Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo could not have been more accurate to suggest that if the National Health Insurance Authority’s capitation grant, introduced as a pilot program in the Asante Region were a good thing, in practice, the program would promptly have been expanded to cover other parts of the country (See “Ofosu-Kwakye Accuses Osafo-Maafo of Inciting Ashantis Against NDC” 3News.com / Ghanaweb.com 7/7/17). In reality, I tend to see the implementation of the capitation program in the Asante Region to be two-fold, neither of which was necessarily in the interest of any other entity than the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC), especially coming as it did in an election year, in which the NDC was hell-bent on splitting the vote in the traditional stronghold of the Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) then, in opposition.
Mr. Felix Ofosu-Kwakye, the former Mahama Deputy Communications Minister, has accused Mr. Osafo-Maafo of inciting Asantes against the country’s main opposition National Democratic Congress. But in reality, it was Mr. Ofosu-Kwakye’s former boss, President John Dramani Mahama, who first incited Ghanaians of the so-called Three Northern Regions against then-Candidate Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as far back as 2011, and then, again, as recently as 2016. Indeed, his composition of the Board of Directors of the Savannah Accelerated Development Program (SADA), geared towards the rapid catching-up development of the Northern-half of the country with the South, clearly indicated that Mr. Mahama was a shameless political opportunist who thrived on the wanton and fanatical promotion of regional and ethnic divisions. Not a single member on the Board of SADA would be southern-descended. For the Gonja native, the sole criterion for being admitted into membership on the SADA Board was northern birth and ethnicity. And so it comes as nothing short of the inexcusably preposterous for the equally opportunistic likes of Mr. Ofosu-Kwakye to be accusing Mr. Osafo-Maafo of being guilty of incitement of hatred of Asantes against the operatives of the National Democratic Congress. You see, we have not so soon forgotten that moment on the stumps, when then-President Mahama was widely reported to have told his teeming supporters in the Northern Regional Capital of Tamale, that about the only way that any of them could consider voting for the New Patriotic Party, was if Candidate Akufo-Addo reversed ticket positions with his running-mate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia. In other words, for Mr. Mahama, it was an anathema for any Ghanaian of northern ethnicity to consider casting his/her ballot for a Kabonga of southern descent. In practice, I don’t doubt that the capitation pilot program in the Asante Region might have been well intended. But it is equally relevant to ask the question of whether the Asante Region was more fraud-prone vis-à-vis the payment of healthcare providers than any of the other six, or so, regions where the program was not piloted, especially the Northern Region, where the protagonist of the pilot program hailed from. Mr. Ofosu-Kwakye says that the program had been extended to the Volta, Upper-East and Upper-West regions. But why not the Northern Region, which has a greater population than each of these three regions? Or is it because the people of the Northern Region were of better character or morals than the people of the other four regions? Needless to say, the futility of the entire piloting program inheres in the fact that it did not achieve its desired objective of streamlining the healthcare provider’s payment method. We are told that the pilot program actually obfuscated the status-quo-ante. Thus, it is nothing short of the abjectly scandalous for any NDC operative to accuse Mr. Osafo-Maafo of a problem solely and inescapably created by the gross incompetence of the Mahama Posse. The New Patriotic Party’s Member of Parliament for Winneba, in the Central Region, has an even better riposte for his NDC political opponents, which is simply that if the operatives of the NHIA’s capitation grant wanted to effectively carry out its pilot program, it would have more realistically selected constituencies across all ten regions of the country, rather than inordinately focusing the program on the Asante Region, as if there was something morally remiss with being an Asante. What the cynical likes of Mr. Ofosu-Kwakye ought to be doing presently, rather than unwisely fanning the flames of their egregious policy faux-pas is to boldly and honestly accept the errors of their ways, promptly apologize and amend their ways in, hopefully, the not-too-distant future. Accusing the key NPP operatives of what their NDC counterparts do better than everybody else will not wash. At best, it would make these NDC apparatchiks seem like the pathologically incurable and unconscionable political scam-artists that levelheaded Ghanaian citizens have always known them to be.
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
July 17, 2017
E-mail: [email protected]