President John Mahama yesterday blasted the minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Parliament for accusing him of throwing the country into huge debt due to unbridled borrowing.
He dismissed claims that his government has misused the various loans it has acquired, saying that all the loans received parliamentary approval.
Mr Mahama said if the minority NPP is now asking what the loans have been used for, then it means that the members of the party have been sleeping in Parliament.
‘You say we haven’t used the loans for anything and that we are misusing monies. Meanwhile every loan we take is taken through Parliament for approval so what have they been doing? Have they been sleeping?
‘They approve the loans in Parliament; there is no single loan we have taken without taking it through Parliament; they should come and tell us what they have been doing,’ the president jabbed the NPP MPs at a rally in the Volta regional capital to round up his ‘Changing Lives’ tour.
John Mahama, in an attempt to refute claims that his administration has created more debts for Ghana than any other government, ended up affirming the claims.
According to him, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), since the time of the late President Atta Mills, has contributed 50 percent of the current external debts of Ghana since 1980.
He said the external debts alone amounts to $14 billion.
He explained that governments between 1980 and 2000 contributed nine percent while the New Patriotic Party government in eight years – from 2001 to 2008 – contributed 41%.
The current NDC government and that of Atta Mills have in seven years – from 2009 to 2015 – so far contributed 50%. This figure is higher than the debts contributed by the erstwhile NPP government which had eight years in power.
The NPP at the time of leaving power in 2009 left behind a total debt of GH¢9.5 billion but the Mahama administration, as at September 2015, had pushed it to GH¢92.1 billion; and more loans have been contracted within the last three months, pushing the debt profile further.
The debt contribution of the current government, which the president sought to defend, could actually go up since he has one more year to go. If the high spending phenomenon of election years is anything to go by, then the president may have shot himself in the foot.
Rabbit Press Conference
President Mahama in a bid to douse the backlash of his incompetent tag comments in a face-saving remark, noted that he owes no one an apology for chastising the opposition which continuously brands his government as incompetent.
To this end, he described the press conference by the NPP to respond to his comments as ‘a rabbit press conference,’ adding that he does not intend to respond to it.
The NPP at a press conference on Wednesday maintained that President Mahama could not escape from criticisms after failing to deliver on the mandate for which he was voted into office.
The acting National Chairman of the party, Freddie Blay, who addressed the media, opined that the president would be subjected to public scrutiny whether he likes it or not.
But in an apparent response to the opposition party, President Mahama called their bluff, adding that he was focused on hunting for an elephant ahead of the 2016 elections; hence, ‘I will not waste time to kill a rabbit.’
He however urged the NPP to focus on uniting its front since ‘one mark of competent leadership is to manage people, unite people.’
Mahama Mocks NPP
The president did not miss the opportunity to deride the NPP following the crisis in the party.
The Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition is busily engaged in an internal power struggle as the party has suspended Paul Afoko, the National Chairman.
Afoko insists he is the chairman, even though Mr Freddie Blay has been appointed as the acting chairman by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party.
President Mahama quizzed, “Who is your Chairman?” as he mocked the NPP. He said he could not respond to the opposition NPP because he was confused as to who is the chairman of the largest opposition party now.
‘On the day that Opana [referring to Freddie Blay] was doing his press conference to respond to me, somebody [Afoko] too was doing a press conference accusing him and saying he is going to court,’ Mahama stated.
‘This man said ‘I’m acting chairman of the party’ and this one said ‘I’m chairman of the party’ so I thought Opana will rather pay attention to the competence of uniting his party than addressing press conferences on me.’
He urged supporters of the ruling NDC to ‘maintain the peace and unity in our party’ ahead of Saturday’s primaries and pleaded that they should give him 100% endorsement at the primaries.