Politics of Thursday, 21 February 2013
President John Dramani Mahama has for the first time defended the Minister for Gender, Children, and Social Protection, saying the ministry's aim is not to promote gay rights but to protect vulnerable people in society.
Nana Oye Lithur, Minister for Gender, Children, and Social Protection, prior to her vetting, was criticised by several institutions on her stance on homosexuality.
Some of her critics alleged that Nana Oye Lithur would use her position to influence President Mahama to legalise homosexuality in the country.
But delivering his inaugural State of the Nation address, which was boycotted by the minority MPs, President Mahama stated that "the mandate of the ministry for Gender, Children, and Social Protection is not for the promotion of gay rights but to bring the fragmented schemes addressing marginalised people together".
President Mahama added that "the ministry will establish a database of our poorest people and work to enhance their access to social benefits. We cannot advance as a nation half poor and half rich. "Oye Lithur is experienced and capable and many would see her expertise through her work soon," the President said.
President Mahama in his address also stated that "we will construct 200 new community-based senior high schools and also design and implement a distance education program for teachers taking advantage of modern communications platforms so that students and staff at these colleges can connect remotely.
"Access to education must be expanded at all levels. We will reward outstanding educators and work to improve gender parity in education as well as working towards affordability."
Outlining his vision for the health sector, President Mahama said a sick population cannot accelerate the country's economy adding that the healthcare system is still understaffed.
He said "we will work towards improving access, service quality, working conditions, and we will hire more staff. We will start establishing regional hospitals in the Eastern and Upper East regions; upgrade the Central and Volta regional hospitals into teaching hospitals so that we enhance medical training".
He added that "we will build a new Kumasi Hospital to decongest the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and also build more polyclinics".
President Mahama also stated that the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) has facilitated partnerships to establish three agro-processing factories in the north.
He added that growers have been registered to support the operations of these factories and they have supported farmers with inputs like fertilisers. "Based on their example, I am overseeing the establishment of the Western Corridor Development Authority," Mr Mahama added.
The President also urged the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to build a formidable senior national team that can qualify Ghana to the World Cup and build upon the past successes.
"I request the GFA and management of the Black stars to go to the drawing board and come up with a formidable team to take us to the World Cup," Mr Mahama advised.