The Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday gave President John Mahama a ‘slap’ in the face by sitting motionless in their seats in a mourning mood after the President had finished delivering his State of the Nation address, while the Majority National Democratic Congress (NDC) members cheered the president with a standing ovation.
The Minority members had come to the chamber in mourning clothes (black) and after the President had finished with his speech, their leader was also cheered on by his members when he responded to the speech indicating that the serious challenges that the country is facing are self-imposed and that the nation is in serious distress.
While the Minority members remained seated after the President had finished with his speech, with the Majority also giving a standing ovation together with other dignitaries in the public gallery, the presidential candidate of the opposition NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who were seated in the public gallery to witness the occasion, also showed solidarity with the Minority members by refusing to stand up to applaud the head of state.
The NDC Member of Parliament for Tano South, who doubles as Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Hannah Bissiw, was so furious that she was heard shouting at Nana Akufo-Addo on top of her voice for him to stand up and acknowledge the President.
Nana Addo’s presence in the public gallery drew a huge attention as the Minority members filed to shake hands with him before the President entered the chamber to deliver his address.
The Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said they decided not to heckle the President because they wanted to protect the sanctity of the House as members of the diplomatic corps and other important dignitaries were present. Heckling him, the minority leader claimed, might be misinterpreted to mean that they were ‘mesmerised’ by the President’s speech.
‘In fact, there was nothing new in this address and that all the problems he had enumerated were avoidable,’ he said, stressing that the last time the President appeared before the MPs, he said the nation had been in that situation before and this year the President had come to repeat the same sentence that the nation had been in the situation before.
‘I thought the President would have said that last year that was where we were and that this year we have moved to this level.’
According to the minority leader, all the problems the President enumerated were avoidable but because of bad leadership, the problems keep recurring.
‘In the history of this nation, we have never had a government’s major budget being reviewed and brought back to Parliament three months after its presentation to Parliament,’ he recalled, stressing that that is exactly what the government is going to do next month, which is an indication that the economy is in serious trouble.
He said that the Minority would be telling the nation the true state of the nation in due course for Ghanaians to better appreciate the economic mess the NDC government had created.
The NPP MP for Upper Denkyira West, Benjamin Kofi Ayeh, told DAILY GUIDE that he was highly disappointed in the President’s State of the Nation address.
‘The President did not talk about any economic indicators, the current inflation, GDP growth, the current state of the cedi and the country’s mounting debt.
‘In fact, this President is not a leader, he is just a manager,’ he observed.
The MP for Komenda/Edina/Eguafo/Abrem, Dr Nana Ato Arthur, said he expected the President to talk about reduction of petrol prices because now crude oil is selling below $50 per barrel in the world market, which means Ghanaians should be buying fuel at GH¢7 per gallon, but the President did not talk about that, especially when one of his government’s thematic areas is ‘people first.’
The NDC MPs for Akwatia, Keta and North Tongu, Baba Jamal, Richard Quashigah and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, respectively, said the President spoke to the nation as a father and unifier and that his speech would definitely offer hope to Ghanaians.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr
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