Ghana heads into another general election barely three months away to choose a president and parliamentarians across the two hundred and seventy-five (275) constituencies across the country.
Two main political parties, the governing New Patriotic Party(NPP) led by His Excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo, and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) with former president John Mahama at the forefront, will seek Democratic authorization to govern the country once again. Both parties have governed the country before. The NDC’s tenure spans over 27 years. The NPP, on the other hand, has so far spent 12 years in the fourth republic.
Campaign pledges grasped in manifestos do not honestly impress the Ghanaian electorate’s preference for a candidate on the ballot paper. There are many reasons for which many people cast their ballots, it can be one strong political allegiance and party affiliation, policies, philosophies, ideologies, the candidate’s charisma, sympathy, and many others. Ethnicity and political tribalism are also attributed to voting behaviors of electorates. The ordinary Ghanaian voter barely cares about manifestos.
That phenomeon is gradually changing, more and more people are beginning to have a stimulus in what the political parties contained in their manifesto. The main political parties have both launched their manifestos. The NPP in August outdoor their blueprint which is a contract between them and Ghanaians. The NDC delayed in launching what they call the ”peoples” manifesto but the document eventually came in September.
Just as people are showing concern inpledges of policies and all developmental agendas in manifestos, the political parties have also expedited momentum in the number of promises with a sole intention, win the heart of the voter. These promises cuts across education, health care, social welfare, industry, agriculture, creative arts, and tourism etcetera. Note that most of the policies are going to be free.
It’s tragic that Ghana’s politics is now dipped in a dense pool of freebies or free items. In fact, our political landscape faces derailment in a quest for which leadership of political parties seeks power. It appears you can’t wind an election nowadays without promising free things.
The NPP led by Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo is inarguably the biggest legatee of a freebie vow. Even though he had to test the waters for three consecutivey times, it is evidently clear that his ”Free Senior High School” policy gave him more votes. It really mattered in securing close to a million votes to defeat John Mahama in 2016.
The NDC had been in power for the past eight years prior to the 2016 polls, however, the party promised little or no freebies at all. The infamous green book according to the NDC is a pictorial representation of their performances. Even though the NPP describes the document as a photoshopped one, they strongly believe that elections in Ghana will be decided based on track records.
Countries like Ghana continue to fight corruption. Observed as one of the abscesses of African development agenda, every government since independence has had imprints of corruption idiosyncrasy. That notwithstanding, the same government tries as much as it can to make corruption unappealing.
The NPP government, for instance, has had to astronomically increase the size of government to over one hundred and ten(110) minister. Twenty(20) more than the NDC had appointed. This extravaganza has been linked by many people to the number of promises the party made. This includes the freebies promised. There are government critics, civil society organizations, pressure groups, professors in academia who believe strongly that the size of government has not resulted in better management of the economy. It becomes a breeding ground for corruption as more government officials have been implicated in corrupt deal. Some fired, reshuffled, or suspended.
One thing that is very worrying is the current debt stock of the country. The finance minister Ken Ofori Atta in the mid-year budget review read in Parliament, estimated the country’s debt stock at Ghc256 Billion, 63% of GDP. This is as a result of continuous government borrowing mainly to fund campaign promises. A chunk of the monies settles free things.
As former president John Mahama has put it, a neither he nor president Akuffo Addo will live to pay the accumulated debts. The implications will be substantial on posterity which includes future politicians. At this point, the future politician will also resort to making free promises in order to win elections. Then, the debt stock continues to swell.
The future doesn’t look all to good. We just have to pray as we Africans strongly recommend.