Proposed legacies for the consideration of President Nana Akufo-Addo

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  1. Introduction

Now that the ruling on the Presidential Election Petition has been delivered, and with no prospect of a review, it is established that there will be no legal challenge to the validity of the election of President Akufo-Addo. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is thus the President of the Republic of Ghana for the next four years. It is now time to get to work.

Some of us developed interest in public service and politics during the time when the current President and other leaders of the New Patriotic Party were promoting some enduring good governance principles summed up as the rule of law, fundamental human rights and freedoms, democratic accountability and free-market economy. The National Democratic Congress, on the other hand, espoused similar principles as Social Justice, Equality, Equity, Probity, Transparency and Accountability.

This write up is to make a number of proposals for the consideration of the current President as what I believe would constitute his enduring legacy as President of Ghana. I am motivated to write this piece because I have observed with utter disappointment how this country has been governed in the last four years. I think we need a break away from the usual excessive partisanship, display of arrogance, abuse of power, political intolerance, nepotism, cronyism, plain corruption, tokenism, vindictiveness, pettiness and politics of patronage.

In my view we have largely practiced these negative politics because we have put parochial partisan, personal and family interests high and above the public or the national interest. It is clear we are trapped in the scarcity mindset; the thinking of the self before us.  Our political decisions therefore, have largely been influenced by what I call the Colonial Mentality; which is simply to pursue our parochial interests at the expense or to the detriment of our nation-state called Ghana. Practically, our political system, currently structured and run, is not different from the practice of colonization where the colony, in this case Ghana, is a prey to be devoured and exploited by the predator or the colonial master, in this case the political party that wins an election. We need to depart from this path immediately, otherwise our collapse or better still our perpetual underdevelopment is guaranteed.

I have therefore the following proposals for the consideration of the President. It is the President who call the shots and therefore the bucks stop with him. The President is also answerable to us – the citizens, part-owners or shareholders in corporate Ghana.

  1. Governance

Under governance, it is my considered view that the current President will add to his record if he takes the initiative to “remove the executive from parliament”. The sitting President cannot continue to take advantage of an undemocratic arrangement which puts the executive arm of government in parliament. This arrangement where the President appoints more than fifty percent (50%) of his Ministers from amongst the members of parliament has weakened and has made parliament an extension of the powers conferred on the executive. In fact, our parliament is no longer the “People’s Parliament” but rather it is the “Executives’ Parliament”. This arrangement is clearly a flaw in our governance structure in terms of the people’s ability to exact accountability through our elected officials but also undemocratic in terms of the principle of separation of powers. The believer in democratic accountability must cause this change to happen. It is instructive to note that former President Kuffuor and some former members of parliament have advocated for this change to happen. The President should not wait and support this call only after he leaves the Jubilee House; he has the power now to do that in which he has strong belief.

The second basic and enduring good governance legacy will be for the President to cause to be elected by universal adult suffrage all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) plus all the members of the District Assemblies. The President should be a man of honour and implement his campaign promise to allow that exercise to happen. I am aware of the President’s and his party’s preference for a “partisan election of MMDCEs, but that decision has to be made by the people of Ghana. It is therefore, not a very good excuse for the President to hide behind an alleged lack of unanimity or the lack of consensus for his proposed option to suspend that process. That decision to suspend the referendum in his first term clearly violates and contradicts his much-avowed democratic principles and beliefs.

For the avoidance of doubt, we can elect our MMDCEs without going for a referendum. All we need to do is to amend Article 243 and other related clauses in parliament to make it possible for the people to elect their MMDCEs. If the President wishes to make the election of local officers a partisan process, he, as a consummate democrat, should put the question into a vote at a referendum and let the people decide on Article 55(3). The President cannot usurp the powers of the people to decide on a fundamental question such as a partisan or non-partisan election of MMDCEs. We are agreed that the election must happen whether partisan or not so the President should not postpone that exercise any longer. He must put Ghana first and not his political party first.

The third item under governance is the fight against corruption. A lot of proposals have been made in our bid to fight corruption, but the basic one to test the President and all public officials’ commitment to the fight against corruption is the implementation of a public declaration of assets regime. No public servant who has an unfettered access to the resources of the Republic of Ghana and who makes decisions on our behalf can have an excuse not to publicly declare their assets. The least any incorruptible President can do is to initiate legislation and amendments to Article 286 of our 1992 Constitution to authorize the Auditor-General to publish the declared assets or allow ordinary citizens to request for those declarations if they so wish. If we the citizens cannot know what the public officials have, then, the public officials cannot take charge of our collective resources and purport to act in our best interest.

I seize this opportunity to comment on the unfortunate, unconstitutional and forced retirement of the Auditor-General by the President. The decision of the President suggests his discomfort with the work of the Auditor-General in the fight against corruption. The President has another opportunity to prove his incorruptibility by taking bold anti-corruption measures such as the public declaration of assets regime.

  1. Education

On education, my proposal is very simple. All that I want the President to do is to give meaning to Articles 14(1)(e), Article 25(1)(a) and 38(2). These articles were put before the Supreme Court for interpretation and enforcement in the case of the Progressive People’s Party versus the Attorney-General. The court ruled that there was nothing ambiguous about these articles. I know the President has introduced and implemented a Free Senior High School programme in pursuit of Articles 25(1)(b) and 38(3) but that is different from the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE). I am also aware of a semblance of the FCUBE programme in name and not in practice under the Ghana Education Service. What I am asking the President to implement is to make sure that every school-going child in Ghana between age five (kindergarten) and eighteen (senior high school) is in school as dictated by our 1992 Constitution. The President believes in the transformation power of education and also stands for democratic accountability. He must therefore initiate processes to implement what our laws have injuncted him to do as a believer in the rule of law and democratic accountability. He cannot allow some of our children to be outside the school system when he has been given that job to do under the Constitution.

  1. Completion of a National Road

There are eighteen (18) national roads that had been planned since independence. In fact, the motorway built by our first President, the great Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, was part of the dual carriageway called N1 from Aflao to Elubo through Tema and Accra. Since then, the closest we came to was when President Kufour attempted to dualize the N6 from Accra to Kumasi; a project which is yet to be completed thirteen (13) years after President Kufour left office. My priority list from the 18 dualized motorways or freeways or corridors or inter-regional highways are the following: Aflao to Elubo (N1); Tema to Hohoe to Nkwanta to Yendi to Bawku (N2 or Eastern Corridor Road); Accra to Kumasi Road (N6); Cape Coast to Kumasi Road(N8); Kumasi to Techiman to Kintampo to Tamale to Bolgatanga Road (N10) and Elubo to Enchi to Goaso to Sawla to Wa to Lawra Road (N12). These selected national roads have most of our cross-country traffic and when done it will open up the country for more development, more jobs and will drastically reduce preventable deaths through road accidents. I propose that the President should complete just one of his choice from these connecting national monuments. The President should mortgage our future gold royalties to build and complete at least one of the dualized national roads suggested herein, toll it for reinvestment in the next road until all the eighteen National Roads are done. That will be an eternal legacy for the President.

  1. General Exercise of Political Power

I am of the school of thought that political power is a means to an end and not an end in itself. The power conferred must be exercised in the best interest of the Republic. I continue to observe that due to excessive competition, unbridled partisanship, high cost of elections and the scarcity mentality described above, we tend to use political power in a negative way. Sometimes we simply abuse our powers in the pursuit of partisan parochial interest in ways that hurt other Ghanaians perceived as political opponents. Many ordinary citizens and businesses have suffered simply because of partisan considerations. I would like the current President, in his second term, to cause a break from the past. When a Ghanaian suffers for partisan political reasons, it is Ghana that suffers. So, we need a departure from this scarcity mindset and the politics of vindictiveness to the politics of inclusiveness and fair competition. That during elections, the best programmes and policies will be put forward and marketed and supported and when elections are over, the President simply governs and administers the country as opposed to a concerted industry to target, destroy, cancel or suspend legitimate contracts, intimidate and sometimes incarcerate perceived political opponents. The contest for political power is just another game except that it is a game of power, but even then, there can be an agreed rule of engagement that do not destroy fellow citizens through the abusive use of State power but we can create a level playing field for the citizens to decide on who forms the next government. Even in warfare, there are rules of engagement. We should practice sportsmanship and fair play in politics; we won’t lose anything as a people. The President should use his second term to right the wrongs done to fellow citizens and local businesses who suffered from the non-payment of government liabilities and the arbitrarily cancellation and suspension of government contracts.

  1. Ensure Academic Freedom and Establish a Danquah University of Human Rights

Our universities have largely been the bulwark against political infractions and have on many occasions risen to challenge the erosion of freedoms by political regimes be it democratic or military. These institutions have been able to do this because academic freedom is somewhat guaranteed. I think no President should be scared of the academic and research freedom of our tertiary institutions but they should be seen as partners in development. The current attempt by this NPP government to impede academic freedom through the introduction of the Public Universities Bill should be stopped by the President. The President is a beneficiary of a vibrant academia and progressive forces at some point in our history and he should be the last person in Ghana to attempt to control and regulate academic freedom.

The Public Universities Bill was nothing but an attempt to extend political control over independent and professional thinking. That is dangerous. The political class cannot be allowed to control everything else; if they succeed then it will mean we won’t have a State. The President should, in the interest of Ghana, discontinue, abort and cause to be jettisoned the unnecessary Public Universities Bill.

In a related development, I know and it might be obvious to many that the President’s political life was influenced by his grand-uncle, as he refers to him, Dr. J. B. Danquah. The President, at the least opportunity reminds us of the contributions of JB Danquah in the development of our country. His quotation from the President has been this that the purpose of government is “to liberate the energies of the people for the growth of a property-owning democracy in this land, with right to life, freedom and justice, as the principles to which the government and the laws of the land should be dedicated in order specifically to enrich life, property and liberty of each and every citizen.”

I have also personally observed that our 1992 Constitution has the footprints and the visions of the two most formidable political adversaries of independent Ghana – Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Dr. J.B. Danquah. Any objective student of the political history of Ghana will notice that these two personalities and what they stood for appear in some provisions in Chapter Five (for JB Danquah) and Chapter Six (for Kwame Nkrumah) in our Constitution.

Based on the above observations, I would like President Akufo-Addo to initiate processes to make sure that the University of Ghana’s Political Science Department introduces a course on “Nkrumah’s Philosophy on Economic Development” so that the thinking of Nkrumah, his books and writings can be studied by the next generation.

Similarly, since we already have the KNUST, I propose that we establish a Danquah University of Human Rights in the Upper East Region specifically in Bawku. I just chose Bawku because I believe the people of the Upper East Region make very good lawyers but most importantly, they have a certain kind of patriotism in most respects. It will also distribute the national resources into other parts of Ghana but symbolically, Kwame Nkrumah’s Tema will connect to Danquah’s Human Rights city by a dual carriage freeway constructed by unifier President Akufo-Addo if he so elects.

To this end, the President should abandon any plan or desire to rename the University of Ghana after Dr. J. B. Danquah. I believe many Ghanaians including Dr. Danquah contributed immensely to the establishment of the University of Ghana, but Ghana itself needs a national monument to remind us of our collective efforts at nation building and I think the University of Ghana should represent us all.

  1. The Fight Against Galamsay

I am aware of the devasting impact of Galamsay on our lands, forests, water bodies, cash crops and lives as a people. That is why there should be no debate on the need to end that menace here and now. I am also aware that the fight against galamsey has been difficult and nearing impossibility because some members of the political class are deeply involved and some state law enforcement officials have been found to be assisting galamsayers to destroy the existence of our motherland. I know the fight against Galamsay will be the most difficult fight for the President to win, but unfortunately for him, he is the Commander-In-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces and he wields an unfettered executive power and authority and he is the ONLY one that can cause the fight to be won. He must take the fight to these nation-wreckers whether they are members of his party, party financiers, foot-soldiers, members of the opposition and Chinese and other nationals. The President should not give the impression that sub-state actors are more powerful than the State in enforcing the laws that protect our environment for the future generation.

  1. Conclusion

As the President prepares to role out his vision and programmes for the next for years may he find space for the above proposals in the interest of mother Ghana, posterity and for his own legacy when we have to examine his stewardship from January, 2025.

Source: Kofi Asamoah-Siaw, PPP’s Vice-Presidential Candidate, Election 2020

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