Changing horses in midstream, a prudent measure?
President Nana Akufo-Addo should probably be thanking private legal practitioner Martin Kpebu for the reassurance he has apparently unwittingly given the President.
Mr Kpebu’s ‘Kume Preko Reloaded’ appears to have showed that Ghanaians generally agree with the proverb which advises that ‘you don’t change horses in midstream’, meaning it’s not advisable ‘to change leaders or adopt a different strategy in the middle of a course of action’.
Perhaps for many people, the idea of the country’s leadership being removed, to be replaced by new people, poses more apprehension than the cost of living (COL) crisis engulfing Ghana – and other countries.
Reportedly, Mr Kpebu expected thousands to join the protest, a cynical replication of the ‘Kume Preko’ (meaning ‘you might as well kill me’) demonstration of 1995, organised by then opposition politician Akufo-Addo and others, to protest particularly the introduction of a Value Added Tax by the Rawlings Government.
As widely reported ahead of the Saturday, November 5 demonstration in Accra, it was aimed at getting President Akufo-Addo, Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta to resign. To Mr Kpebu and his allies, the three have woefully failed in their handling of the economy. Another person they want out is Charles Adu Boahen, Minister of State at the Finance Ministry.
However, instead of the expected thousands – some reports even quoted 100,000 – flooding the streets of the capital, pictures of the protest march seen on TV, including aerial images, definitely ruled out ‘thousands’ as accurate. Some would say that even the “hundreds” being quoted in some reports is questionable.
A memorable video clip circulating online shows Mr Kpebu frantically pleading with Ghanaians to join the protest.
The national Constitution spells out how a President can be removed, but I don’t see any reference to that happening through a demonstration.
The experienced lawyer that he is, I wonder why Mr Kpebu didn’t apply the methods specified in the Constitution. Too slow a process for him, perhaps.
Nevertheless, even if the turnout didn’t match the hype, there is no doubt that the protest has served to highlight the consensus that ‘there is sufferin’ in the land’.
Doubtless, all the agitations on the labour front are related to the nightmarish, galloping COL crisis. And it seems there’s no sphere free from the price rises drama. Earlier this week, there was a notification, allegedly from the Bible Society of Ghana, that from November 10, even the price of a Bible would be going up!
Even if it were possible for such a demonstration to get President and Vice to resign, how long would it take a new leadership to free the population from the economic quagmire?
The period a new leadership would need to work out solutions might be a similar timeframe that President Akufo-Addo’s Government needs to achieve results from the measures being put in place. So why do we need them to resign? Why do we need to risk changing horses in the middle of the dangerous currents of the river we seek to cross safely?
Surely, the one who has done it before is capable of doing it again. If the Ghanaian economy was earning praises before the pandemic and before the Russia attack on Ukraine, then I for one have faith that the same team can get Ghana to bounce back.
Interestingly, although globally the COL crisis is attributed to the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, in Ghana some people see things very differently. They insist that the crisis is entirely due to Akufo-Addo’s mismanagement.
Of course we have to ‘cry our own cry’, but the inescapable reality is that there is worldwide economic crisis, as confirmed daily by international media reports.
This is what UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in the UK Parliament a few days ago:
"Mr Speaker, when it comes to the economy, the Honourable gentleman (Opposition leader) just failed to mention that the single biggest cause of the challenges that we face right now; which is absolutely the aftermath of a global pandemic, which has affected supply chains across the world, and an illegal war being conducted by Putin which is leading to high energy prices.
“These are the root causes of the challenges we are facing. The challenges we are facing are global in nature. It is wrong to say that they are particular to this country now."
Responding to the calls for the removal of Ofori-Atta, the President said: “I came to office in 2017 under a stringent IMF programme... This same man (Ofori-Atta) was able to manage the affairs of our economy in such a way that in my first term, we were one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
“An average growth rate of 7 per cent … The current difficulties are not his fault. So how do I do it (sack him)? What will be the basis?” (Graphic Online, October 17, 2022.)
There is an argument that Ofori-Atta should be sacked if he won’t resign, citing the example of how newly appointed UK Chancellor/Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng was sacked by then PM Liz Truss.
However, my question is: what track record did Dr Kwarteng, or Ms Truss for that matter, have for people there to compare and be assured that the new Truss/Kwarteng policies would work out in the end?
In the midst of the calls for the resignations, and, surprisingly, the insistence of Members of Parliament of the New Patriotic Party, his own party, that Ofori-Atta should be sacked, the understanding stance of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) is a breath of fresh air.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, quoted in its issue of November 7, AGI President Dr Humphrey Ayim-Darke “indicated that calls for the removal of Mr Ofori-Atta and Adu Boahen would not necessarily resolve the economic woes. Therefore, he said, those calls should not be seen as the greatest concern of industry.”
What everybody is yearning for is a return to stable prices and affordable living. Obviously, among other actions, the President’s recent meetings with all sectors is a way of seeking ideas and support. He needs everybody’s support – and patience – to steer the country out of the dangerously stormy waters.
To my mind, this is not the time to change horses.