Dear President Mahama,
I wasn’t going to write about your State of the Nation address until I heard one of your ministers describe it as “the most rousing motivational and inspirational speech that the country has ever heard from a Ghanaian President.” Clearly none of your men will be truthful with you. That speech was a spectacular disaster.
The cedi has depreciated so badly against all the major trading currencies. Your government has introduced new taxes, increased existing ones and approved utility tariff hikes. Ghanaians are currently enduring these, the rising cost of living and absence of social services. No one was expecting you to admit that half our current economy woes was caused by your campaign spending, the judgement debts, and the monies illegally paid to businessmen under that job-for-the-boys scheme called GYEEDA.
The least we expected was for you to be truthful about the state of the nation. Instead, you offered us platitudes like “despite the short-term challenges we face, our economic fundamentals remain sound and our midterm goals are bright.” Maybe you missed the news but ratings agency, Fitch downgraded Ghana’s credit rating to ‘B’, citing the government’s failure to fully implement its fiscal consolidation plan.
According to Fitch, your government had “continued to overrun on wages, interest costs and arrears, leading to your failure to meet the 9% of GDP fiscal deficit target for 2013.” Moody’s has also predicted a negative outlook for the country for similar reasons. In fact, the International Monetary Fund says the economy will only grow by 4.8% in 2014, far short of your government’s 8% projection. For my own sanity, I prefer to trust Fitch and Moody’s. At least, they seem to know what’s going on while you prefer to hide behind platitudes. Or could it be that you just don’t know?
Certainly, there are challenging times ahead and we were hoping you’d admit we have problems, tell us your plans to reduce the burden on Ghanaians and promise that we’ll never go this way again. Sadly, your State of the Nation address was like last year’s, empty, incoherent and full of promises and propaganda. There were no updates on the promises you made last year. It didn’t have any timelines or strategy for achieving your promises either.
We still don’t know how you plan to pay for free senior high school education in 2015. After all, it was you who said, free senior school education would collapse the economy and that you want to focus on improving basic education instead. Now, you turn around and steal the very idea you opposed? Of course, there is no shame in that. Is there?
Besides that, many of your promises like “by the end of 2016 we aim to construct additional Community Health Improvement Compounds [CHPS] across the country,” were carried over from last year. What at all did you do in 2013? As if it wasn’t painful enough to hear you regurgitate last year’s address, you and members of the legislature trivialised the moment. You were at your giggly best while the MPs were at their rowdiest.
There’s nothing wrong with being humorous but you didn’t even pick your moments right. You were rambling like you were at the bar with your slightly drunk friends. It was disheartening to watch. It was also a demonstration of your disrespect for Ghanaians. I don’t know what you were seeking to achieve by peppering that speech with ‘tweaa’ but it was most ‘unpresidential.’ You crushed every hope many had that you and these men could fix this crisis.
Sir, since our MPs have shown they’d rather idle than listen to your speeches, I suggest you have your next speech dropped in their pigeon-holes. You could also have saved us the humiliation of watching your attempts at humour fall flat by sending your 2015 address to the media houses. They can hire Kwame Djokoto to voice it for local language listeners and David Oscar for English listeners. At least they would be funnier and engaging.
That said; I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired of hearing your hollow speeches. This country is retrogressing under you and your men – jokes and promises won’t fix our weak systems or the collapsed manufacturing sector you moaned about. Please get a plan and get to work. Sir, our future depends on you getting your act together. Please see that you do!