IMANI Ghana’s penchant for criticizing the governing National Democratic Congress on any issue was perhaps crushed on Wednesday when former President Jerry John Rawlings sharply disagreed with the policy think tank’s position that President Mahama’s Independence Day address was cosmetic and lacked pointed measures to address the crisis facing the nation.
According to the group, President Mahama’s address did not propose any real solution to problems the country was facing.
IMANI’s criticism is in spite of the fact that the president, in his maiden Independence Day address, acknowledged the increase in poverty levels and pledged to implement policies that will expand the economy. He also challenged Ghanaians to take advantage of available opportunities to help build the nation instead of folding their arms and complaining.
But Vice President of IMANI Ghana, Kofi Bentil stated on Joy news that President Mahama delivered his address as though he was taking Ghanaians for granted.
“I didn’t hear anything particularly inspiring; I didn’t hear anything about the real issues that we are facing, the real solutions of the issues that we are confronted with.
“I am worried about the quality of leadership that we have now,” Mr. Bentil noted, charging that there must be “some real seriousness in dealing with the issues that we are confronted with.”
However former President Jerry John Rawlings quickly responded, saying the president’s address was one of the finest ever.
“The president captured it all in his speech, and I think we should pay attention to everything,” the former president added.
President Rawlings then referred to a portion of the address which said that government is working tirelessly to end the current energy and water crisis that have bedeviled the country in the last few months.
He also quoted President Mahama’s statement which said he is concerned about the current challenges, promising that the situation would be overcome in the shortest possible time.
President Mahama also urged Ghanaians in these times of energy and water crisis to be patriotic and not to abuse electricity and water and also avoid unauthorized connections.
Speaking on the theme “Partnership and innovation to building a better Ghana”, President Mahama said the resources of the country should not be used for the benefit of individuals but to the benefit of the entire nation, adding that the nation’s fight against poverty, ignorance and illiteracy is far from over even though Ghana has managed to win the fight against political intolerance.
The President also encouraged Ghanaians not to waste time on petty political squabbles because “we would be undermining the growth of the nation” and the respect that the nation commands within the international community.
President Mahama asked Ghanaians to seriously meditate on the second stanza of the National Anthem and called on all to eschew acts that would divide the country and focus on issues that would unite the country.
The President concluded his speech by singing the second stanza of the National Anthem to the admiration of all.
Former President Rawlings said no one can fault President Mahama for such candid statements.
The former president’s disagreement with IMANI Ghana mimics the assertion by the flag-bearer of the People’s National Convention (PNC) in the 2012 election, Hassan Ayariga, that “Even God, if He comes to Ghana today, IMANI people will find fault with Him, so who am I?”
An obviously frustrated Mr. Ayariga made the statement in reference to the persistent criticism of the governing NDC by IMANI, especially the Executive Director of IMANI Ghana, Franklin Cudjoe, and challenged him and the other leaders of his organization to “be honest and publicly confirm their membership of the NPP”.
This perceived political affiliation, Mr. Ayariga said, would always colour any analysis by the think tank against the NDC and other parties.
Just last week, IMANI Ghana cast doubt on the government’s ability to access the $3 billion Chinese loan despite signing the agreement a year ago.
The think tank raised red flags when government started the process to acquire the loan, and, according to its Director of Development Research, Bright Simmons, the $3 billion loan may be a mirage.
Despite persistent attempts to fend off suggestions that it is being hypocritical on various national issues, the Founding Director of IMANI Ghana, Franklyn Cudjoe, is on record of posting on his Facebook wall sometime in December last year that “Folks, let me be brutally frank with you, that the NPP is a more sensible party when it comes to dealing with dissent, at least intellectual dissent.”
Mr. Cudjoe said he is not privy to any insult directed at IMANI Ghana by the NPP.
A Tamale-based group, LEAD, subsequently accused IMANI Ghana of acting like an opposition party, criticizing almost everything the NDC government does.
Spokesperson for the group, B.Y. Alhassan then advised the government not be intimidated by such criticisms.