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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button [of Ghana]

Let me give you a summary for those who have yet to read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel or see the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

The main character of Fitzgerald’s fictional work, Benjamin Button, is born with a rare condition that makes him appear elderly at birth. Brad Pitt, who portrayed Benjamin Button in the movie, lives his life in reverse, growing younger as time passes.

This curious behaviour is often observed in politics. After years in power, many leaders or, let me say, rulers with minimal achievements act like the opposition during re-election campaigns. They make promises as if they have never been in power. This behaviour relies on the belief that the electorate has a short memory, quickly forgetting that similar promises previously hooked them.

A very distinctive case is at play here in Ghana. The ruling party’s flagbearer, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has been Vice President since 2017. Despite being in full power for the last seven and a half years, he has recently started highlighting measures he and his government should have taken.

If you think he is in any way embarrassed, please think again! With no restraint, he behaves like he is instead the opposition leader, repeating promises made by the opposition flag bearer, John Dramani Mahama, for policies that will happen only after the 2024 election.

As the December presidential election approaches, he is making fresh promises to be implemented in 2025, assuming he is elected president.

This ‘Benjamin Button’ of Ghana promises a tax amnesty for businesses and individuals and a flat tax to ease the burden on the business community. Interestingly, these promises are set for 2025 after implementing measures that have stifled business growth for almost eight years, leading to businesses collapsing and others relocating from Ghana.

He continues to promise to end the erratic power supply, commonly known as ‘dumsor,’ which has caused the country’s most dramatic energy shortages. Sure, from 2025, not now.

He also promises to scrap the e-levy, which his government introduced, with him as head of the economic management team, and the 10% tax on betting and lottery winnings—from 2025.

Interestingly, Mahama, who leads the opposition, and his party, the National Democratic Congress, have advocated for the government to take some of these measures to ease the burden and suffering of businesses and the citizenry. But they never listened.

Let’s see what some of the promised ‘river of honey and milk’ would look like if Dr Bawumia gets elected:

  1. Reform national resources governance so Ghana’s mineral resources are 100% Ghanaian… from 2025!
  2. Establish a bank for miners to offer them financial support… from 2025!
  3. Formalise small-scale mining so that every miner has a license and operates accordingly… from 2025!
  4. Buy the gold currently being smuggled out of the country at market price… from 2025!
  5. Bring 2000 MW of solar power… from 2025!
  6. Provide adequate teaching and learning materials and infrastructure development for all schools… from 2025!
  7. Offer free tertiary education for persons with disabilities… from 2025!
    And many, many more!

What is even strange is that the opposition leader is more restrained in making promises, aware that most of the above are just wild fantasies that would break Ghana’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions that support the country’s weak economy.

“In my campaign for the Presidency this year, I have focused on communicating well-considered policy options to restore strength to the economy and create jobs for our restless youth”, Mahama has stated, adding, “My experience and disposition are needed at this moment to provide the leadership necessary to address our myriad problems. Real work must go into winning back our people’s trust in democratic governance and structures.”

“Those whose glaring failures at economic management have sucked us into this vortex of despair despite their lofty talk in opposition and who now seek to flee from responsibility should not be rewarded with the Presidency of a nation in such deep crisis. Those who claim it is better to have an economy that has defaulted on debt, causing over a million bondholders, including elderly pensioners, to suffer financial haircuts, than one in which debt servicing was done timely without default and where no one suffered financial loss, cannot be taken seriously, and given the Presidency” he further stated in a public lecture at the Christian Service University in Kumasi on Wednesday, June 19, 2024.

For Dr Bawumia, whose political slogan is ‘IT IS POSSIBLE!’ a more honest slogan should be: ‘IT IS POSSIBLE… ONLY FROM 2025!’

Stan Xoese Dogbe is a Ghanaian Journalist and Political Communications Strategist.
You can contact him at [email protected]. Facebook & X Accounts: @StanDogbe.

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