President John Dramani Mahama indeed had the first baptism of fire in Parliament yesterday when he was subjected to constant and intense heckling by the Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament during the delivery of his State of the Nation Address, compelling him to take up the role of the Speaker by calling the Minority members to order occasionally – asking them to keep quiet and listen to his message.
The Minority constantly shouted “Tweeaaa” to any new policy or achievement announced by the President while the Majority National Democratic Congress (NDC) members also shouted ‘Yeah Yeah.’
“Mr. do little, speak big,” “Mahama do something before you leave,” “You cannot do it” and “You are a liar,” were some of the expressions constantly thrown at the President by the Minority members as he delivered his Address.
The heckling amidst “Tweeaa” solicited a sharp response from the President who asked, “Mr. Speaker, who said Tweeaa? Keep quiet and listen to me. Are you my co-equal?” in obvious response to the Minority members.
The President’s response sent the whole House, which had members of the diplomatic corps, political leaders, including former President Rawlings and chiefs in attendance, into a hilarious rapture.
The President played down the current economic crisis the country is going through, saying that the economic fundamentals of the country remained solid, despite the temporary challenges.
He said his government would be implementing a medium-term development framework that would help significantly transform the economy with much focus on providing the enabling environment for private/public partnership and also promoting Ghanaian businesses.
He announced that the government was seeking private partnership in resuscitating some public companies which are on the brink of collapse such as the Tema Shipyard and the Kumasi Jute Factory, to help create employment and boost export.
He said the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) was going into joint venture agreement with Petrol Saudi – a Saudi Arabian company – to revamp the operations of TOR, but the Minority replied that the agreement was to sell TOR to the Saudis.
According to him, the country was becoming over-reliant on imported goods which could otherwise be produced here.
He indicated that last year the nation imported rice, sugar, fish, poultry, cooking oil and tomatoes to the tune of GH¢1.5 billion, adding that the nation stands to gain if the government supports Ghanaian businesses which have competitive advantage in these areas to produce these goods locally.
“We all have to, as a people, support Ghanaian businesses to grow and improve on our competitiveness,” he said, stressing that he was proud to be wearing made-in-Ghana pair of shoes to deliver his State of the Nation Address – as he showed the shoes to the television cameras.
He also acknowledged the fact that the dollarization of the economy was seriously affecting the fiscal direction of the economy, and said the Attorney-General the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), had been directed to arrest and prosecute any individual or organisation that charged its services in dollars.
“Now fees are being paid in dollars, cars being rented in dollars, hotels charging dollars, shop charging dollars and all these have to stop because our currency is the cedi,” he said.
On corruption, he said his government had put in place adequate measures to prevent it from occurring, and also measures put in place to punish corrupt officials, adding that the existence of corruption must not be used as a political baton by political opponents to club one’s head because the practice is institutionalized and must be fought holistically by the whole society.
He said for Ghana to make any progress at all in its development process, there was the need for renewed patriotism from all Ghanaians.
“As Ghanaians, we must know that we have a common destiny and must therefore do away with pettiness of politics and all contribute our quota to the nation’s development,” he said.
In reaction to the speech delivered by the President, the NPP MP for Komenda/Edina/Eguafo/Abirem, Dr Nana Ato Arthur, said for the President to say that the fundamentals of the economy are solid in the face of the extreme economic hardships in the country, he must be living on a different planet.
He said the President was only making rhetoric and not speaking to the real problems on the ground.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Keta, Richard Quashigah, said the President’s call for Ghanaians to do away with petty politics and embrace patriotism to help accelerate the country’s development, was in the right direction and expressed the hope that the opposition NPP would always offer constructive criticisms and join hands in building one Ghana for all Ghanaians.
Email: [email protected]
By Thomas Fosu Jnr
This article has 0 comment, leave your comment.