General News of Wednesday, 22 February 2017
NPP Director of Communications Nana Akomea says the failure of President Akufo-Addo to highlight the Bimbilla conflict in his State of the Nation Address does not belittle government’s commitment to the peace there.
He assured the Bimbilla conflict will feature in the 2017 budget statement to be presented in March where the Finance minister will give details about what government intends to do about the situation.
The President was criticised by ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa moments after the President had ended his maiden speech to Parliament on the State of the Nation.
He said the preference to talk about the international political situation in The Gambia over a deadly local conflict in Bimbilla was a ‘significant omission’.
At least 10 people mostly women were killed as the intractable conflict resurfaced two weeks ago in Bimbilla which is the constituency of the Defence minister Dominic Nitiwul.
“People have lost properties, people had to relocate, large villages have been deserted and the President doesn’t even spare a thought for Bimbilla,” he said.
Akufo-Addo remembered Gambia but left out Bimbilla, “I thought that, that omission was costly,” he stressed. Some have also said the President did not touch on the sports sector.
The Minority has expressed disappointment in the speech which some NDC MPs say lacked details of government’s plans and timelines for the fulfilment of some promises. Government has stressed that details of the president’s policies will feature in the budget.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Wednesday, Nana Akomea said government made it clear that the speech was going to depart from the previous government’s style of presenting a sector by sector state of affairs. The speech, he said, could not cover everything.
Akufo-Addo’s agenda in Tuesday’s speech to parliament was to highlight the ‘very bad state’ of the economy his government has inherited and provide hope to Ghanaians that government was capable of turning things around.
“If he had mentioned [the Bimbilla conflict], I would be happy”, Nana Akomea conceded but said it is an over-stretch to suggest Bimbilla is not a matter of concern to the president.
He explained that the political situation in Bimbilla is not as severe as it was on February 9 when an old chieftaincy conflict re-surfaced and gunshots rattled the peace. A curfew has been imposed in the area and security agencies are keeping the peace.
But in The Gambia, Ghanaian troops are part of an ECOWAS force on the ground as part of government’s contribution to ensure a peaceful transition.
Contributing to the discussion, the former GIMPA Rector Prof. Stephen Adei said he was happy the president left out Bimbilla because the situation there is “so sensitive” that “the less said in public the better”.
He said chieftaincy conflicts are proving difficult to resolve because politicians make comments that could be misinterpreted by feuding factions or inflame a faction.
“I don’t think it is a wise thing to talk about certain things…. one small mistake you lose the opportunity to deal with them on the ground,” he said.