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02.02.2006 General News

The "State Of The Nation" Address That ....

By Palaver

..President Kufuor Did Not Read Palaver -- Last Tuesday, President John Agyekum Kufuor delivered his 6th 'State of the Nation' Address to Parliament. He said some really incredible things, and we wonder whether his speechwriters thought through the implications of some of the words they put in his mouth and some of the things they made him say. We are doing a more detailed word-by-word analysis of the Address, but there are five areas of the Address that we believe could have been more factually written, and we proceed to offer our version of what should have been written and read, for they represent the truth.

And so here we go – the Address that President Kufuor did not read.


Identification of informal sector operators

In my Address, this was what I was made to say:

"The country is familiar with many on-going strategies to solve nagging problems in the [private] sector. In my address last year, I identified one such problem as lack of identification of oper! ators in the informal part of the sector.

I am happy to inform the House that the ground work has been done and the contract for the national identification programme is about to be awarded, after an intentional competitive bidding".

I believe however that there is something wrong with this part of my Address. I know this is what I should have said:

"I don't really know what the national identification system has got to do with identifying operators in the informal part of the private sector, and I suspect my speechwriters did not link up properly with the NDPC which has oversight for the identification programme and the Ministry of Private Sector Development, which is responsible for informal operators in the private sector.

I know though that the national identification programme is meant for a completely different exercise but not to identify informal sector operators in th! e private sector.

The other problem I have is that now that my speechwriters have made the NDC aware that the contract for the national identification programme is about to be awarded, I am going to know no peace. They are going to raise this whole Esseku-gate" kickback story again. VALCO, Telecom and Juapong Textiles In my Address, I was made to say the following:

"The resuscitation of VALCO is the first step towards the establishment of an integrated aluminium industry whose raw materials include bauxite and limestone, both available in the country——Government's involvement in resuscitating VALCO is leveraging partnerships with world-class businesses to come to Ghana. The same objective is leading government to intervene in Ghana Telecom and Juapong Textiles Ltd to safeguard the national interest". If I were minded to be honest and truthful ! to the people of Ghana, this is what I should have said:

'Arising out of naiveté at the time we came into office, we allowed ourselves to be hoodwinked into believing that the outgoing NDC Government had collected bribe in order to renegotiate the VALCO Agreement finalised in 2000. We therefore refused to ratify an otherwise excellent Agreement that would have earned Ghana about US$12 million a year. Kaiser shut down the plant as a result, and the rest is history. VALCO has reopened, but we are selling power to them at no higher price than the NDC was selling power to them. Meanwhile, we have lost five years of VALCO power rates, profits and dividends.

Similarly, we confrontationally compelled Malaysia Telecom to pull out of Ghana Telecom. The Norwegians we brought in at the instance of our Party financier, Nick Amarteifio, have only worsened matters. Now we are saddled with a Company that we thought we had privatised.

Juapong Textiles Ltd. suffered the fate of all the textile companies that have gone under as a result of the refusal of the IMF and the World Bank to permit us to impose protective tariffs to protect our local textile industries. So the NPP Government is in VALCO, Ghana Telecom and Juapong Textiles not because we want to, but because our initial naïve policies and actions collapsed those three industries and now we have to resuscitate them. Independence Day Golden Jubilee Celebrations The following were the words that were put in my mouth to say:

"Next year, Ghana will celebrate her golden jubilee anniversary. Mr. Speaker, 50 years is a long time in the life of a nation. On this birthday, we must view the positive adjustment of our attitudes as mandatory"

In all honesty, this is what I should have said:

"It pains me that I am the one to preside over Ghana's Golden Jubilee celebrations, because 49 years ago, when that rascally Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah man moved the Motion of Destiny for Ghana's Independence in 1957 in the National Assembly, my forefathers of the Busia-Danquah tradition opposed the Motion. Not only that, but they walked out of the National Assembly and boycotted the proceedings. They refused to participate in the debate that led to Ghana's Independence.

But my speechwriters are too young to know all this, so they think it is a great occasion, which those of us who opposed Independence must celebrate. However, the decision to celebrate it having been taken, I am bound to obey it, so celebrate it, we shall, and in grand style too. We have already committed about US$30 million for the celebrations next year, and I promise that this time, I will be in Ghana to celebrate it with you, not run away! to New Zealand to watch butterflies mating. ROPAB My young speechwriters also made me utter the following words:

"It was in the President's Sessional Address of 1996 to consider ways of extending the ballot to our nationals abroad. Ten years down the road, interactions conducted across the country have unearthed both difficulties and fresh insights. Government has deemed it timely to move ahead with the Bill".

My true Address ought to have read as follows:

"You see how but for my own cleverness, they almost made me mention "that man" by name. So even though their original speech said President Rawlings, I cancelled it and made it the President. But it was wrong to have referred to the 1996 speech at all. Our policy is that "those people" did nothing, so why is it that simply because we are in small trouble over this ROPAB Bill, we must giv! e them credit for something we think is good. It is counter-productive. Corruption This is where my young speechwriters goofed the biggest. This is what they made me say:

"Mr. Speaker, I am not about to forget the subject of corruption and the perception that government is not doing enough to fight it——I was willing to appear before CHRAJ on the charge that I had applied funds to effect adjustments to my private residence. My attorneys worked on my behalf to respond to the charge. Somehow, the person who laid the charge, an Honourable Member of this House, just failed to prosecute the case and yet charges of that kind continue to be made".

Honestly, this is what I should have said:

"I am ashamed that as President, when I had the corruption problems with my private residence in my purely private capacity, I employed the services of the Attorney General and his Deputy who are paid officials of the State, when I know I should have my own personal lawyers. That is corruption in itself, and my speechwriters should not have made me refer to them as "my attorneys". As for the CHRAJ chickening out of the investigations it was conducting involving me, I had to make them find a technicality to stop it, because when I looked at the avalanche of corruption allegations against me that were coming, I knew it had to stop somewhere.

Talk about "Hotel Kufuor", the foreign accounts and offshore companies that Giselle Yazji threatened to expose; the twins that that same woman says I have with her; the US$500,000 house they say I have bought at Atasomanso in Kumasi; Haruna Esseku and the kickback scandal he has kicked against me – which President would sit down for a state agency to be investigating all these scandals?

Alban Bagbin knows he was the one I was referring to, but I did not mention his name. How clever I was. He is such a bad boy – he does not know that in politics, the name of the game is, "I scratch your back, you scratch my back".