The 2012 Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Tuesday, took John Dramani Mahama to the cleaners at the first Presidential debate organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs.
From the economy, to education, healthcare to national debt, private sector, and industrialization, Nana Akufo-Addo clearly outlined his policy visions and plans for the nation, whilst at the same time cataloging a litany of failures and broken promises the NDC had superintended over in the last four years.
On the issue which has become a front-burner on the Ghanaian political landscape, President John Dramani Mahama beat the retreat, stating unequivocally that “I am for free secondary education”, a clear departure from his earlier stance, and that of his party.
This move by the President, was necessitated by the fact that speaker after speaker spoke in favour of providing free quality education for all school going children, with Nana Akufo-Addo stating that his administration’s priority would be to find money to fund free SHS to save the youth of Ghana from a future of hopelessness.
Dr Sakara, also speaking on free education asked rhetorically “Who will volunteer that his child be left behind?”
President Mahama, who looked spritely in the early exchanges of the debate, was reduced to a pale shadow of himself as the NPP Presidential Candidate bombarded him with unequivocal facts about the abysmal performance of the NDC administration under his watch.
On the question of the National Development Planning Commission, Nana Akufo-Addo proposed that he would make his vice president, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the head of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) “to give it that political leadership that it requires”.
However, President Mahama described this as “confusion in the mind of the NPP Presidential Candidate” adding that Nana Akufo-Addo’s proposal would politicize the Commission’s work and rather end up worsening the canker of successive government discarding projects initiated by its predecessor.
In his closing remarks, Nana Akufo-Addo reminded President Mahama of what the NDC’s position on the NDPC is, as contained in its 2008 manifesto, which stated on page 10 that “The NDC Government, as another imperative in the area of economic governance will locate the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) in the Office of the President to be chaired by the President in order to signal that the country will ‘think first and then act its way out of its problems’”.
The NPP Presidential Candidate therefore wondered that perhaps, President Mahama was the one who was rather confused.
On healthcare, President Mahama stated that the cost of training each of the 250 Ghanaian students in Cuba is costing the Ghanaian taxpayer $5,000. Nana Akufo-Addo quickly rebutted this falsehood, and reminded President Mahama of the August 2011 decision by cabinet to train 250 Ghanaian students in Cuba at a total cost of GH¢160 million, which works out to GH¢106,666 per student.
Also on healthcare, Nana Akufo-Addo stated that the NDC had abandoned the one-time health premium and described it as the “biggest political hoax” in Ghana’s history. He indicated that the supposed one-term premium NHIS was a political gimmick by the NDC to win votes.
The NHIS, according to Nana Akufo-Addo, is on the verge of collapse and is evident in the facts and figures on the ground. According to Nana Addo, the NHIS is currently running a deficit of some GH¢379 million as opposed to a bank surplus of some GH¢350 million bestowed to the NHIS when the NPP exited office.
Also, active membership rates of the NHIS had dropped from 9.9 million in 2008 to 8.6 million in 2011. According to Nana Addo, the decline in active membership and renewal rates of the NHIS was a clear sign of the NDC systematically collapsing the NHIS.
“The President, this President has been at the heart of this NDC government of broken promises for the past four years and the reality is they have failed us. The NPP vision is very different. I lead a team of competent, dynamic and committed men and women. The programmes we offer have been well thought out and the arithmetic subjected to scrutiny,” Nana Addo said.
“I am passionate about education because I know what it has done for me in my life and what it can do in the lives of our children. I know that the only way to transform our economy and the lives of our people is with an educated workforce. After tonight’s encounter, I am even more convinced that this is the time to introduce free and quality education to the SHS level. With God’s help and your vote on December 7, we shall do just that”, Nana Addo concluded.