The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has found itself in opposition after eight (8) years in government. Although the candidate the party presented had an opportunity of a second term, Ghanaians thought otherwise amidst several factors that many critics and loved ones are still battling to unravel.
It is without doubt that the Mahama administration had achieved over the period considering the economic status of the country. At the time he exited power, inflation was on a downward trend, rates on treasury began reducing after the policy of government of 2016 of zero Bank of Ghana financing of central government took effect. This article would present my views on why I supported the candidature of John Dramani Mahama over his contender in the 2016 elections.
To start with, I supported John Mahama as a person because I realized that he had a demeanor that was motivating and encouraging. In that support, I was guided by his public utterances and the need to sustain the peace that this country had enjoyed over the years. I was guided by his works as president of the Republic, and was mostly guided by his sense of sincerity to the people of Ghana.
While at that, I believe that others have had their preferences while others made up their minds based on what the opposition told them. In the end, some efforts that were set in motion were cut short. After some 7 months of governance under Mr. Akufo-Addo, if I had doubted my support for John Dramani Mahama at any time, I must say that, I have every reason not to doubt anymore. The manifestations on the grounds contrary to what was promised the people, gives me a more convincing reason to appreciate the support I gave John Dramani Mahama in 2016. The subsequent paragraphs are outlined based on my conviction.
I supported Progressively Free Senior High School. The Progressively Free Senior High School policy was introduced by John Dramani Mahama with the strongest view of catering for students who, for one reason or the other, could not afford secondary education without support. It was rolled out with some very positive and encouraging figures. The government was of the view that the programme would be expanded over time to cater for as many children as possible while driving at attaining universal free senior high education for Ghanaian children.
While at that, the opposition New Patriotic Party, headed by Mr. Akufo-Addo, now president, indicated that the policy was not what Ghana needed. According to them, they were going to implement free education for all Ghanaian children. The reality in government today is a different story. Upon winning power, the government has categorized the free senior high promise, and had stated that students with a particular aggregate would be given some form of support or the other. This runs contrary to their promises in opposition. For some children in deprived communities who could prove themselves when given the opportunity at higher levels even though they may perform below what could qualify them for government support at the senior high level, their hopes are dashed forever if their parents were swayed to vote for the promise of free education for all Ghanaian students.
I supported the construction of Eastern Corridor Road. The eastern corridor road is a strategic road network for the Republic of Ghana. The road links the capital city thorough the eastern corridors of Ghana to the Northern Region of Ghana. The road, when completed, would reduce travel time from Accra to the Northern Region, hence fast tracking the time required for meetings, the transport of goods as well as services as and when required.
This project was originally billed to be catered for by the Chinese Development Bank loan which did not get disbursed fully. The option for government, in order not to abandon the project, was to seek alternative funding. For the last two years of the Mahama administration, some appreciable level of works was seen on that stretch. Since the voting out of John Dramani Mahama, the road had been put on hold over the past 7 months.
I supported the construction of Ridge Hospital. The Ridge Hospital, now Greater Accra Regional Hospital, was constructed in its original form, by the colonial administration. For many years, the structure had operated under wooden structure until John Dramani Mahama became president of the Republic. He managed to secure funding for the transformation of the facility and today, a multi-million dollar facility, with ability to operate on paperless basis, is in place, catering and providing health care to residents of Accra and beyond.
Today, the hospital is the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, taking pressure off the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. This project must be looked in the same direction with the numerous hospital projects initiated some of which have been completed. Health care is an important part of our very existence and for that matter, any efforts directed at providing adequate facilities for our citizens to access health care, is commendable.
I supported the construction of the 37 Military Hospital in Kumasi. In every business, there is the need to consider the fact that one day, they may arise some unforeseen situations for which government must be in a position to handle. For instance, when doctors of public health facilities go on strike, the citizens and people in need of health attention suffer. Some even die in the process because they have no means to access private medical attention.
In instances that a government is threatened by strike by public health officials, those run by the security agencies are relied upon as their services are highly considered essential. The Police Hospital and the 37 Military Hospital in Accra, had over the years, contained the unbearable situations. An addition to these security hospitals and expansion at the Police Hospital near Osu, can only be welcome with the best of heart. And this must definitely warrant the support of any well-meaning Ghanaian.
I supported the building of Kotokuraba Market. Markets are very important for the growth of every economy. Market women see markets as a place for their very livelihood. Indeed, these markets are the places where we all attend to enable us have food on our tables. The need to eat food that is not contaminated is and must be the responsibility of government.
Leaving the building of markets in the hands of private individuals would mean that the ordinary market woman is left out of access to space to sell their wares. We can all see that all investments in the market industry had been focused on malls which have no space for momoni, koobi, kontomere, kpakposhitor and the likes.
For that matter, government, and in this case, the Mahama administration could not be faulted for taking steps to build a modern market for the people of Central Region, the Kotokuraba Market with facilities such as fire station, nursery, playgrounds among other facilities.
I supported the building of Community Senior High Schools. It goes without challenge that if government can promise to give access to education to all Ghanaian children of school going age that government must ensure that adequate infrastructure is put in place to achieve such a promise. What the Mahama administration did was to identify communities within 10 kilometer radius where children have to walk long distance to access secondary education, and to situate a community day senor high school, one of which Hon. Miss. Adwoa Sarfo claimed credit for.
The intentions are that, once they are day schools, cost would be minimal, even as government worked to ensure that universal free senior high school enshrined in the 1992 Constitution of the Republic is attained. As a result, some 200 of them were proposed to be built across the country, with sod cut for 123 to begin, some of which were commissioned and opened for school children before John Mahama exited. As of today, it appears the construction of those facilities have been suspended without any clear road map to returning to them.
I supported zero bank of Ghana financing of government. This policy of government witnessed the reduction in the rates offered for treasury bills by close of 2016 and in the first month of 2017. Commercial banks by their nature, would always seek to provide loan facilities to organizations and individuals that present minimal risks. And in this category, government features prominently.
Banks were willing to deny the private business individuals access to credit facilities while are disposed towards lending to government because they stood less risk of claiming their loans and interests. What the Mahama administration did was to leave the domestic market for the private individuals who would not be able to go to the international market to borrow, while it concentrates on such funding schemes at the best of terms in order to minimize the interest rates in the local market. This singular intervention saw the records as stated earlier in this very subject. That was worth supporting.
I supported the expansion of the School Feeding. The School Feeding Programme, is a programme initiated by President John Agyekum Kufour which got the attention and commitment of late President John Evans Atta Mills and later the attention of John Mahama. The programme, at the time of exit of President John Kufour, was feeding some 414,000 (four hundred and fourteen thousand) school children at the basic level). By the time John Dramani Mahama left power in 2017, January 7th, the scheme was expanded to cover over 1, 700,000 (one million seven hundred thousand) school children. So long as this was meant for the good of our young brothers and sisters to encourage them at school and to take off some burden from parents, it was worthy of supporting, and I did support that.
I supported the building of affordable houses in Saglemi. The subject of rent remains a bother to many city dwellers. From the acquisition of land, to the building of a house and other facilities that are required to make it habitable, citizens have expressed difficulties. The litigations that accompanied many lands purchased by individuals were sufficient to demoralize them.
In other jurisdictions, governments have taken the responsibility of providing houses to its citizens whose only duty are to pay rent and later mortgage when they feel they have what it takes to do so. Individuals are not left on their own to venture into building for themselves and their families.
It was in this spirit that I supported government’s efforts at bringing some comfort to its citizens by making available, accommodation for its city dwellers while the citizens concentrate on their potentials. As little as the efforts in the past appeared, it was a step that was rightly directed, hence requiring my spirited support.
I supported the Youth Enterprise Support (YES). There have been many programmes proposed, started and collapsed, in the name of giving the youth, some forms of livelihood. All efforts aimed at that are commendable. However, one that stood out highly was the Youth Enterprise Support. Even though not without challenge, the scheme was instituted to provide seed capital for youthful individuals who have developed some workable business plans but who do not have the requisite capital to start on their own. To this end, some youth were assessed and supported with funds that I am sure was beneficial to their business dreams. This definitely was a good step that required the support of citizens who care about the entrepreneurial angle of our economy.
I supported the Construction of Kwame Nkrumah Circle Interchange. Evidently, the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Interchange project has brought some relief to the people of Ghana who have used the facility since it was completed. If the project had solved nothing at all, it had eased traffic flow in the area at both peak and off-peak hours. Development in the road sector must achieve this result, and in this light, the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Interchange has achieved that. Anytime I use that legacy project, I am convicted that I wasn’t wrong lending support to John Dramani Mahama over the years.
I supported also, the expansion works at the Kpong water works which supplies water to Adenta, Madina, North Legon, West Legon, Haatso, Agbogba etc. Accra, and especially some parts of Accra, among those listed above, have lived without proper water supply. Some individuals have had the arduous tasks of buying water to fill their poly tanks from private water suppliers.
Those who were unable to do so had had to purchase buckets of water at prices that were higher than what others were buying same for. It was a matter of relief when the Kpong Water Expansion project was completed somewhere in 2015 and opened to the people of the aforementioned areas. Today, the phenomenon of ordering for water from private individuals is no more in their lives. The famous or infamous Kufour gallons (Yellow Gallons) have been taken off the kitchen and bathrooms of people living in these areas. This was nothing wrong to support.
I supported the local production of rice. Year-on-year, the government had had to cough out huge and hard foreign currencies to support the importation of rice and rice products into the country. Some $600 million or more was estimated to be the annual value for the import of rice into the country.
Under the administration of John Dramani Mahama, efforts were made to increase rice production. At a point, figures released have presented the importation of rice to have halved. What it meant was that Ghanaians had found more local rice on the Ghanaian markets and have had taste for the products produced within the jurisdiction. Definitely, this was a record one cannot be faulted for supporting.
I supported the construction of the Legon Medical Centre. This project had been a subject for discussion as to the institution that bore its cost. It is without doubt that the Legon Medical Centre was constructed by the government of Ghana. If that is even in doubt, who owns the university of Ghana? A private individual or government even though it has autonomy? Whose duty is it to ensure the University has structures befitting a university owned by the state? This must settle the debate immediately. That said, the University of Ghana had had its medical students patronizing the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital for their practicals.
The advantage the Centre presents to students, aside the thousands of job opportunities it offers to doctors, nurses, and other ancillary workers, is that medical students who hitherto would have traveled to Korle Bu for practicals, would have to do that at the Centre located on the premises of the University of Ghana. That can be commended and worthy of support.
I supported the restructuring that took away the allowances at Nursing and Teacher Training students. As painful as this very intervention was, events of today have given me more reason to think that the intervention was good and was meant for good. Notwithstanding the fact that the policy was developed in 2006 with records to show letters signed by the then minister of health, the NPP managed to disentangle themselves from what they cooked. They proceeded to inform the students in nursing and training colleges that they have them at heart and would pay their allowances and even proceeded to assure immediate postings as soon as they are out of school.
What the John Dramani Mahama administration did, which you are free to disagree with, because it resulted in a defeat, was to ensure that resources that were available were invested in the provision of health facilities, the only solution to tackling the menace of nurses staying home after school, as nurses could not be employed in dams or district factories. The result notwithstanding, I would at any day, choose the presence of facilities to employ nurses after school than a scheme that would churn out nurses without facilities to work in. I supported this policy and I have a strong conviction even today that it was right doing so.
And then I supported the stay of Gitmo 2 on humanitarian grounds. We all recall how the transfer of these two Guantanamo Bay detainees received public reprobation. The New Patriotic Party, the Catholic Bishops Conference among others, demanded that the two be returned. The NPP promised returning the two if it won power. It was sad and heartbreaking to listen to the current Foreign Minister presenting to the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana that the Akufo-Addo-led government is putting measures to approve the continuous stay of these Gitmo 2 subsequent to the court ruling. It was heartbreaking because when the two were brought to Ghana, the then flag bearer denied knowledge of any consultations before their coming. When statements were released to confirm same, they denied. Not even the statement by the Ambassador that Mr. Akufo-Addo was aware of the two ahead of their coming did they accept but rather reiterated abhorrence to the decision to host them in this country. They were emphatic that these were terrorists who must be returned and who they will return.
While they were at that, there was sufficient information that pointed to the fact that these individuals were held illegally at the Bay for years without any case of terrorism established against them. A nation and a body of Christian, refused to show mercy and clemency to God’s children who were falsely accused. The NPP definitely won elections on the back of promises to return them, only to turn around to assure us of their desire to host them further. How then could I be wrong in supporting the original decision to host them when subsequent decisions are that Ghana must host them?
Finally, I supported the release of the Montie 3 at the time. My support for them was not that they were not wrong. In a statement I co-signed, we stated that these individuals were wrong in their utterances, but that, their plea for pardon should have been heard rather than punching them with iron fist as the court did.
Indeed, the actions by the then President John Mahama to pardon them, could not be wrong on any legal basis. He exercised rights and powers assigned him by the constitution. He did not interfere in the justice delivery of the courts. He only exercised his right to pardon, not without recognition that the said individuals had served 30 days in jail.
If I was wrong in supporting a decision taken based on law, how would one classify the decision by the government of the day, not to go after individuals whom, not only did they interfere with the law, but managed to free their colleagues standing trail in a court in Kumasi, causing a judge to fall in the process in an attempt to run for her life?
While I must thank you for making time to read this rather long article, and perhaps the longest in 3 years of consistent writing, I must say that, governance is not without errors. Errors will always abound as we seek to get to the best practice.
However, hypocrisy can be taken off the debate if we are to build a society where trust of government and its officials must be paramount to all. John Dramani Mahama made mistakes which got people speaking. Today, worse forms of those mistakes are taking place and those who were talking in the past, have lost their voices. Am I to believe that Ghana is in the hands of an angel who make no mistakes? Certainly, not a human being who is fallible. God bless our homeland Ghana.