President John Atta Mills PRESIDENT JOHN Evans Atta Mills' maiden State of the Nation Address has been put under diligent scrutiny by Members of Parliament (MPs), who examined every facet of the presentation by the Chief Executive of the land.
Whilst some MPs have described the address as reconciliatory and innovative, others saw it to be partly hollow without vision and bereft of innovative ideas, policies and programmes that would facilitate economic growth and overall development of the country.
Moving the motion for the commencement of the debate on President Mills' speech on the floor of Parliament yesterday, the MP for Tamale Central, Hon. Inusah Fuseini eulogized the President for presenting a reconciliatory statement to the nation, adding that the Head of State is a man of political maturity.
According to him, President Mills' speech was full of wisdom and concrete ideas that would reduce corruption and stimulate development to move the nation forward, particularly commending the President for his intention to institute a public holiday to be known as Founders Day in honour of the first President of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
“A nation that does not honour its heroes and heroines is not worth dying for,” Hon. Fuseini stated in appreciation of President Mills' intent to honour the nation's distinguished personalities.
However, virtually labeling the President's address as 'cut and past', Hon. Isaac Osei and Nana Akomea, Members of Parliament for Subin and Okaikwei South respectively noted that most of the policy statements and proposals presented by the President were a rehash of laudable programmes of the erstwhile New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration.
“This address did not contain any new ideas. It lacks vision and the President heavily relied on the programmes and policies of the NPP administration to fashion his State of the Nation Address”, Hon. Osei asserted.
Submitting that President Mills' recognition of agricultural sector as a significant contributor to the national economy was in the right direction, Hon. Osei noted that the President's speech did not bring any new idea that would engender the growth of the sector apart from simply building on those of the NPP administration.
He said for instance that the Aveyime Rice Project, which President Mills trumpeted to revive, was already in operation and has indeed milled rice for MPs' Christmas and New Year festivities before the NPP left office.
Furthermore, President Mills' pledge to make the private sector the engine of growth was not in tandem with the conduct of operatives of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) such as post election violence and official snatching of cars among others, all of which were not good signals to attract investors into the private sector.
Seconding the motion, the MP for Okaikwei South, Nana Akomea described the President's State of the Nation address as conciliatory and continuing the trend set by ex-President Kufuor when he assumed office in 2001.
He was however quick to point out that even though the President called for consensus building, he does not seem to live by his words, explaining that the transition process was characterized by political harassments and vindictiveness, which he said could not secure national cohesion.
Nana Akomea lauded the President's proposal to institute a national holiday in honour of Ghana's First President; nonetheless, he was of the view that the time was incorrect since it would generate unnecessary debate.
Nana Akomea wondered how the President's intention to cut down cost to achieve macro-economic stability could be achieved with the appointment of 61 Ministers already, adding that more deputy ministerial nominees are yet to follow.
Again, the former Minister for Manpower and Employment revealed that there are rumours about some of the ministers rejecting four-wheel-drives used by former ministers of state stressing, “We are hearing that some of the ministers are ordering new cars and if we are to cut down cost, then we should watch these things”.
Contributing to the debate, MP for Wa Central, Abdul-Rashid Pelpuo expressed joy over the President's approach to governance and transparency through a three dimensional approach, thus ensuring the passage of the Freedom of Information Act, expediting the passage of a National Broadcasting Law and a Code of Conduct for Government officials.
Such initiatives, he added, would not only enable government to be more open but allow both citizens and statutory bodies to access the needed information to demand accountability from office holders in the public and private sectors.
On Ghana's participation in international affairs with a strong penchant for championing the causes of economic integration, continental unity and Pan-Africanism, causes that Ghanaians have desired for so long, the MP said President Mills' statement on the country's foreign policy is commendable since it would bring Ghana back unto the road to achieving African unity and enable the country benefit from its economic diplomacy.
The last MP to catch the Speakers eye was Mrs. Catherine Ablelema Afeku, MP for Evalue-Gwira who though commended President Mills, expressed surprise that the President did not mention anything on the much anticipated reduction in prices of petroleum products, water and electricity tariffs, the building of Bui Dam, Osagyefo Badge and the West African Gas Pipe line projects, which have seen a lot of investment by the NPP administration to generate more electricity for the country.
By Awudu Mahama & Sheilla Sackey