Sunday, 7th January 2018 marked a year when Nana Akua Addo was sworn in as the 8th President of Ghana and 5th President of the 4th Republic.
As a citizen, I welcomed this government with optimism because inspiring promises were made and the man Nana appealed to me as a person who understands the problems of Ghana and the rudiment of governance. One year down the line, I have evaluated his performance in ten key areas.
The first year forms just 25% of every President’s first term in office and therefore my assessment is based solely on my expectation for a government in the first year.
Just as former President Kufour shaped the destiny of his time as President with the decision to go HIPC in 2001, a look at the first year should give us glimpses of what the future holds for us.
Looking at the prospects of Nana’s first term in office based on year one, I see progress and challenges in equal measure in the future. However, if we come together as a people, we can make Ghana great for ourselves and the future generation.
In this assessment, I gave The NPP government 64% which is credit using WAEC Grading System for their first-year performance on 10 areas I deem very important.
This is an evaluation of what has been done, the impact
Below is the breakdown
Free SHS: 59%
The progressive implementation of the Free Senior High School Policy is the highlight of Nana’s first term in office in both negative and positive ways despite the fact that the positives outweigh the negatives.
As a nation, I believe that we must be willing to bear every cost that comes with giving our people education because hindsight has thought us that the greatest resource of every nation is the quality of the people and not the natural resources.
It is the difference in knowledge between us and the west that has rendered us so poor in spite of boasting of almost every natural resource.
This is why I have supported free Free SHS from the very unset and proposed measures to make it sustainable.
Additionally, the introduction of the program increased the approval of the government because it is the kind of policy that the beneficiaries can directly relate to.
That said though, the program was bedevil led by many challenges that could have been avoided if the government paid attention to well-meaning individual and stakeholders.
The decision to include boarding, lunch for day students and to implement the program without the private schools placed a massive burden on the already few resources in our schools.
I was of the view that involving the private schools and making boarders pay for the boarding charges while government absorb every charge that has to do with the impartation of knowledge would have forced many parents to opt for the day option and thereby doing away with the pressure on the few boarding facilities and the cost of funding the program
Education should be a shared responsibility between parents and the state, taking away their parental involvement will not only breed irresponsible parents but also make children less dependent on their parents. Disobedience is the potential result if children.
In view of this, on the Free SHS, I give the government average ratings of 55% because the problems were glaring before its implementation but the warnings were ignored in haste for applause.
Ignoring the warnings and labeling critics as enemies of the state did not help matters.
Beyond making education free, I believe there’s the need to restructure in response to the changing times. Science, Technology and Technical Education should be the new direction of our nation and this is only possible if the curriculum is changed to reflect it.
Free SHS – Credit
Paperless Port System: 85%
The paperless port system is the best thing that happened to the port as far as revenue generation is concerned. With the report of almost doubled revenue since the introduction attests to the fact that it is a novelty worthy of praise. Added to the fact that our ports contributed to over 85% of total revenue generated by government in 2016, ensuring efficiency in 2017 and beyond will definitely help the government in no meaningful way.
Initial concerns of lack of proper training for industry players threatened the smooth implementation of the program but I can attest to the fact that normalcy has been restored having cleared items about four times under the current system.
Access to the internet remains a major problem currently though in view of the fact that one service provider handles it and therefore when they have network problems, everything grinds to a halt.
Going forward, other services provide should be brought on board to serve as back when the current network has issues to mitigate the extent of delays that the aforementioned problems create.
Additionally, in view of the fact that the system guarantees efficiency, importers are now paying higher than they are used to and that is affecting their businesses.
The government needs to respond to this by reducing taxes because taxes are introduced with the losses in mind and therefore since efficiency has been achieved, relief should be given to importers by way of tax reduction to encourage people to embrace it.
It is almost impossible to make the profit from the current charges we are made to pay unless the cost is transferred back to buyers.
I will rate the Paperless Port System 85% and warn that the needed protection should be given to the system to ensure that hackers don’t get behind it.
Paperless Port: Excellent
Ghana Post GPS: 70
Thanks to Ghana Post GPS, a time is coming when the lotto kiosk will not be used as landmark for direction. 21st century Ghana should outgrow this and the only way out is the Ghana Post GPS. I will not waste time on the cost because I don’t have the competence to give a better alternation and don’t want to fall to the temptation of using issues raised partly for political gain by both parties.
What I recommend that should be done is for the public to be well educated on how it functions because that is key to deriving the maximum from the program.
I will give government 65% because education is key to the smooth implementation and that has been very unimpressive. With time, it would be resolved but the early signs aren’t encouraging
Ghana Post GPS: Good
ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT: 60%
One major reason this government won in spite of the many promises is the confidence the people of Ghana had in their ability to bring the country back on track as far as economic progression is concerned. This is one area the erstwhile Mahama government failed and paid the penalty for it in the 2016 election.
One year down the line, in spite of the improvement in the few areas of the economy, much hasn’t changed. 2017 is a nightmarish year for business.
The government boasts of reduction in interest rates but that remains at the Central Bank because almost every bank maintains the old average lending rate of 30%.
Increasing the growth rate from 3.6% to 9%, decreasing MPR from 25% to 21% and reducing inflation by almost 4 percent is a step forward.
In spite of the reduction in treasury bill rates, people still prefer to invest in the chest of government than to deal in the fixed asset or a more riskier aspect like job creation. Until the rate is reduced drastically, more potential entrepreneurs will opt for the easier and guaranteed option of lending to the government. As long as the government keeps mobbing out liquidity from the system, job creation will suffer.
At the time of writing this letter, the dollar was selling at 4.7 Ghana Cedis, this is almost 22% from January 2017 when the power to govern was given to the government.
If the trend continues, we will get to the 6.0 EIU is predicting at the early stages of 2018 and not their projected 2020.
This is why the need to move from import driven to predominantly export drive is crucial to the economic fortunes of this country.
In the end, the government can pride itself with a tall list of economic successes chalked which I concur but as long as exchange rate keeps getting higher, the lending rate not doing better: it will not have the trickle-down effect on businesses and individuals. This is the only relevant economic success as far as Ghanaians are concerned
On the management of the economy, I will give them 60%
Removal of Nuisance Taxes: 48%
Should fall under Economy but I chose to treat it in isolation because it was supposed to be a game changer if what government communicators said prior to their removal is something to go by. Government scored a lot of political points when they decided to remove a number of taxes they termed as a nuisance. I know that taxes government can term nuisance are taxes that do not improve the national kitty but a huge albatross on the payee.
One year down the line, the removal of import levy on spare parts hasn’t affected the cost of importing spare parts positively in any way. The removal of 17% taxes on airfare tickets equally hasn’t affected the cost of airfare within Ghana.
The main reason why the government decided to cancel these taxes was to reduce the cost of doing business in the aforementioned sectors hence the political point scored by the government as a result.
I believe the removal of nuisance was one of the political facial dressings in itself because it did in any way affect the cost of doing business at both the businessman and consumers point of view so it is much ado about nothing. If the government want to help us, then they should go to the corporate tax, they should look at the Petroleum Management Levi, Energy Sector Levy, they should look at the cost of importation and other relevant areas which can impact positively on the cost of doing business.
On taxing and removal of taxes, the government chose what’s convenient and not necessarily what can have the direct impact on businesses and individuals. I will give them 50% for at least making an attempt.
Removal of Nuisance Tax: Pass
There is a good reason why the President and the Vice President are Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces and Chairman of the Police Council respectively.
Security is key to every nation’s stability and development.
The first year of Nana’s government was marred by a number security issues which to me weren’t well handled because the orchestrators were party followers.
The rebellion of vigilante groups and the manner they were handled was a low point in Nana’s first year and a missed opportunity to make a statement that Ghana will not tolerate lawlessness even if it comes in party colors.
I believe that when such disregard for the laws of our land rears their head dressed in party colours, we must look at making statements to discourage it in the future.
We need to take a strong stance against such crimes because tolerated vigilante groups can grow to become rebel groups.
In view of this, the government should have taken advantage of the situation and acted accordingly. At the end of the day, we will be told that they went through due process and were convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction. In the minds of the majority of Ghanaians though, it was a politically influenced process.
I give government 45% for security and that is very charitable given how poor security issues were handled in 2017.
Planting for Food and Jobs: 72%
Ghana imports more food than it produces and that is a disaster in light of the fertile land at our disposal. Agriculture is key to our development. In view of this, Planting for Food and Jobs is a Policy that should be lauded and supported to see the light of day and be sustained until we are able to produce at least enough to feed ourselves
Kick-starting this all-important policy is a big statement of intent even though the year was mostly marred by the so-called armyworm, I am optimistic that if pursued, the result will be seen and felt. I recommend the brilliant idea.
In view of this, I will rate Planting Food and Jobs 72% because it is the answer to the declining food production sector which is by far the largest employer in the country.
Going forward, the program should be used to encourage more youth into Agriculture with the support that does not require being a party member to access it.
Depoliticizing this all-important policy is key to its success and sustainability.
The story of President Kufour’s Corporate Village Enterprise (COVE) and the Integrated Action Project for Cassava Starch Production all under PSI should serve as a guide if we don’t want this policy to end up like the above laudable initiatives ended.
Planting for Food and Jobs: Very Good
FIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL MINING (GALAMSEY): 75%
The boldness to take an uncompromising stand against illegal mining from the early stage of assuming office is one of the highlights of the first year in spite of the many challenges that lie ahead. The government deserves massive praise for sustaining the fight for almost a year with no sign of chickening out. This has been the most radical fight against Galamsey and the early signs are good if sustained.
The problem though is that there was no elaborate plan and timelines from the unset and that had an adverse effect on legal miners who had to stay away from government to address the issue.
To fight Galamsey and sustain the small-scale mining which is the preserve of Ghanaians, we need a plan and sustained effort.
I believe going forward, the government will put measures in place to keep the sector active so that the legitimate operator suffering for the wrongs of others can get back to work.
I will give government 75 for the fight against illegal mining because it takes boldness to stand against institutionalized wrong.
Illegal Mining: 75% – Very Good
The traditional load rationing was effectively ended by the Mahama’s administration in early 2016. However, it did not prevent us from periodic power outages due to difficulty in meeting the full cost of fueling. I was very vocal in the past about power because I thought and still think we went for the most expensive option and a solution that only passes for short-term in spite of going through the ordeal for over 3 years and wrote countless article predicting most of the resulting problems including the eventual removal of President Mahama from office.
Today, the situation of the consistent power supply has improved and the government deserves credit for that though the situation isn’t perfect.
Government though has failed to significantly reduce the cost on consumers despite being on record to have promised just that in the run-up to the 2016 elections. As captured in the 2018 budget, I hope and pray that something is done about it because the cost of power is still more than the cost of renting
I was also not particularly enthused by the early power deal which the government guaranteed with a billion dollar because it is the same response of leaning on fuel that has made power so expensive for consumers and impacted our climatic conditions negatively.
On energy, I will give government 65% because they have managed to make Ghanaians totally forget the demons of ‘dumsor’ with a more consistent power supply but at the very high cost to consumers.
Going forward though, we need to decentralize our power supply, look at mini hydro dams where feasible, solar and wind where need be.
Fight against Corruption: 40%
Corruption is a major contributor to the fall of Mahama’s NDC and a major contributor to the waxing away of the goodwill this government has enjoyed since assuming office.
First, I am disappointed that it has taken us more than a year and yet we have no idea who the special prosecutor is.
I am also disappointed that state institutions mandated to handle corruption-related incidents were made to chicken out of their constitutionally mandated responsibility in wait for the Special Prosecutor in spite of countless corruptions allegations that ended as debates for discussion.
The worst part is, the average Ghanaian is questioning the moral authority this government will have to really fight corruption given the scandals and allegations of corruption that dominated the first year.
There were allegations of 200 stolen State vehicles without a single attempt to prosecute the culprit. Except for allegations and upon allegations, much hasn’t been done.
All we hear from this government is alleged corruptions from this man, but in the, end no show!!!
In view of this, I will give government 40% in the fight against corruption because nothing was done apart from getting the Special Prosecutor Bill through Parliament. I am wondering when investigations will began, offenders sent to court for prosecution, and when judgment will be pronounced if a full year is required to see a bill through.
With government decision to leave the fight against corruption in the hands of the Special Prosecutor, Ghanaians will want to see an uncompromising fight against this menace to our very existence in 2018 and beyond
This is possible if a bipartisan approach is adopted in the appointment of the special prosecutor so that the fight is not only targeted at former state actors but even those currently at the helm of affairs.
Fight against Corruptions: Pass
After grading government in 10 key areas and striking the average, I will give President Akufo-Addo 64% for his first-year efforts.
I did not include Infrastructural Development because very little was done as government opted to stabilize the economy before moving into physical infrastructure which requires massive capital injection. Going forward though, we still have a lot to do in that sector and therefore government should not turn their backs on them in favour of the economy and social interventions, we need to develop in a balanced way.
Additionally, policies should be tailor-made for the Real Estate Sector because it is a major employment generator and its success will automatically result in job creation for all manner of skills. The Real Estate Sector is the only sector that employers from the downtrodden to the most the highest level professional. This sector has been ignored for too long to the detriment of the economy and the wellbeing for Ghanaians.
In conclusion, I will refer government to the final article I wrote last year in which called on them to be strategic in the implementation of campaign promises because reality must dictate as to what should be done now, what can wait and what should be ignored.
From where I sit and having witnessed how certain programs were implemented, it appears that there’s a conscious effort to ignore the signs of reality and focus on doing what was promised during the elections despite the problems they pose tomorrow.
He has to balance the realities of the day with what he promised the people to do during his campaign period. Leadership is not only about fulfilling the social contract with the people but also doing what is needful even if it contradicts the promises. Governing for applause is a very dangerous thing. Be strategic and flexible and surely you will succeed.
Restoring the allowances of nurses and teachers was one populist campaign promise that should never have been revisited because as a nation, we have outgrown it. Restoring it is another burden on the government that should have been ignored. Instead, a proper student’s loan system should have been made available to those who can’t afford their bills to access.
Quality leadership is about making decisions today with tomorrow in mind.
Also, people who criticise constructively should not be treated as enemies because disagreements are part of nation building. We praise to encourage, criticise to build because this is how our nation can develop.
Some of us can never lie in the face of power because leaders need honest feedback from followers to function with minimum errors.
We hope to see a better 2018 that reflect the desire of the President to develop Ghana beyond aid
God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation even greater and stronger
Kofi Anokey (CEO)
Koans Building Solutions