President Akufo-Addo
President Akufo-Addo

President presents SONA today

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will present a message on the state of the nation to Parliament today, in which he is expected to enumerate some achievements over the last 12 months and spell out the roadmap for a stronger economy under an International Monetary Fund (IMF)-backed economic stabilisation programme.

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The exercise, which has become known as the State of the Nation Address, will be the President’s penultimate address ahead of his scheduled departure from office on January 7, 2025, after a two-term tenure that started on January 7, 2017.

Article 67(1) of the 1992 Constitution states that “The President shall, at the beginning of each session of Parliament and before a dissolution of Parliament, deliver to Parliament a message on the state of the nation”.

Expectations are high of what the President will say and tout as his achievements, given the many promises on which the New Patriotic Party government rode to power.

Many of the initiatives, which have been listed on the presidential website, www.presidency.gov.gh, cut across education, trade and industry, energy, gender and social welfare, railway development, a spirited fight against illegal mining, and bringing alive the country’s long-time vision of creating an integrated aluminium industry.

“My vision for Ghana is of an optimistic, self-confident and prosperous nation with a strong and thriving democratic society in which mutual trust and economic opportunities exist for all, irrespective of their background.

 I have an unshakeable faith that our country, the Black Star of Africa, under the leadership of the NPP, has a bright future, a future that will be secured by the enterprise, creativity and hard work of the Ghanaian people.

I will be the President for all Ghanaians.

Whatever your region, your tribe, your gender, your status or your religion, I will serve you all,” a statement found in his inaugural address summing it all up.

Challenging year

But on the back of a rather challenging year when the government needed an intervention from the IMF to sustain the economy, and the attendant issues that culminated in what became known as the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP), the President’s description of the state of the nation will be followed with keen attention from various quarters.

Indeed, it was one of his notable declarations that the country would soldier on without an IMF intervention that usually comes with stringent constraints on economic decisions, including employment, subsidies, tariffs and taxes, premised on a concept which became known as ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’.

What followed the decision to negotiate with the Bretton Woods institution, including the renegotiation of bonds with domestic investors and the attempt to introduce new taxes, including Value Added Tax (VAT) on domestic consumption of electricity, are well documented.

But the President is also expected to touch on successes in various other areas such as agriculture, education, health, roads, rails, ports (including airports), sea defence, digitisation, social protection programmes, industrialisation and tourism.

On their fronts, each sector appears to have contributed to the sustenance of the economy, with tourism alone forecast to rake in $3.6 billion in 2023 alone.

This followed the conscious exploitation of various platforms and products, including Beyond the Return, the refurbished Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, December-In-GH, the various traditional festivals, and boosted tourism arrivals with the attendant increased spending in the economy.

Within the space of the same year, education received an expanded and record intake for the senior high school (SHS) first years, with over 600,000 students who sat the Basic Education Certificate Examination qualifying for pre-tertiary placements.

That figure was the latest group of beneficiaries of the free SHS programme.

The programme has improved enrolment at the senior high level significantly. Nonetheless, it has come with some challenges, including inadequate accommodation at schools which has occasioned calls for a review.  

The President is also expected to tout the government’s acquisition of new trains meant to revamp local rail transport, the progress of the Agenda 111 hospital projects, ongoing road infrastructure development across the country, efforts to sustain energy production amid the mounting energy sector debts, internal and external security, among other deliverables.

2023 Address

In his 2023 address, President Akufo-Addo rallied Ghanaians to believe in themselves and their capacity to overcome the economic problems confronting the country.

“Such moments call for strength of character, a sense of purpose and an abiding commitment to the general good,” he said.

Today, the President is expected to dwell much on the current state of affairs and justify the claim that the country had turned the corner with brighter days ahead.

This is expected to include details of all the deliberations with the IMF, the expected inflows and the impact, with Parliament also expected to be mentioned for its role in reaching the current state.

Security

Although the ECOWAS regional bloc is riddled with security issues, with Ghana’s neighbour, Burkina Faso, experiencing terrorist attacks leading to the destruction of livelihoods, lives and limbs, Ghana has maintained a decent profile in terms of security, both internally and along the borders.

The Accra Initiative, an international collaboration with nations around the world and other international bodies to ensure that there is peace, security and development in the sub-region, including dealing decisively with the activities of pirates along the Gulf of Guinea, is also expected to receive a mention among the successes.

President Akufo-Addo is also expected to mention the preparations that the country has made towards hosting the rest of the continent at the African Games, and efforts to revive the fortunes of local sport generally.

When this message is through, the President will be required for the last time to present another message before the eighth Parliament is dissolved on the midnight of January 6, 2025.

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