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Opinions of Sunday, 14 March 2010

Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku

Mills’ State of the Nation Address - Tantamount to National Humiliation

Promises, they say, are like babies easy to make but hard to deliver. In view of this Shirley Maclaine posits that, “It is useless to hold a person to anything he says while he is in love, drunk or running for office”. However, if Shirley’s statement was to hold water, there wouldn’t be any inducement to participate in political affairs of the nation. But here, Plato cautions us against such move because not only could we be ruled by our inferiors, but we could end up leaving our destiny in the hands of evil doers.
Fellow Ghanaians, ever since the president delivered one of the worst ‘State of the Nation’ Addresses to Parliament, Ghanaians from all over the world have expressed shock on this package of lies. Having gone through the nitty-gritty of the said speech, I deem it fit as a patriotic Ghanaian to give a more coherent and appropriate address befitting the current socio-economic and political situation of the country. This would enable the electorate make an informed decision, come 2012.
Madam Speaker, just over a year ago 50.47% of the electorate mistakenly voted this monstrous party, the NDC, of which I am the leader to take over the administration of our beloved country. They elected us because we promised an Agenda of Change for a better Ghana - with propaganda, insults, violence, threats and intimidations as our modus operandi. In fact, I made a commitment to do away with the uncouth style of the P/NDC and strengthen our democratic credentials through the New NDC but I am sorry to say that things have gotten out of hand due to my managerial lapses. I wish to sympathise with the local Black Stars for their inability to lift the maiden CHAN tourney in Cote d’Ivoire all because a whopping $12,000 from the state coffers was wasted by 40 NDC officials, including ‘Kyinkyinka’ Muntaka and his girlfriend on the trip.
Madam Speaker, in my ‘State of the Nation’ address last year, I gave a lot of mouth-watering’ promises with regard to improving the ‘ecomini’ which grew at 7.3% in 2008. However, if you want to know how incompetent my administration has been, I will direct you to look at the current GDP growth rate. My ‘Team B’ administration of which I am the proud captain, managed a GDP growth rate of 4.7% in 2009. This shows how fast the country is retrogressing. The main cause of the decline in the economy was simple. I refused to pay government contractors, newly-trained teachers as well as national service personnel for several months, the cedi was freely falling, interest rate was very high and inflation rose from 18% to over 23%. These negative economic indicators, among others, affected investment and the activities of the private sector.
Madam Speaker, one year after our election, I am proud to stand before this august house and say with shame that – “The State of the Nation is worse!”. If I am to be tempted to indulge in a bit of sloganeering and be honest to myself and make a comparison of the situation of Ghana today and when we took over a year ago, I can regrettably say, “So Far, So Bitter”. I must also say that there is still a huge amount of work to be done and you can be sure that your President and his ‘born dogs’ are ready for the task since the chief propagandist – Fiifi Kwetey and his village team of ‘Setting the Records Straight’ will be fully alive to propagate the gospel of lies to you. In addition, the ‘Azoka Boys’ will be fully armed to intimidate the voters in the northern parts of the country. I would like, if I may, to touch more specifically on some of the bad things that we have done in the last twelve months – and to set before you the worse things that will follow in the years ahead.
A Bleak Atmosphere
Madam Speaker, our nation which became an example of African Democracy of which all Ghanaians were proud of is now an eyesore. In fact, I must commend my predecessor, His Excellency J.A Kufuor, for his high level of tolerance to opposing views and verbal attacks especially from J.J. Rawlings. Currently, my administration is consciously developing an atmosphere where criticisms would be seen as ‘enemy action’ and will be discouraged. It is in the light of this that I have abolished the People’s Assembly concept initiated by President Kufuor. Besides, the Ashanti Regional Minister - Kofi Opoku Manu has tasked all NDC members and sympathizers to do justice to any opposition member who dares criticize my administration. This year, I declare that freedom of speech should be exercised by only NDC members because we are living in an NDC Ghana. For Nana ‘Mandela’ Darkwa and other media practitioners who have been at the receiving end of NDC ‘machoism’, you can wait till the NPP forms the next government. At this juncture, I do not need to remind Ghanaians of the political party that put the criminal libel and seditious laws into the statute book to gag the press.
Madam Speaker, the Finance Minister addressed sectoral performances in his 2010 Budget Statement last November. Permit me to make brief observations on some critical sectors – the Economy, Youth Development, Education, Health, Housing, Security and Governance.
With my failure to keep to my promise of a ‘lean’ government, not only did I appoint a Finance Minister with two deputies but also a 10-member Economic Management Team headed by Gobind Nankani with my own brother, Cadnan Mills and the ungrateful political prostitute and opportunist Togbe Afede XIV as members with the task of improving the economy. However, this is not what Ghanaians are witnessing at the moment. Living conditions have gone so high thus making the appointment of these people useless. We faulted the NPP for being in bed with the Breton Wood institutions and here I remember Tony Aidoo condemning the NPP for their lack of foresight in generating funds internally. In the course of the year when members of my administration began to empty the national coffers, the NDC government had to beg the IMF and the World Bank for funds. The conditionalties attached to such billions of dollar loans received and their negative effects are clear and unambiguous for the Ghanaian populace to feel. Some of these hardships include a freeze on public sector employment and increase in taxes on basic commodities such as rice, oil, poultry and even sachet water. Whilst Airport tax has gone up to discourage Ghanaians from leaving the shores of Ghana and feel the impact of a ‘Bitter Ghana’, that of ‘Akpeteshie’ has also been increased by 20% with the view to discouraging people from drinking this local gin.
Madam Speaker, my promise of a drastic reduction of fuel prices was a mere political talk meant to deceive Ghanaians and to test the potency of my propaganda machinery. ‘Mpanin se, afidie yi aboa a ne su nko, 3na 3gyae no nso a ne su nko’. It is indeed an undeniable fact that the NDC needs to raise substantial amount of money for the 2012 general elections. I have thus increased the prices of fuel from 3 Ghana cedis to 5.3 Ghana cedis. Electricity and water tariffs have astronomically gone up an indication of my insensitivity to the plight of the poor. I have also increased the Road Toll by 900% and an amount of 680,000 Ghana cedis was realised within two weeks of the imposition. I urge all Mathematicians to multiply this amount by 3 years and see how the electioneering campaign of the NDC would be funded. I would however like to assure Ghanaians that this day light robbery by my administration will be re-paid to the electorate later in the form of ‘nkuraba’, ‘mm3ntoa’, salt, rice and T-shirts which would be distributed in the course of the 2011 electioneering campaigns.
Madam Speaker, I so often hear the cry from our people that money is hard to come by. People have been questioning the whereabouts of the promised money but frankly speaking, I do not remember making that promise. But even if this was true, all that I can say now is; “Me ara na me kaae3 nso me san boa”. Not long ago in Kumasi, I took a swipe at Ghanaians for complaining too much about the economic hardship. However, with my background as a tax expert, the only legacy that I can bequeath to Mother Ghana is to ensure that the country derives maximum benefit from taxation. It is therefore my fervent hope that Ghanaians position themselves to meet their tax obligations because that is the only way this clueless government could get money to feed the numerous ‘greedy bastards’ hovering around the Castle.
Food and Security
Madam Speaker, for most Ghanaians, simply getting enough good and quality food is both the highest priority and highest cost item. To this end, I tasked the Ministry of Agric to implement the Youth in Agriculture programme with the aim of getting the numerous unemployed youth in the country including the ‘kayayes’ (head porters) on our farms. This, I believe would occupy the ‘Azoka Boys’ and other notorious members and sympathizers of the NDC in Yendi, Bawku, Agobloshie and Tamale and stop them from killing and causing harm to their fellow human beings. As you might be aware my only son, together with, those of my ministers and other appointees are excluded from enrolling in this useless programme. Interestingly, children of my appointees deserve to be in Youth in Education programme and no wonder most of these kids have gained scholarships to study abroad. In fact, if I had any better policy to revamp the agricultural sector, my own P/NDC administration would not have closed down Pwalugu Tomato Factory and sold over 100 state-owned enterprises built by Dr. Nkrumah. Besides, my former Spokesman – Mahama Ayariga, Alban Bagbin and other leading members of my party wouldn’t have stolen several tractors meant to help our poor farmers.
Oil and Gas for Industrial Take off
Madam Speaker, as Ghana becomes an oil-producing nation, thanks the NPP administration, we will maximise for all NDC functionaries – any benefit that we can accrue from this bounty of nature. As you could see we have signed new oil agreements with several Chinese oil companies, thus kicking out Kosmos and EO groups - who discovered the oil. The Energy Minister – Oteng Adjei has already thrown dust into your eyes that each Ghanaian could pocket only 17 Gp (1,700 old cedis) if the expected revenue was to be shared among Ghanaians. This is just a camouflage to divert your attention from the oil money. As a reminder, the TOR debt continues to pile up. Already, the following Ewes, most of them with Akan names are occupying strategic positions in the energy sector – ex-convict Tsatsu Tsikata – advisor to the president on energy, Kwame Ampofo – Director of TOR, Nana Asafo-Adjei – CEO of GNPC, Thomas Manu – top technical officer at GNPC, Sq. Ldr. Clend Sowu – Chairman of ECG board, Akilapa Sawyer – Chairman of VRA board, Mrs. Clothilde Agbenoto – Member of NPA, Mr. Akoto – Director of Bulk Oil Storage and Transport (BOOST). Indeed, the oil and gas was struck in commercial quantities in the era of NPP contrary to my earlier assertion that it was God-sent. Actual commercial exploitation is beginning under my presidency. Initially my vision was to use the oil and gas discovery to pursue my ‘Better Ghana’ agenda but looking at the hurry with which 98% of Ewes in the Diaspora has returned home to occupy all sensitive positions, I would not be surprised at all if the oil find becomes a curse instead of a blessing to our country.
Madam Speaker, I don’t need to tell you about the employment opportunities I have created for my party sympathizers. A few months ago when the party foot soldiers began to moan about their poor predicament, I directed all my political appointees to address their concerns. In addition, a sizeable number of people perceived to be sympathetic to the NPP was sacked from state institutions to pave way for NDC members. Details are available at MDAs as well as offices of National Youth Employment, NHIS, School Feeding Programme, Metro Mass Transit etc. Again, not only did new employees at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have to be sacked but also over 400 army recruits had to stop their training midway because they were all employed by the previous government. During the first three months of my administration, I directed the NDC youth to seize all public toilets, markets, and car parks, vehicles and passports belonging to opposition members. These were in fulfilment of my promise of “NDC Ghana and NPP Ghana”. As I speak now, the Army, Navy, Air Force, Customs, Immigration, Fire and the Prisons services are being packed with NDC members, mostly Ewes.
Madam Speaker, I was able to provide a few school uniforms in my home region – Central, contrary to my promise of supplying free school uniforms to all public basic schools. I had to eat back my words and limit the distribution to deprived public schools because of the cost involved. I have not been able to continue the “Model School” concept started by Kufuor. It is disheartening that student loans have not been released on time since I came to power. For strategic reasons, I am delaying the implementation of the Single Spine Salary Structure until the oil money arrives. The teachers can continue with their strike action but my government is not perturbed at all because such action will not be sustainable as the leadership of the association could be enticed with stipends to calm the nerves of their members. Seriously, I expect the GNAT, NAGRAT and the UTAG to make separate pronouncements on how poorer their conditions of service have become under the New NDC. At the beginning of my presidency, Madam Speaker, I reduced NAGRAT’s responsibility and car maintenance allowances from 4 Ghana cedis to 30 Gp and 40 Ghana cedis to 7 Ghana cedis respectively. Reading from page 6 of the NDC manifesto, we stated categorically that we would pay licensed teachers and professional allowance of 15% of the basic salary, pay Technical and Vocational teachers an additional 10% of their salary and lastly pay teachers in deprived areas an additional 20% of their basic salary. But the question is; how do Ghanaian teachers expect us to fulfil this promise looking at their huge numerical strength? And how do they expect us to put ghost names on the pay register as we did in the 1990s? The teachers can continue to leave the profession or seek greener pastures elsewhere but who cares? After all, none of us has any child in any of the public schools. In my quest to revert the duration of the SHS from 4 years to 3 years, the NDC government has wasted an amount of 280,000 Ghana cedis (2.8billion) old cedis on that useless educational forum. This is the state of education under a ‘Bitter Ghana’ headed by a university lecturer and a so-called law professor.
Madam Speaker, my party kicked against the National Health Insurance Scheme. We boycotted parliament when the bill was passed into law all because the “Cash and Carry” system was killing the poor which was a tool for keeping Ghana’s population under control. In my manifesto, I promised a “One-time premium” payment but I must admit that this is far from reality unless each Ghanaian pays an amount of 687 Ghana cedis. The NHIS is even on the verge of collapse as patients still pay for their drugs.
Members of Parliament
For MPs, we will implement two new programmes that we promised in our manifesto - the “MP Constituency Development Fund” and the “MP Constituency Office” in each of the 230 constituencies and pay one Administrator identified by an incumbent MP, a fixed monthly salary from the national coffers. Should this programme materialise, expect me to begin from the Northern and Volta regions because majority of them are NDC MPs. I am conscious that I made this promise in my State of the Nation address last year, but we could not implement it in 2009. And in any case, why should the MPs complain about my inability to fulfil this promise? It is indeed high time our Honourable MPs were told that they are not the only Ghanaians who deserve to enjoy all the goodies in the country. Have I not given them $50,000 car loan on top of the $20,000 they received under President Kufuor? How many of them have repaid the $20,000 car loan as of now? Just recently these same MPs forced me to release money for their End of Service Benefits (ESB) else they would reject the 2010 budget statement. The ESBs received by the likes E.T. Mensah, Doe Adjaho, Bagbin since 1996 could even build 10 public universities. As I address you this morning, these MPs are pressurising me to give them further loans for individual accommodation in Accra.
Almighty Corruption
Madam Speaker, if I had my way, I would dodge this topic. Admittedly, the NDC lost the 2012 general elections the very day I could not muster courage to sack ‘Kyinkyinka’ Muntaka. According to Muhammed Ali, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks virtually accomplishes nothing in life”. And on this note I must commend my predecessor, J.A. Kufuor for taking a drastic action on a member of his cabinet, Mallam Issah as well as thieves and economic murderers like Tsatsu, Abodakpi, Selomey, Sipa-Yankey. The humiliation and disgrace caused our party by the Mabey and Johnson case is still fresh in our minds and I know this will be one of the major weapons of the NPP in 2012. But care must be taken in blowing these cases out of proportion since Muntaka and Co are not the first politicians to commit such crimes. The Transition team spent 3.6 billion cedis on tea ‘mpampa’. The Central Regional Minister - Ama Benyiwa-Doe, the Greater Accra Regional Police commander – Rose Atinga-Bioh, Cadnan Mills, my former Spokesman – Mahama Ayariga and of course myself, have managed to put up mansions under my administration. The Freedom of Information bill cannot be passed likewise the enforcement of declaration of assets of public office holders. What further evidence do Ghanaians want me to prove to convince them of a ‘better Ghana’ for my cronies? The setting up of several ‘konom teas’ or is it committees to investigate every single problem in the country shows the level of my intellectual disability. The declaration of assets of my own ministers would be hard to enforce let alone fulfilling a promise of 40% ministerial portfolios to women.
Madam Speaker, let me put it bluntly! The spectacle of homeless people and street children in our urban areas is not acceptable and cannot be tolerated. Our predecessors started a number of “affordable” rental housing projects in some parts of the country. I have also begun to renovate only 7 government bungalows with a cosmic sum of 56 billion old cedis. I have seized ex-President Kufuor’s office and even though he has not been provided with state accommodation as approved by the last Parliament, a new mansion has been given to Lordina Mahama – wife of the Vice President. Under my administration, the demolition exercise has ensured the pulling down of over 1200 structures in Accra alone rendering over 40,000 people homeless yet we have not been able to complete the Affordable Housing projected initiated by the Kufuor administration.
Madam Speaker, we cannot afford to put a blind eye to the rate of armed robbery, murder, rape and narcotic offences. In the course of the year, the police had to engage these muggers in a gun battle resulting in the instant deaths of a number of armed robbers. This was followed by ‘sakawa’ which made human beings turn into snakes. The people of Bawku, Yendi, Tamale, Bankurugu, are yet to be handed the peace I promised them as an ‘Asomdwe3hene’. The sporadic gun shots in Bawku coupled with stripping teachers naked is a clear testimony of my inability to bring peace to the northern part of Ghana. I have still not forgotten the perpetrators of the heinous crime at Gbewaa Palace and I am counting on his ‘Jerryship’ to provide me with the list of those criminals as soon as he finishes with his so-called chemical interrogation.
Good Governance
Madam Speaker, it is only those politically blinded people who will deny the fact that Ghana was a democratic icon on the African continent over a year ago. Gone were the days when Ghana participated in all G-8 meetings to the extent of our beloved country chairing the UN Security Council. Admittedly, I was jealous of President Kufuor who was the toast of most powerful leaders. I therefore stated repeatedly to be the ‘father of all Ghanaians’ and that there would be no NDC Ghana or NPP Ghana. It was thus amazing that Ghanaians bought this mantra knowing how irresponsible I am. How do they expect me to take such a huge burden of caring for over 23million people knowing well my only son could not be catered for? It was in this view that I decided to be selective in all my responsibilities. In line with this, I have appointed over 70 incompetent personalities from my second home – Volta Region as ministers of state, ambassadors, DCEs, chairpersons and members of board of government institutions. Even at the Castle, I am surrounded by these Ewe lads such as the Anyidohos, Smiths, Kweteys, Hlodzes, Segbefias with Victor Gbeho and Kofi Awonor as my chief advisors. No wonder Rawlings describes them as ‘greedy bastards’. Today Kwabena Adjei and Ludwig Hlodze (both Ewes) – NDC chairman and youth organizer respectively ride in motorcade.
Madam Speaker, Colleagues and Friends, ten years ago when I was handpicked as the NDC Candidate for President, I made a public pledge – that I would consult my mentor, J.J. Rawlings 24/7 notwithstanding his low intellectual capability. This earned me a befitting accolade ‘POODLE’. I had to ignore him along the line when I realised he wanted to usurp my powers. I have thus on several occasions insisted that there is only one President in Ghana. ‘Mpanin se, s3 obi y3 wo papa a, na woaha wo’ else how could I stoop so low for somebody who is younger enough to be my son to insult me in public? Madam Speaker, I believe I have dearly paid for the price of deceit and lies hence the frequent slips of tongue – the ‘ecomini’ (economy), ‘Ofumtoo’ (Otumfuo), ‘Omama’ (Obama) and ‘Munsaka’ (Muntaka). Having performed so miserably in the last 12 months, I, Atta ‘Mortuary man’, believe that it is an honour to stay in the Castle instead of moving to the Jubilee House. The earlier I prepared my handing over notes, the better. The economy of Ghana has been badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of my party members.
May all therefore keep quiet as we work towards building a ‘Bitter Ghana’, where fire and CSM outbreaks have become the order of the day. I thank you for the opportunity and your attention and may God continue to bless our homeland Ghana, open our eyes, deepen our minds so that we would not be ‘fooled’ for the second time by the National Disappointed Congress (NDC), come 2012.
God Bless Ghana! God Bless the NPP!! God Bless Kufuor!!!
Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, (a.k.a Paulucious) MEd. Hull, UK.
Member, Communications Directorate, NPP-UK & Eire
Member, Electoral & Research Team, NPP-UK & Eire 07944309859
“Vision, coupled with persistency, results in true success”