The 2016 elections will go down in the history of Ghana as an electioneering campaign pregnant with huge and numerous promises.
The electioneering campaigns have become promise galore as the two leading political parties – ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) – keep promising voters everywhere they go to canvas for votes.
Whether these promises were achievable or not, that is not my business but mine mission now is to evaluate these promises as a lay man on the streets of Ghana.
These promises were started by the opposition leader of the NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who is bent on unseating the ruling NDC and its candidate, President John Mahama.
Let me put on the record that Nana Akufo-Addo has failed to clinch the presidential seat twice already. He failed in 2008 with the then NDC’s candidate Atta Mills and in 2012 with President Mahama.
Nana Akufo-Addo as part of plans to industrialize and transform the Ghanaian economy if elected the president of Ghana, told residents while touring Ajumako/Enyan/Essiam, Mfantseman and Abura/Asebu/Kwamankese constituencies in the Central Region in June 2016 that, his government plans to establish a factory in each of the 216 districts across the country if he wins the 2016 elections.
Nana Akufo-Addo did not end the promised spree there. In August, Nana Akufo-Addo promised to create another region from the Western Region, should he emerge winner in the December polls.
“The northern part of the region [Western North] has to get its own region if Akufo-Addo becomes the next President of Ghana”, Nana Addo was quoted as telling people in the Western Region.
Nana Akufo-Addo made yet another promise barely four months to the polls in December, promising to establish one dam in every village in the northern part of the country [Northern Region, Upper East and Upper West] to boost agriculture through a well planed irrigation policy if elected the president of Ghana come December.
“A robust irrigation policy one village one dam will make Ghana crop all year round and eventually become a net exporter of most foodstuff” Nana Addo was quoted again as telling the Northerners.
These promises, whether achievable or not, caught the attentions of the voters and it became topic for discussions on radio and TV discussions, newspapers, online portals, trotros, lorry parks, taxis, market places, among others.
All this while, President John Mahama and the NDC who are ruling the nation had not make any promise but rather concentrated on telling to give them a second chance to complete the good work and the foundation it has laid.
This was laudable because the ruling party does not need to give promises but tell the people what they have done and can do when given the second chance.
But somewhere along the line, President Mahama might have realized that promises can win him and the NDC votes and as such has started giving promises.
Coincidentally, the first promises of both Nana Akufo-Addo and President Mahama began in one of the two swing regions, Central Region, which is strange.
Nana Addo’s first promise of building one-factory-one-district was said in Abura/Asebu/Kwaman/Kesse while President Mahama’s first promise which caught the attention and some people are making mockery of was also in Abura, a community in the Regional Capital, Cape Coast.
The ‘Abura promise’
President John Mahama as part of his campaign tour of the Central Region in September 2016 promised to give each household in Abura under the Cape Coast North constituency would ensure that each house gets one electricity-meter, to eliminate the trend where several households are hooked onto one meter.
The President said he had instructed that 1,500 meters be made available to the residents. “In Abura, I know your major concern is about electricity, a lot of you do not have meters. In most of the houses, the meters are shared. So I’ve asked that 1500 meters should be made available to you so that each house will have one meter”, President Mahama was quoted to have said.
At this moment, let me take the opportunity to state that, in the hierarchy of needs and wants, individuals’ or communities’ needs and wants differ. What may be of prime need or interest for me may be nothing to the other.
But let us analyze something here.
My checks at the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) reveal one needs ‘just’ GHS300.00 to get a meter. The meters themselves are free but the facilitation fee is what amounted to the aforementioned amount, according to the ECG officials.
So, mathematically, President Mahama is giving the entire residents of Abura GHS450, 000.00 after voting massively for him and the NDC Member of Parliament in the last elections.
Even the above amount can be divided because a house can contain more rooms or apartment. Also, let’s note that in our traditional setting, several people can be in one room due to the housing deficit in the country, so mathematically, President Mahama’s promise is trivial and low.
The Cape Coast North Constituency presidential results for election 2012 paint a very good picture of how the people voted massively for the NDC and President Mahama.
President Mahama had 22,920, representing 53.20% of the total valid vote cast, while the main opposition NPP’s flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo polled 19,246, representing 44.68%.
Due to this, residents of Abura like any other resident in any part of the country do not need such trivial promise.
Yes, they need electricity and as such meters are important but such promise should have been left for the MP of the area or the NDC parliamentary candidate to make such promise. President Mahama is bigger than such trivial promise.
One of the main challenges facing the country is unemployment among the youth and I would rather ask the President and all other flagbearers for the 2016 elections to tell us what they can do about it instead of these trivial promises.
I am not sure the people of Abura cannot afford to pay the GHS300.00 facilitation fee for them to have electricity meters but it because the meters are not available.
The corruption in the acquisition of the meters alone can scare the residents and that may contribute to the fact that several houses are hooked on to one meter in Abura .
President Mahama should rather task the ECG to make the meters available and the people can apply and pay the amount. We the youth of Ghana want employment. Nothing more! Nothing less!
Let me hammer home to all flagbearers to channel their promises to solving the unrelenting unemployment situation in the country, which I believe will fetch them votes, and not trivial ones like what President Mahama gave to the people of Abura.
By Kweku Antwi-Otoo
The writer is a producer with Onua 95.1FM in Accra.