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Feature Article of Thursday, 16 February 2012

Columnist: NPP-USA

The State of the Nation Address (2012) that President Mills Should Give

Madam Speaker,
Vice President,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
I have the honour to appear before you this morning to discharge the
constitutional mandate given to the President of the Republic of Ghana
to annually present a State of the Nation report to Parliament. Slowly
but surely 2012 is here with us.
Madam Speaker, last year when Parliament reconvened on the 26th of
January, you called on Honourable Members to be time conscious. At
the same time, I also called on my ministers to eschew politics of
insults.
I hope the Honourable Members heeded to your call. I can report that
my plea to my ministers seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Rojo Mettle
Nunoo, deputy minister of health, described nurses as stupid people
who are on probation. Kobby Akyeampong, who seems to excel in hurling
invectives, described our farmers as “kokoase nkurasefuo” and a former
Legon Hall mate of mine as “fruitcake.” Koku Anyidohu described
President Kuffuor in unprintable terms. His newspaper, the Informer,
has overtaken Daily Guide’s Akosua in the extremities of cartoons. And
our five deputy ministers of information have been successful in
calling Chairman Jerry Rawlings a mad dog with no purpose. Not even
chiefs have been spared in this ministerial insulting enterprise, as
the Volta Chiefs recently found out when they crossed the path of my
acid tongue ministers.
What disappoints me most is that people might tend to think I endorse
these insults. I do not. Indeed, I have warned these ministers
repeatedly privately and publicly. But they do not seem to take my
warnings seriously. I, therefore, leave it to the Almighty those who
call me “Nyaatwum” (hypocrite) and all sorts of bad names. I am not a
hypocrite. I do my very best.
Madam Speaker, I now pledge to give my ministers fresh warnings and
will continue praying for the insults to stop once and for all.
Insults don’t build nations.
Madam Speaker, I hereby declare that the 2011 action year was a
remarkable success. I intend to share with you and the honourable
members some of the highlights of our achievements, with emphasis on
education, housing, water, employment, corruption, security, war on
drugs, discipline, public sector wages, cost of living, rule of law
and the media.

In addition, Madam Speaker, the $3 billion Chinese loan will come to
fruition this year, allowing me to fulfill my campaign pledge of
hitting the ground running – waa-wa-waa-wa-waa-wa! So, in the name of
the Almighty, I am declaring this year the “Real Action Year (RAY)”
and will conclude my address with a 21 point plan. Did I hear my
friends on the other side heckling? What did we do with the $12
billion or so loans this House has approved? I am not aware of this
and I don’t know where the Minority is getting this information from.
I have to check with my Finance Minister. But, that is no reason to
doubt this $3bn Chinese loan and what it can do for our Better Ghana
agenda.


EDUCATION

Madam Speaker, as a former teacher myself, I know the pain and anguish
of parents when their children fail. I was, therefore, surprised to
learn that my tenure as President has witnessed a precipitous decline
in the pass-rate of students who sit for the Basic Education
Certificate Examination, resulting in 574,688 students failing the
BECE in the past three years, according to statistics released by the
West Africa Examination Council. The 2011 results of BECE students
have been the worst in 13 years, using 1998 as the base year, with
only 46.93% of students achieving a pass rate and thus being eligible
for placement into Senior High Schools. Out of the 375,280 students
who sat for the 2011 examination, only 176,128 passed their
examinations with the fate of 199,152 students left in their own
hands.
In 2010, 350,888 students sat for the examination with 172,359,
representing 49.12%, of students achieving a pass rate.
Madam Speaker, on a first glance, this might seem to be a disturbing
trend. However, a more careful analysis easily reveals that we are
being successful in swelling the ranks of footsoldiers and the
importance of this upsurge cannot be underestimated. We need to create
a new army of disciplined footsoldiers, whose loyalty can be
guaranteed, otherwise the nation risks returning to the period when
public toilets, NHIS offices and the like were being taken over by
uncontrolled footsoldiers.
Madam Speaker, due to the unexpected resignation of Mrs. Betty Mould
Iddrisu, as the minister of education, I am unable to present our
accomplishments at the SSS and Tertiary levels. I have asked the new
minister to compile and present this to you under a certificate of
urgency. But suffice it to say that we avoided a major strike by the
lecturers because of our meticulous migration of their salaries to the
Single Spine Platform. Fortunately, those who teach at the Medical
Schools are not classified as lecturers, under the civil service
structure, so their prolonged strike does not count against our
accomplishments.
I will touch a little on the Single Spine. I am happy to announce that
even though my predecessor left us no woyomoney… pardon me, no womo…
no money, we have been able to migrate workers onto the single spine
salary structure. And, even though like the two previous budgets, this
year’s budget makes no adequate provisions to cater for outstanding
salary arrears, let alone pay them their new salaries in full, my
government deserves credit for taking the bold steps to migrate
workers.
HOUSING
Madam Speaker
Last year I had the pleasure to announce the cutting of the sod for
work to commence on construction of an initial 30,000 housing units
out of a total of 200,000 units to be completed in 5 years. As I
mentioned, the first phase of the 30,000 units was targeted at the
security agencies in all the 10 Regions in order to provide decent and
acceptable accommodation for our men and women in uniform.
Subsequently, all other categories of workers were also to benefit
from the increase in our housing stock. I also announced that STX
Korea and its partners were eager to leverage a special $1.5bn loan
for this project.
Madam Speaker, it is with even more pleasure that I report that the
sod cutting was extremely successful. I am sure you saw the pictures
in the Daily Graphic. As I speak, we are yet to lay the first brick.
But 2012, being the RAY, I expect all the 200,000 homes to be
completed before the December elections. Did I hear another heckling?
Yes, during that excellent university sod cutting ceremony earlier
last year, I urged the people of Brong Ahafo to rush and enroll at the
BA University last September. What was wrong with that? You have to
register your child at GIS three years in advance to get in. What is
good for the privileged few who go to GIS is good for the ordinary
people in Brong Ahafo.
WATER
Madam Speaker, significant progress is being made in the existing
water supply situation. Last year, I indicated that through rationing,
many parts of Accra now have access to water. We have made even more
progress this year by bringing Dodowa into the rationing pool. As a
result of the progress made, the University of Ghana can now count on
having water every Sunday morning. The New Achimota area remains a
challenge for us but in this RAY, we expect to extend the rationing to
this water-starved area.
I have instructed all district assemblies to present a Real Action
Plan for providing wells in the next decade. With continued prayers
and ration, the problem of water will likely become a problem of the
past.
EMPLOYMENT
Madam Speaker, our massive infrastructure expansion plans in the areas
of housing, roads and railways, is opening up lots of job
opportunities for many categories of our labour force. Plans are far
advanced to bring those plans to feasibility. We created 1.5 million
phantom jobs in our first year alone – the year that government was
broke. So you can imagine how many more we have since created. The
opinion polls saying unemployment is the biggest issue are mere
propaganda. How can they be correct when we don’t have any reliable
data on unemployment? It is also an insult to many young men and women
who work hard selling on the streets. This RAY year, we will create an
additional 3 million. It is for this reason that I have assigned
Honorable E. T. Mensah to the Employment Ministry with Hon. Okudzeto
Ablakwa, serving as his Special Statistician.
CORRUPTION
Madam Speaker, one governance issue that will forever remain close to
my heart, is the fight against corruption.
As you may recall, under my directive, we implemented the policy of
renaming the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the Economic and Organised
Crime Office (EOCO) with prosecutorial powers. When I presented the
State of the Nation address last year, there was a shocking expose of
corrupt activities and practices involving revenue collection at the
Tema Port. The year before there was a similar expose on cocoa
smuggling along the country’s borders.
Madam Speaker, although I have not had time to address these shocking
exposes, you should know that I have been busy engineering judgment
debt settlements to transfer funds from the treasury to notable
financial engineers, such as Alfred Agbesi Woyome and Waterville.
Indeed, Madam Speaker, in the three years that I have been office, it
is with pride that I announce that I have paid over GH?642 million in
judgment debts.
Madam Speaker, according to the Auditor General, the 2011 action year
saw serious action in financial irregularity with the level of
financial irregularity for 2011 at GH?1.72 trillion. This appears to
be unacceptable and is the highest level of irregularity since
independence. I hereby pledge to reduce this number to a more
tolerable number this RAY.
JUSTICE
Madam Speaker, it is often said that justice delayed is justice
denied. I am extremely proud of what I have been able to do in
speeding up the delivery of justice. The classic demonstration of this
is the Woyome case, although the Waterville and Construction Pioneers
cases are also good examples. In the case of Woyome, I ordered my
Attorney General and the Finance Minister to ensure that the claims
made by Woyome against the Republic be settled without wasting too
much time to ascertain the veracity of his complaints. I find such due
diligence to be the major source of delays in our courts. I am proud
to announce that we paid Woyomne over GH?58 million within 2 months of
his lawsuit. This is a record! Yes, yes, I did say in 2009 that the
wheels of justice grind slowly but will eventually get to the
destination. We are deep inside the Better Ghana now.
Madam Speaker, I am also concerned about reports that we were a little
slow in effecting payments to Waterville, without the necessary due
diligence. Accordingly, I have directed the EOCO to prepare a report
indicating that everything we did was above board.

Madam Speaker, we will continue to find people, such as the Limping
man and Brazil Amankwaa, to get the country to talk about other
things, instead of Woyome and Waterville.
SECURITY AND PUBLIC SAFETY
Madam Speaker, we are not taking lightly the potential threats of
armed robbery. I have ordered 5 aircrafts at a cost of $ GH?350
million chase armed robbers.
Madam Speaker, I remain very committed to find the killers of Ya-Naa
and Isa Mobilla. Accordingly, I am asking the Attorney General to set
up a new task force to investigate the disturbances that led to the
Andani and Abudu conflict several years ago. I have also asked the
National Security Coordinator to prepare a report explaining how
Private Goka, the accused murderer, escaped from military detention.

Late last year, I ordered the re-opening of investigations into serial
killing of woman which occurred in the period 1998-2000.That sad
chapter in our history will not be closed until we get to the bottom
of those serial killings. As soon as I get the report, I will act
expeditiously.

Still on Security, Madam Speaker, fire outbreaks continue to cause
havoc throughout the county especially in the markets. As you are
aware, the Ridge residence of Chairman Rawlings was not even spared by
the raging fire. While thorough investigations by the Fire Service
have not identified the cause of these fires, I am appealing to the
citizens to quit smoking in their bedrooms. Also, please turn off the
lantern before going to bed.

During the action year of 2011, I asked District, Municipal and
Metropolitan Chief Executives to mount a serious check on violations
of regulations and bye-laws and remove unauthorized structures which
obstruct access to markets, drains and fire hydrants.

Public institutions are also expected to follow up on fire audit
reports and improve safety.
This year, The Fire service is expected to take delivery of a fairly
large number of fire-fighting engines and gear for its personnel.
Notwithstanding our efforts, the fires continue to burn.
WAR ON DRUGS
Madam Speaker, when I stood before this House in my first year as
President, I pledged to wage a concerted and relentless war against
the drug menace.

Three years down the line, I can confidently say to the people of
Ghana that we have acquitted ourselves very well in this regard. I am
very proud to announce that for the first time, we have been able to
show that cocaine can metarmophosize into NAHCO3, in the presence of
the Police. We have arrested the limping man. We are winning the war
on drugs. We intend to do more to metamorphose more drugs into NAHCO3
with the over 5,000 drug detectors that we have ordered from Israel.
DISCIPLINE
Madam Speaker, this is what I said last year “it is a fact that when
it comes to discipline on our roads, we cannot produce a script that
we can be proud of. We are constantly waking up to gory stories about
the carnage on our roads, and this cannot continue. We cannot continue
to sit and watch the wanton loss of precious lives.
I have given strict instructions to the Ghana police and other law
enforcement agencies to rigidly apply the appropriate sanctions in
dealing with all who fall foul of traffic laws, including my deputy
Interior Minister, Kobby Acheampong who insulted and jailed seven
policemen with the support of the IGP when they stopped him for
over-speeding. I have also instructed the Driver Vehicle Licensing
Authority (DVLA) to conduct an immediate review of processes for the
acquisition.
This is to ensure that we do not issue licenses to people who are not
qualified to have them.
The Attorney-General’s office is to review and strengthen legislation
to ensure drivers and owners of broken down vehicles that stay on the
roads and cause accidents death pay the price for it.”

Since nothing has changed, I need not change this line from last year!

Law and order and media
Madam-Speaker, all of us subscribe to the rule of law and free speech.
It is not enough to believe or proclaim, but rather to practice one’s
belief in an acceptable and peaceful manner.
Political stability is the gift of political discipline by all actors.
Those of us in leadership positions bear the heaviest burden in
ensuring that our actions and utterances do not incite people with
different views. The media has a huge responsibility in the effort we
must all make to encourage rational exchanges among reasonable people
with different views. Let us all keep one thing in mind; Just because
you have the right to say something does not mean you should say it.
Exercising good judgement is important. We must not always find fault
with other; sometimes it also helps to tell stories about Ghanaian
rising to the occasion.
Madam Speaker, I have warned the media and even my ministers to stop
the insults on the airwaves. They do not seem to want to listen. So
what I am doing now is to reward those who behave. I am setting aside
GH?10 million to be used to rent good-behaving media. Rented media
would be fed scripts from the Castle that are sanitized of all insults
before they can hit the air
A great illustration of the benefit from this enterprise is the recent
award winning reproduction of a 2008 report in the 2/15/2012 Daily
Graphic. They repeated the Amankwa story devoid of insults and
carefully replaced one letter from the passport number in the 2008
story. Kudos Graphic. You are rented!

Conclusion
Madam Speaker, I am confident that the challenges notwithstanding, the
policy choices and concrete development programme of this
Administration will raise Ghana to the next level with its promise of
a better Ghana.

Madam Speaker, we have built a solid foundation; we will build a solid
structure; and we will build a better Ghana.
Here is a list of 21 things that I will do in this RAY. You may have
seen them before but this time it is for real.
1. Review all public land sales to private persons

2. Find Ya-Naa killers

3. Find Mobilla killers

4. Flood Nsawam with NPP corrupt officials

5. Provide Korea homes for policemen by June 2012 and 100,000 STX
homes by December 2012

6. Ensure that my ministers do not engage in political insults

7. Build the Allied University in Hohoe

8. Build the Natural Resource University in Sunyani

9. Reduce the price of fuel mix for fishermen

10. Increase the working conditions for medical doctors (SSSS)

11. Fire inept ministers and ensure that 40% of ministers are females

12. Improve exam scores at BECE

13. Create massive employment for graduates

14. Create a Northern Development Fund

15. Reduce poverty

16. Reduce corruption

17. I will not appoint my brother and friends to Cabinet positions

19. Reduce the crime rate

20. Be a "Father to All."

21. The limping man will sing like a canary


May God continue to bless our homeland Ghana and make us great and strong.
I thank you for the opportunity, and I thank you for your kind attention.

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