It is said that in politics, challengers do not win power--incumbents lose power.
On Friday, we will have a chance to decide whether the NDC, based on their performance in the last four years, deserve another mandate.
Before proceeding to my argument for dismissing them, let me dismiss a few myths and fallacies that are out there in connection with this election.
First, the NDC is making the argument--rather insistently that since every government elected under the fourth republic had a second term, they deserve one too. When Kufuor contested the NDC in 1996 and Mills contested the NPP in 2004, they were re-affirming the constitutional requirement to re-evaluate every President after one term. Indeed, the Rawlingses and FONKAR significantly advanced the logic and frontiers of that argument when they mounted a spirited effort to deny President Mills a second term. The argument, therefore that the NDC deserve a second term just because we mistakenly gave them a first term is--bull.
Second, the NDC has tried very hard to make this election a contest of promises between their candidate, President Mahama and the NPP candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo. While that is interesting, it is a false premise for this election. This election ought not to be an argument about "free" versus "quality" SHS or any of the other issues that have become so fashionable. This election should be a referendum on the performance of the NDC judged against their promises and the expectations of Ghanaians. Surprisingly, Ghanaians, led mistakenly by the NPP, have bought into the fallacy that this is an argument about SHS, etc. In doing so, we have failed to subject the NDC record to the necessary scrutiny. Indeed, listening to President Mahama at the IEA, one had the unfortunate impression that he had never been anywhere near government in the last 4 years. We have, by this false contest of ideas, failed to give the necessary attention to the NDC promises and performance on the economy, cleanliness, corruption, jobs, foreign policy and good governance.
Third, the NDC has somehow tried to link its fortunes to that of the Democrats in the United States and to argue that since President Obama was re-elected, the NDC too should be re-elected. That comparison, insults the admirable work done by President Obama and falsely flatters the NDC. While Mr. Obama inherited the worst economy since the great depression, the NDC inherited the best economy since the early days of independence. Obama saved the banks, car manufacturers and has been creating jobs since day one. The NDC has wrecked incomes, saved nothing and created unemployed graduates at record levels. Mr. Obama brought Obamacare to take care of the uninsured while the NDC just resurrected the inhumane "cash and carry" healthcare system.
Now that we have disposed of these myths and/or fallacies, we can examine the NDC record impartially.
Four years is a long time so I will bring up a few of the key NDC promises as I proceed.
On the economy, remember the pledge to "reduce the price of petrol drastically"? Well, the price of petrol actually went up drastically, together with the prices of rice, oil, sugar and outboard motors, to mention just a few. In fact, the fishing community have taken it on the chin with the price of a Yamaha outboard motor moving from 2950 to 8800 Ghana cedis. Still on the economy, the promise to create jobs only led to Okudzeto Ablakwa's 1.6 million phantom jobs. Many Ghanaians are still searching for those jobs.
On cleanliness, the NDC promised to rid Accra of filth and darkness within a hundred days of assuming office. Four years later, we have more filth and just as much darkness with "dum-so, dum-so" fully entrenched. To stay on cleanliness and healthcare for moment, NHIS patients who used to get three meals per day under the NPP now get only two meals a day and pay for many tests that used to be free. The result is that some patients skip medications because they cannot afford "koko and paanoo" in the morning. And the single premium for NHIS never happened? Wow.
As for infrastructural promises that were broken, since I live in Cape Coast, I give you just three, Kotokoraba market, Mills Stadium and Pedu interchange. The three major promises to the Central region are all yet to be fulfilled. Up north, the sheanut processing factory has not processed any sheanut.
Then there is corruption. The array of corrupt practices, which former President Rawlings has patriotically chronicled are so many that one is at a loss as to where to start. While many examples cry for attention, one has attained immortality in song for its gargantuan nature. That is "Woyomegate". Aside from the sheer size and the brazenness, there is one aspect that is truly fascinating. The only person within the NDC government who saw something wrong with this fraud and tried to right it, former Attorney General Martin Amidu was the only government official fired over this scandal. This scandal will for ever stain the honour of the party that Rawlings formed on the bedrock of accountability. Haba!! Who born Dog!! Aside from the brazen nature of this particular scandal, we as a nation must send the clear signal that there is a limit to how much impunity we will tolerate. The stories of men hardly out of school putting up mansions and buying up properties without accountability is a canker that can destroy this nation and we must acknowledge that through our vote on Friday. On corruption and impunity, our institutions have been undermined with reckless dismissals, from state boards to Martin Amidu to Frimpong Boateng. While men like Amidu and Frimpong Boateng are not indispensable, their spirits and attitudes, of patriotism and integrity are indispensable to the formation of great nations. When we sack them in the name of petty politics, we diminish our country.
Next, there is foreign policy. Under the NDC, the progressive foreign policy crafted by Nkrumah and followed by all leaders from Ankrah to Kufuor has been undermined. Where we had been peace-makers, we resorted to "Dzi wo fie asem" and a clear refusal to stand on principle during the Ivoirien crisis. In 8 short years, the G-8 became G-8 plus Kufuor. Under the NDC, Ghana has retreated from the ranks of African and world leadership.
Countrymen and women, even to the extent that promises matter, I have been baffled by the NDC's principles on the free SHS. I know what free education can mean to a person from my own life. I remember the relief my mother and I had when the then Headmaster of Osei Kyeretwie Secondary school in Kumasi, Mr. Bray, told us that due to my good performance in the common entrance examination, the government of Ghana would educate me "free". My mother said, "Nyame nhyira aban!" From that start, I went on to Presby boys and the University of Ghana Medical school "free" and then to practice medicine in the United States. How can people who benefited from free education be against it for other children? How can the social democratic party that claims to be for the poor be against free education?
Perhaps, the final point why we should send the NDC out of government is that they are divided. Since they are so divided amongst themselves, how can they unite us so that Ghana can move forward and be better? Let us retire them so that they can go to the sidelines and reconcile with one another and with their founder, His Excellency, former President Rawlings. Then at a future date, we can consider returning a united and focused NDC to government.
Let us move forward--together.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy