LET’S BE CLEAR: BAWUMIA CAUSED THIS ECONOMIC MESS AND MASS SUFFERING YET HIS ENTIRE ACTIONS ARE SELF SERVING.
I am not cutting NADAA and Ken a slack. No. I am not. Neither am I suggesting that they are not culpable. They are fully culpable, especially to the extent that they have only sought to enrich themselves while destroying other people’s businesses, not displaying competence, supervised widespread cronyism and the worst economic indices that Ghana has ever faced.
But perhaps, the worst sin on the people of Ghana was making Bawumia a poster boy for economic wizardry with the magic wand to transform Ghana. For most people who know how the NPP works, I dare say it was deliberate and convenient for NADAA to thrust a novice and clueless person into the CENTRE of the economic mess they were most certainly going to create.
However, in all of this, the context must clearly situate the main person behind the current economic anxiety and the mess we face. How did Ghana end up with a Vice President and Head of Economic Management team who cannot correctly calculate inflation or even the depreciation rate of the cedi and had to be thought this elementary lesson by one of the professionals of the NDC that he so gleefully touted as incompetent? How did Ghana end up with a Vice President whose underpinning economic philosophy wobbles at the least convenience; who leads tax initiatives that are counter reactive to his own touted industrialization policy; who engages in extreme mendacity and outright lies and doubles down even when the facts expose him? Worse of all, how did we end up with a Vice President and Head of Economic Management Team who shirks responsibility and refuses to lead in the face of the worst economic adversity Ghana has ever faced?
This Vice President has led us into uncharted territory, driven mainly by unproven initiatives and costly experimental ideas. Let me explain my conviction about Bawumia being the main Ghanaian problem. Aside his divisive politics, it is also quite clear that a significant portion of the economic policies implemented by the NADAA government are touted Bawumia ill-conceived ideas. Do you remember the one district, one dam, one constituency, one million cedis, the development authorities as they then were, the quite clearly botched sinohydro credit facility that had a shifting figure from 20 billion dollars to its current meagre amount, and the bullish increase in the participation of foreign entities in the local bonds market?
These initiatives were problematic on several fronts.
(1) They only sought short-term reliefs, which were unsustainable with the dire consequences we face presently as an outcome. As an instance, our exchange rate has suffered massively anytime international investors panic and seek to move their funds.
(2) They introduced unnecessary friction into the public sector bureaucracy, especially the disastrous development authorities and the supposed initiatives of about a million cedis per constituency. Why for instance was NABCO not situated under the national service scheme or YEA?
(3) Were costly and a massive waste of money with no clear sustainable medium to long-term impact on social equity, upward economic mobility, improvement in livelihoods and business growth.
(4) Exposes Bawumia as a person who is not susceptible to reasoned argument, unwilling to engage experts, especially within the public sector bureaucracy and who have dissenting opinions.
I wonder what happened to the experienced economic managers within the NPP party during this onslaught of Bawumia and his hatchet men on our national purse and the future of the youth and our children. Clearly, through various machinations, they were either sidelined or booted out.
Fortunately, Ken Ofori-Atta seems to have realised the abyss that a blind following of Bawumia has led him into and his last budget showed an attempt to walk back most of these ill-conceived initiatives albeit a bit late.
It is clear to see that Bawumia has conveniently avoided discussing the economic mess he has created and sought to find new ally’s and new stuff to occupy his time. He presents the argument that the things that occupy his mind in recent times are critical to national economy building. Interesting, because so also is agriculture, health and indeed every activity of government. The shallowness of his arguments actually tells us a lot about his capacity to lead.
Because leadership also involves appropriate prioritisation, it is quite clear that the most important consideration for Ghanaians at present is the economic mess, yet our Vice President presents an argument that a national identification (ID) project that does not need his focus, is more valuable than a thousand interchanges.
Indeed, the penchant of Bawumia for exaggerated extremes must raise a lot of questions about the impact of his academic credentials on his work. I say this because, academics are usually careful of extremes and often try to couch their language in a manner that leaves room for known-unknowns, and unknowns-unknowns. Yet our Vice President prefers the spectacular rhetoric even if not substantiated by the bare facts. Even when officials of his own government seek to respectfully correct him, he rather doubles down. How can one person think everyone else is always wrong and he is always right? This underscores my reasoned argument that Bawumia is not fit for purpose.
The most important qualities, in my view, that the leader of the EMT must have are (a) credibility (b) a consensual approached underpinned by balanced thinking. My view is that Bawumai lacks these qualities. Credibility is key because stakeholders must trust your utterances and believe in your good intentions. In building credibility, leaders of EMT must know when to reconsider their actions and initiatives and be bold to admit failures when they occur. Nations such as the UK and the USA have in recent times had leaders of their economic management team admit failures, accept blame and chart a new course on the basis of scientific evidence. There is indeed strength rather than weakness in admitting you are wrong. The UK Prime Minister demonstrated this recently. Yet in our case, Bawumia has not offered us a new course of action neither has he admitted that any of his policies have been a great travesty. Rather, he engages in blame game, doubles down on his disastrous policies, seeks to pretend he no more leads the economic management team with utter silence, or merely engages in outright lies and artless mendacity.
Secondly his approach has not been consensual and his views lack balance, instead bothering on unconventional and untested economic philosophies.
Nothing short of an unconditional apology will save Bawumia’s buttered image and the loud silence will not make us oblivious to his responsibility for this mess. If Bawumia thinks there is an argument that can separate him from this mess, he should think again. We remember him in Parliament in full support of the Finance Minister, nodding in approval at every sentence. We remember him touting the bullish increase in foreign investor participation in our local bond markets as a spectacular innovation, we remember him defending the ridiculous collapse of local banks which quite clearly had a disastrous consequence, and we remember that he led the discussions for one of the first loan agreements for Ghana under NADAA which is the sinohydro deal that has had a moving figure of the size of the facility and has been underwhelming in its impact on sustainable livelihoods despite adding significant amounts to our debt stock.
Talk is indeed cheap and the touted economic ‘wizkids’ fear to confront conversations about the Ghanaian economic crisis is a classic schadenfreude
The thoughts of the above piece are those of the MP for Bolgatanga Central, Isaac Adongo. They do not in any way, represent the thoughts of A1 Radio, subsidiary of Agreed Best Communication Group.