Ghana: Presidents Mills And Mahama: Are They Really Different?
By: Kingsley Nyarko, Psychologist, Accra
It is very difficult to strike a difference between our late President Mills and his successor—President Mahama. It appears, per their leadership, they have more parallels than differences. Critically observing them within the last one and half decades, I see one clear attribute that sets them apart: humility. Whereas President Mills came across as a person who exhibited fruits of humility, President Mahama is seen to be bereft of this very important virtue. I never once heard President Mills insulting or verbally abusing anybody, especially in public. However, President Mahama is noted to have the penchant and monopoly of throwing insults at people, especially those who disagree with him. That is why I find it ludicrous and amusing the desperate attempts by the National Democratic Congress to put a coat of humility around him; but it will not fit him because he has never been humble.
How could a person who described the entire opposition legislators, and by extension the people they represent as baloney for disagreeing with him on a course of action he had taken which had the faculty of disorienting the foundation of the economy and the future of the country as humble? Again, in responding to the bold and visionary proposal of the standard bearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party—Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to make senior high school education free, President Mahama exhibited his penchant for using insult to advance his argument by referring to the policy as hocus-pocus. What is even worrisome about this particular observation is that although he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he together with his family enjoyed, and is still enjoying free education. President Mahama has simply and conveniently forgotten that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander, and that there is the need for the State to discover novel means of assisting the majority poor in the country who also deserve good and quality education like him.
Just recently, during the preparation towards the funeral and burial celebrations of our late president, he again, as it’s characteristic of him, described all those who opposed his not-well-thought-through idea to inter the late president at the jubilee/flagstaff house—a magnificent edifice that is meant to house our presidents as engaging in useless talks. How then do you give him the accolade of a humble person? He is not, and cannot because humility is a virtue that is nurtured overtime, and not through pretence. Virtues, such as humility are not like degrees and titles that are conferred on people; they are also not heritable traits; they have to be nurtured by the individual himself or reinforced by persons within their environment. President Mahama is exhibiting a false virtue and not a true virtue because he thinks by assuming such a posture, the electorates will vote for him as the president in the next elections. He has forgotten that Ghanaians are no longer interested in leaders who exhibit non-existing attributes and pretences, but rather those who are genuine and visionary and capable of transforming the economy and lives. Now let’s turn our gaze at the parallels between them.
First, both of them, at different times as vice-presidents, presided over the near-destruction of our economy. As the head of the economic management team between 1996 and 2000, President Mills superintendent over a sorry economy. The micro/macro-economic indicators were so egregious that the standard of living of the citizenry was nothing good to write home about. Inflation was about 40.5%, interest rate was about 50%, and the Cedi had fallen to unacceptable levels. The mismanagement of the economy by the NDC administration necessitated the Kufour-led NPP administration’s bold and timely intervention in accessing the highly indebted poor countries initiative (HIPIC) funds.
As vice-president until the untimely demise of President Mills, President Mahama also exhibited the same characteristics as the then vice-president Mills. Although, inflation has been brought to, and maintained at single digits shortly after the NDC took over the reins of governance in the country, there have been worries about the impact of the attainment of this particular single digit inflation on the wellbeing of the people. Inflation is in single digits, but prices are rising astronomically in their double, triple, and quadruple digits. Interest rate is still very high: it is still at the same level (about 26%) left by the NPP administration in 2008. The Cedi has depreciated so badly, especially within the last 6 months necessitating the astronomical increases in prices of goods and services. In fact, under the NDC administration, the economy has been bruising so terribly that for the first time in our history, a government has directed that all foreign accounts—which attract no interest anyway be surcharged. All these happened under the watch of vice-president Mahama when he was in charge of the economic management team.
Secondly, Presidents Mills and Mahama have both presided over the worst corruption-ridden administration in the annals of our democratic dispensation. This is an administration that has overseen the payments of questionable judgment debt to individuals and companies that didn’t have any justifiable claims for them. They used the payment of judgment and settlement debts to fleece the country of the fruits of our labour. Corruption in the NDC administration under the watch of Presidents Mills and Mahama is so ingrained that the founder of the party, President Rawlings, in a speech delivered at their delegates’ conference in Kumasi tasked President Mahama to restore integrity at the presidency, the government, and the party. This three-fold “commandment” by President Rawlings clearly confirms the insatiable appetite for corruption under the Mills-led, but now Mahama-led NDC administration. Apart from the judgment/settlement debt scandals involving the government and Alfred Woyome, Construction Pioneer, ISOFOTON, and Rockshell, among others, some government officials have become rich overnight. But for corruption, how is it possible for a minister or deputy minister or government official to build three houses within three years? This revelation was made by Mr. Michael Teye Nyaunu a member of parliament on the ticket of the ruling party.
Thirdly, Presidents Mills and Mahama have presided over the near collapse of implemented social intervention programmes undertaken by the Kufour administration. Whilst in power between 1993 and 2000, the NDC administration couldn’t introduce a single social intervention programme to ameliorate the sufferings of the masses. Although the NDC’s ideology is gravitated towards the left on the left-right political spectrum, it has not only failed in the implementation of social oriented policies, but is also destroying those that have been implemented by even a centre-right political tradition such as the NPP. Presently, the National Health Insurance Scheme is collapsing, the free medical care for pregnant mothers is no more, the National Youth Employment Programme is collapsing, etc.
In fact, most of the drugs and treatments that were previously covered by the insurance policy are now to be paid by the patient. Last Saturday (15/9/12), we took a friend’s two-year old son, who had broken a bone after an accident to the Accident and Emergency Center of the Komfo Anokye Teaching hospital for treatment. Although the boy has an insurance cover, we had to pay and buy most of the drugs that were prescribed by the nurses (Doctors were on strike). Even an X-ray, which used to be covered by the insurance policy last year, is now paid for. We paid 35 cedis for the boy’s X-ray. This is a social democratic party pursuing extreme capitalist policies. I am convinced that the worst will happen to the country, if the NDC party is retained at the presidency. They don’t deserve another term!
Fourthly, under President Mills and President Mahama, the security of the nation has not been encouraging at all. Between 1996 and 2000, when President Mills, then the vice-president was the head of the Police Counsel, Ghanaians lived within an atmosphere of fear and trepidation as women were callously murdered in cold blood. Also during the tenure of President Mahama as the vice-president, insecurity in the country heightened as armed robbers had a field’s day. Armed robbers not only deprived their victims of their property and cash, but also, in some instances raped them. Do you remember the Amina case? Quite recently a similar incident happened to passengers on the Kumasi-Suyani road. We want to live in an atmosphere that promotes peace and security, and not fear and timidity.
Finally, President Mills and his stopgap successor—President Mahama have presided over failed policies and programmes. Which of their proposed policies have worked? Their proposed policy to reduce the importation of grain and post harvest losses has failed. Under their leadership, we have been importing more maize due to the failure of the buffer stock company. The fisheries sector performed abysmally last year, growing by 1.7 percent against a projected figure of 5.6%. These failed policies have contributed to the shrinking of the agricultural sector. No wonder the growth rate in the agric sector has been falling sharply. Where is the one-term insurance premium? Where are the countless policies they promised to implement to promote the wellbeing of the masses? We can no longer entrust our destinies and futures to a non-performing and failed administration.
The point I am making in this write-up is very simple: there is no difference between the late President Mills and President Mahama. Both represent failure in terms of their leadership in putting the nation on the path of development and progress. Therefore, a vote for President Mahama in the December presidential election will mean an endorsement of the same failed leadership, personalities, and policies of the NDC. President Mahama and vice-president Amissah-Arthur have absolutely nothing new to offer the good people of the country. President Mahama can best be described as “new wine in old bottle:” he represents the same failed leadership, personalities, programmes, and policies of the NDC administration.
As a nation, we deserve better. We deserve quality, visionary, dynamic, and progressive leadership: a leadership that has the acumen to transform our economy and lives. The NDC cannot do it! They failed between 1993 and 2000, and have failed yet again. If they cannot do the job, we have to change them, and it should be non-negotiable. Since being at the helm, President Mahama has failed to tell us what he will do differently; instead, what he has been telling us is what he thinks his major opponent cannot do. He comes across as a pessimist, but at this point in our history, we are not ready for pessimists; we need optimistic leaders—leaders who are bold and visionary, and can figure the future from the present. We need leaders with the foresight and vision like Presidents Nkrumah and Kufour. Obviously, President Mahama is outside this genre of great leaders.
In summing up, as an ardent follower of the political terrain and discourses in the country, especially the last two decades, it appears the “messiah” to lead us to the promised land of socio-economic transformation—the flag-bearer of the NPP—Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has finally arrived. He carries the vision, programmes, and policies that can make the country a better place. He can, and will do the job! God bless Ghana!