Attention, Mr President! - Attention, Mr President!

BY: Hadiza Nuhhu-Billa Quansah
Veteran journalist Mr Ebo Quansah was among the lucky ones who asked questions.
Veteran journalist Mr Ebo Quansah was among the lucky ones who asked questions.

A number of journalists who went to the Flag Staff House last week Wednesday for the much-anticipated media engagement with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo did not get the opportunity to ask their questions.

Only a few were lucky to ask questions, after President Akufo-Addo had highlighted his achievements and challenges since he assumed office in January 2017.

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A number of journalists therefore, returned from the Presidency with their questions in their pockets, since they did not get the opportunity to pose them.

To those who watched the President’s first media engagement in 2018 live on television or the Internet, the questions could be rated as good, bad and ugly.

The Mirror, therefore, decided to randomly pick some questions that some media personalities would have asked if they had had their turn
For Ms Rosalind K. Amoh of the Graphic Sports, who attended the programme, her question was: “Given the huge economic benefits of sports, what is the government doing to use sports to solve the huge unemployment challenge in Ghana?”

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For his part, the Managing Editor of the Daily Heritage, Mr William Asiedu, said he would have asked the President what his workable plans were to deal with the filth and general indiscipline in the country “especially in respect of the nation’s tourism drive”.

Umaru Sanda Amadu of Citi FM was among the invitees who could not push his questions through, and according to him, his unasked questions to the President were two. First, “To fulfill your ambitious promise of making Accra the cleanest city in Africa, your government borrowed $48 million in August for sanitation purposes.

“As a radio station, we have been tracking these issues and one year on, Accra still stinks. Indeed, some 40 per cent of basic schools in Ghana have no toilet facilities. And there’s little to show for the Sanitation Ministry created by your government.

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“Mr President, can you give us timelines that you gave the Sanitation Ministry and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to make Accra clean?”
For his second question, he said: “In February last year, the Chief of Staff set up a task force to retrieve state vehicles which were ‘yet to be handed over to the government by individuals, contrary to law’.

There have been claims and counter claims about how many vehicles were left behind by the previous government.

“Former President John Mahama said he left behind a “sea of cars”. We are also aware based on various claims made by members of your government that some vehicles have indeed been retrieved.

“Question: How many vehicles have been retrieved so far? Where are these vehicles? And while we’re at it, has your government imported the 43 vehicles purchased by the government?”

Ms Peggy Ama Nhyira Donkor of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) wrote on my Facebook wall that her question to the President would have been: “Please, when will the Persons With Disabilities Act (2006) be enforced, and who is monitoring the new buildings, including the seat of government, for accessibilities and adaption of the old ones?”

Mohammed Shardow, who wished he was at the Presidency, said his question to the President would have been “whether it is true that the Presidency is the clearing house of alleged corrupt officials of his government”.

With health-related questions on his mind, Anthony Nii Adjetey Adjei specified that sanitation and health were said to be like Siamese twins, co-joined at the heart.

“Considering the link between sanitation, health and economic growth (productivity), “what is your government, first of all, doing about Ghana’s poor sanitation record which is deteriorating by the day and our failing mental health system”?

Staggering figures

Factually, this is not the first time a sitting President has availed himself for an exclusive time with the press to account for his government and also answer direct questions from them.

Former Presidents John Agyekum Kufuor, John Atta Mills and John Mahama held a few of such meetings while in office.

The President touched on several issues, among them being the sad scenes of “young people who got up at dawn and formed long queues in stadiums and parks, in the hope of getting a job with the Ghana Immigration Service.

“I know it is not a new story. Some 84,000 people applying for jobs, and over 47,000 of them meeting the minimum requirements as advertised and the organisations only looking for 500 people to hire,” he noted.

Adding to that, similar scenarios are being played out in all sectors of the public service. The Ghana Revenue Authority also advertised for various categories of staff.

A total of 59,991 responded to the advertisement, out of which 20,177 met the requirements, but the available vacancies were 350.