Accra, Ghana (PANA) – The launch on Thursday of the manifesto of Ghana’s ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), creation of 45 new constituencies and murder charge for Justine Kone Katinan, ally of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, were some of the major stories in the Ghanaian media this week.
The state-owned Graphic had the headline “NDC launches manifesto” with the story saying the ruling party launched its manifesto for the 2012 elections with a pledge to build 200 new senior high schools (SHS) by the end of 2016.
President John Dramani Mahama, presidential candidate, who launched the manifesto in Ho, the capital of the Volta Region, the party’s stronghold, said 10 new training colleges would also be built to expand the training of teachers for the new schools to be built.
Explaining the 75-page manifesto, which is in four thematic areas of transparent and accountable government, strong economy for real job creation, investing in people and expanding infrastructure for growth, President Mahama said the measures were in line with the NDC's priority of ensuring access to education throughout the country because currently, there was no equity.
“We will increase the number of scholarships that we give to needy and deprived families so that their children can have access to education and also invest more money at the basic level in order to comply with the Constitution since we are still not compliant with Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education, as parents are still paying some fees,” the President said.
At the tertiary level, one public university would be built in the Eastern Region while polytechnic affiliation to the universities would be expanded so that they could award degrees to help academic progression of Higher National Diploma (HND) students.
The President said the teacher training institutions would run a programme to turn out specialised kindergarten teachers to provide pre-school children with the needed foundation for sound education.
The Ghanaian Times said President Mahama launched the manifesto with an emphatic statement that the government was not against free education but believed education was a right and not a privilege.
He pointed out that the NDC's vision was to first ensure equal access to quality education for all, as there was currently no equity in the country's education system.
A major campaign message of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) is to offer free education in the second cycle school.
President Mahama contended that the idea of provision of free education did not reside with an individual, since it was a constitutional obligation enjoining governments to work, depending on the availability of resources, to make education at the basic and second cycle levels free.
The manifesto also dwelt on rapid growth and effective management of various sectors such as education, healthcare, oil and gas, energy, trade and business, agriculture, local governance and transport sectors.
“House passes law on new constituencies,” was the headline of the Ghanaian Times on the creation of the 45 new constituencies that was vehemently opposed by the NPP.
It said Parliament on Monday approved the constitutional instrument that would legalise the creation of the constituencies after rejecting the report of its committee on subsidiary legislation that had called for its annulment.
It said even though the minority objected to a head count, the first deputy speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho, who chaired the sitting, invoked a rule in parliament to allow a head count. Eighty-one members voted for the rejection of the report while 56 voted in favour. The report of the committee required not less than two-thirds of the house before it could be adopted.
The newspaper said the debate was characterised by booing, heckling and shouting which nearly marred the beauty of parliamentary debate.
The Graphic said Parliament rejected the report of its committee on subsidiary legislation, which recommended the annulment of the constitutional instrument. After an exciting debate, which lasted for more than four hours, the motion was put to vote for the adoption of the report of the committee.
The Graphic also reported on a meeting between the political parties and religious leaders during which they agreed to assist the Electoral Commission (EC) in the implementation of the law that created the 45 new constituencies.
It said the political parties also pledged to contest the newly created seats.
The Graphic said the parties in concert with religious bodies urged the EC to take steps to ensure that all the issues raised about the constitutional instrument, particularly, regarding the possible disenfranchisement of some voters due to omissions of some electoral areas, were corrected.
“Political parties agree to participate in polls in 45 new constituencies,” was the headline of the Ghanaian Times.
The paper reported that all the political parties had now agreed to fully participate in the forthcoming general elections in all the constituencies, including the 45 newly created ones, but with a caution to the EC not to disenfranchise any eligible voters.
It said the parties requested the EC to correct all mistakes still contained in the law urgently to avert possible political upheaval its passage may generate in the country in future.
“Former Ivorian minister slapped with murder charge,” was the headline of the Graphic on the court case involving Katinan.
The story said Katinan, who was granted bail by another court pending the hearing of an extradition case against him, appeared before a magistrate’s court in Accra for allegedly murdering two Ivorians in March, 2011.
It said Katinan looked surprised, shook his head in disbelief, scratched his head and occasionally rubbed his hands on his face when the charges of one count of conspiracy and two counts of murder were read out to him by a court clerk.
He was alleged to have conspired with Dalo Desire, an Ivorian national, who is currently in custody in Cote d’Ivoire, to murder the two men.
-0- PANA MA 6Oct2012