The opposition NDC has been on a propaganda war against the distinguished academic turned Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia.
For political watchers, it is not surprising when one considers the crucial role; in fact, the lead role that Dr. Bawumia played in terminating the third term agenda of the NDC under former President Mahama and restoring the NPP into government.
Prior to the 2016 Presidential elections, Dr. Bawumia picked on the NDC’s management of the economy, made it the dominant issue of the campaign and famously tagged the then President Mahama as incompetent in economic management.
Heavily supported by official statistics, Dr. Bawumia analysed the economy, proffered solutions and in the process, paralyzed the NDC machinery. So much fear engulfed the NDC with the mention of Dr. Bawumia. When the Central University College, where Dr. Bawumia was visiting Professor of Economic Governance, announced that their next Distinguished Speaker Series guest would be Ghana’s longest serving Finance Minister, Prof Kwesi Botchwey, a Professor of law, the NDC members heave a sigh of relief, a saviour from the banner of the umbrella has arrived, they boasted in ecstasy! They had found in Professor Botchwey a Kwame Nkrumah who would liberate them from the ‘economic dominance’ of Dr. Bawumia. Reminiscent of the Declaration at Polo grounds more than six decades ago, the respected Prof Botchwey mounted the podium at Central University College and the NDC supporters waited with bated breath for facts and figures which were contrary to Dr. Bawumia’s. They were fully prepared to use this to come guns-blazing against the unblemished Dr. Bawumia.
Until Prof. Botchwey declined the clarion invitation to offer a rebuttal to the distinguished Dr. Bawumia’s proficient diagnosis of the state of the economy. He stated briefly “I offer no rebuttals to his lecture. I do agree with much of what he said,” He refused to join his party’s chorus of insults and lies against the person of Dr. Bawumia. His concurrence with Dr. Bawumia left the NDC badly bruised and disappointed.
It was evident that Mr. Mahama and his team were incapable of intellectually responding to the venerable Dr. Bawumia and had to devise ways to address their deficit because Prof had let them down. To address this deficit in the election discourse, the NDC adopted an evil strategy to attack the person of Dr. Bawumia and to resort to desperate fabrications of stories against him.
This strategy of the NDC seem to be their only potent tool against Dr. Bawumia even as the latter is in Government and the former is in opposition.
First, the NDC hoped and wished that Dr. Bawumia as Chairman of the EMT would fail to manage the economy. That the statistics would betray his much touted competence and knowledge in economic management. They were hoping that the Mahama data would prove to be better than the Bawumia data so they would, this time, win the debate against the unblemished Dr. Bawumia. These hopes and wishes appears difficult to attain. The macroeconomic indicators of Ghana since 2017 have been the talk of economists around the world. The World Bank and IMF have both hailed Ghana’s economic recovery and cited the statistics as an affirmation of the prudent management of the economy.
At the Kwesi Bekoe Amissah Arthur Economic Forum, the NDC invited guest, the respected Nigerian economist and former Governor, Charles Soludo, praised Ghana’s economic managers for turning the fortunes of the Ghanaian economy around.
Faced with the reality of the excellent performance of Dr. Bawumia in Government, the NDC is left with no choice but to continue the stream of venomous invectives and expletives against Dr. Bawumia.
In obeisance to this strategy of insults and fabrications, the NDC has commissioned some pseudonyms to create and promote wicked propaganda purposed to soil the unblemished reputation of Dr. Bawumia and strain his focus. Such are the fake news on his attempted resignation recently, his demotion as chair of EMT with Senior Minister taking over, 2020 presidential campaign posters and the alleged tweet of his campaign promise to never borrow at all under this government and the claim that the Senior Minister, the highly regarded Osafo Marfo had seized his official residence and was occupying same and the much ridiculous claim that he was paralyzed and later, pronounced dead in a London hospital and with a supposed death certificate in circulation. But amidst all the attempts, he is unstressed. For his gift is a heavy dose of glow and humility that is indestructible and unstoppable!
Dr. Bawumia’s discovery has intensified debates on economic policies and put our politics on the throttle of issues-centred. For with DMB is what Ghana politics was not. So to be fair with NDC, they should wish Dr. Bawumia had resigned from the arena of Ghanaian political life or switched camp at best. The facts speak for itself. The results returned from the 2016 elections is sufficient proof of the Bawumia fear factor on Mr. Mahama’s NDC.
Next is the fake presser announcing the regret of President Akufo-Addo to promote the senior minister ahead of Dr. Bawumia to chair the EMT. This, along with its sister fake news are variously and systematically aspired to sap the EMT of its focus. Well, Dr. Bawumia’s team is “laser focused on the economy!” Even a reproduction of the words of the Senior Minister himself will not convey the shared respect and professionalism in the EMT. Recall that Hon. Osafo Marfo, who one of the serial fake news reported was snubbed by Dr. Bawumia and Ken Ofori-Atta for a visit to IMF, commended the selfless and professional leadership of Dr. Bawumia to the EMT; leadership the Senior Minister credited as birthing the healthy and flourishing economy under this government. Fact is, all purposed attempts guilty of ill will crumble – to derail the zest of the Bawumia-led EMT. For Bawumia’s team, to borrow the famous expression of Justice Anin in the celebrated Sallah’s case, is “a bond of devoted and well-meaning patriots”.
As for the fake 2020 campaign posters of Dr. Bawumia printed and in circulation, he and his boss are concentrated delivering on the overwhelming and unprecedented mandate the good Ghanaian people graciously handed them in 2016. Dr. Bawumia is enjoying the challenge of fixing the economy Mr. Mahama’s NDC broke. This piece of propaganda is even amateurish and puerile; to think it can prick the mind of the veteran and results- oriented Nana Akufo-Addo to change Dr. Bawumia. Too much of everything may indeed be bad!
The promise never to borrow fake tweet is fake; what is true is the promise not to borrow “recklessly”. Debt per se is neither good nor bad – value neutral; but the terms of the loan agreements tell the storyline – value loaded. No government can survive without credit, but the terms of and plan for the credit facility must be smart. Mr. Mahama’s tenure is littered with stories of interest on loans alone piling up our debt stock. The true effect of the recklessness is evident in the interest payments obligations he superintended. In 2016 for instance, interest payments of GH¢10.5 billion was five times the budget allocations to six key ministries combined with GH¢2.1 billion.
Under the debt stock re-profiling regime, the government signs only smart loans, reducing our debt-to-GDP ratio to about 64.4% from the 73.3% inherited. At least, it is agreed that the standard unit of measurement of comparative performance is in percentile. This is the case especially in macroeconomics; and respectfully, to do otherwise is to befog analysis.
Crossed on four thematic areas such as employment; education infrastructure; and peace and security, particularly in the North, the difference in the Mahama-Bawumia distinction is profoundly crystal.
Chronicling the record of Mahama as first President of the Fourth Republic from the North are the ‘SAD SADA SAGA’ and the GYEEDA scandal. The great Northern Development idea vouchsafed him; he supervised the sinking of over GH¢125,000.00 forcing it into comatose. Monies for afforestation and guinea fowl rearing was unaccounted for; a paltry 700,000 trees out of 5 million were witnessed for over GH¢32 million debit to account and only a few birds showed for the GH¢15 million spent with the rest seeking asylum in neighbouring Burkina. And the GH¢429 million on illegal contracts under GYEEDA to provide training services to some targeted beneficiaries. These scandals syphoned millions into individual pockets denying the people of the north and Ghanaian youth jobs on the back of scathing unemployment. Mr. Mahama defied all odds, given the flying economy he inherited, into IMF’s employment freezer. But in less than 3 years, this government delivered planting and rearing for food and jobs, and 1 village 1 dam with the north benefitting the most. Additionally, 100,000 job seekers under NaBCo as temporary fix to the unprecedented levels of graduate unemployment compassionately tossed by Mahama while permanent jobs are being created with over 290,000 recruited into the public sector so far. While the allowances of Arabic instructors, very dear to the people of the North, also restored.
Beyond the Mills’ legacy of AfDB financed Fufulso-Damongo road and the Kufuor secured funding Tamale Teaching Hospital project, Mr. Mahama has no legacy in the North! The $100 million spent on the extension of the runaway at the Tamale Airport remains a painful reminder of how Mr. Mahama used the poverty of the people to enrich his cronies!
The undisturbed fact is that, Dr. Bawumia fulfilled a campaign promise to restore the age-old allowances of student trainees. The scorecard of Mahama in education is rather very disturbing. Apart from the foul-planned community day E-blocks lost in bushes, the general cost of education peaked under Mahama. Yet he was pleased to scrap allowances of student trainees vowing never to restore it. And firmed in his conviction that free SHS education was illusory until after 2 decades. Free SHS education, today, is in full swing after initial implementation hiccups. Accessing US$1.5 billion facility, however, government’s intervention to forestall the educational infrastructure deficit is also steamed up and the double-track system will soon be abolished. Government, also, as part of the “academic intervention” scheme of FSHS policy introduced free extra vacation tuition for form 2 students to improve teaching and learning outcomes. A GH¢30 million scholarship fund has been introduced by this Akufo-Addo government for this year. As a result, the District Level Scholarship Scheme under the Ghana Scholarship Secretariat was launched in Sekondi last week in furtherance of free meritorious, equal access to tertiary education and professional skills training at the grassroots. In addition, this government has introduced free BECE registration to root out the last barrier in basic education.
Mr. Mahama’s best, even not coming close to the heels of evidence of infrastructural development by this government in the North, is upgrading the Tamale International Airport by spending $100m to extend a runway. It is a painful reminder of how some politicians can use the poverty of their people to enrich his cronies. This government is spending as part of the US$2 billion Master Project Support Agreement with China’s Synohydro Construction brokered by Dr. Bawumia on a lot of infrastructure. And more, the Tamale Interchange project includes inner city roads too. The unobjectionable fact is that government, under the 1C1M-IPEP initiative, is also constructing roads and bridges, boreholes, W/C toilets and dams at various stages of completion especially in the North. The work is evidenced in the communities. Earlier this year, cabinet approved a €233 million facility to improve water supplies in Tamale and Damango and their environs. Prior to this, government had approved some US$30 million for water expansion work in Yendi and its environs. The expansions in SHS infrastructure under the “academic intervention” scheme needs no second mention. The soothing waves of goodbye to dumsor is also creditable. At least, 36 factories have seen approval under the 1D1F policy of this government for the north.
In ending, Mr. Mahama succeeded Ghana’s economy at its all time high at 17% growth rate in 2011 by dint of the first oil production in commercial quantities – and promptly nosedived it to 3.7% growth rate in 2016. According to the famous The Economist paper, “Under Mahama inflation soared, the economy slowed and public debt ballooned, with much of the borrowed money squandered on high wages for public employees.” Now, the World Bank report is indicative that Ghana’s GDP grew at 8.1% in 2017, 6.3% in 2018 (due to bailout of distressed banks) and projected to increase to 7.6% in 2019. Faced with these, the people of the north will choose the record of Dr. Bawumia in 2020 over the propaganda of Mr. Mahama; as in 2016. Contra the latter, the former will ride on the back of solid record to the north in 2020. All things being equal, the lame horse of nothing-to-show that fell Mr. Mahama in 2016 will falter again in 2020.