Hits and misses as Ghana turns 61
Special Report
More articles

Hits and misses as Ghana turns 61

Posted TOM OSANJO in Accra

on  Monday, March 5  2018 at  11:58

Ghana marks its Independence Day Tuesday and for President Nana Akufo-Addo, the occasion will be more of an assessment of his performance since his swearing in as the head of state on January 7, 2017.

It is instructive that it will be at the same Black Square, also known as the Independence Square where he was sworn in that the president will stand before his compatriots and tell them how well he has captained the ship.

Early in his presidency, Akufo-Addo ran into headwinds when he named what opponents called an unwieldly cabinet. Having 110 ministers and deputies went contrary to his campaign pledges of keeping expenditures down.

His supporters threw their weight behind the new leader with local press reports quoting a member of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) saying that the president needed commendation and not condemnation over his cabinet choice.

“Let us not heckle or destructively criticise him on the appointment of 110 ministers. He and his team have more to rescue Ghanaians from their state of despair,” Mr Odeneho Kwaku Appiah was quoted as saying.

As fate would have it, just days before the Independence Day celebrations, the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) issued its yearly report which said that Ghana had slid further down on its ratings.

The report, released by the local chapter of TI, the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), indicated that the West African state had recorded the worst corruption perception score in the last six years after it was ranked 81 out of the 180 countries assessed in the 2017 Global CPI.

It scored Ghana 40 out of 100, its lowest since 2012 when CPI scores became comparable.

The report, which was released at a press conference last Wednesday, showed that Ghana’s performance dropped by three points from its 2016 score of 43, and seven points cumulatively from the 2015 score of 47.

This then opened another war of words between government supporters and those in the opposition.

Mr Andrew Asante is an Uber taxi driver in Accra. A staunch supporter of Addo’s since the president’s days in the opposition, Mr Asante believes the president will deliver.

“It is just a matter of time and we will soon start seeing the difference. The good thing about Addo is that he hates corruption and he has promised to deal firmly with the corrupt,” he said.

But this is not how opposition members of parliament see it. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) feels that the head of state was abetting corruption. In a scathing attack on President Addo, NDC Secretary-General Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, the president had employed ‘an army of cousins’ in the government who were fuelling corruption.

At a press conference last week in Accra, Mr Nketiah said that when he clinched the NPP ticket to run for president in January 2016, Akufo-Addo promised that he would not run a family and friends’ government, but “for the first time in the country’s history, the president has appointed his own daughter to a government position and even appointed a woman he has a child with as an ambassador.”

Mr Nketiah thinks the president was leapfrogging his kinsmen over better qualified and more deserving Ghanaians.

“His insatiable affinity for nepotism and cronyism that has resulted in the appointment of dozens of his blood relations, known friends and associates as well as relatives of senior government officials into public sector positions has not been lost on the Ghanaian public,” he said.

On their part, ruling party legislators say the statistics used by the anti-graft body to vilify Ghana were collected during the reign of the former President John Mahama. On that note, they argue that the blame should be laid squarely on Mr Mahama’s doorstep.

War on graft

President Akufo-Addo recently made a major score of sorts when he appointed an opposition member Martin Anidu to the newly created position of Special Prosecutor who would be charged with spearheading the war on graft.

The head of state himself is upbeat on the future of not only Ghana, but Africa. Addressing Geram Africa Economic Forum in Dortmund recently, President Akufo-Addo said the continent had the world’s second fastest economic growth, better FDI, 30 per cent of the world’s remaining natural resources and with a young, vibrant population.

Two recent missions from international organisations gave President Akufo-Addo and his government the thumbs up to the delight of his supporters. The acting Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Mr Jonathan Nash, described President Akufo-Addo’s first year in office as a success, hailing him for his “work in the first year to turn around Ghana’s economy”.

The deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ms Carla Grasso, praised Ghana for implementing important reforms which she said would propel rapid and inclusive growth of the economy.

Local or foreign

“Ghana has very high ambitions and much potential for rapid and inclusive growth and the authorities are currently implementing a number of important reforms to help achieve this, with the close support of IMF capacity development,” she said.

Ghana’s economy grew by 7.9 per cent and the IMF projects it to grow by 8.9 per cent this year.

The government last week completed the building of the residence of the national team coach, a very important move in this football mad nation, and which might just lead to more popularity for the president,

Mr Asante hails the move.

“Before this, all the national team coaches whether local or foreign, would put up in a five star hotel at the government’s expense for the entire duration of his tour of duty. This is a very good move by the government of Akufo Addo,” he said.