Presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, yesterday took his turn to deliver what he called the Real State of the Nation Address.
The flagbearer, in his two-and-a-half hour statement, virtually made mincemeat of the several achievements President John Dramani Mahama claimed to have chalked during his recent State of the Nation Address.
Last Thursday, the president delivered a State of the Nation Address in fulfilment of a constitutional provision with a message full of grandiose achievements said to have been executed under his leadership.
But most of those projects and programmes he trumpeted with ‘evidence-based’ testimonials have either been questioned or turned out to be ‘half truths.’
But addressing an enthusiastic audience of a packed conference room at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Accra yesterday, Nana Akufo-Addo could not fathom why the president went to Parliament and gave no indication whatsoever of the enormity of the youth unemployment problem facing the country, and instead dabbled in what could suffice for a propaganda piece full of lies.
Nana Addo noted that what President Mahama sought to do was to “explain the theatrical show he staged in Parliament with the claim he was providing us with evidence for the claims he was making about the state of the nation,” noting that Ghana is in crisis.
That, he said, did not work since in his opinion “It turned out to be an embarrassing exercise in mediocrity,” an expression he associated with the president.
“Why ignore the clear evidence of this canker that characterises the true state of the economy?” he asked rhetorically and articulated, “We heard nothing of the bold and radical measures that would encourage enterprises to expand, or that would help build new businesses in agriculture or industry to generate the hundreds of thousands of jobs that our youth need.”
Instead, Nana Addo said, “The president mentioned the prospects of a few jobs here and there and went on to make an embarrassing display of a few vulnerable Ghanaians.” There was a thunderous applause and cheers from the charged audience made up of key party people, including former President John Agyekum Kufuor, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Members of Parliament and former Ministers of State.
That, he described as a sad spectacle in propaganda, “one that did a disservice to the image of our Parliament” and that “it appears we have a president who is out of touch with the country he is governing.”
A befuddled Akufo-Addo related, “As I listened in disbelief to some of the things the president said, it soon became clear that he was taking liberties with the Ghanaian people that should not be accepted.”
Chief among them was Mahama’s claim that work was progressing on the 60-bed district hospital in Salaga, which he (Nana) said those who live in that community had described as a site “fenced, locked and abandoned.”
In the case of a road at Hohoe in the Volta Region that President Mahama said had been completed, Nana noted: “The residents of Hohoe have said their town roads were done during the Kufuor administration. It is disrespectful to the people of Ghana and to our republican institutions for the president to exhibit such a cavalier attitude to facts in a formal address to the nation.”
He also talked about stories about the water shortages in different parts of the country which had been lingering on for the past month or so, with places like Nsawam-Adoagyiri and Winneba making the headlines.
“Less than 24 hours after the president stood in Parliament displaying Madam Naomi Appiah Korang, a teacher and known NDC activist from Kyebi, the Member of Parliament for Keta from his own party was in the House telling the country about the desperate water situation in his constituency,” he noted.
Interestingly, he recalled that “On that Friday, his Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing was in the House to give an account of the water situation in the country very much at variance with the complacent picture painted by the president. There had been no mention of water problems by the president in his address.”
Nana Akufo-Addo made a mockery of President Mahama’s decision to parade 16 supposed beneficiaries of his various programmes and projects he claimed his administration had initiated which he prided himself with. But according to Nana, “Their stories do not constitute the reality that is present day Ghana.”
He wondered why the president omitted an “important group” of persons who had also benefitted from his government over the past eight years, including Alfred Woyome and other beneficiaries of the ‘create, loot and share’ judgement debt brigade; the beneficiaries of the looting of the SADA guinea fowl and tree planting schemes; the beneficiaries of the looting of the GYEEDA schemes and the beneficiaries of the looting of the Smarttys bus rebranding scheme.
On a Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) beneficiary that allegedly now has 10 pigs, Nana Akufo-Addo said, “I can point to ten hardworking individuals whose businesses have collapsed due to the unfavourable economic conditions.
“What about the teacher and nursing trainees whose allowances have been cancelled? What about teachers who have worked for two years and are only paid three months’ salary arrears? What about the children of Kperisi Primary, Wa in the Upper West Region who have no desks or chairs and so lie on the floor for their lessons to the detriment of their health? What about people who cannot afford hospital fees because of the virtual return of the cash-and-carry system? What about our Black Queens who, after winning the gold medal at the All Africa Games, were treated so shabbily by this government which has refused to honour its promises to them? Is the president saying that he has no evidence of these? Why did he not bring them to Parliament?”
The reason, Nana Addo said, was because “running a nation and reporting on its state is serious business” which “should not be reduced to a public relations activity.”
Instead, the NPP leader said “It should be a comprehensive illustration to our people of what the big picture is.”
The NPP standard bearer observed that his party in government constructed eight times more roads than the NDC, even though the NDC had had 10 times more money.
This, according to him, was because the NDC had inflated the costs of road contracts, unlike the NPP’s value-for-money attitude.
Nana Akufo-Addo said under the eight years of the NPP the average cost of a kilometre of asphalted road was $480,000, while the average cost of the same stretch of asphalt under the current NDC administration was $1.5 million.
“His Excellency spends over 40 minutes recounting his achievements in the road sector; the story is unfortunately not corroborated by the facts on the ground,” Nana Akufo-Addo underscored.
“For instance, he mentioned works on the Drobo-Sampa road as he did last year. At the time President Kufuor was leaving (office) the 40km stretch from Drobo to Soma had been done, leaving seven kilometres from Soma through Sampa to the border.
“For over seven years, the seven-kilometre stretch has not been completed. The Atebubu-Kwame Danso road, which the president said was on course, has long been abandoned by the contractor – GN Ganin.
“The Tarkwa-Bogoso-Ayanfuri road the president mentioned as part of the Takoradi-Kumasi road, President Kufuor had secured funding and works had been executed from Takoradi to Apepeyem.
“President Kufuor secured another $73 million to do the road to Ayanfuri. The Apepeyem to Ayanfuri version has taken more than seven years to complete.
“Notwithstanding, it is an indisputable fact that the NPP investment between 2001 and 2009 far exceeds that of the NDC since 2009. The road network in President Kufuor’s time increased from 37,320 km to 67, 291 km. The NDC has moved it from 67, 391 to 71, 063km.”
The NPP leader averred, “The president himself admitted that his government’s contribution to the road network is a mere 3,700km over the eight years of stewardship.
“There is a very good reason why the NPP managed to construct a lot more roads with less money than the NDC has done in these last seven years.”
In conclusion, the NPP flagbearer said, “This, fellow Ghanaians, is the real state of governance in Ghana today where government throws so much money at fewer projects. The more inflated the costs of projects are, the less our country develops and the less we are able to spend on the needy.”