Events seem to have conspired to give Akufo-Addo more than a reasonable excuse to dismiss his cousin, Ken Ofori-Atta, if he truly desires to. But Ghana’s President has mounted a fierce resistance to impassioned pleas from the general public, and even by the NPPs parliamentary caucus, who persist with demands for wide-ranging changes to the economic management team.
Nonetheless, the winds of change are blowing at breakneck speed through the corridors of power. After years of wreaking economic havoc, Mr Ofori-Atta, facing a motion of censure, is currently before Parliament’s ad-hoc committee, where various allegations of conflict of interest and wilful neglect of his mandate, as finance minister, are being levelled against him.
Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, another relative of the President, and one of Ofori-Atta’s legal advisers for the public hearing, is determined to jump in front of the hand grenade parliament has thrown in his client’s direction. Otchere-Darko, a quick-tempered bloke, who exercises real influence in the political affairs of this government but does not necessarily issue formal directions or instructions on matters decided by cabinet ministers, has been loosely referred to as Ghana’s de facto ‘prime minister’, a moniker widely used in political circles and media — certainly one which irks some leading members of the NPP.
In fact, there’s a potent bi-partisan consensus that the embattled finance minister, who has been in office since 2017, should not step foot on the floor of parliament to articulate the next budget and policy statement. Neither is he the preferred choice for negotiating Ghana’s $3bn facility with the IMF. Under his watch, the cedi has nosedived as the world’s worst performing currency, falling by more than 50 per cent against the dollar in 2022.
Ghana’s debt is at 84.2 per cent of GDP, according to IMF data — and this is as a result of the reckless borrow-and-spend approach of the finance ministry. Not only has Mr Ofori-Atta failed to exercise the fiscal discipline required to administer such a crucial spending department, Ghana’s ‘exchequer’ also presides over a scandal-ridden ministry without a strategy to reverse the country’s cost-of-living crisis. As a government official who must act in our interest, Ofori-Atta and his subordinates seem to be more preoccupied with their own personal benefit.
Most recently, Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ investigative organization, Tiger Eye P. I., broadcasted a secret recording of Charles Adu-Boahen, junior finance minister, accepting bribe from a spy, who posed as an investor. Adu-Boahen, in exchange for the cash and a handsome cut on future deals, guaranteed the ‘investor’ access to high-level government contacts, such as the Vice President, Mahamadu Bawumia – and of, course, the VPs boss too – who he assured would grant the investor special favours. The exposé prompted Adu-Boahen’s removal from office.
The scandal has further undermined public confidence in Akufo-Addo’s presidency altogether. Ghana has endured months of widespread rage towards the government, whose mismanagement people blame for plunging the country into its worst economic crisis in decades.
Inflation has dwindled the purchasing power of many – and the entire nation has grown increasingly alarmed over how untenable the current state of affairs is. In August 2022, inflation was recorded at 33.9 per cent. For September 2022, it was 37.2 per cent. By October, it rose to 40.4 per cent. Petrol, at this present time of writing, is at ¢16.80 per litre, and the daily minimum wage is a mere ¢14.88. The 2022 World Bank Africa Pulse Report, only last month, ranked Ghana as the country with the highest food prices in sub-Sahara Africa.
It must be clear: There is no such thing as a fixed term for a government appointee with a no get-out provision. This is why even Article 69 of Ghana’s constitution provides a mechanism for impeaching a sitting President. Quite frankly, it’s meant for dire times like this, when a government becomes irreversibly hemmed in bizarre political and economic restraints.
NPP has, on far too many occasions, breached the social contract governing its relationship with the Ghanaian people. If trust is to be restored in Ghana’s politics, the electorate deserve a government that honours its promises and reasonably delivers on the policies stipulated in its manifesto. To change the direction of our Republic, we must change its leadership.