Defense Minister under the Mahama-led administration, Dr Benjamin Kunbour has revealed that leading members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) saw signs of the defeat of the party ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.
The former defense minister who admitted that the defeat of the party in last year’s general elections was not a noble one said a lot of factors, both external and internal, gave credence to their suspicion.
“It was possible you could see that defeat was coming because anyone who has been around from 1999/2000 could see a symmetry between the developments that were taking place particularly a year or a year and half in the round off to the elections.
“I spent a bit of my quite time doing some analysis and I must say at that time, I was a bit frightened about the parallels and similarities of 1999 and 2000 which eventually led to our electoral defeat at that time. So there was cause for worry at that time,” he on Gh One TV’s State of Affairs.
Elaborating what these factors were, Dr. Kunbour intimated that graduate unemployment worsened, a situation which led to the increase in membership of the Ghana Unemployed Graduates Association.
“The external environment, you don’t always control it. Externally, we had gone into an IMF package which the consequences were of very high level austerity. The austerity hit directly at our constituency. There is no way that with the global unemployment, particularly youth unemployment you have in this country, that it will not become an election issue. In the peculiar case of Ghana, I saw the percentages of graduate unemployment reach an astronomical level to the extent that an association of unemployed graduates had to be formed to articulate these concerns… and that clearly mirrors what exactly was going on in the country. There were many more but they all fed into the package,” he noted.
The World Bank in its in May 2016 report on jobs in Ghana revealed that about 48 percent of the youth in the country, who are between 15-24 years do not have jobs.
The report dubbed the “Landscape of Jobs in Ghana,” explored the opportunities for youth inclusion in Ghana’s labour market.
“In Ghana, youth are less likely than adults to be working: in 2012, about 52% of people aged 15-24 were employed (compared to about 90% for the 25-64 population), a third were in school, 14% were inactive and 4% were unemployed actively looking for job. Young women in the same age group are particularly disadvantaged and have much higher inactivity rates that men: 17% of young female are inactive as opposed to 11% of males,” the report added.
Admitting that the timing for the IMF package was wrong, Dr Kunbour mentioned that the situation made it easier for their opponents to convince the electorate.
“There is no way you can run austerity in this part of the world of an emerging economy in which hardship cannot be wished away. And because you are incumbent, it becomes difficult. You can’t say as we take this major step, this is going to be the outcome. It becomes easier for your opponent. They simply look at it and because they have no responsibility at the time, they make a very clear statement so there is no attempt at rationalising the state of economy. They were in a relative comfort zone,” he said.
The cracks in the NDC appears deepened after the party lost the December elections to the New Patriotic Party with many calling on leadership of the party to find an antidote lest the party breaks down.