When President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo steps onto the rostrum in Parliament House today to deliver his second State of the Nation Address (SONA), Ghanaians will expect to know the real reasons he had declared in his maiden SONA last year that he was in a hurry to fix the ailing economy.
He surely has not run the full distance of the sprint yet, but Ghanaians would want to know the distance in terms of deliverables he has covered so far and whether the address will offer any hope to the people.
In his first SONA delivered 48 days after his swearing-in, President Akufo-Addo had made it clear that he had no time to waste in lifting the state from the economic abyss.
“I am, indeed, in a hurry, I am in a great hurry. The times in which we live demand that we, all, be in a hurry to deal with the problems we face,” he had told the House.
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A year later, specific deliverables will be expected from the President to demonstrate how he has put his words into action.
The economy, governance, national culture and attitudes formed the central focus of the 2017 SONA.
Although it was not a detailed account of the state of the nation, it, nevertheless, highlighted some of the fundamental elements of the situation of the country.
President Akufo-Addo had told Parliament last year that the economy which he had inherited was in a bad shape.
Among the specifics, he spoke of poor revenue performance in 2016.
“The total revenue target for our country was GH¢37.9 billion (22.7 per cent of GDP) but the actual revenue came in at GH¢33.2 billion (19.9 per cent of GDP),” he had said.
He also told the legislative body about the abysmal GDP growth in 2016 (including oil), which was estimated at 3.6 per cent. That, he said, was the lowest GDP growth in about 23 years.
Besides, the President spoke about the unacceptable debt stock of the country, which stood at GH¢122 billion at the end of 2016 — 74 per cent of GDP.
Again, he sought to downplay the impact of the IMF programme on the economy, saying it was very clear that the objectives set out in the programme had not been achieved at the time.
But has there been any upturn in the situation? The answer may be known today.
One critical area where the attention of Ghanaians will be focused is job creation.
Unemployment has remained one of the serious problems confronting the country and expectations are that President Akufo-Addo will spell out what he has done so far to address this problem.
Delivering his SONA last year, he had said: “For too many young people, unemployment is sadly the reality of the start to their adult life. For years, for generations, it was assumed and guaranteed in this country that the quality of life of every generation would be an improvement on that of their parents. We must create the atmosphere that generates jobs. We must boost the confidence of the private sector to invest in the economy.”
He is expected to mention the number of jobs that have been created under his administration and what is being done to create more for the teeming youth.
Another area of expected attention is agriculture and, specifically, the Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
President Akufo-Addo had promised the House last year that the government would launch the flagship agricultural programme which would be the pillar for the transformation of agriculture in the country.
True to his word, the programme was launched last year and, today reports from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture indicate that it has been a huge success in the first year.
The sector Minister, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, recently disclosed that the programme had created 745,000 jobs, although some people dispute the figure.
This major industrial policy of the government seeks to, through public-private partnerships, establish at least one industrial enterprise in each of the 216 districts.
The President may tell Ghanaians what is being done to fulfil this major campaign promise.
A major difficulty that confronted the new administration concerned the behaviour of some supporters of the ruling party.
That did not escape the attention of the President in his maiden SONA, as he outlined measures to nip the development in the bud.
On measures to address the problem, he said: “ When those incidents began, I instructed the then Inspector-General of Police, John Kudalor, to apply the law, irrespective of political affiliation, to all lawbreakers. This instruction was also carried on to his successor, David Asante-Apeatu.”
But later incidents of rowdyism perpetrated by some members of vigilante groups affiliated to the ruling party, played against the President’s promise to control despicable acts.
These and many others make Ghanaians eager to listen to the President talk about what the future holds for the people.