I feel obliged to throw my hat into the ring of grading the Akufo-Addo government. I take on this task after carefully observing three other similar ratings, only one of which was based on any meaningful data. The scores, however, tell on both our expectations and how much we are willing to excuse Ghana’s current administration. The government led by son of a former ceremonial head of state under the Second Republic obviously deserves an A++ rating for turning the West African nation into a new haven where not much seems to be working.
As promised during the electioneering, the government has over achieved if one looks at the many bonus projects not previously promised, including fight against galamsey, lawlessness, wanton dissipation of public funds, impunity and the culture of SUVs with sirens driven by government and party functionaries at all levels united by an unquenchable need to grow their deflated egos.
The above notwithstanding, the government has managed to neutralise dissenting voices within the party, numbed the opposition’s potency to hold it accountable and cowed majority of the media into submission with either gifts or threats. The fight against galamsey has been won hands down. A trip to any of the water bodies previously cited for the fight, points to decay, if that is a major yardstick for measuring its success. The President’s strong rhetoric three years ago has weakened completely.
Again, if this country was measuring productivity in any significant way, it would wail over the cost of choked roads in nearly every city and its implications for every aspect of our lives. How productive can anyone be if they spend up to three hours commuting to and from work every working day? Many begin thinking about the traffic they have to endure back home after lunch, sometimes resulting in early departures and AWOLs altogether. But there’s no evidence of a desire to change the status quo. All we have is the President’s assurance that there’s money in the country and that any contrary position or opinion is propaganda. Even where there are attempts to improve the traffic situation, the contractors and engineers only succeed in inconveniencing everyone except those with sirens.
With the forgoing in mind, I choose to grade of the current administration in this epistle, focusing mainly on its soft politics. The President is touted as a human rights activist and believer in democracy, who contributed to the repeal of the criminal libel law and saw to the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Act but has been unable to protect freedom of expression. A journalist for over 20 years in a conversation last month described this government and some of its functionaries as the most intolerant under the Fourth Republic, even though I’m convinced the early days of the first government of the current republic was also brutal in its dealings with the press. But how does one justify closure of media houses today and intimidation of journalists for doing their lawful duty?
That this government actually oversaw threats against Manasseh Azure resulting in he being whisked to another African country for what can merely be an error in judgment of his journalistic work. His story that a party militia was being trained at the former seat of government in Osu, was met with brutal resistance and forced the anti-corruption crusader into hibernation and has since capitulated to save his life and those of his family. If such an act is not one that contributes to higher grading of a government, I do not know what else could be.
Again, the bar of corruption for the government is set so high that everyone escapes it. Though I called Mahama’s administration a corrupt one, its low bar on corruption saw fellow Legonite Vicky Hammah removed from her deputy ministerial job. Her only crime being, a claim that she wasn’t ready to quit politics if she hadn’t made one million dollars. There was no evidence of siphoning state cash, nor a case of corruption against her, but she lost her job for merely making a claim in a private telephone conversation allegedly leaked by her driver.
However, nearly everyone accused of corruption under Nana Addo’s watch has been cleared and enjoying the booty so gained. From the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport (BOST) contaminated fuel saga to the sale of contracts by the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) boss, to the stinking PDS deal, not a single soul has faced the law for their actions. Though Gifty Klenam, former Ghana Export Promotion Authority boss was pushed out with her deputy, she insisted there was no wrongdoing, despite her job being taken from her. Her deputy shamelessly appears in the media defending government actions including allegations of corruption against others not with a fallen comb.
Again, when the board of the Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing Company accused its CEO of wrongdoing, the Board bore the brunt. It was dissolved and the members have since not been heard challenging their removal because that is how this government does it. Furthermore, architects of the stinking PDS deal have not faced the law because in the eyes of the President, no error has occasioned. The deal was shrouded in secrecy and the full tale may never be told like many other events in our history. Despite priding itself as passing the RTI, this government that wants the world to praise it for its little mercies continues to disappoint many in the fight against corruption.