President John Mahama
President John Mahama seems to be shying away from a promise he made on the eve of the New Year to banish the load-shedding and erratic power supply in the country, popularly referred to as ‘dumsor’, which has bedevilled the nation since mid 2012, by the end of this year.
He also indicated that he would continue to dance to the ‘yentie obiaa’ (we won’t mind anyone) tune by Daddy Lumba.
At the Perez Chapel watch night service on 31 st December in Accra, President Mahama said, ‘The year 2015 will be one filled with fruitfulness, joy, peace, good health and development. Now this is the interesting part: It will be one in which we banish darkness from our land and put an end to ‘dumsor’ forever’.
Interestingly, during a live interview with Angel FM’s Kwame Adinkra which was streamed on other radio stations across the country yesterday as part of events marking his second year anniversary after being sworn in as President, Mahama who had earlier promised not to make any further promises, said, ‘I wouldn’t say I made a promise; it was the last day of the year 2014 when we were having a watch night to usher in the beginning of 2015 and at such point in time everybody tells God his heart’s desires so that He would listen to your prayer.
‘I am the President and I know one thing that frustrates Ghanaians is the energy crisis; so if as a President I stand in a church auditorium and ask God to banish darkness from Ghana for the dumsor to end, is it not a prayer I’m saying for the country?’ he asked rhetorically, wondering why that should be interpreted or misconstrued as another promise in breach of his own promise not to make further promises.
The President took the decision not to make further promises because of a litany of unfulfilled promises in the past.
The interview, which was conducted from his Cantonments residence, touched on various aspects of Ghanaian life.
Yentie Obiaa Video
He said he danced to five different tunes when the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, hosted him and other top dignitaries to a party at the Manhyia Palace, but was surprised when some people decided to record only the part where he was dancing with the Ashanti King to Daddy Lumba’s ‘Yentie Obiaa’ song.
Amidst laughter, the president said people love Daddy Lumba’s ‘Yentie Obiaa’ music and they dance to it at public gatherings; but he was surprised that people make noise about it whenever he also dances to the same song.
The video has since gone viral after it was secretly recorded at the party and shared on social media.
At a point, the host of the programme asked President Mahama what he thought could have accounted for all the hair on his head becoming gray, and the Number One Citizen attributed it to the heavy yoke of responsibility on his shoulders.
‘If you care about your job, the weight of your office changes you physically. Look at President (Barack) Obama’s hair when he came to office and compare it with today; so it comes with the office,’ he said.
President Mahama vehemently debunked assertions that he was using loans secured in the name of Ghana from foreign partners on himself at the detriment of the entire citizenry.
According to him, all loans that Ghana had secured within his two-year reign as president got parliamentary approval, noting that the monies had been used for their intended purposes and none found its way into his pockets.
‘I don’t use the loans that I secured in the name of Ghana on myself,’ the president, who was speaking in ‘Twi’, told Kwame Adinkra.
He said the numerous loans secured by Ghana had been put to good use for the benefit of the entire populace.
‘Those who want to see the development projects that we have used the loans to construct are seeing them,’ President Mahama pointed out, indicating that his critics were intentionally refusing to see his achievements.
He defended his government’s decision to secure plenty loans, saying that any government managing a state which lacked resources might be forced to go for loans to embark on developmental projects.
From a little over GH¢9 billion when the NDC took over in 2009, Ghana’s debt stock is now hovering around GH¢80 billion, making the Mahama administration the government that contracted the highest number of loans in the annals of the country.
President Mahama, who sounded peeved about a question indicating that the country was not experiencing any significant benefits in terms of developmental projects from the numerous loans secured, said the media was not doing enough in that regard.
The media, he said, had the onerous task of researching deep to see whether loans secured in the name of Ghana had been put to good use, saying that if the media did its work properly such wild rumours would stop.
Asked about the physical evidence of the various loans, President Mahama said they could be found in all sectors including aviation, ports, hospitality, electricity, road and water, while throwing in sarcasm thus: ‘..those who are benefiting from those projects know that’s what we’ve used the monies for…
‘Those who want to see it are seeing it; those who don’t want to see it are also not seeing it. No one goes for a loan and puts it in his pockets just to spend it. Every single loan we contract goes through Parliament, meaning parliamentarians sit to go through it before it is approved…so anyone who wants to know what we have been doing with those monies should go to Parliament; they will give them the document for every single project.’
President Mahama sounded adamant despite being chastised by the public for his numerous trips abroad in 2014, giving a clear indication that he would sustain the frequency of his foreign trips in 2015.
The President, who just returned from a Brazilian trip over the weekend, had over 30 trips to his credit last year alone.
Clearly justifying his numerous trips abroad, he argued that the country had benefitted immensely in the areas of development through his trips which some Ghanaians were not comfortable with.
He explained that most of his travels abroad in 2014 were official visits to countries like the United Kingdom, France, Norway, United States and Denmark, for which he had no choice but to respond positively to the invitations.
According to him, Ghana had accrued positive results out of his trips, announcing that he was due for Germany at the invitation of that country’s government.
Still on his travels, President Mahama noted that as ECOWAS Chairman, most of his trips were in line with his duties as ECOWAS chair, stating that he did not travel for the fun of it.
According to President Mahama, he wants Ghanaians to remember him as the president that worked tirelessly to stabilise Ghana’s power supply and also boosted the transport sector after he leaves office.
Despite the crisis the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is going through with huge unpaid arrears to service providers as well as poor service delivery, Mr Mahama said all was well.
Reacting to calls by the people of the Ashanti Region for the President to scrap the capitation system of the NHIS, he said a technical committee report about the capitation had stated that the policy had been a huge success in the Ashanti Region.
He announced that plans were far advanced by his government to extend the capitation system to the Volta, Upper West and Upper East Regions this year, noting that gradually the capitation system would be extended to the entire country.
President Mahama parried away calls by the opposition and a great number of concerned Ghanaians to reduce the petrol prices further to correspond to the current world price of the commodity which is less than $50 per barrel from $110 in July last year, saying that his administration’s recent 10 percent reduction of fuel prices was a ‘drastic reduction’.
He explained that his administration was reluctant in reducing the fuel prices despite the continued reduction of fuel prices on the international market because of a huge debt that Ghana was servicing in the petroleum sector.
He said his administration had from October to December 2014 reduced the staggering debt from GH¢470 million to GH¢171 million.
He gave a hint that petrol prices might be adjusted downwards in the coming days following the continued decline of the price of the commodity on the international market, adding that Ghana needed to set aside a mitigation fund which could be relied on when petrol prices increased on the international market.
President Mahama insisted that his government had upgraded the Kumasi Airport to an international airport with the fixing of new lightning systems and the expansion of the runaway which could make the airport operate 24 hours a day.
According to him, the Kumasi Airport was declared an international airport in 2003 on paper but due to lack of facilities the airport could not operate as such, until his administration stepped in to upgrade the airport.
President Mahama announced that soon several houses would be demolished in Kumasi to pave way for the expansion of the runway at the Kumasi Airport so that bigger planes could land there.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu & I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Kumasi
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