Political parties debate state of the nation
Investor confidence in the economy is very high -NPP Kufuor & ministers are only interested good cars, first-class travel & amassing wealth - Wayo Eight months ahead of this year's presidential and parliamentary elections, political debates are rife among people of different political orientations with the aim of enhancing the electoral fortunes of their respective parties. Last Friday, gurus from the three leading political parties, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the People's National Convention (PNC) engaged each other in one such debate over what the state of the nation really is. The occasion was a forum organized by the Junior Common Room (JCR) of the Akuafo Hall of the University of Ghana, Legon, at which the parties were given the opportunity to tell the students what, in their parties' perspectives, was the real state of the nation. Commencing the debate, Kwabena Agyapong, the Press Secretary to the President, who represented the NPP, stated that President Kufuor's state of the nation address, to parliament at the beginning of this year was a true reflection of what Ghana really was. Agyapong pointed out that from all indications, Ghanaians were now realizing the impact of the good and sound economic policies that the NPP government embarked upon on assumption of office in 2000. He mentioned, as a feather in the cap of the government, the accumulation of a substantial domestic reserve after inheriting virtually nothing in the nation's coffers when it took office in January 2000. “Currently, investor confidence in the Ghanaian economy is very high and over the past three years a number of investors have been attracted into the country to invest in different sectors of the economy,” the press secretary emphasized. He also identified as an achievement of the government, efforts made so far to keep the media, both private and public, very vibrant. This, he noted, had been made possible through the government's open door policy for media vibrancy, the repeal of the criminal libel law and also the permission given to both public and private press houses to be represented at the Castle. “ President Kufuor has demonstrated his commitment to remaining accountable and answerable to the people of this country through the institution of the people's assembly concept during which the sitting president avails himself to be questioned by the people he governs and this clearly shows how the president is committed to entrenching democratic governance in this country,” he said.
Agyapong said with the NPP in office, Ghana had a bright future as the state of the nation had improved tremendously since President Kufuor took over the administration of the country.
Notwithstanding the eloquence with which the press secretary articulated his views in defence of the government, it appeared he could not convince the PNC and NDC representatives at the forum to change their minds on how they saw the state of the nation. Representing the PNC, Kofi Wayo, started by brushing aside all the points raised by Agyapong. Wayo, who is aspiring to be the PNC's presidential candidate for this year's elections, noted that the current state of the nation was that, more Ghanaians had become poorer than before; people could not afford the payment of their children's school fees as well as their utility bills.
“President Kufuor and his ministers are only interested in how to get good cars to sit in, how to travel in first class airlines and how to amass wealth. They have no concern for the ordinary Ghanaian who is suffering on the streets or the welfare of our farmers who suffer to keep our economy moving,” the PNC kingpin observed.
He urged the students to vote the NPP out of office since it had nothing better to offer Ghanaians. Known variously as “Chuck and Nima boy,” the PNC presidential aspirant, who until recently was a founding member of the NPP, emphasized that it was only a government of the PNC that could help Ghanaians out of their woes.
The largest opposition party, the NDC, was represented in the debate by its national youth organizer, Iddrisu Harunah. He started by discounting the claim that the economy was moving in the positive direction. Any critical assessment, Haruna noted, would prove that the standard of living of Ghanaians had drastically deteriorated.
The outspoken youth organizer said any talk about decreasing inflation and bank rates would forever remain meaningless in so far as they had no positive impact on the lives of the people. “Inflation figures and bank rates, will forever remain mere figures if they do not reflect in the lives of the governed. So yes, we may say inflation and banks rates have come down but the question is, do these reflect positively on our lives?”
The NDC representative was of the view that though former president Rawlings did not organize people's assemblies he still offered himself to the people to be questioned at different forums throughout the country.
“When the NPP was in opposition it continuously criticized the NDC for subsidizing fuel prices for political expediency to the detriment of the economy. Today, the NPP is in power and the minister of energy has stated clearly that the government was spending billions of cedis every month to subsidize fuel. Is this also for political convenience or what?” he asked to conclude his submission.