The 2016 elections was a pivotal event for many. For four years, we had watched as the party at the helm of power, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), led by John Dramani Mahama mismanaged the country to its very core.
We watched as a man, who had swept into power with the image of a youngish gentleman in tune with the needs of the masses, bungled the handling of the dumsor crisis and plunged several Ghanaian businesses into bankruptcy whilst making the life of the ordinary Ghanaian unbearable.
We watched as labour strikes became the norm in the country and watched as his administration became embroiled in corruption scandals. Meanwhile, the economy stagnated, and the middle class that had been built up during the Kufuor years started feeling pinches in their pockets.
The standard of living became so intolerable that we had middle and upper-middle-class professionals such as lawyers, bankers, business people, and so on hit the streets in protest against the conditions they were living in.
By 7th December 2016, people were tired and eager to get Mahama and his motley crew out of the then Flagstaff House. By the grace of God, the voice of the people was heard on election day and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, a bespectacled, Oxford-educated lawyer and politician who had served as Attorney-General and Foreign Affairs Minister under the Kufuor administration, was swept into power after two prior attempts.
At the time, I knew a fair bit about Nana Akufo-Addo. He was spoken of glowingly by my father, especially as a visionary who had the capabilities to actualise the plans he had for Ghana. Further research I made on the man indicated that he was suited for the Presidency.
Smeared by the propaganda spread by the NDC in 2008, his image had been that of a privileged man who thought he had the divine right to rule and had no idea what the ordinary Ghanaian went through. Akufo-Addo set out to root out that hurtful image and by his third run in 2016, he had emerged as a man who fully understood the grievances of the ordinary Ghanaian and was committed to making his country a better place for all.
When the news came in that the electoral commission had declared him the President-elect, the feeling in the atmosphere was that of ecstatic joy and indeed, hope. As he was sworn in on the 7th of January 2017, I wondered what was in store for us in the next four years. Would he turn out to be another fraud, or would he make Ghana a better place?
AKUFO-ADDO GETS TO WORK
In the first few months of his tenure, he drew ire for appointing a total of 110 ministers into his government. The opposition lambasted him for creating an “elephant-sized” government, but I saw it quite differently. What I saw was a man trying to execute as much of his vision as possible, for which he needed a large team of people, dedicated to specific tasks. In the last four years, we have borne witness to the sheer amount of work this government has done.
With an economic management team laden by people with solid credentials and led by the Vice President, Dr. Mahumadu Bawumia, an economist in his own right, the administration started working on the economic mess that Mahama had saddled the country with. In no time, results started to show. This is evidenced by when the GDP growth rate from 3.448% in 2016 to 8.143% in 2017. It subsequently grew by 6.263% and 6.478% in 2018 and 2019.
Attention was also shifted to the brewing banking crisis. It was triggered by the proliferation of numerous shadowy microfinance and savings and loans companies due to BOG’s regulatory lapses and weak corporate governance in most banks. Depositors were not getting access to their funds, and banks racked up their non-performing loans. This undermined the security and trust in our financial system. Quite briskly, the administration got to work on restructuring the banking sector.
Hundreds of licenses allotted to shadowy microfinance and saving and loan institutions were revoked. Some banks were also closed. Work began on consolidating five banks to form what is now Consolidated Bank Ghana Ltd. Subsequently; BOG has taken on a strict regulatory stance and slowly, the banking system is rebounding.
Many people declared that his dream of making senior high school free for all eligible students was nothing but a ploy to win votes. Akufo-Addo went on to prove them wrong when in his very first year, the policy was rolled. Once again, naysayers declared that it would be unsustainable financially and that the double-track system that was introduced to facilitate comfortably the number of people attending the schools would reduce the quality of their education.
As we speak, there have been no hiccups whatsoever financially, and the WASSCE results of the first Free SHS graduates have been noted as the best since 2015. 1,199,950 students have been enrolled through the policy and have in the process, not only eased the burden on numerous parents throughout the country but has also given hope to uncountable numbers of people across the country. The kind of hope that indicates that they too, can make something of themselves and become productive members of society.
Akufo-Addo’s vision of industrialising the country has been actualised during his tenure. His One District One Factory policy, aimed at setting the country on the course of industrialisation has been realised.
Headed by the eminent technocrat Alan Kyeremanteng, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has worked assiduously to get this policy up and running, and as a result of their efforts, 76 1D1F factories are in operation. Out of these, 28 are newly minted, and 48 have expanded their operations. Numerous 1D1F projects are in the pipeline also.
Products like the Eku Juice from the Ekumfi pineapple juice factory is an example of what outputs are coming out of this policy. Through this policy, not only are farmers getting a market for their products and turning a profit, but jobs are being created. Several people can now dream of becoming a part of the coveted middle class.
In addition, the government’s policy on automotive development has not only supported local car brand Kantanka but has also attracted investments from global companies like Toyota, Nissan, Renault, Hyundai and Volkswagen. Ghana is solidifying its reputation as an automotive hub in West Africa.
Our farmers have also not been forgotten. Through the Planting for Food and Jobs policy, farmers are able to access farming inputs, expand their operations and in the process, increase our food security.
As a result, Ghana is self-sufficient in maize production and is exporting food items to ECOWAS countries. Ghana has also moved up to 59th on the Global Food Security Index. A pension scheme for cocoa farmers has also been established to ensure that our farmers retire in dignity when the time comes.
Ghana Tree Crops Development Authority has also been set up to create a much better working environment for the cultivation of tree and industrial crops in Ghana like cashew, coconut, coffee etc. Farmers of these crops, who have felt neglected for years as their cocoa-growing counterparts enjoyed government support, are finally getting the support they need to boost their operations and create exports.
On the employment front, a roster of programmes like the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO), National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program (NEIP) and so many more have led to the creation of 1,008,365 jobs. These individuals who were once going from office to office looking for employment now have an assured path to what they seek.
This government has also laboured on the digitisation front. Through the efforts of Vice President Bawumia, governmental services like the obtaining of a driver’s license and a passport have been digitised.
A national digital address scheme has been launched to ensure that every home and property has a unique digital number which will, among other things, enable emergency services to locate emergencies quicker.
The Ghana Card has also been created to reach the end goal of formalising the economy. In addition, mobile money interoperability has been introduced. Ghana’s system has been noted as the first of its kind in Africa. A QR code payment system has also been introduced in Ghana. We are slowly creating a digital footprint, a necessary thing in the 21st century.
I could go on and on about the impact this government has had on the Ghanaian people, but that would require a lot more space than I have! The point is this; the Ghanaian people over the past four years have been impacted positively by the leadership of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Our economy has been removed from the gutters; the banking sector has been reformed, business is booming, children are going to school, our farmers are enjoying the fruit of their labours and so much more.
A new lease of prosperity has been unleashed throughout the country, and in all these actions by the current administration, one can see a new country being created: a country full of discerning citizens, who have been availed as many opportunities as possible to build themselves up and make something of their lives. Indeed, this government has exemplified the NPP’s mission of “liberating the energies of the people”.
It is a sight to behold, one that will be besmirched if we allow Mr Mahama back into his office. We’ve already been through a little over four years of his leadership, and it is clear that he is not capable of steering the country towards better pastures. It is with this knowledge that we must go out in our numbers to our polling stations on the 7th of December to vote for Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to solidify the progress achieved over the past four years and indeed create a better Ghana for us all. Thank you.