Accra, Ghana (PANA) – Ghana’s President John Evans Atta Mills’ State of the Nation address to Parliament on Thursday and announcements of arrest of two drug barons were some of the stories that were reported by the Ghanaian media this week.
The media also had space for preparations for the December 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections.
“We’re making good progress,” was the lead story in the state-owned Ghanaian Times on the president’s address to Parliament.
It quoted President Mills as describing the state of the nation as “stable and in a reasonably good health”.
“The economy is full of promise and we are making substantial progress in terms of development, even though there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said.
The newspaper said in the address titled, “Still a Better Ghana” President Mills assured Ghanaians that there was no cause for alarm because the economy was in good shape.
“Over the past three years that I have been president, much has been achieved in pursuance of our ‘Better Ghana Agenda.’”
The president said even though the country had experienced internal and external constraints, “we have to be hopeful of Ghana’s future”.
“My will to fight corruption is unshakeable – President,” was the headline of one of several stories published by the state-owned Graphic on the president’s speech.
It quoted him as saying his commitment to fight corruption in all areas of society remained resolute and unshakeable, even in the face of attempts to thwart his efforts by legal and technical means.
“I do not care whose ox is gored when it comes to the fight against corruption, neither will I be off-tracked by all the sideline comments that are being made to befuddle the hard-core issues.”
He said the government was making efforts to deal with cases bordering on corruption and the drug trade.
“Economy is booming as nation records 14% growth, single-digit inflation,” was the headline of another story published by the Graphic.
It said President Mills declared that the country’s economy was booming with the recording of a 14% growth and the achievement of single digit inflation of 8.55 per cent, the lowest in 42 years.
He said at the end of September last year, the budget deficit was 2% of Gross Domestic Product, compared with 14.5% of GDP in 2008.
“With the exception of the level of the budget deficit which was higher than anticipated, we have managed to attain the macroeconomic projections contained in the 2008 (ruling National Democratic Congress) Manifesto for ‘a Better Ghana’”
The Graphic also published a reaction of the opposition to the speech under the headline, “Address didn’t give hope to Ghanaians – Minority.”
The story said the opposition said the president’s message failed to offer any hope to Ghanaians who had entrusted their future into the hands of the government.
“The atmosphere in the House during the presentation depicted two contrasting pictures as MPs from the majority side were dressed to show their festive mood, while their counterparts from the minority wore black and red apparel to symbolize mourning,” it said.
“The speech was also characterized by boos, jeers, taunts and singing by the minority side, which at certain stages, made it difficult for the audience to hear the address being delivered by the president.
“Red card for Mills,” was the headline of the pro-opposition Daily Guide which said the chamber of Parliament was on Thursday turned into a football pitch as the minority caucus issued multiple red cards to President Atta Mills to show him the exit from power after the next general elections.
“Obviously telling President Mills that his time was up, the minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) wearing black and red, to signify that they were in a state of mourning, showed the president red cards for what they described as his abysmal performance in controlling the affairs of the country over the past three years, for which Ghanaians should show him the exit during the December polls,” the newspaper said.
“EC on course for 2012 election,” was the headline of a story by the Graphic on preparations for the December polls.
It reported that the Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, said the delivery of equipment and other materials for the 2012 elections was on schedule as a result of the timely release of funds.
He also announced that the EC would undertake a biometric registration of eligible voters, including prisoners, in all the regions and districts from 24 March to 5 May, 2012.
The authorities have been worried about rumours that scanners for the biometric voters’ registration could cause cancer or erectile dysfunction.
“Biometric scanners scare - EC dismisses rumours,” was the headline of a story of the Graphic denying the rumours.
The newspaper said the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Electoral Commission (EC) said the scanners, which would be used for biometric registration, would be similar to those used at the various international airports, such as Kotoka International Airport, John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and Schipol Airport in Amsterdam.
“They have also been used by institutions such as the National Identification Authority and the Passport Office to collect electronic fingerprints of Ghanaians acquiring national identity or biometric passports without posing any health hazards to the applicants,” the newspaper reported.
The Deputy Chairperson of the NCCE, Augustina Akumanyi, said the biometric voters’ registration exercise carried no health implications.
The security agencies have in the past couple of weeks announced the arrest of two drug barons, Robert Yaw Danquah and Christian Asem Darkey. Danquah was involved in the export of cocaine to the Gambia in 2010 while Darkey was the involved in the import of 77 parcels of cocaine to Ghana in 2006.
The Graphic’s headline read “Cocaine baron nabbed” with the story saying Danquah, who connived with three foreigners to import more than two tonnes (2,000 kilogrammes) of cocaine from Colombia for re-export to The Gambia in 2010, had been arrested in Accra. The street value of the cocaine was estimated at US$400 million.
It said security agencies, acting in concert with officials of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), arrested Danquah, 54, at his residence in Accra on 6 February. He will be extradited to The Gambia to stand trial at the Banjul Magistrate Court.
“Revealed! Cocaine baron lived near police,” was the headline of the Ghanaian Times on the arrest of Darkey, whose trial has begun in Accra.
It said Darkey, the prime suspect in the cocaine scandal who had been on the police wanted list since April 2006, had all along resided very close to a police station in Tema, 25 kms east of Accra.
The newspaper said Darkey, also known as "Limping Man", lived in a house about 100 metres from the police station.
“Residents of the neighbourhood said they knew about his presence before his arrest early this month. He lived in the house with his wife and children,” the Times reported. “One neighbour said he spent last Christmas holidays holding several parties at his residence.”
The Times also quoted another resident as saying although they knew he was a wanted man they did not deem it necessary to inform the police about his presence in the vicinity.
He allegedly masterminded the importation of 77 parcels of cocaine out of which 76 were offloaded at a Beach just outside Accra in April 2006. The cocaine was never retrieved.
-0- PANA MA 18Feb2012