Ghana’s 40-year development programme may be in jeopardy if the new government does not do due diligence to the processes of marrying the two entities – government and the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) – to ensure Ghana’s vision of haven a long term development planning is on course.
The development plan may be a waste of time, energy and resources because the two bodies have separate direction for the development of the nation.
Unlike the United States of America (USA) which has its development plan for every government to strictly follow when they assume office, Ghana’s case is the opposite.
In Ghana, the government of the day work and do things on their own in consultation with their political ideologies and manifestos that do not take into consideration any national plan but here we are, the new government takes over and meet a commission mandated to ensure planning of the nation in the next 40-years which was constituted by its predecessor.
The former President, John Dramani Mahama, on August 4, 2015 inaugurated the process towards the preparation of a 40-year National Development Plan for Ghana beginning from the 2018-2057.
I recalled vividly that at the launch were representatives from the Ghana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Ghana Employers Association (GEA), Network for Women’s Rights (Netright), Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) and the Federation of Association of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE).
Others were representatives from the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), Federation of Muslim Councils, Christian Council of Ghana, Catholic Bishops Conference, National House of Chiefs and the Ghana Culture Forum.
The rest were representatives from the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Ghana Union of Traders (GUTA), Council for Indigenous Business Associations (CIBA) and Curious Minds.
The former Presidents John Agyekum Kufuor and Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, the then Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Edward Doe Adjahoe, Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood, were also not left out of the programme. All these institutions and dignitaries witnessed the inauguration and they expect it to work for the nation.
The National Development Planning Commission was to start a broad consultations and collaboration from all stakeholders in the development of the Plan and as a matter of fact, it quickly moved into action.
The mandate of NDPC in generating a long-term national development plan for the country was embedded in Article 85, 86 and 87 of the 1992 Constitution, which is the National Development Planning Commission Act, 1994 (Act 479) and the National Development Planning (System) Act, 1994 (Act 480).
The NDPC, being chaired by Professor Kwesi Botchwey and Dr. Nii Moi Thompson as the Executive Director, kick-start their mandate and to be honest with you, they are doing a wonderful job to ensure its implementation in the year 2018.
But fortunately or unfortunately, a year before the start of the programme, a new government with different ideologies, policies and promises has taken over.
Then the flagbearer of now the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, gave numerous promises which were not in consonance with the planning and programmes of the NDPC.
Let me now take the opportunity to highlight some of the promises of the then flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo in the run up to election 2016:
Nana Akufo-Addo promises one-village-one dam
Nana Akufo-Addo promised to set up an irrigation dam in every village in the northern part of Ghana should he win the 7 December polls to become President.
He made this promise while in Bolgatanga addressing the Traditional Council in the Upper East Region about his plans for Ghana’s agriculture in a future Akufo-Addo government.
NPP promises constituency fund
Even before the dust on the controversial one-village-one-dam for every community in the three northern regions settles, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, made another promised of “one constituency one million dollar annual fund’’.
This was also at Bunkprugu in the Bunkprugu Constituency in the Northern Region and according to him, the “one million dollar annual fund” will be given to every constituency to deal with problems that are specific to them.
I’ll create another region from Western
Due to the vast nature of the Western part of the country, Nana Akufo-Addo promised to create another region from the Western Region, should he emerge winner in the December polls.
While at Juaboso to canvas for votes, Nana Addo told charming supporters that “the northern part of the region [Western North] has to get its own region if Akuffo Addo becomes the next President of Ghana”. According to him, “the move will facilitate development in the northern part of the Western Region”.
DCEs will be elected in 2018 under my gov’t
In the Central Region after his victory to thank the people for voting for him, Nana Addo met the Central Regional House of Chiefs with the promise that metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives will be elected in his government beginning next year, 2018.
Zongo Development fund will be in my first budget – Akufo-Addo
Another gargantuan promise that won him massive votes from the Zongos is the creation of Zongo Development Fund. The Fund will be the first time government’s social policy intervention to focus on developing residents of Zongo communities.
These and many other promises were made by the then flagbearer of the NPP which the citizens will soon start demanding from the new NPP administration led by President Akufo-Addo.
Due to these promises, Nana Addo has started creating ministries that will work to ensure they are achieved. But the question is; are these ministries and their programmes factored into the programmes of the NDPC? Or the NDPC will go ahead with the plan without taking into consideration the activities of these ministries? I am not sure this will be possible. Never!
I will now look at the creation of some of these ministries and the reasons behind them as given by the President.
They are Sanitation and Water Resources, Monitoring and Evaluation, Railway Development and Regional Reorganization and Development and all these are not part of the traditional ministries that governs the nation.
Regional Reorganization and Development
As part of its manifesto, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) promised the creation of new regions and election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives.
It is for this reason that the president explained that the creation of the portfolio was ensure the restructuring of the governance system in the country.
“We believe that the nearer a government comes to the doorsteps of our people, the more efficient and more satisfactory its outcome. That is why we are insisting on competitive politics in local government and we are going to create the conditions that will allow district chief executives, mayors, metropolitan chief executives, municipal chief executives now to be directly elected by the people they are going to govern.”
“It is by the same token, the process of devolution of power, will require that we look again at the regional structures of our country all in the aim of trying to promote rapid development in Ghana,” he explained.
According to the President, the Minister-designate, if vetted and approved by Parliament, will work to ensure the creation of four new regions from the Western, Brong Ahafo, Northern and Volta Regions.
According to President Akufo-Addo, the development of the railway infrastructure in the country will go a long way to improve the economy by opening up the country for trade.
“To do everything possible to find the money and rebuild our railway system in Ghana. If we are going to be serious about the economic development of our country, we have to open it up. And it’s a railway system that is efficient to connect us to the Sahel and hopefully will one day connect us to the larger West African project that is in view”.
Sanitation and Water Resources
President Akufo-Addo said the decision to split water and sanitation from the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing stemmed from the neglect of that zone.
“A major challenge facing our country is access to water to our people. Indeed, ‘water for all’ is one of our slogans for our 2016 manifesto. As much as that is a challenge, equal is the challenge of our environment. One of the slogans for the NPP during its campaign was to provide ‘toilets for all’ and for that matter it necessary to create a portfolio that will concentrate solely in ensuring that the country was clean and that each household was provided with a toilet facility”.
Monitoring and Evaluation
It will be in the Office of the President and the Minister responsible will have the right to talk to everybody in all the Ministries to monitor and evaluate their performance.
Folks, I have had the opportunity of attending a couple of NDPC’s meeting with some ‘senior journalists’ and I can say in authority, humility, in honest, and in fairness that the programmes of the Commission to develop the nation is different from that of the NPP administration and this can create what I will term as ‘development anarchy’ between the NDPC and the government.
NDPC and government may be heading towards different directions according to my observations.
The NDPC needs the government to be able to implement its policies and programmes but what happens if the government says your plans are not in consonance with our plans. Will the NDPC abandon the programmes and go ahead with the government? This is not possible.
President Akufo-Addo in his wisdom has created a ministry [Ministry of Planning] to ensure that the agenda of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government stays within the broad framework of the 40-year development plan introduced by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC).
Let me quote the President when he announced the creation of the Ministry: “All of us within the political space are now agreeing that we have to take the issue of planning and development of our economy seriously, and that is why a lot of support has been given to the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), which has come out with a 40-year programme for national development, set out in broad terms and targets”.
Folks, if care is not taken, this may not work. You know why? If the government would want to go by the Commission, then they must as well do away with almost all their campaign promises because the NDPC did not take into consideration their campaign and manifesto promises.
And if the NDPC would want to factor the NPP campaign and manifesto promises into their plan, they would have to start all over again and that will mean the implementation  date will have to be pushed forward and I am not sure we are ready for that.
I am of the view that the NDPC must as a matter of urgency engage the Minister designate for Planning, Professor George Gyan Baffour, who is also the Member of Parliament for Wenchi Constituency in the Brong Ahafo Region to at least make him aware of some of the policies and programmes before some of the promises are executed.
This is because, I am not sure the creation of Zongo Fund has been captured in the NDPC’s programmes. I am not sure one-village-one-dam was factored into the NDPC’s plan. I am not sure the creation of new regions was factored into the programmes of the NDPC, and many more. So the challenge now is how the NDPC can consolidate these into its plan because if they refuse, then it mean the NPP administration should abandon these promises and that will spell doom for the them because Ghanaians will tell them they have not fulfill their promises.
I am not sure we want Ghana in its current state. We need more development. Everyone who has travelled before to places like the UK and the US will agree with me that there are systematic ways of doing things. Developmental agenda is a continuous business. Every government toes the same line. They do not rule with political party manifestos and lip promises.
They do not just wake up and start doing things. They have a planned developmental agenda for the nation and every government is obliged to follow. That is what we want in Ghana and not to do things haphazardly.
I pray and believe the NDPC and the Ministry of Planning will work harmoniously to achieve the aims of both the government and the NDPC.
By Kweku Antwi-Otoo
The writer is a producer with Onua 95.1FM|3news.com