THE JOURNEY TO A SECOND TERM; A RETROSPECTIVE ASSESSMENT -ASK
The ruling party of Ghana, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) launched its campaign on Sunday 14th August, 2016 in its bid to secure a third term running as a party and a second term for the president His Excellency John Dramani Mahama in an election many consider to be crucial.
Currently, the party remain the most successful at the polls since the fourth democratic and republican constitutional dispensation winning four out of six keenly contested elections but for the 1992 election which was virtually boycotted by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).
In assessing the party’s fortunes into the 2016 elections, discussions must be situated within its records especially over the last few years. Indeed, that discussion cannot also be complete without critically placing the party within its ideological beliefs; the basis upon which it was formed.
As a social democratic party, it has the natural masses on its side at all times. While wooing the elites into its folds, the party remain generally appealing to the ordinary people in society. To this end, efforts of the party whenever in government, are geared towards policies that would inure to the benefit of the masses rather than a privileged few.
In proceeding, the achievements of the administration would be appropriately situated within its promises given as contained in its manifesto into the 2012 elections vis-a-vis its achievements in relation to those promises.
Education remained a major issue, at least the major issue-based campaign message ahead of the 2012 elections. A major campaign promise by the opposition then was to institute free education at the Senior High level. On the other hand, the ruling party had a different approach although it did not oppose the promise as it was a constitutional requirement.
The resultant after the elections is that, today, in line with providing opportunity for students at the basic level to re-write their Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), the government has made it possible for students who were unsuccessful at the basic level to resit their exams to enable them make the grades to continue to the Senior High Schools.
The government had also over the last four years, embarked on massive infrastructure expansion in existing schools as well as the building of fresh 123 Community Day Senior High Schools at various stages of completion across the country. This has resulted in increasing the number of students who are gaining access to Senior High Schools across the country. Currently, progressively free secondary education has been introduced as promised by the party ahead of the 2012 elections as a result of the massive intake; a position taken by the party to the effect that free education without structures would still leave many without access.
Another achievement in the educational sector has been the construction of public universities to enable a successful progression from the senior high schools. Again, the administration has embarked on a scheme of upgrading polytechnics into Technical Universities. Again, as of today, access to teacher training colleges as well as health training institutions have been expanded than ever. These interventions have largely addressed some major challenges in education in the country.
In the area of health, this administration and for that matter the NDC in recent times, has invested in health infrastructure than any other government in our history. Major hospital projects currently under way, when completed, are expected to add 6,000 new hospital bed capacity to the existing stock. Huge structures such as the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, the Legon Teaching Hospital known as University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC), 37 Military Hospital near Afari in the Ashanti Region, the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital, the Dodowa District Hospital, the Fomena District Hospital, the Regional Maritime Hospital, the many polyclinics including the 5 brand new polyclinics in the Brong Ahafo Region, are a few major interventions.
That is not all, there has been a major intervention in bringing healthcare delivery to the villages through the construction of CHPS compounds of which all government appointees have voluntarily committed 10% deductions from their salaries to. That is not all, sophisticated vans furnished with medical equipment under the scheme Onuado to reach out to deprived communities have also been brought into being. In addition, major hospital equipment have been supplied to enable modern healthcare delivery to the people of Ghana.
In the road sector, we have, as a country, witnessed the demands for roads to be improved from citizens sometimes resulting in massive demonstrations. To this end, one cannot downplay the significance of investments in the road sector. The NDC government of the day is constructing the huge Kwame Nkrumah Circle Interchange to ease traffic congestion at the area. The Kasoa interchange project is equally ongoing with massive ancillary facilities. The government had recently opened the Fufolso-Sawla road after it was completed. The Eastern Corridor road is seeing massive engineering work with some parts completed. Not too long ago, a sod was cut for the construction of the Bolgatanga-Bawku road and work had started in earnest. The city road projects resulting in the commitment to convert all major city roads into asphalt across the country is remarkable.
Various other social infrastructural projects have been put in motion. The Kotokuraba Market in the Central Region, the Kejetia Market in the Ashanti Region, the Ho Central Market in the Volta Region are major and massive projects that are to provide modern facilities to our mothers with modern facilities to curb the perennial fire outbreaks in our markets.
The government of the NDC had expanded access to water than ever before. Indeed, a lot more communities have been supplied with potable water over the past few years. The desalination of sea water to the people of Teshie, Nungua and its surrounding towns, the supply of water to places like Adentan, Haatso, Agbogba, New Achimota, West Legon, East Legon, among others, in Accra, as well as community water projects have significantly improved access to potable water to the people.
Furthermore, the NDC government had made the greatest intervention in the energy sector than any government had ever done. As a matter of fact, the biggest investment in the energy sector remains the ENI energy project to the tune of $7 billion which when completed, would result in Ghana supplying many other African countries with gas. This is expected to address the challenges with gas from other countries. Over the past 3 and half years, at least 2,400 communities have been added to the national grid, taking percentage access to power from 54% inherited to over 73%.
While admitting all of these, there still remain some challenges facing Ghanaians which require to be taken into the 2016 electioneering campaign. We need to know how the various parties seeking power intend to tackle the very economic challenges facing us. We need to know how the various parties intend to give a larger stake of the Ghanaian economy into the hands of our own people. We need to know how the various candidates intend to unite this entire nation that remain polarised for many years now.
Above all, the people of Ghana, especially the young ones, would want to know what specifically would be done in the area of employment to guarantee a greater number of graduates employment when they are done with schooling.
It is in this light that the ruling party NDC that had just launched its campaign must be assessed. It remain an undeniable fact that so far, the achievements are an open book. Many of the promises have been achieved over the last 3 and half years. Heading into this elections, electorates must spend a little time to invest their confidence in a leader that would advance interests that generations yet to be born would appreciate and be grateful for.