In his seventh address on the update on the COVID-19 fight, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo lifted the partial lockdown imposed on some parts of the country. As a result, people in Kasoa, Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area and Greater Accra Metropolitan Area had their freedom to move about without being asked questions by the security personnel.
President Akufo-Addo outlined some measures intended to mitigate the burden of the partial lockdown. These included the distribution of hot meals, free water for three months and electricity subsidy. The interventions were meant to cushion Ghanaians, especially the most vulnerable.
The question is, were the measures announced by the President novel and if so, whether another President could have done better. I think the only time the government can take credit for the measures it announced during the lockdown was if its measures were novel and were duly implemented.
If the ideas were novel and original, then the President deserves commendation. We must, however, note that government has no personal funds and that the President does not use his personal funds for anything in this country.
Ghanaians pay tax in various forms and government is heavily dependent on taxes. Where things are difficult, governments quickly run to the Brettonwoods Institutions for loans.
During the period, the World Bank had to give Ghana $1 billion to support the fight against COVID-19.This is money any President in power during the period would have got, so it is nothing special, nothing sterling.
In fact, some countries did not go for that money in Africa. Ghana on its own, despite reports of the robustness of the economy, could not handle the financial burden.
Coronavirus started from Wuhan province in China in December, 2019 and there was a lockdown. Italy followed with increased infections and deaths and a lockdown was announced. Since then, lockdowns have been announced all over but with announcements of mitigation measures. Generally, there have been incentives to support local business; there have been distribution of hot meals etc.
It should be stated emphatically that apart from the President making an exemplary gesture of advancing his three months’ salary to the COVID Fund, any fund used within the period, excluding the World Bank GHtf1 billion, is our fund, even with that one, we will all pay in the future.
As a testimony, the Finance Minister needed to seek approval from Parliament to spend some money. Those funds were not accrued by any special and creative leadership during the time and so before one sings praises to government, thoughts should be given to these matters.
Again, would another president, being in power during the times not announce similar packages or even better with the examples from the other places? Would another president have left its citizens to starve to death during the lockdown without contemplating hot meals for persons whose livelihoods had been interfered with?
Would another president not have purchased PPE? Would another president have held back information and not regularly addressed its citizens in the light of such practice all across the world? So, what is the creativity in all these and why the applause? Before one ventures into needless praise singing about the government’s COVID-19 measures, thought should be given to these considerations.
Maybe another president would have approached this timeously and differently. If you are a reader and you honestly believe that some other president in Ghana during the time would not have announced the minimum mitigation measures, then you are at liberty to sing praises for the exceptional government performance.
But why sing praises and indulge in self – adulation for simply applying the people’s own resources?
The writer is a lawyer and lecturer