Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, came into office promising to change the face of politics in Ghana and do right by the people who elected him.
Six months after he took the oath of office on January 7, it is only fair that we take a look at the plethora of promises he made and whether or not, any has so far been achieved.
President Akufo-Addo won a landslide victory against a sitting president, I can safely assume, his popularity was so high, he didn’t need a second round voting to be elected, as has happened in the past.
Free Senior High School (SHS)
The promise of free SHS was his flagship programme, it was a signature programme since 2008 when he first contested to be president. Six months after winning the polls, we are yet to see a clear agenda towards the implementation of the programme.
On Tuesday, when the president addressed the media at the Flagstaff House, he said the Minister of Education, Mathew Opoku Prempeh, in the coming days, will roll out the implementation plan.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP), after two successive attempts, should have had a comprehensible plan to set the balling rolling, as far as the free SHS, is concerned, the moment they won the election.
I will repeat my earlier position, when the promise was first made and the attempt by the John Dramani Mahama, led administration to hijack the programme in 2015. I do not think making senior secondary school free, is the panacea to the problems in the education sector. Parents and guardians must be empowered economically to take care of their wards, but even if, we must introduce it, it must be done, by considering students from deprived homes.
Nothing is clear, the president should have taken a cue from his interview in the run-up to the 2012 elections on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Hardtalk, when he failed to give a definitive answer to a question posed by the host Stephen Sackur.
The programme has far reaching consequences, if it is not implemented well, students from deprived homes will be left to their fate with no future, as has happened to the basic schools. Private Senior High Schools, will boom to the detriment of the public ones.
ONE DISTRICT ONE FACTORY
The president during the campaign vowed, as part of efforts to create jobs and industrialise the country, to build one factory in all the 216 districts in the country. Upon assumption of office and appointing Alan Kwadwo Kyeremanten, as the Trade minister, he told Ghanaians that, the programme will take off in June.
The time given has elapsed and we are still been told the modalities are being worked at. Six months of the life of any administration is a long time to see programmes and policies take off. We should at least, have been told, which factory is going to be situated where and the road map for implementation.
All we are hearing is the usual rhetoric that has characterised this administration.
It is time for action and less talk.
PLANTING FOR FOOD AND JOBS
Agriculture was always going to be an early test for President Akufo-Addo after he made it a centrepiece of his election campaign.
Agriculture for some time now has recorded negative growth, the sector has not witnessed any major investment in the past and so it was welcome news when the president announced a major policy direction for the sector.
If we need to cut down on importation, we needed a paradigm shift from the way things have done in the past.
The minister of Agriculture, Dr Akoto Afriyie, went to work immediately to actualize the programme. Planting for Food and Jobs was perhaps the first major intervention the government made. But months after its introduction, Ghanaians are yet to see and feel the impact.
The projected number of farmers targeted have not been achieved and as IMANI Ghana, indicated about two weeks ago, questioned the viability of government’s biggest agricultural policy dubbed ‘Planting for Food and Jobs.’
The concerns contained in a report commissioned by the think tank said: “access to finance remains a huge challenge within the agriculture sector, yet the campaign is silent on it.”
“It is needful for the government to roll out policies that will incentivize private banks to give credit to farmers at a low-interest rate. The high-risk nature of the business makes it difficult for the financial institutions to give loans to those within the agricultural sector,” the report added.
ONE VILLAGE ONE DAM
This is one of the most ridiculous, yet audacious promise any leader could ever make. The promise was regions specific, but it was made to look like all villages in Ghana are going to have a dam.
The president promised to build a dam in every village of the three northern regions. This is not possible because the number of villages are just too many, but the NPP, because of politics went with it and kept repeating it like a verse from the Bible.
The reality is that that particular policy is missing from the lips of government appointees, the president when he met the press last Tuesday, failed to mention it, perhaps because nothing is happening.
Time is not a friend of the president, his intentions and the commitments are well noted, but the actualization of his intentions and commitments are the basis upon which he will be judged.
RESTORATION OF NURSES AND TEACHER TRAINEES ALLOWANCE
With this promise, it was very easy for the opposition New Patriotic Party to hoodwink nurses and teacher trainees, who have for a very long time now, enjoyed these allowances to vote for Nana Addo.
We are told that the allowances will be restored when the new academic year begins. I do not want to get ahead of myself, so I will hold horses and wait until we reach that bridge.
It has been an uninspiring six months for President Akufo-Addo and the New Patriotic Party, which controls the presidency and the legislative arm of government.