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Politics of Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Source: Daily Graphic

Majority side gets a field day in parliament

Debate on President John Mahama's State of the Nation Address began in Parliament on Tuesday with the Majority side having a field day as the Minority side refused to participate.

In keeping with their decision not to have anything to do with the President in connection with the results of the 2012 elections, the Minority MPs remained silent in their seats as their Majority counterparts elaborated on some aspects of the President's address one after the other.

That made it easier for the Majority MPs who contributed to the debate to sail through smoothly without the usual heckling associated with such debates.

They also took advantage of the silence of the Minority to take swipes at them, with Dr Hannah Louisa Bisiw (NDC Tano South) and Mr Edem Asimah (NDC South Dayi ) being the protagonists. The "provocations" brought the member for Kwesimintsim, Joe Baidoe-Ansah (NPP), to his feet twice but he was prevailed upon by some members on the Minority side to ignore the comments.

It was the MP for Mion, Dr Yakubu Alhassan, who moved the motion for the commencement of the debate with the member for Biakoye, Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Bandua, seconding. Dr Yakubu said the message delivered by the President was "holistic, serious, focused and recognised every facet of the Ghanaian society".

He said in detailing his vision for the country's development, the President strongly put it across that as a developing middle income country, Ghanaians needed to work hard to deliver a standard of living commensurate with the country's present status.

He said the President was emphatic on the current need for an expanded economy that would provide tools for the teeming educated youth who had completed their education at various levels.

On education, he said the President promised sound, meaningful and relevant education with emphasis on expansion to make education opportunities accessible and affordable for all.

The President, he added, also invited the private sector and religious organisations to engage in the national reconstruction exercise for expanding access and improving quality of education.

On secondary education, he said the President promised to make good the campaign pledge of establishing 200 second cycle schools in deprived communities.

Dr Alhassan said on health, the President promised to build an ultra-modern teaching hospital for the University of Ghana and regional hospitals for the Upper East and Upper West regions.

The promise to upgrade the Volta and Upper East regional hospitals into teaching hospitals, the construction of 12 new district hospitals, a new hospital in Kumasi to ease pressure on the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, training of more nurses and midwives, among other things, he said, was also commendable.

He commended the President for other issues dealt with in his statement, such as the economy, foreign policy, private sector development, agriculture, employment, communication and ICT, as well as roads and air transport.

Mr Bandua said the President addressed the problems of mining and promised to ensure value for money in the sector.

He called for immediate steps to address the problem of illegal mining and an investigation into the problems encountered by the Tema Oil Refinery.

He also commented on the President's promise to provide motorable roads and urged the law enforcement agencies to be tough and ruthless in applying the laws on road safety.

The member for Ablekuma South, Fritz Frederick Baffuor, said no nation could thrive without good health facilities and added that the President's resolve to provide more hospitals was a step in the right direction.

He also commended the President for moves to improve the lot of fisher folk.

Dr Bisiw described the President as an effective and visionary leader who had set out to address the problems brought upon the nation by the New Patriotic Party such as the phenomenon of schools under trees.

She wondered if the Minority, which said it did not recognise the President, would accept the laptops he had promised to give to MPs and accused them of claiming "not to eat pork yet drinking soup made with pork".

She also accused the Minority of walking out of the Chamber but being present during the "kebab and small chops" session.

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