Last week, in his maiden interaction with an overly friendly subset of the Ghanaian press corps------it is worth pointing out that perceived hostile journalists were inexplicably kept away ----- the President, Mr. Akuffo Addo put forward his best face against a backdrop of bad economic news and a cloud of lawlessness hanging ominously over the country.
He answered some questions matter of factly, and brushed off others with sarcasm and wit. All told, the president was eloquent and his usual bubbling self and used the occasion to lay out his broad plans for the country.
However, I found the President's answers to some questions evasive and a tad bit dishonest.Take for instance, his claim that his government was saddled with huge debts after it assumed office in January this year.
This frivolous claim repeated ad nauseum by Mr. Addo on the campaign trail last year and echoed relentlessly by some in his cabinet has falsehood written all over it. To blame your predecessor for debts that were incurred to pump some juice into a stalled economy, is to be frankly speaking, disingenuous.
How on earth, with empty national coffers, could the past government have met its obligations to Ghanaians if it had decided against borrowing from external sources to finance projects that are now benefitting Ghanaians?
Debts were incurred by the previous government in good faith, and for a good purpose, and the results are visible for all to see.
The way the President and his men talk about borrowing makes you wonder if they will ever contract loans during their time in office; in fact, they have rendered the concept of borrowing toxic. But given the sorry state of the economy, they will go cup in hand to international lenders; it is just a matter of time they realize the folly of their rhetoric.
I think it is time the President and his surrogates jettison the strategy of always blaming the Mahama administration for every conceivable economic mishap.
It serves no useful purpose and diverts attention from the huge work of transforming the country's economy. Everyone knows Mr. Addo inherited a wobbly economy, but he owns it now.
Let me make this analogy, however simplistic: if you sink bucket-loads of money into a house or a vehicle and realize later to your chagrin that the home or car is in real poor shape, your paramount concern thereafter is: Getting it Fixed.
There is a lesson worth learning here: borrowing is an essential part of running a country; that is an undeniable fact of modern governance.
Every nation does it, even the wealthiest. The United States is indebted to China to the tune of billions of dollars. Let it be known that no nation will last a day without borrowing to supplement its internal and external earnings.
And the president's answer to a question relating to the International Monetary Fund and whether Ghana would honor the 3 year deal with the world renown financier had me scratching my head.
Mr. Addo said emphatically that his government would part ways with the IMF. In a word, the IMF can go to hell, Ghana can stand on its own.
Fixing our economy will require a massive infusion of foreign capital, and the IMF despite its stained reputation with most African countries, has always been our last most reliable port of call.
It has been there for us when we needed its huge financial resources. To sever ties with a financial institution that has always thrown us a lifeline raises a lot of eyebrows.
The President seems by his rather forceful assertion to be signalling that external borrowing, particularly from Western financial institutions, is abhorrent. Against this background, how does the President justify or rationalize the nearly 15 billion dollars financial package from China? Was it a loan or a giveaway?
Did the government approach China because it, unlike the IMF, does not attach conditions such as ----fighting corruption and respecting human rights ---- to its loans?Beware of the Chinese juggernaut Mr. Addo, before it runs roughshod over our country.
It was refreshing once again to hear the President rail against political vigilante groups. The alphabet soup of vigilante groups ---- The Azorka Boys, the Bolgatanga Bull Dogs, Delta Force, the Invincible Forces, and others, foisted on unsuspecting Ghanaians by the two major political parties, have been a thorn in our body politic and caused us sleepless nights with their brazen attacks on state institutions and individuals.
But will verbally addressing the vigilante groups diminish their obviously misplaced youthful exuberance? I am doubtful which explains why I wish Mr. Addo had gone a step further: banning them altogether.
Overall, the press conference was a success; the one blemish on it, however, was the absence of opposition media.