Time 9:00am; Location: Parliament House
This is President Mahama’s last State of the Nation’s Address.
The last time he was here, he talked about “the tremendous power….within every single Ghanaian…to create change”
Well, they have created that change – truncating his ambition to serve a second term as President.
The Majority National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) and government ministers were punctual today. The Minority was – well – probably lobbying. They are a government-in-waiting so Parliament can wait – so it seemed.
It was quite easy to spot an MP who had retained a seat. If he wore a white dress, chances are the politician is safe. And there were many white dresses in the Minority caucus.
An hour to the start of Parliament, Sampson Ahi wore a frown as he moderated a three-man talk with two other NDC colleagues. It was a frown of a man, a Deputy Works and Housing Minister who had been fired – and yes technically he has been fired.
Presidential staffer Elvis Afriyie Ankrah
Keeping a close eye on the Majority-in-decimation and soon to be Minority-in-waiting was NDC founder, former President Rawlings. His entry caused a slight stir.
President Jerry Rawlings and Kofi Adams
Hawked up in the public gallery, he was not an amused man as he glanced through the Majority caucus with the look of a crime officer looking through a parade of arrested suspects.
Kofi Adams, the NDC 2016 Campaign coordinator, sat next to him. Kofi Adams used to speak for Rawlings but today, the two barely spoke to each other.
President Rawlings’ sitting place soon became a shrine as some politicians walked over to pay homage to the somewhat de facto leader of the NDC.
Beginning the queue was Professor Kwesi Botchwey, Rawlings’ Finance Minister during his powerful days. Kan-Dapaah, the incoming National Security Minister was next. He shook hands with Prof. Kwesi Botchwey, the man tasked by the NDC to investigate why Kan-Dapaah was smiling and the NDC-frowning.
The new minister shook Rawlings hands quickly and moved over to shake the top-brass of the national security services. A shake-up is expected in there soon but today was just for handshakes.
The 2016 Progressive People’s Party Vice-Presidential candidate Brigitte Dzogbenuku went over to shake People’s National Convention Presidential candidate Edward Mahama and later Prof Kwesi Botchwey. She ignored Accra Mayor Oko Vanderpuye and ended her pleasantries with President Rawlings.
Out-going Deputy Foreign Affairs minister Emmanuel Bombande sat in one of the rear seats and engaged in an important-looking discussion. Despite his long-experience in governance, he makes the list of Ghana’s shortest-serving ministers – three months.
When the signal was given that the Speaker of Parliament was to enter the House, order settled among the chatting clique of politicians. The lines were drawn. Minority to the left, Majority to the right – observing from the press gallery.
Parliament was like a Catholic Church Service today – a lot of rising and sitting as Supreme Court judges, Speaker of Parliament and President with his Vice were acknowledged.
President Mahama talked about his many achievements with less vigour.
A minute into the speech defeated Awutu Senya MP and Foreign Minister Hannah Tetteh walked in late. But her constituents wouldn’t really mind.
The Majority offered the President some ‘hear hears’ when he talked about strides in education, the economy, the road network and efforts in ending the energy crisis.
The Minority sat back, largely disinterested. They have been doing this lousy opposition job for eight years and so on this last day of being called the opposition, they appeared decidedly tired and allowed the President a stroll in the park.
NPP MP Adwoa Sarfo
But when President Mahama said School Feeding Programme was doing remarkably well, a dissenting voice in there shouted ‘ei?’ in apparent disbelief.
And when he talked about fighting corruption, the Minority woke up from some self-imposed slumber and heckled the President.
When the President warned about growing cynicism in the country’s politics, an NPP MP shouted ‘na who cause em?’
And they grumbled in disagreement when the President said the NDC inherited an ailing currency from the NPP government in 2009.
But they were especially excited when President Mahama called Akufo-Addo President Nana Akufo-Addo. ‘He is now no Opana’, another NPP MP teased.
So much for allowing the President a stroll in the park.
With the speech over, two female NPP MPs found a way to dance ‘onaapo’ to a traditional drumming and dancing that had nothing to do with the heavy political song.
The NDC MPs pulled out A4 sheets printed ‘ayekoo’. The Minority MPs simply pulled out their white handkerchiefs and shouted ‘bye, bye’ in a gleeful taunting that will hopefully end on handing-over day.
The last time President Mahama was the focus of parliament, a bullish Majority had the last laugh in the Ford gift saga.
That day the Majority laughed as the Speaker of Parliament singlehandedly crashed the Minority.
Today the joke appeared to be on the Majority as the Sovereign Ghanaian people singehandedly crashed the Majority – leaving the Minority with the spoils of victory.
Out-going First Lady Lordina Mahama, CHief of Staff Julius Debrah and Presidential staffer Stan Dogbe