Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia wants to be Ghana's president, but his past may haunt this dream. The vice president, before assuming office and shortly after taking up the top job, made many crucial promises that have since remained unfulfilled. YEN.com.gh compiles a list of four of those economic and social promises and how they can affect his presidential ambitions.
There is no doubt that Dr Mahamudu Bawumia helped Nana Akufo-Addo win the 2016 elections. From 2012 to 2016, he was unrelenting on campaign platforms, expertly jabbing then-president John Mahama and his vice at the time, the late Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, with his witty punchlines.
In the run-up to the 2016 election, Dr Bawumia was the economic whizz-kid with the answers to all of Ghana's problems; he was the crowd puller, the toast of academic and political lectures.
Bawumia was simply loved on campaign platforms, and he milked it. He made many timely promises that drew audiences towards him and the NPP. This eventually translated into votes when the time mattered most. And then more promises and highfaluting statements followed.
But while these promises were great at winning the hearts and minds of Ghanaians, they have become the ghosts haunting his presidential ambition. The reason is simple: they have not been fulfilled. With only about a year to the end of the current government, which he hyped and helped bring to power, many of the great ideas remain in a coma.
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YEN.com.gh has compiled a list of four critical campaign promises that remain unfulfilled that make nonsense of the vice president's desire to replace Nana Akufo-Addo as NPP flagbearer and hopefully Ghana's next president.
1. Government will move Ghana's economy from taxation to production
With just two months to the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections, then vice-presidential candidate of the opposition NPP, Dr Bawumia, assured voters that a vote for him and Nana Akufo-Addo on December 7 would mean a vote for prudent economic decisions.
Hyped as Ghana's "Economic Messiah" at the time, he promised that a government with him as the head of the Economic Management Team will move the country from taxation to production.
“During the NDC administration, taxes were even imposed on condoms and cutlasses. This has increased the burden on the private sector and is a disincentive to production. To address these challenges, the NPP will shift the focus of economic policy away from taxation to production. So, we are going to move away from taxation to production," he disclosed at the Trade Fair Center in Accra.
By 2022, political analysts and economists have passed off that promise among the unfulfilled ones, something they believe is bad for his credibility.
As part of the government to shore up domestic revenue under the $3 billion IMF programme, Ghana’s Parliament, on March 31, 2023, passed three new tax bills. For many, the new tax bills and others revived not long ago represent a stab in the back of Ghanaians by the Akufo-Addo administration in general and Bawumia in particular.
2. Ghana won't borrow because "there is money in this country"
Ghana's economic challenges under the Bawumia-led Economic Management Team have significantly been caused by excessive borrowing. According to the IMF, a main feature of Ghana's severe economic and financial crisis is an unsustainable debt burden.
This recent assessment is bad for Dr Bawumia's campaign because he once won the hearts of many Ghanaians when he said Ghana did not have to borrow in the first place.
This famous quote is attributed to him:
"I worked at the Bank of Ghana and so I know that Ghana is rich. It is because the managers of the economy are incompetent and so all that they think of is borrowing. The NPP if voted will harness resources to develop Ghana. I am telling you we can develop Ghana without borrowing, the money is here."
Between 2008 and 2016, under the late John Evans Atta Mills and John Mahama’s leadership, the country borrowed GH¢)112, 426.14 billion. Mahama’s share of the debt during his tenure was GHS 86,263.4 billion cedis.
When Nana Akufo-Addo took over in 2017, in just five years, the government added over GH¢400 billion to the country’s debt stock - twice more than the debt that the John Mahama-led NDC incurred in nominal terms. All these happened while Bawumia was still a key part of the Akufo-Addo government.
3. The Ghana cedi depreciation has been arrested and the keys given to the IGP
Another unfortunate outcome of the policies under the current administration is the steep depreciation of the Ghana cedi.
Bloomberg reported in October 2022 that Ghana’s cedi slumped unprecedently to become the world’s worst-performing currency last year. There has been a bit of a short-lived appreciation since then, but the local currency has returned to "losing ways."
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However, Bawumia once touted the superior economic management credentials of the Nana Akufo-Addo government when he said humorously that the depreciation of the cedi, which was a major problem before they took office, had been arrested.
“When we came in, [the cedi] was running, essentially we have arrested it, and the IGP has the keys, he’s locked it up, we want to make sure we pursue sound policies to keep the cedi stable, it has appreciated for this year," he said when he appraised his government's 100 days in office.
In April 2017, when Bawumia was blaming the Mahama government's poor policies for a bad Ghana cedi-US dollar exchange rate, $1 sold for a little above GH¢4. Currently, amid Bawumia's presidential campaign, $1 is selling for about GH¢11 -- a steeper decline.
4. Akufo-Addo government will give one million to each constituency
Dr Bawumia's fantastic but unfulfilled promises cut across periods when he was in opposition and when he was at the helm of affairs.
One of the promises he made two years into his administration was that every constituency will receive $1 million for development.
“For us as government, we are very much concerned about the poor and rural communities. Many a time development goals pursued by governments have been elitist. They focus on building the huge hospitals, theatres, museums etc., in the cities to the neglect of the basic needs of the rural folks...
"That is why we have designed and implemented the $1 million per constituency policy to cater for the basic needs of the poor like toilets, drainages, dams for all year round farming, community water, footbridges, community town centres, reshaping roads, renovation of schools, provision of desks to schools, and many more," he said.
Before the party came to power, he repeated the promise on many platforms, begging the question, what happened to the promise? And if Bawumia can be taken seriously.
Since Bawumia occupies a critical position in the Akufo-Addo administration as head of the Economic Management Team, he plays a key role in how the economic policy is shaped. In essence, the fruits of the current government's economic policy mirror Bawumia's competencies as a likely president of Ghana.
Bawumia says he sacrificed his political career for NPP
Meanwhile, YEN.com.gh has reported in a separate story that Dr Bawumia has justified his desire to lead the NPP in 2024, citing his contribution to the party during the 2012 Election Petition.
The vice president said while others were giving excuses why they could not mount the Supreme Court witness box, he gladly did the needful.
The vice president, who is in the NPP flagbearer race with nine others, told party delegates in Suame recently that he sacrificed his political career for the party.
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