Dazzling Mahama Tells Noisy Minority
The President, John Dramani Mahama, has told the New Patriotic Party (NPP), he was already delivering the change they are seeking to bring after the November 7 general elections, suggesting they were late in trumpeting an agenda of change.
“As we think we are standing still, change is happening. It is taking place and Ghana, our dear country is being transformed. I realized that just saying so, does not make it so, but I know too that seeing it is always believing”, he said.
He mentioned construction of roads, the end of the energy crisis, retooling of hospitals, building of schools, social interventions like the Livelihood Empowerment Assisted Programme (LEAP) among others as pointers to the changes happing in the country, which perhaps the NPP, whose Minority Members of Parliament (MPs) were very noisy on the day, are not seeing.
The NPP, whose presidential candidate and running mate, Nana Akufo-Addo and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, boycotted the all-important programme, have begun a campaign, especially on social media with a hush tag “Changeiscoming”. They trumpeted it loudly on the floor of the House yesterday in singing “So so stealing Mahama de do”.
The NPP MPs in particular who nearly marred the programme dressed in funeral attire tried desperately to distract the president, but were countered by their majority counterparts, who managed to silence them from time to time with their numbers.
At the tail end of the president’s submission, the Minority MPs, as if rehearsed suddenly turned into choristers singing “change is coming” showing red cards to the president. They were, however, almost immediately silenced by the majority who were dressed in exciting outfits chanting Helena Rabble’s song “So so wonders Jesus Dey Do” to “So so wonders Mahama dey do”
President Mahama, who was delivering his last mandatory State of the Nation Address (SoNA) for his first four-year term, said his social democratic government was implanting deliberate policies which are changing lives and transforming the country.
The president, who came to the House well prepared with “evidence-based” address, reading from both his teleprompter, mentioned names of some of the beneficiaries, whose lives had been affected positively, due to government’s massive infrastructural development, as well as policies.
Some of these beneficiaries, whose presence in the Public Gallery of Parliament yesterday was acknowledged by the President, stood up for the MPs to see them. They had travelled from many parts of the country to attend the yearly event.
“These are evidence based testimonies of the transformation taking place in this country…There is every tribe and every ethnicity among these people, it is every religious affiliation, it is young and old, it is various income levels. This is what we call the process of transformation,” the President said.
He went on, “it is when you don’t see people like this, that you don’t realize that change is happening and you think that change is coming. Change is happening and it is happening today in people’s lives”.
He added that, the individual beneficiaries who cover sectors such as, education, health and economy are indicate that he is bridging the gap between policy and the people.
“Mr. Speaker, in this address on the State of the Nation, I would like to show the direct line between policy and people. I would like to show how the seeds we have been planting for the last 3 years, have taken root and grown.”
The President singled out two girls, Apem Sholamitey and a Dzidzor Kwamwah, who had both benefited from some government educational programmes.
Speaking for almost four hours, President Mahama, noted that some 123 Community Day Senior High Schools (SHS) are being constructed as part of the 200 schools he promised, adding that they are at various stages of completion.
He added that, the new schools have created almost 200,000 new places for students, as part of the biggest secondary education expansion programme.
“The 123 schools that are being implement right now will create almost 200,000 new places in the system thereby making the community day school intervention the biggest ever expansion programme in the history of secondary education in Ghana.”
One of the beneficiaries of these new community Day High Schools is Apem Sholamitey, who is now the assistant school prefect of the Attah-Mills Community Day School at Otuam in the Central Region.
“It is because of this programme that the 16-year old Apem Sholamitey, is now the assistant school prefect of the Attah-Mills Community day school in Otuam,” the President stated.
President Mahama, also revealed that just three years after the establishment of the University of Health and Allied Sciences in Ho, it has enrolled over 2,300 students, while creating 816 jobs.
“Dzidzor Kwamwah is one of the students enrolled and the University and she has been given the chance to pursue her dream course in medicine following her completion of Senior High School (SHS) and placement challenges,” the President noted.
According to President Mahama, “this will make a difference in the lives of the patients that Dzidzor will treat in future when she passes out as a doctor.”
Mr. Mahama, who was dressed in a colourful smock called out a mother, Mercy Pomah, who had safely delivered her baby at the Nkora-Nkwanta polyclinic, despite the high probability of complications owing to a caesarian section she had had during a previous child birth.
He also recounted the story of one Umar Mahmud Muktar, who grew up a farmhand in village in the Upper West Region of Ghana, but is now benefiting from a health training institute course on his way to becoming a health care professional.
“This gentleman may probably save your life one day,” President Mahama quipped, referring to the Speaker of Parliament.
A 42-year old woman, Zainabu, was held up as an example of a Livelihood Empowerment Assisted Programme (LEAP) beneficiary, who has invested her grant in livestock farming. “She has increased one piglet into 10 pigs, and she is now able to support her household and take care of her family since husband passed away”.
Also in the gallery was a NPP Polling Station executive, who has won a road contract in the Ashanti Region.
He disclosed that, government has introduced a Teacher Professional Development programme to train teachers across the country. The aim of this programme, the president said, was to polish the skills of about 95 percent of teachers at the basic level by 2020.
The President also disclosed that, about 10,000 school supplies have been distributed to some schools to be given to teachers trained in Information Communication Technology (ICT). Over 30,000 teachers are expected to benefit from the initiative.
He said, government has been successful with basic education and although it has been commended by the United Nations (UN) for its achievements, “there are still a significant number of school children that are not enrolled in school”.
“These children are now being targeted under the compulsory Basic Education programme in the last year. A total of 54,800 of them in four regions in the country have been enrolled in schools. These are 54,800 who would not have otherwise received an education…their lives will have much different outcomes as a result of this programme,” he added.
The intervention will be topped up with the supply of free uniforms, sandals and test books to basic schools to be distributed to needy children. So far, 10,000 sandals made in Kumasi have been distributed to some basic schools across the country, the president said.
He said enrollment in tertiary education has increased by over 6 percent for universities and 8.9 percent in polytechnics.
President, commended the staff of Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) voluntarily imposed a 20% pay cut on themselves as part of sacrifices to bring the country’s only refinery back on track.
Announcing the resumption of refinery, President Mahama said, “TOR, I’m pleased to announce is operational, and is poised to resume its strategic role in petroleum production in Ghana.
“Mr Speaker, I salute the acting MD and the staff of the refinery for their hard work and the sacrifice they have made to bring the refinery back on stream.
“Mr Speaker – and this is very interesting – the staff of TOR voluntarily took an unprecedented 20% pay cut as their contribution for putting TOR back on its feet. …I salute you…well done,” Mr. Mahama applauded.
TOR resumed operations about a month ago after it was shut down for about a year following engineering and financial problems. The refinery owes about $650 million. It has started refining about a million barrels of crude this month.
On power, Mr. Mahama said, enough hard work has been done to overcome the power challenges that bedeviled the country for the last three years. He said he had fulfilled his promise to Ghanaians of fixing the power challenges that is popularly referred to as ‘dumsor’
Over 800 megawatts of power has been added to the national grid which he said is the “fastest mobilization of emergency power in the history of Ghana.”
“A year ago, I stood before this very August House and promised to fix the power sector deficit that at the time had become a significant constraint to the economic growth and a destruction to Ghanaians both home and at work. This was a time of considerable national anxiety.
The deficit brought about a severe power rationing and I was very much concerned. Ghanaians had to sleep in darkness or spend money to fuel generators. Businesses faced challenges, and I expressed my full regret to the nation and I took full responsibility as President and leader of this nation and commander in Chief.
It has not been easy. It has been a year of hard work; Hard work that has made us to achieve the fastest mobilization of emergency power in the history of Ghana.”
“About 800 megawatts of power has been added to our generation within the shortest period of time. Fast-tracking the finalisation and commissioning of KTPP added 220 megawatts, Fast-tracking the commissioning of TICO’s combine cycle added 110 megawatts, mobilizing Karpower added another 220 megawatts, and Mr. Speaker, as I speak, Ameri is adding 250 megawatts extra power to our transmission grid. In addition, 180 of Asogli phase two is also available as soon as we can get extra gas for it.