The NDC could not categorically place on record or name a single social intervention they had implemented during the Presidency of HE John Dramani Mahama when challenged by the Vice-President, HE Dr Mahamudu Bawumia. The pretence not to understand the question, or better still the lackadaisical approach in their attempted response, presented a picture of a government that did not put the interest of the people first. The answers were laughable at best.
For the purposes of this article, we will delve into what a social intervention is, and what Nana Addo has done to make lives easier for the Ghanaian people in the two years since assuming office. A simple basic acceptable definition of Social Intervention can be stated below, “an action which involves the intervention of a government or an organization in social affairs of society.”
Bertrand Badré, World Bank Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer in 2014, shared in an opinion piece: "The Importance of Infrastructure for Economic Growth, Jobs, and Access to Markets and Services, from air and marine transport links, to good roads, telecommunications and energy generation, all are needed for provision of reliable services, and to enable local businesses to grow and expand".
It is important to note that a state's obligation for providing basic infrastructure cannot be termed as an intervention. Therefore, infrastructure becomes an important pillar in a country's existence and in the ordinary cause of events, governments need to build up the infrastructure of their countries, to become the catalyst of progress and development.
The above statement clearly indicates why the NDC could not answer Dr Bawumia's question.
Finally, a response provided by Mr Ofosu-Ampofo, now Chairman of NDC that the extension of electricity to rural areas was a social intervention by the NDC, confirmed everyone's suspicion. Social interventionism differs from the provision of social infrastructure and amenities, such as toilets, electricity, schools, hospitals, water, roads, interchanges, amongst others.
At the micro level, it is up to the individual to take advantage of the infrastructure of a country, this is where individuals are found wanting due to the different levels of education, strengths, job opportunities and basically their ability to make ends meet. This is where Social interventionism becomes an integral part of bridging the human development gaps identified.
When HE JA Kuffuor took over the reins of government in 2001, (NPP's first bite under this Fourth Republican dispensation,) the country witnessed many notable social interventions including GYEEDA, LEAP, Maternal Care, School Feeding et cetera which were among the first intervention to be introduced by an NPP government.
Ironically a Centre-right party, the NPP had no business in engaging in social interventionism, but such was the extent of poverty and low levels of income and the national security risk posed by the levels of youth unemployment that it was crucial that the interventions were implemented. These interventions brought tremendous benefit and relief to many Ghanaians.
It is worthy to note that the NDC which prides itself as a social democrat cancelled interventions like the Free Maternal Care, Nurses and Teacher trainee allowances and others, inflicting much difficulties and hardship on poor pregnant mothers and student at the nursing and teacher training colleges and institutions.
President Nana Akufo-Addo's record With 2 years already spent under the Nana Addo administration, The President has reinstated all these interventions except for the free Maternal care, which has been placed under the expanded NHIS program being implemented to cater for that and has also included two more timely and significant social interventions in the form of Free SHS and NABCO.
Teacher trainee and Nursing trainee allowances generated heated debates prior to the 2016 elections. The NDC led by John Mahama had cancelled them in 2014. Nana Addo, mindful of the fact the cancellation presented the blockage of much-needed oxygen to the Trainees promised to restore them. The NDC mocked and scoffed at the idea because they knew there wasn't any way the President, Nana Addo could raise resources to reinstate the allowances. Needless to mention here that it is back in full operation.
Prior to the implementation of the flagship Free SHS policy, enrollment rates for SHS students was depressing, the number of children who could not access Senior High Schools education was astronomical. It meant that the future human resource of the country was in jeopardy.
The statement below from the Finance Minister at the presentation of the 2018 budget sums up the gap between qualified students and enrollment; “Mr Speaker let me say how pleased His Excellency the President is, that in 2018, 270,000 young Ghanaians (90,000 in 2017/2018 and 180,000 in 2018/2019) who would not have been able to access secondary education were able to attend to do so because of Free SHS. We cannot downplay how significant this is to build a future for every citizen of this land”.
Over 362,000 students have benefited under the FSHS for the first academic year at cost of over GHS800m. The second year saw a bigger enrolment of 472,730 (years 1 & 2) and will cost GHS 1.3 billion.
Over 270,000 students will be staying at home, without the Free SHS Policy. “The President has in keeping with his promise to restore allowances to teachers and nursing training instructed for funds to be released to pay the allowances. As a result, the government budgeted for GHS252.2m to pay Nursing Trainees in 2017 alone.
It is, therefore, evident that the NPP government of Nana Addo has continued the laudable need to cushion poorer members of the society to help ends meet, whilst working very hard to improve and change the fundamental structures of the economy. We believe this approach is more sustainable and superior to the "borrow and build" approach of the opposition NDC party.
Whilst HE John Mahama pulls down interventions, Nana Addo restores and puts them up and add on.
The relief and immense benefits the Free SHS Policy and the Trainees' allowances have brought is what has characterized the Nana Addo presidency, a balanced approach to nation-building, a Centre-Right party yet mindful of the need to help the weaker members of our society.
These and many other reasons compelled the Professionals for Change to support the NPP government and to continue to do so.
By Clifford Bansah, Head, Research and Advocacy, Professionals for Change (P4C)