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General News of Tuesday, 2 March 2010

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CPP’s Response to P State of the Nation Address

The Convention People’s Party (CPP) wishes to congratulate President John Evans Atta Mills for faithfully and diligently discharging his constitutional duty to the people of Ghana by delivering his state of the nation address on 26th February 2010 to the Parliament of Ghana. This is further evidence of the growth and strengthening of Ghana’s democracy, which the CPP will continue to support both in opposition and – one day soon – in office. Although we agree with the President that the macro-economy is better now than it was when he took office – inflation has reduced substantially over the past few months and the Cedi has stabilized to the point of even appreciating against major currencies - we remain worried about the Government’s slow pace at addressing some key social issues in the Country.

For example, we are unhappy with the fact that an all-important issue like “youth development” received only two short paragraphs in the President’s address. This is baffling because NDC-I in 2000 bequeathed to the NPP Government a comprehensive draft youth policy which languished for 8 years under the NPP and was never brought to Parliament for debate and enactment. We therefore expected NDC-II to fast-track passage of the youth bill in its first year in office to help deal with the myriad problems facing that segment of the population, including widespread despair and crime. This was not done and the current Government seems more interested in paying lip service to youth development than actually doing something substantive about it.

We call on the Government to, as a matter of urgency, address youth development in a more comprehensive, deliberate and coordinated manner than it has done so far. Youth employment (whether in agriculture or any other sector) is only one aspect of their development. We need a broad-based strategy for the wholesome development of our youth that goes beyond economic security and inculcates in our youth citizenship, the spirit of public service, morality, ethics, all of which are sorely missing in Ghana today.


In this regard, we urge the government to initiate an annual State of the Youth Report, complete with benchmarks that help us measure progress in youth development in all its forms.

We note too that the controversial issue of the Representation of the People’s Amended Act (ROPA) has been resurrected in an effort to broaden and deepen our democracy. ROPAA is supposed to confer the right to vote on Ghanaians living abroad. However, as the CPP repeatedly said during the 2008 electioneering campaign, there is a better and more cost-effective way to engage our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora in Ghana’s development than just giving them the opportunity to vote every 4 years; and thereafter hope that things would get better in Ghana for them to return to in the future. We can and should make it possible for them to take a more direct role in national development as Ghanaians at a fraction of the cost that ROPAA would entail. In this regard, we wish to reiterate our position on this matter as follows:

1. Let the Government and the Electoral Commission liaise with various Ghanaian Diaspora associations around the world to develop a framework that would allow 2-4 representatives from the Diaspora, duly elected by their Organizations from the four corners of the world, to be seated in the Parliament of Ghana as the nth constituency, combined. This would give them the opportunity to bring to the attention of Government issues that are of specific concern to Diaporans while, at the same time, allowing them to take part in debates on national development which concern us all. Such Diasporan representatives should be paid and accorded all privileges of locally elected representatives. The question of whether or not they shall be entitled to the same voting privileges as those elected locally can be open to public discussion and a mutually satisfactory decision taken.

2. We should consider amending the dual citizenship law to allow Ghanaians from anywhere in the world to hold any public office (with the exception of the Presidency); and be allowed to run for office as they wish. Today, Ghanaians are among the most globalized citizens of the world, many having been born abroad of partial or full Ghanaian parentage, and others having lived outside for decades but yet committed to the development of Ghana. Any law that limits the ability of these citizens to contribute directly to the development of the land of their birth needlessly deprives us of their invaluable experience and skills. We, not they, become the losers, for they then make those skills and experience available to their host countries while we spend millions of dollars on foreign consultants to provide the same services. ..........................2

The CPP also acknowledges the President’s efforts at modesty and humility, but we are disturbed by repeated news reports of the seemingly extravagant life styles of some his appointees while large sections of our population wallow in poverty and other forms of deprivation. Large amounts of public money, for example, are spent on rent advance of several years for a few privileged public officials in clear violation of the rent laws of Ghana which stipulate a maximum advance of 6 months. This practice does not only violate the law, but it also directly contradicts the tenets of social democracy (or Nkrumaism, as we prefer to call it), and thus widens the gap between the “haves and the have-nots” within our society.

In this regard, we urge the president to enact a code of ethics as soon as practicable but certainly before the end of 2010, to shape the behavior of his appointees as part of a broader effort to build the kind of just and equitable society that Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah envisioned for Ghanaians.

Lastly, we wish to commend the Government for increasing the production of certain staples of the country as part of our efforts to attain food sufficiency. It is imperative, however, that we always look beyond food security to include nutritional sufficiency, in view of the role nutrition plays in child development and the overall health of a society. The poultry industry, for example, plays a critical role in meeting the nutritional requirements of a society and yet, it is seldom, if ever, mentioned in Government policy. We believe that this situation must change.

We call on Government to initiate a comprehensive food and nutrition policy that will ensure that every sector of Agriculture gets the needed public support to grow in accordance with stipulated national development objectives while meeting our food and nutritional needs.

Ladi Nylander, Chairman and Leader

February 28, 2010