The New Patriotic Party (NPP) yesterday welcomed President John Mahama into the hot seat of the presidency, raising a number of probing questions about his credibility.
The chairman of the party, Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, who fired the first shot, discredited the now Mahama-Amissah-Arthur led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government since, in his opinion, they had nothing new to offer Ghanaians; insisting that with the two in the driving seat, “‘the value is the same”.
Within the relatively short period of his Presidency, the NPP Chairman said, “we in the NPP have cause to worry about the incompetence shown by President John Mahama,” citing him for complicity in issues of corruption, economic mismanagement, mismanagement of the cedi and a host of others.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra yesterday, Jake indicated that “the President’s own active involvement in some of the most scandalous contracts and loan agreements over the last few years mean that Ghanaians have more reasons now to worry about corruption than before.”
The press conference was held minutes after a delegation from the NDC, led by Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, general secretary of the party, had paid a surprise visit to the Asylum Down headquarters of the NPP, to thank them for their show of support during the funeral of the President John Evans Atta Mills.
Jake said, “President John Mahama was the same man who, against all competent advice, signed us up to the allegedly most corrupt loan agreement ever contracted by any government of Ghana, the $10billion STX housing deal” in which Ghanaians were to be fleeced of $1.5billion for the construction of 30,000 flats, half of them single bedrooms.
The said deal, which was brokered by Mr. Mahama who was then Vice President, allowed the Korean company (Messrs STX) to walk away with a staggering $264million in the supposed ‘political risk insurance.’
The NPP said, “We still do not know where our sovereign guarantee is and the Korean partners are demanding $17million in court for no work done.”
The NPP Chairman added, “Mahama is also responsible for the acquisition of the Embraer 190 presidential jet, disguised as a military jet.”
A deal, he said, included what he described as ‘a ridiculously inflated price’ of $1million for a staircase, $1million for entertainment package and $17million for a hangar to park the plane.
Similarly, the NPP accused the President of being the face of the NDC broken promises, having championed the supposed SADA project whose fate remained unknown.
What seemed to annoy the NPP Chairman and his lieutenants the most was not the fact that the concept was borrowed from the NPP’s plan to set up the Northern Development Authority but the fact that the promise of an initial start-up capital of GH¢200 million and a further GH¢100 million every year was neglected, just like the affordable housing project started by previous Kufuor-NPP administration.
The NPP, as an alternative government, strongly believed that “SADA and STX clearly epitomize headline projects championed by President John Mahama, which have failed,” insisting that “his presidency does not inspire any confidence that public funds are safe.”
Furthermore, Jake said the fact that President Mahama, who was then the Vice President, led the Economic Management team that the late President Mills put in place to manage Ghana’s economy for more than three-and-a-half years, together with now Vice President Amissah-Arthur, who was then Governor of the Bank of Ghana, in charge of Monetary Policy, “shows that the same team that failed to deliver on the most important thing in our lives, the economy, are the same team who are in charge now”.
For this reason, the NPP chairman insisted that “President John Mahama and Vice President Amissah-Arthur are most responsible for the economic hardships that Ghanaians are suffering now” not because they only failed to manage the economy or deliver on the trust that President Mills had in them but also in view of the fact that “they failed the people of Ghana and cannot be trusted or expected to offer anything new”.
For the NPP, “nothing has changed with the coming into office of Mahama-Amissah Arthur’s uninspiring caretaker team”.
The main opposition has on behalf of Ghanaians appealed to the duo (President Mahama and his Vice) to “drive the nation gently, like a spare tyre, to the December general election for Ghanaians to hold their own referendum on the performance of this NDC government”.
The NPP accused the President of having a hand in dissipating the country’s already scanty resources into the payment of not only gargantuan but also fraudulent judgment debts to individuals and corporate institutions under strange and bizarre circumstances.
That, according to the Chairman of the party, was evident in the fact that “the President has also been part of an administration and indeed had oversight of the Ministry of Finance that doled out GH¢642 million in the payment of so-called judgment debts, with records showing that a majority of these payment were procured by fraudulent means and also through arbitrary settlements”.
He asked “Ghanaians want to know what President John Mahama is going to do differently about corruption to show he is committed to fighting corruption”.
Perhaps, the NPP said, “he can show his commitment by taking action against the likes of former Attorney General Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, Deputy Attorney General Ebow Barton-Odro, Finance Minister Dr Kwabena Duffuor and other NDC functionaries implicated in this saga” whilst ensuring that the nation retrieved the GH¢51.2million ‘fraudulently’ paid to Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
For this and other reasons, the NPP said, “this election (2012) is about our future. It is about the performance of this third NDC government, and the incompetent, corrupt and uninspiring leadership they have provided; the gross mismanagement of the economy; the falling cedi with its inherent impact on trade, from big business to the street hawker; the rising cost of living; and the hypocrisy, lies, propaganda and broken promises”.
That, Jake said, was because “Ghana cannot afford to live under four more years of failure”, insisting that “what Ghana needs is leadership genuinely concerned for the people with the will and the capacity to increase the prosperity of its people”.
“Ours will not be a government of lies and propaganda, but of real action.
“Ghanaians are not expecting anything new from President John Mahama in the last few months of the NDC. He represents no real hope for the youth of this country in addressing things that matter to them most: education, skills, jobs and accommodation.
He has no new ideas for the struggling businessmen and women of Ghana. He gives the country anxiety rather than hope on the big issue of responsible management of public resources.
Ghanaians are worried because the economy is being handled in a manner reminiscent of the NDC’s mishandling of the economy in 2000. We do not need to return to HIPC status,” he concluded.