Former Ghana’s High Commissioner to Britain Mr. Emmanuel Victor Smith is absolutely right to observe that the negative comments by party founder Jerry John Rawlings, contributed significantly to the political misfortune that sent the National Democratic Congress (NDC) crashing out of the 2016 general election (See “I Never Said NDC Needs Rawlings to Win 2020 Elections – Victor Smith” Razzonline.com 4/11/17). Mr. Rawlings’ damning comments in of themselves did not bring about the collapse of the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress. I am not even certain that his comments did any more damage to the fortunes of the NDC than the gross administrative incompetence of both Presidents John Evans Atta-Mills, late, and John Dramani Mahama, respectively. Ghanaians simply got tired and fed up with the unprecedented hardship, both economic and social, brought upon their pates by these two lackluster leaders.
The political record of Chairman Rawlings, himself, is not very impressive and/or emulative. He only seems to have impressed the country’s lenders at the Washington, DC-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (or the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/IBRD), in particular, the extent to which these Bretton-Woods institutions had their way in shaping the shoe-string economy of Ghana during the 1980s and 90s to suit their neocolonialist whims and caprices. In the end, the deleterious influence of these global banking institutions resulted in the effective collapse and destruction of Ghana’s economy under the so-called Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), which had earlier on been prematurely lauded for being an ideal model of how the rest of the countries on the African continent needed to pursue development policy.
The Rawlings-led National Democratic Congress’ government would end up quartering up the state-owned industries under the nominal umbrella of GIHOC or the Ghana Industrial Holdings Corporation at giveaway prices for sale. As an individual, Chairman Rawlings has been widely recognized on the African continent as a charismatic leader. But so was President Kwame Nkrumah before him. Ultimately, it is political acumen in the form of visionary leadership and a comprehensive development plan that is needed to move the country into a viable middle-income status. So far, it is the leaders of the New Patriotic Party who have proven themselves to be capable of moving the country ahead.
President John Agyekum-Kufuor did this when he took over from the badly listing 20-year-old half-junta and half-democratic regime of the Provisional/National Democratic Congress (P/NDC) by quadrupling the volume of the Ghanaian economy. This would be steadily contracted by the succeeding regimes of Messrs. Atta-Mills and Mahama. The miraculous thing here is that President Kufuor lifted Ghana out of the economic doldrums as a heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC), against the profound skepticism and discouragement of the National Democratic Congress’ leaders, into the enviable status of a lower-middle-income economy.
And the salutary upswing of the country’s economy would have continued steadily on the uptick, but for the unsavory eruption of abject and regressive complacency among the leadership of the New Patriotic Party that rapidly manifested itself in the form of factional infighting. This is painfully tragic and ironic, but a quite remarkable number of accusing fingers have been raised against the man also credited with being responsible for the post-Rawlings Ghanaian economic success story. For 8 protracted years, the leadership of the New Patriotic Party was engaged in a regressive power struggle against the now-President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, widely acknowledged as President Kufuor’s heir apparent and the second most popular New Patriotic Party leader after the former president.
But, of course, Mr. Kufuor, who had earlier on had to fight off a fierce leadership challenge from Nana Akufo-Addo, had a quite predictable and different choice of a successor. This, in essence, accounts for the regrettable ability of the National Democratic Congress’ also-run leadership to easily seize the political center-stage and seriously reverse the remarkable economic gains notched by the Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party government. And it is precisely another breakout of regressive infighting among the leadership of the NPP that the megalomaniacal and radical populist leadership of the National Democratic Congress ought to be on the lookout for, if they desire to have a fighting chance at Election 2020.
In other words, the NDC movers and shakers ought to fervidly pray for the massive failure of the Akufo-Addo government, if they avidly desire to succeed the same. At any rate, what is fascinating about President Kufuor’s success story inheres in the fact that it was achieved without the availability of oil.
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
April 13, 2017
E-mail: [email protected]