The 1992 constitution of Ghana has given us the privilege to have six general elections which has all been peaceful. The recent being the 2016 election was fiercely contested by the two main political parties- NPP and NDC. Of course the democratic trajectory we have taken leaves us with only one turn – to kowtow to jaw-jaw instead of war-war.
Democracy has afforded us the opportunity to decide for ourselves in choosing our political leaders through voting, who oversee the abundant resources our country is blessed with. I don’t intend to bore you with them but just to mention a few: Ghana has gold, diamond, bauxite and manganese. Cocoa, timber, and the new ‘kid’ oil, add up to the richness of resource we continue to enjoy. The former British colony got her former name – Gold Coast due to the abundance of the precious ore on the shores- now Ghana.
Ghana has had seven presidential and parliamentary elections since 1992. The first presidential election was won by the transitioned PNDC-NDC’s charismatic candidate Flt Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, who ruled for 8years.
The next 8years would be taken over by the NPP presidential candidate, John Agyekum Kuffour, affectionately called ‘gentle giant’ who also had the chance to serve as president. J.E.A. Mills warmly referred to as ‘asomdwee hene’ served as the first gentleman of the land until his demise in July, 2012. May his soul continue to rest in peace. John Dramani Mahama will complete the term of his boss and win another 4year term which ended in 2016.
President Akufo-Addo began his first term in office after winning the 2016 election. With a clarion call, He encouraged Ghanaians to be part of his administration by playing the role expected of citizens, “The change can and should start now. I urge you to be citizens, not spectators: citizens, not subjects. Responsible citizens building our communities and our nation. Let us work until the work is done”, He said in his speech after he was sworn in as the Fifth President of the fourth republic.
Ghana can boast of six vice presidents as stipulated by article 60 of the 1992 constitution since its inception. Kow Nkensen Arkaah (1993-1997), John Attah Mills (1997-2001), Aliu Mahama (2001-2009), John D. Mahama (2009-2012), Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur (2012-2017) and Mahamudu Bawumia (2017 to present). While article 60 of the constitution clearly specifies the roles and functions of Vice Presidents, there has been some defining moments about the Vice Presidents we have had under the fourth republic.
Interestingly, the sixth Vice President has added a redefining touch to the office that deserve credit and applause. Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia first became the vice presidential candidate in the 2008 election when he was introduced into politics as a novice. Before his involvement into politics, he was the deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana. He has to wait until 2016 to be called His Excellency though. As stated earlier, he came as a novice but now leading a very vital phase in Ghana digital space as vice president. Aside playing his roles defined by the
constitution, he has been perhaps the most active and purposeful Vice President to have graced the political scene at such high office. He was considered as inexperienced politician but he has grown in the role and has become a pawn in the flesh of now opposition NDC during and after their reign. With what became known
as ‘Bawunomics’, he constantly proved with figures as he organized town hall meetings and lectures to disprove and proffered alternatives. Some political analysts suggest that, then vice presidential candidate Bawumia ‘single handedly’ won the 2016 election for the NPP.
He is seen as a calm figure within the party and has grown into the role as a Vice President. Perhaps the economy so far has not met the expectation of some Ghanaians but the economic figures have improved and no longer where they used to be. As the Head of Economic Management team (EMT), his leadership has led to a transformation in the economic indicators such as interest rate, inflation rate and Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) figures which defines the health of any economy. Interest rate has declined from 25.50% in 2016 to 16.00% in 2019. Inflation, which is the overall increase in prices of goods and services has declined from 17.5% in 2016 to 7.9 in December, 2019. GDP has seen a sturdy expansion in the last three years, growing from 42.8 billion to 65.5 billion in 2018.
While this is not the focus of this piece, it is worth mentioning. The Vice President has done a good job in the last three years as a leader of the EMT. I am sorry if you are offended by this but this reminds me of an article I read from Elizabeth Ohene couple of days ago, titled ‘‘The fear of calling good, good’’. Maybe I should recommend that article for you, perhaps that will heal a ‘syndrome’.
The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has spearhead a positive agenda that will forever impact Ghana-the Digitization Agenda. These projects embarked on seeks to formalize the Ghanaian economy and bring about inclusion as Ghana economy is largely informal.
The ‘digitization touch of Bawumia’ has been felt across various sectors of the Ghanaian economy including the introduction of Zipline Technology’s, a medical drone programme, which is helping in healthcare delivery especially to the hard-to-reach communities of Ghana.
Currently with offices in North East, Ashanti, Greater Accra and Eastern Regions, it is believed to be a game changer in the health sector. Also citizens can now renew their national health insurance cards with comfort and ease which hitherto was a battle of long queues and sleepless nights.
The Port Paperless System initiated in 2017 has led to drastic reduction in clearing goods and turn-around times at Ghana ports. This initiative has brought about massive transformation in efficiency and has increased revenue.
The use of technology has had similar impact at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA). It has helped eliminate to some extent the presence of ‘goro boys’ which used to be a major problem for DVLA. The Vice President continue to lead changes in this field. Another vital initiative in his digitization drive is the much talked about Digital Property Addressing System. This provides specific addresses to properties throughout the country.
It is that believed, this will help address many challenges in the business environment and also resolving land issues in the country. With the Ghanaian economy being largely informal, the introduction of Mobile Payments
Interoperability platform has created the opportunity to move money to different networks with ease in the quest for cashless payment economy, which hitherto was headache for many.
The Vice President has had a touch at the passport office. The application process for the issuance of passport has moved online, making it difficult for ‘goro boys’ to exploit unsuspecting Ghanaians. Business registration among others are among the plethora of initiatives that has been introduced into the Ghanaian system. Some of these innovations didn’t sail through without resistance and as usual with new systems, the resistance and challenges were expected.
The aim behind these innovations are to reduce the bottlenecks and difficulties in accessing public service and also increase revenue while reducing thievery in public service. Even though not a perfect system yet, it’s a good project by a Vice President. Technology cannot be left out in our world for its efficiency and making life easier and better. Let’s embrace technology, perfect our systems and make life easier for all.
This however in no way negates the important roles played by the various vice presidents Ghana has produced. Their names will forever be written in Gold in the history books of Ghana. Long Live Ghana and God bless our homeland.