On July 28, 2020, Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia published an article outlining what he considered were 50 achievements of President Akufo-Addo and the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP).
In the article, Dr. Bawumia compared the said achievements of the Akufo-Addo administration with what he said were the records of the government of John Mahama, a former president and flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Fact-check Ghana has verified some of the claims in the article. Below are the verdicts and explanations.
Claim 1: “John Mahama increased electricity tariffs by 45% annually. Nana Akufo-Addo has reduced electricity tariffs.”
Explanation: According to data from the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) and media reports, during the tenure of the John Mahama government (2013-2016), electricity tariffs were increased and decreased at different rates and at different times.
In 2013, the PURC announced a 78.9% increment in electricity tariffs which was to take effect on October 1, 2013. This resulted in a nationwide demonstration and agitations by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) leading to a reduction of the increment to 58.19% in November 2013.
In 2014, the tariffs were increased at an average of 28.35%. Specifically, the tariffs were increased by 9.73%, 12.09% and 6.53% in the first, second and fourth quarters respectively.
In 2015, the PURC further increased the tariffs by 59.2%. Even though there were reports in May 2016 suggesting that there had been an increment in tariffs in the first quarter of 2016, the PURC had in a press release indicated that there had not been an adjustment of tariffs in the first quarter of 2016. Below is the breakdown of the increment from 2013-2015.
Source: PURC, Media Reports
Thus, during John Mahama’s tenure, electricity tariffs increment was cumulatively 145.52%. This translates to an annual average of 36.28% increment and not 45% as claimed by the vice president. Indeed, an analysis of electricity tariff increment under the Mahama regime by the vice president in 2019 arrived at a cumulative increment of 166%. This 2019 figure of the Vice President when divided by the four years of the Mahama administration will still not give the annual average of 45% as he claims in his 2020 analysis.
Claim 2: “John Mahama presided over a moribund railway system. Nana Akufo-Addo has revived the railway sector.”
Explanation: The Mahama administration facilitated the completion of the Ghana Railway Master Plan, a comprehensive plan which was supposed to guide the development of the railway sector from 2015 – 2047.
The master plan entails the modernisation and the extension of rail lines to the northern part and reconstruction of the rail network in the southern half of the country.
Indeed, the master plan is what is currently guiding the Akufo-Addo government in its railway sector development projects.
In implementing the Railway Master Plan, the Mahama led-government in November 2016 completed the Sekondi-Takoradi—Kojokrom suburban railway line which included turnstiles, CCTV cameras and physically challenged-compliant features. The railway line also had two new diesel multiple units and air-conditioned coaches to provide passenger services.
At the inauguration of Sekondi-Takoradi—Kojokrom suburban railway line as indicated by media reports, John Mahama confirmed his commitment to sustain the revamping of Ghana’s railway sector should he retain power.
“We will commence work on the construction of the Western Railway Line from Kojokrom through Awaso, Dunkwa to Kumasi. Also, work will commence on the Eastern Railway Line from Tema through Boankra to Kumasi,” Mr. Mahama said.
Therefore, Dr. Bawumia’s claim that the former president presided over a moribund railway system is inaccurate.
Claim 3: “John Mahama presided over a manual court administration system. Under Nana Akufo-Addo the court administration system has been digitised through an e-justice system with online filing processes, electronic case tracking, and electronic case distribution.”
Explanation: Under the e-Ghana project which was aimed at assisting the Government in generating growth and employment by leveraging information and communication technology (ICT) and public-private partnerships as well as ensure improved efficiency and transparency of selected government functions, the Mahama government in 2013 completed a Tele-presence Video Conferencing facility which was inaugurated by then Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Mrs. Justice Georgina Theodora Wood.
The Tele-presence Video Conferencing facility enables the Judicial Service to conduct virtual interaction with judges in Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi and allows remote participation in meetings.
Further, former president John Mahama announced in 2015 at the State of the Nation Address his government’s commitment to digitising the judiciary through the e-justice system.
“In the next 18 months, we will disburse US$5million for the e-Justice project with the sole objective of assisting in the speedy and efficient delivery of justice. This project also covers the Attorney General’s Department,” Mr. Mahama said.
The disbursement of US$5million for the e-Justice project was later confirmed in a news report. Therefore, it is inaccurate to say that the John Mahama government presided over a manual court administration. It was a process that started before the election of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was elected into office.
Claim 4: “John Mahama had no policy to address the needs of Zongo and Inner city communities. Nana Akufo-Addo has established the Zongo Development Fund and the Ministry for Inner City and Zongo Development which are addressing the needs of zongo and inner city communities.”
Explanation: In the 2012 manifesto of the NDC, the opposition party promised to implement a policy aimed at improving access to education, especially in technical and vocational education and training (TVET), targeting residents in the zongos and underserved communities.
“Expansion of equitable access to technical and vocational education and training (TVET) by locating such institutions in the zongos and underserved areas of urban communities and increasing the participation of disadvantaged groups through a bursary scheme for disadvantaged students with special focus on female students and the provision of stipends for identiﬁed apprentices,” the manifesto stated.
During Mahama’s administration, there was improvement and work done on standardizing the informal TVET sector through skills and infrastructural development as proposed in the manifesto. Some of this included infrastructural projects estimated at the cost of $124 million under the Development of Skills for Industry Projects (DSIP).
During his tenure, John Mahama also built many classroom blocks and provided scholarship to students in English-Arabic schools in many zongo communities across the country including communities like Ameduma Adankwame, Afari and Abuakwa.
It is therefore false when Dr. Bawumia states that John Mahama had no policy for zongo and inner-city communities.
Claim 5: “Under John Mahama, parents paid for the cost of BECE and WASSCE exam registrations. Under Nana Akufo-Addo, government absorbed the cost of BECE and WASSCE exam registrations.”
Explanation: While checks by Fact-checkghana.com reveals that the John Mahama administration did not pay for the registration fees of students writing the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE), the claim that the Akufo-Addo administration absorbed the cost of BECE and WASSCE exam registration is misleading.
In the 2017 budget statement (pg. 102), Ken Ofori Atta, the finance minister, announced the government’s decision to absorb the cost of registration for BECE candidates.
“Government will, starting from the 2017/18 academic year, fully absorb the BECE Registration Fees for all public Junior High School (JHS) students and also continue to subsidise the registration fees for private JHS students,” the budget statement said.
Thus, the government’s decision was to pay the cost for only public JHS students while all students of private schools continued to pay at a subsidized cost.
Also, the policy in that year applied to JHS students only. This means that in 2017/2018 academic year, Senior High School (SHS) students writing the WASSCE paid for their registration. The government only began paying for the WASSCE student this year (2020), which was announced by President Akufo-Addo in one of his addresses to the nation on measures taken against the spread of COVID-19.
“For the first time in our nation’s history, the government will absorb the WASSCE examination fees of the 313,837 students who will sit for the exams,” the President said.
Even so, the government’s absorption of the WASSCE registration fees was for only students in public schools and did not cover those in private schools. This was affirmed by the Head of School Examinations Administration Department of the Ghana Office of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), Godfried Addo. “The registration fees of final year students have been absorbed by the government but private candidates have to pay for theirs,” Mr. Addo said.
Claim 6: “John Mahama presided over a manual drivers and vehicles license application process. Nana Akufo-Addo has digitised the DVLA application process.”
Claim 7: “John Mahama presided over a manual passport application process. Nana Akufo-Addo has digitised the passport application process.”
Claim 8: “John Mahama presided over a manual births and deaths registry application process. Nana Akufo-Addo is digitising all the records at the Births and Deaths registry and digitizing the operations.”
Verdict (for claims 7,8&9): Misleading
Explanation: The digitisation of the Passport, Driver’s Vehicle License Authority (DVLA) and Birth and Death application processes are part of the e-government initiative that has transcended various administrations; with each administration making a contribution since it was started in 2006 by the President Kuffour administration when the initiative began.
Acknowledging the crucial role ICTs play in improving the efficiency of the delivery of government services, Ghana developed Information and Communication Technology for Accelerated Development (ICT4AD) policy in 2003. The Ghana e-government agenda is premised on the ICT4AD policy document.
The e-government agenda was launched under president Kuffour in 2006 with the goal of enhancing the growth of the ICT sector, support local ICT businesses and promote the development of e-Government applications and government communications.
Under the e-government services, the Government of Ghana is supposed to develop a “government online services portal” which is a one-stop window for services and information being offered by the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and all other Government Agencies.
To be included in the government online services portal are services rendered by agencies including the Registrar General’s Department (RGD); Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) (IRS, VATs, RAGB, LTU); Driver’s and Vehicle License Authority (DVLA); Passport Office (MFA-PO); National Information Technology Agency (NITA); National Identification Authority (NIA); Mineral’s Commission (MINCOM); and Births and Deaths Registry (BDR).
Since the launch of the e-government agenda, various administrations have been contributing to its implementation. For instance, the Atta-Mills government in 2010 secured $44.7 million World Bank funding as additional support to the implementation of the e-government agenda. The Mahama government also contributed to the implementation of e-government services by ensuring the automation of the services of the DVLA which allowed the public to access the services of the Authority virtually in February 2014.
It is therefore misleading for the Vice President to suggest the the ongoing digitisation exercise in the various MDAs, MMDAs and government agencies were executed under the Akufo-Addo.
While the aforementioned projects do not attempt to list all the infrastructural projects of the Mahama administration targeted at rural and deprived communities, it is sufficient to show that Dr. Bawumia’s claim is inaccurate.