General News of Wednesday, 18 February 2015
Flagbearer of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo will be joining his party Wednesday morning to march across the national capital against the Mahama administration.
The march is also expected to be joined by supporters of other opposition parties such as the CPP, NDP and PNC.
Pressure group OccupyGhana has also given its blessings to the ‘wongbo’ demonstration, which the NPP intends using to express the frustration of Ghanaians to President John Mahama about the current energy crisis.
Ghana is currently shedding between 440 and 650 Megawatts of power during off-peak and peak periods as a result of a production deficit.
The production shortfall has come about due to poor hydrology of the three main hydro-electric power stations – Akosombo, Bui and Kpong – as well as lack of gas from the West Africa Gas Pipeline in Nigeria to supply gas to various thermal plants in the country.
As a result, both domestic and commercial consumers are bearing the brunt of the crisis, which Power Minister Dr Kwabena Donkor recently promised will end by December 2015.
“As a responsible political stakeholder, the NPP considers it a national duty to bring the deep suffering of the Ghanaian people and the intolerable state of affairs today to the attention of this government, which is obviously incompetent, insensitive and uncaring,” General Secretary Kwabena Agyepong said at a press conference Tuesday February 10, 2015 at which Wednesday’s demonstration was announced.
“We commence that struggle with a street protest…We call on all Ghanaians of different shades of opinion, including our NDC brothers, civil societies, labour unions, market women, unemployed youth, barbers, tailors, hairdressers etc., to join us on that day in order to send a clear message to the Government that indeed ‘won gbo’ – we are dying,” the former flagbearer aspirant said.
The party said: “The Government continues to show its inability to deal with the energy crisis,” adding that: “When we were leaving in 2009, we bequeathed them with enough generating capacity. So the question cannot be that of generating capacity. It is more of poor management of our power sector.”
According to Mr Agyepong, “the situation becomes more mind boggling when we consider the massive amount of resources that have been available to this administration over the last six years.
“Between 2009 and 2014, the NDC government borrowed the equivalent of some $27billion, which is more than four times the amount of money the NPP borrowed during its 8 years in power.
“The NDC Government collected Ghc62 billion as tax revenue in the last six years, which is in contrast to the NPP’s Ghc15.2 billion between 2001 and 2008. A similar comparison can be made with regards to gold and cocoa exports. In the same period, 6 years, the NDC has exported $14.5billion worth of cocoa as against $8.7 billion in the 8-year period of the NPP.
“The export of gold in the 8 years of the NPP amounted to $9 billion, whereas, in the 6 years of the NDC, gold export amounted to $25 billion,” the party said, and noted that some $13.7 billion of oil revenue have accrued to the country for the past four years since Ghana started exporting oil.
Apart from the power crisis, the NPP also bemoaned the depreciation of the Cedi by “almost 300% since 2009 when the NDC took over the reins of Government.”
“In addition, Ghanaians today are paying one of the highest pump prices for petrol in the world despite the fact that the world market price has plummeted to below $50.
On Tuesday the party accused the Police Service of unsuccessfully attempting to put a damper on the planned march after a Court refused to stop the demonstration.
The Ghana Police Service has said it indeed went to court about the intended march but the aim was not to place an injunction on it.
According to the spokesperson of the Accra Regional Police command, ASP Afia Tenge, a meeting between the leadership of the main opposition party and the law enforcement agency to agree on the route to use ended in a deadlock.
She said the NPP wanted to “alter” the original route – Obra Spot, Farisco Traffic Lights, TUC through Accra Polytechnic then to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and finally at the Hearts of Oak Park – but the police objected for security reasons.
ASP Tenge said “the leadership wanted to alter the route to use the Rawlings Park instead, but the police command said no, due to the commercial activities” it was not prudent to change.
“We went to court to decide the route for us since we did not receive any letter from the NPP to define the route they wanted to use,” the spokesperson said, adding they never went with an intention to stop the protest march.
“The court has defined the route for us” now, ASP Tenge confirmed.
“It is hereby ordered that the NPP abide by the designated route – Obra Spot, Farisco, TUC through Accra Poly then the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum,” the ruling, read by Tenge on Accra-based Joy FM, said.
ASP Tenge’s comments were a response to Mr Agyepong’s assertions at a press conference on Tuesday that the Ghana police wanted the court to block Wednesday’s demonstration, but were thrown out.
According to him, they have hard core evidence to prove their claim, insisting all is set for Wednesday’s protest march against the worsening power crisis.
“The Police went behind us to get a court injunction [to restrain us] but the court threw them out,” Agyepong said at a press conference Tuesday. “I have in my possession court documents relating to the injunction application.”