The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Monday afternoon delivered its true state of the nation address in Accra.
ADDRESS ON THE TRUE STATE OF THE NATION BY THE NATIONAL CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS, JOHNSON ASIEDU NKETIAH AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PROFESSIONAL STUDIES, ACCRA, ON 20TH MARCH, 2023.
My brothers and sisters,
Thank you very much for joining us both in this auditorium and through various media outlets for this critical national event on the True State of the Nation.
A couple of weeks ago, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo presented a message on the state of the nation to Parliament as required by Article 67 of the 1992 Constitution.
In that address, the President desperately attempted to put an upbeat spin on a truly dismal national situation. However, even before he stepped up to fulfil that constitutional duty, all Ghanaians were fully aware that the state of our nation is hopeless.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Hopelessness, recklessness, corruption and leadership paralysis define the current state of our nation.
In Ghana today:
My brothers and sisters,
We are all living the reality of the worst economic crisis in our nation’s history and there can be no denying of this.
The President’s address only served to deepen the anxiety, hopelessness and uncertainty about the future of our country. It was all too clear that this government is grappling with the extent of the crisis they have created, let alone figure out what to do to bring us out of the mess.
President Akufo-Addo failed to convince the Ghanaian people that there is any end in sight to the suffering and pain that his government’s reckless and misguided policies have brought on us.
In the end, he cut an image of a leader who is hopelessly out of touch with the reality and genuine difficulties of his people; a President who believes that burying himself in a delusional bubble will make the problems vanish.
Even worse was the continuation of the discredited attempt to evade responsibility for the economic atrocities that have led us to this depressing point.
Whilst they engage in vain glory, Ghanaians have to deal with the daily consequences of a collapsed economy.
My brothers and sisters,
The true state of our nation is well known to all of us. As the Legendary Bob Marley noted in one of his songs, “he who feels it, knows it best.”
There has however been an effort by this administration to falsify the causes of the disaster we face while fleeing from responsibility.
We in the NDC, the only viable alternative to this bungling government, deem it necessary to straighten the records and expose the untruths presented to the nation through parliament by President Akufo-Addo and to highlight that our dire state is self-inflicted and deliberately so by this government.
We are certain in our minds, and believe same to be true for all objective minds, that Ghanaians are experiencing excruciating hardships because the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia NPP government has offered utterly useless and reckless governance in the last seven years.
They have shown no restraint in the level of recklessness in governance.
Today, the public debt stock which stood at 120 billion cedis in 2016 has increased to a whopping 600 billion, while the debt to GDP ratio that was 56% in 2016 now stands at 103%. It must be underscored that the President and his Economic Management Team actively colluded with the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori Atta, for the latter to benefit directly from these borrowings through numerous transaction fees, schemes and scams from the bonds Ghana issued.
Despite being the luckiest and most resourced government in Ghana’s history, the AkufoAddo/Bawumia NPP government has the least to show in terms of socio-economic development.
This is because the NPP has used all your money mainly for consumption. This is contrary to the President’s claim that his government has used “a large amount of the moneys we borrowed on road construction.”
The President knows he deliberately misled Ghanaians with this claim because he is aware that only a minute amount of the overall resource envelope that has accrued to his government since 2017 has been used for the construction and rehabilitation of roads in the country.
The truth is that only an abysmal 1.6% of the total resource envelope of GHS 820 billion has been spent on roads by this government. Official Government of Ghana records show that a whopping 93% of the GHS 820 billion has been spent on consumption, including Akufo-Addo’s 20,000 Euros an hour luxurious private jet travels across the world, hired over several months at huge cost to the taxpayer.
It is a tragedy that the president would classify routine minor road repairs such as resealing, reshaping, pot-hole filling and regravelling, as new road construction. The claim that this government has constructed over 11,000 kilometres of new roads is false and should be completely disregarded. The president should hang his head in shame.
Apart from the unsustainable debt of the country, the budget deficit which stood at 6.1% in 2016 now stands at a whopping 12% on the watch of the Bawumia-led Economic Management Team. This is after it rose to an unprecedented high of 15.7% in 2020 owing to the reckless electiondriven spending of the government.
Per government’s own figures, the rate of inflation which stood at 15.4% as at December 2016, now stands at a hyper rate of over 52%.
The lending rate that stood at about 25% on average in the year 2016, now stands between 38%- 45%; whilst exchange rate depreciation that stood at 9.6% for the year 2016 now stands at about 23% for the first two months of this year alone. This is after the Cedi depreciated by over 54% in the first eleven (11) months of last year, 2022, making it the worst performing currency in the world.
From a stable credit rating of B- in 2016 under the NDC/Mahama administration, Ghana’s economy has been downgraded by all credit rating agencies to below junk status owing largely to the country’s default on its debt obligations on the watch of Bawumia.
After supervising an increase in the rate of unemployment from 8.4% as at 2016 to 14% in 2021, the Bawumia-led Economic Management Team has now placed a total freeze on public sector employment. Their much-touted "You-start" program that was supposed to be a $1 billion dollar investment in youth start-ups to create jobs has also turned out to be another spectacular scam.
These debilitating conditions in addition to high tax payments, high import duties and the draconian debt restructuring program of government, are suffocating the private sector leading to the collapse of many businesses and jobs such that five (5) foreign construction firms namely: Contracta, Sinohydro, Rolider, Amandi and Via Build who are working on various foreignfunded projects in the country have laid off thousands of Ghanaian workers in the last few months.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The destruction of the economy by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia NPP government permeates every sector of the nation. For instance, growth rate of the agriculture sector has seen a decline from 2.7% in 2016 to 0.7% in 2022. This is the harvest from the Planting for Food and Jobs program which has received billions of tax payer and donor funds.
Similarly, the growth rate for the manufacturing sector has also declined from 7.9% in 2016 to 4.5% in 2022, thereby calling into question, the impact of the much-vaunted 1D1F program.
Further, the growth rate for the construction sector has also declined from 8.4% in 2016 to 4.2% in 2022, despite government’s claim about borrowing to build roads and other infrastructure.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the true state of the nation!
It is evident for all to see that boastful and lofty rhetoric is not the same as competence. Quite to the contrary, with the NPP, empty sloganeering is their way to hide their lack of appreciation of substantive issues. Never again, and hopefully so, should Ghanaians permit themselves to be tormented by a group of boastful persons who feel self-entitled to misgovern.
Let us not underrate what it means for our collective sanity, when a president has an uncomfortable relationship with the truth, constantly shifts blame to others and conveniently avoids difficult topics.
My brothers and sisters,
Whereas the President asserts: “Maybe because of the severity of the present difficulties, or maybe because it suits their preconceived agenda, some people are unwilling to accept that we were on a good trajectory until the arrival of COVID-19,” nothing could be further from the truth.
Ghanaians want relief from the socioeconomic pain and hardships visited on them by the NPP administration and not flimsy excuses. Ghanaians want a government that will be truthful even in difficult times and listen to them in humility.
Incontrovertible facts show that, Ghana’s economy showed signs of serious challenges even before COVID-19 struck, a point that was made by the Country Director of the World Bank, Mr. Pierre Laporte.
For instance, way before the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Ghana in March 2020, the Public debt had increased from GHS120 billion in 2016 to GHS225 billion in 2019, representing an increase of GHS105 billion in the country’s debt stock.
Our Debt to GDP ratio had increased from 56% in 2016 to about 70% in 2019 (that is, including the ESLA, Daakye and other hidden debts).
Before COVID-19, the debt servicing amount had increased from GHS11 billion in 2016 to GHS37 billion in 2019 and constituted 91% of tax revenue.
Also, the budget deficit had exceeded the legally acceptable threshold of 5% and had hit 7.5% in 2018 and 7% in 2019.
Again, before COVID-19, the Ghana Cedi in 2019 was plummeting in double digits leading to the setting up of a 40-member Committee by the government to investigate the causes of the alarming depreciation of the national currency. Surprisingly, this Committee excluded the Chairman of the Economic Management Team – a move described by many analysts as a vote of no confidence in the competence of Vice President Bawumia by his own government.
In fact, per paragraph 61 of this government’s own 2020 Mid-Year budget review statement, “In the year to December 2019, the Ghana cedi cumulatively depreciated by 12.9 percent against the US dollar, compared with 8.4 percent depreciation in 2018. Against the British pound and euro, the Ghana cedi commulatively depreciated by 15.7 percent and 12.2 percent respectively, compared with 3.3 percent and 3.9 percent over the same period in 2018.”
Far from being the cause of our economic collapse, COVID-19 brought the AkufoAddo/Bawumia government an unprecedented windfall of about GHS30 billion cedis to manage and mitigate the impact of the pandemic. Unfortunately, this was largely wasted on electionrelated expenses. This amount excludes proceeds from the obnoxious COVID-19 levy which Ghanaians continue to pay till date.
My brothers and sisters,
According to the Auditor General, only GHS11.7 billion of this amount was spent by the government on COVID-19, with the remainder of about GHS18 billion being channelled into socalled “budget support.”
There is no gainsaying the fact that the coronavirus pandemic affected all countries in the world, including our next door neighbours Benin, Togo, Côte D’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Nigeria. Whereas these countries managed their resources prudently, thereby recording deficits below 8% and Debt to GDP ratios of below 65%, the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government borrowed excessively and spent recklessly for election-purposes thereby recording a disastrous deficit of 15.7% and a Debt to GDP ratio of about 80% in 2020.
It is instructive to note that in the year 2020 when COVID was at its peak, all our neighbours recorded a budget deficit of less than 8%: Burkina Faso recorded a deficit of 5.7%; Côte D’Ivoire recorded a deficit of 5.6%; Nigeria recorded a deficit of 5.8% and Senegal recorded a deficit of 6.4%. But Ghana alone recorded a deficit of 15.7% because of the reckless election-driven expenses and wastage the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia NPP government engaged in.
My brothers and sisters, did COVID-19 affect Ghana any more than it did our neighbours?
How come none of these countries who were all affected by the pandemic are recording double digit deficits and high debt to GDP ratio of over 100%?
How come none of these countries are recording inflation rates of over 50% like Ghana?
How come none of them has defaulted on their debt repayments?
How come none of them has been downgraded to junk status and have been locked out of the international capital market?
How come none of these countries are going through a domestic debt restructuring?
How come none of these countries are visiting cruel financial haircuts on their citizens including pensioners?
How come none of these countries are experiencing childhood vaccine shortages?
To paraphrase Dr. Bawumia, how did COVID-19 jump over Nigeria, Benin, Côte D’Ivoire and other neighbours of ours to attack and destroy only Ghana’s economy?
Ladies and gentlemen, the truth of the matter is that the economic mess we have on our hands has largely been brought about by the reckless spending, excessive borrowing and crass economic mismanagement by the Bawumia-led Economic Management Team and not any external factors as government will have us believe.
The last thing that is required in times of crisis, is a leader whose words ring hollow and who cannot be trusted.
In truth, Akufo-Addo has proven Steven Levitsky right when he wrote in his famous book, “How Democracies Die”:
“For a demagogue who feels besieged by critics and shackled by democratic institutions, crises open a window of opportunity to silence critics and weaken rivals. Indeed, elected autocrats often need crises – external threats offer them a chance to break free, both swiftly and, very often, ‘legally.’”
During this crisis, nothing the President says can be believed because everything he has said has proven untrue.
Ghanaians have come to realise that:
The claim by the President that he knew how to revive a dead economy was a scam;
“We are a proud nation; we are not going to the IMF” was a scam;
“There will be no haircuts” was a scam;
The promise to build 88 district hospitals within one year was a scam;
The Agenda 111 hospital project was a scam;
The promise to abolish road tolls was a scam;
The promise to convert toll booths into ultramodern public toilets was a scam;
The claim that there was a global shortage of childhood vaccines was a scam;
No state funds will finance the national cathedral was a scam designed to fleece the state by the likes of Rev. Victor Kusi Boateng/Kwabena Adu Gyamfi (whichever is applicable), David Adjaye and Curry Summers.
Ladies and gentlemen, another deliberate falsehood peddled by the President in his infamous address, was the claim that his government has constructed more NCA licensed fibre optic cables than any other government in the Fourth Republic.
We submit that the total of 93% of fibre optic cables the President claimed credit for constitutes the greatest telecom scam ever.
At least, the NPP must give credit to the NDC for providing:
The 900-kilometre Eastern corridor fibre optic network running from Ho to Bawku with a link from Yendi to Tamale and an extension to the campus of the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS);
The 300-kilometre Accra and Tema metro fibre;
The wireless broadband of one hundred and nineteen (119) 4G LTE base stations to power the GOTA phone system.
And let me add, the Ministry of Communications, the National Data Centre, the Accra Digital Centre and the National Communications Authority are all housed presently by NDC constructed edifices.
When a president constantly shows such blatant dishonesty, it crushes the accountability mechanism.
My brothers and sisters,
President Akufo-Addo's silence on corruption in his infamous address was loud. It was as loud as his guilt. Evidently, corruption has defeated his family and friends government.
Instead of confronting this canker head-on, President Akufo-Addo has constituted himself into a "Corruption Clearing Agent", ever-willing to whitewash himself and any of his appointees who dabble in corruption, even before investigative processes commence.
The President’s actions and complicity have emboldened many of his officials, not least the Vice President, Alhaji Bawumia whose name has come up in multiple corruption scandals such as the PDS scandal, the shady Gold-for-Oil deal, the Stolen Rice scandal and the “Appearance Fee Scandal”.
My brothers and sisters,
President Akufo-Addo's misguided declaration that “nothing dishonorable was done with the COVID funds” adds to the litany of failed attempts to conceal the rot that has left many scandalised, following the publication of the Special Audit Report into COVID-19 funds by the Auditor-General.
First, it was the Attorney General pretending to take umbrage to the publication of the report, then comes the "Chief Corruption Clearing Agent" himself, even before the said report is considered by Parliament.
How does President Akufo-Addo reasonably expect Ghanaians to accept as honorable, the Auditor-General’s finding, that COVID-19 related payments totalling more than GHS543 million (GHS543,058,709) were made to various service providers outside of the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), in clear violation of Regulation 61 of the Public Financial Management Regulations, 2019 (L.I 2378)?
How about the Auditor-General’s finding that medical equipment valued at nearly US$250,000 (US$247,404.79) which were procured with COVID funds and subsequently issued to some specific health facilities, did not reach the health facilities?
Mr. President, I put it to you that there is everything dishonourable with the finding by the Auditor General that a company known as Modern Security Printers Limited which was awarded a contract to conduct public education on COVID-19 safety protocols for students at an outrageous cost of GH¢1,456,310.00 has been paid in full for no work done.
I put it to you that there is everything dishonourable with the damning finding by the AuditorGeneral that cash payments totalling GH11,999,444.00 to caterers who provided hot meals during the three-weeks of partial lockdown were all retired with “honour certificates” instead of receipts and that, other COVID-19 related payments to caterers totalling GH¢5,638,684.00 were neither backed by receipts nor honour certificates.
Again, I put it to you Mr. President, that the Government’s management of COVID-19 funds cannot be said to be honourable when the Auditor General could not verify bills and validate dubious payments amounting to GHS37,609,791.71 by the Ministry of Finance to NGO's and Private Individual Water Providers for the provision of so-called free water.
Also, it is dishonourable for officials of the Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah-led Ministry of Information to line their pockets with COVID funds under the guise of risk allowances meant for frontline health workers.
It is the height of cruelty for COVID funds which were meant to save lives during a public health crisis to have been looted and misappropriated in this bizarre manner.
Brothers and Sisters, despite the desperate attempt by the Chief Corruption Clearing agent to sweep these serious crimes under the carpet, one thing which will tarry for ages to come, is how the COVID-19 pandemic became a corruption bonanza and a milking cow for President AkufoAddo and his officials to cream state resources in the most obscene manner.
It should come as little surprise therefore that the president has become a clearing agent who actually rewards unscrupulous members of his government with national awards.
Instead of the President sacking the serially incompetent Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu, he decided to confer National honours on the minister’s corruption and included even more corrupt appointees and companies to desecrate the revered National Awards Ceremony.
Dr Kwame Nkrumah established this National Awards Scheme with the view to honouring people and institutions that have distinguished themselves in service and sacrifice to propel Ghana’s growth and development.
Mr. President, our nation’s founder Kwame Nkrumah did not intend for the national awards scheme to honour criminality by cleverly sprinkling and sandwiching a few meritorious awardees among nation wreckers. This year’s awards and the inclusion of these shady characters some of whom are under Parliamentary Enquiry, can at best be viewed as part of the systematic denigration of our statehood.
It also reveals the weakened and depraved state of our nation: A nation where those who scrutinise government’s dubious expenditures are chased out of office as Auditor Generals, the Domelevo’s of this world.
A nation where journalists who unearth corruption are harassed, intimidated and sometimes murdered, the Ahmed Hussein Suale’s of this world.
A nation where Members of Parliament who diligently carry out their constitutional mandate of oversight and expose crimes are persecuted, the Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa’s of this world.
And a nation where those who fight corruption are fought back and are even described as terrorists by the courts. The Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ of this world.
On this note, let me urge Ghanaians and the diplomatic community not to be intimidated by the president’s unprecedented attack on the German Ambassador during his message on the state of the nation in parliament.
We urge all true democrats to join hands with the NDC to resist the suppression of free speech by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia NPP government.
My brothers and sisters,
Another example of the corrupt schemes under this government is the Genser energy deal which is stifling the Ghana Gas company and may end up collapsing this monumental NDC legacy project.
Under this corrupt deal, this government has decided to allow persons known to be affiliated to the NPP to build a private Gas plant so GNPC can sell natural gas from our oil fields to them at one-third of the price at which they sell it to Ghana Gas which is state owned.
The whole idea is to cream off hundreds of millions of dollars in unreasonable and super-normal profits into the pockets of greedy NPP cronies.
As Chairman of the NDC, I wish to serve notice that we will vigorously oppose this glaring theft of national resources for private gain.
Ladies and gentlemen, the NDC believes institutions must work and the standards must even be higher for independent constitutional bodies that are legally clothed with independence to work independently.
This is why we in the NDC maintain that the Electoral Commission (EC) must abandon its intransigence and listen to wise counsel in order to save Ghana’s democracy. Why would the EC insist on making the Ghana Card the sole document for registration of voters when the National Identity Register law allows for the guarantor system as an identification mechanism?
In the interest of our democracy and development, the Jean Mensah led EC should for once agree with the opposition NDC, Civil Society Organisations, and other well-meaning Ghanaians including the venerable Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Ghana’s longest-serving former Chairman of the Electoral Commission and foremost authority on electoral issues, who insists that the guarantor system must be maintained in our electoral system.
My brothers and sisters,
Another reason for Ghana’s economic collapse is the expenditure on the bloated size of government.
As has been revealed by our hardworking Members of Parliament, between January and September of 2022, the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia presidency wasted the taxpayer’s money as follows:
The President’s “operational enhancement expenditure” cost the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer a mind-boggling GH?59.4 million;
The fuel bills at the presidency cost the taxpayer GH?51.1 million;
President Akufo-Addo’s regional tours last year cost GH?16.9 million;
Tyres and Batteries for official vehicles at the presidency cost Ghanaians GH?15 million;
A Cabinet Retreat cost the taxpayer a colossal GH?4.8 million;
Payments for new vehicles cost the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer GH?6.5 million;
Payment for Networking and ICT Equipment cost the Ghanaian taxpayer GH?6.6 million;
An amount of GH?10.4 million was spent on the 2022 Independence Day Celebration in Cape Coast;
An amount of GH?4 million was spent by the Vice President on so-called “emergency activities”; Telecommunications and Internet Services from January to September alone cost the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer a shocking GH?20 million (GH?20,000,000.00); and last but not least; Expenditure on office furniture and fittings cost Ghanaians GH?7 million.
Further evidence of the waste of scarce resources can be seen in the many needless political appointees at the Presidency. In the midst of the worst economic crisis in living memory, the President continues to make ridiculous and superfluous appointments at the Presidency such as the following:
Enough of this disaster of a government that continues to waste the battered public purse with reckless abandon. We demand an immediate dismissal of these redundant hangers-on at the Presidency.
In this regard, we wish to advise the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia NPP government to consider the detailed alternative policy proposals put out by former President John Dramani Mahama in his famous address to the nation on “Building the Ghana we want” which was delivered in this very auditorium on 27th October 2022.
In conclusion, we in the NDC, love our dear nation Ghana. We shall neither price partisan politics above policy nor personal interest above patriotism.
Therefore, we shall continue to engage our Members of Parliament, Civil Society Organisations, Religious Organisations, Organised Labour and all stakeholders to fashion out a viable and sustainable alternative strategy to save Ghana’s economy and democracy.
Saving our economy also means saving our democracy. So, we expect the president to drastically cut down the size of his government to signal a new beginning. We further expect the government to be tolerant of dissent, heed the calls for implementation of the Constitutional Review recommendations, eschew profligacy, desist from nepotism and corruption, sanction corrupt officials and be honest about the True State of our Nation.
My brothers and sisters,
It is obvious that President Akufo-Addo who continues to revel in the largesse of high office does not appreciate the present reality of the Ghanaian people. The President continues to live in his own world, far removed from yours and mine, that he fails or neglects to appreciate the true State of the Nation.
It is absolutely important to awaken President Akufo-Addo and the ruling NPP to the uncomfortable, but frank True State of Ghana today – a nation of many living in fear of where to find their next meal, leaving many parents to endure sleepless nights.
The true State of our dear Nation no longer lies in flowery speeches laced with political chicanery that never accepts responsibility for anything. Neither does it lie in abstract theories that blame personal failings on events that have no significant impact on our lives.
The true State of the Nation is when a ball of kenkey which used to sell between 50 pesewas and GHS1.00 in December 2016, is now being sold between GhS4.00 and GHS5.00.
The true State of Ghana today is that, a sack of maize which used to sell for GHS170.00 in 2016 is now being sold for GHS900.00 as at February, 2023.
The true State of the Nation is when a bag of Gino Rice (5kg) which used to go for GHS25.00 in December 2016, is now being sold for GHS185.00.
Similarly, a tuber of yam which used to sell for GHS5.00 is now being sold for GHS25.00, while a bag of Sachet Water which used to sell for GHS1.50 in 2016, is now being sold for GHS10.00 as at February 2023.
Also, a bag of cement which sold for GHS27.00 in December 2016 is today selling at a staggering GHS90.00 and last, but not least, sanitary pad which used to sell for averagely GHS2.50 in December 2016 is today selling for GHS20.00.
When everything is said and done, this is the true State of the Nation. This is what we feel when we go to the market. This is what we feel in our pockets. This is our everyday reality.
A reality in which babies do not have vaccines leading to a measles outbreak; the youth do not have jobs; the middle class faces imminent extinction; and the elderly are being deprived of their life-savings by the very government that swore to protect them.
This is not the Ghana we deserve; this is not the Ghana our forebears toiled and sacrificed for.
The NDC shall not be complicit in this mess. We are determined to work assiduously with the Ghanaian people through our superior patriotic policy alternatives and impressive track record to rescue our dear nation from the abyss.
We are certain that with God on our side, we shall succeed.
Thank you for your attention.