Ghana: President Mahama’s state of the nation address fills newspapers

Accra, Ghana (PANA) – Thursday’s State of the Nation address by President John Dramani Mahama filled Ghanaian newspapers this week, with the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) hailing it as a comprehensive presentation of the president's performance since his inauguration three years ago while the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) rubbished it as propaganda.

The state-owned Graphic summed up the nearly four-four address, laced with evidence of people who have directly benefitted from the huge infrastructure development being present in Parliament, and also of photographs, as President Mahama is gearing up for his re-election bid.

It said in the story under the headline “Economy on strong footing” that the President on Thursday set the tone for his re-election bid with a vigorous defence of the achievements of his leadership.

Delivering his State of the Nation Address to Parliament – the last in his first term – the President, said:  “The seed we sowed three years ago has taken roots. Some have even become trees.”

It said from one sector to another, President Mahama enumerated the successes chalked by his administration, most often backing them with evidence, and gave every indication that his address was not meant to be a goodbye speech.

The speech was replete with the lines: “When I leave office in 2020” and “In my second term in office” to signal his confidence of retaining power in the November presidential election.

The Graphic said mention of those lines received mixed reactions from both sides of the House — while the Majority welcomed them by waving white handkerchiefs and shouting “Listen, listen”, the Minority, who were not ready to take any of that, responded: “Bye-bye, bye-bye”.

The President explained that the government was committed to giving full meaning to its “Putting the people first” slogan.

The state-owned Ghanaian Times had the headline “We’re on path of progress.”

The newspaper said President Mahama showcased the progress being made towards transforming the nation.

He said significant progress had been achieved from the development interventions in the various sectors of the economy, indicating that the nation was on the path of transformation.

For every intervention in a sector he mentioned, he showed someone in the public gallery of the Parliament he had invited as a testimony of an improved livelihood, describing his approach as “evidence based”.

“Change is happening,” he said as the minority side heckled him and showed sheets of paper with inscription that indicated poor performance.

At a point, while the majority MPs waved white handkerchiefs in celebration of the successes of the government, the minority side showed red cards to the president and chanted “Change is coming.”

But the President responded by indicating that the number of people in the gallery at his invitation, whose lives had been changed through interventions such as rural electrification, community day senior high school, support for local contractors, pharmaceuticals and printers, road infrastructure, improved power generation, trade support and farming subsidies should be seen as a transformation of the lives of people.

However, as expected, the minority in parliament dismissed the presentation of the president.

The Ghanaian Times, in a story under the headline “Minority: It was a propaganda exercise,” said the main opposition NPP described the address as “a complete exercise of propaganda”.

The Minority leader Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu said the president’s message was more like an address to a party rally in Accra and not a state of the nation.

According to him, the president did not tell Ghanaians the true state of the nation but kept recounting “phantom projects” his government was pursuing.

He said the president’s message was full of untruths and embellished truths which did not reflect the realities on the ground.

But a Member of Parliament of the ruling NDC, Twumasi Kwame Ampofo, said the president presented a true state of the nation and backed his claims with evidence.

He said President Mahama brought people to the House to testify that what he was doing was indeed real and not propaganda as alleged by the minority.

Graphic in its story with the headline, “Prez failed to paint true picture of economy – Minority” said the minority in Parliament stated that the State of the Nation Address did not paint the true picture of the state of Ghana’s economy.

It said contrary to the suggestion by President Mahama that Ghana’s economy was back on a sound footing, the economy was not doing well by every yardstick.

The Minority Leader said: “The President presented palpable untruths, half-truths and embellished truths.” He said advancing the economy of the country would be predicated on solid economic indicators such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate, interest rate, inflation and the strength of the local currency.

However, he said, those economic indicators did not have any positive outlook, adding, “By every yardstick our country is not doing well economically.”

Mr Kyei Mensah-Bonsu said the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was collapsing, while the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF), the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) and the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) were all in arrears.

Besides, he said, contractors had not been paid for two years and wondered why the President was touting his achievements in the light of those challenges.
-0- PANA MA/VAO 27Feb2016

27 february 2016 08:51:18




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