forgotten that public sector jobs do not turn a profit but rather facilitate other sectors of the economy? Without clear revenue, how is he to generate and pay three shifts of public sector workers?
In some ways, the near impossible promises show an unprepared John Mahama selfishly seeking your mandate by exploiting your current difficulties. The issues are real but John Mahama and the NDC are not the solution. The CDD post-election 2020 survey is clear. All told, only 35% of the people surveyed voted for the NDC because of performance. The voter reduction against the NPP was for the NPP to react positively. Therefore, from 60% to 70% of voters expect changes in the NPP style of governance in order to continue to break the eight rather than change to NDC and set us back.
The NPP Government will continue to respect our democracy. We will continue to respect the will of the people. We will continue to respect the peoples’ rights and support the discharge of their obligations.
We will continue to respect the dignity of the people. We will continue to push for substantial changes to the world financial architecture so we can also help our people out of distress. We will continue to champion programmes that support the delivery of crucial infrastructure, and create jobs and incomes. We will continue to offer clear visionary leadership that not only diagnoses problems, but seeks to resolve them. We will continue to offer hope and belief in the Ghanaian and Ghana.
Thank you for your attention.