President put spin on SONA — NDC
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo put a spin on his presentation of the message on the State of the Nation to Parliament.
According to the biggest opposition party, the President shelved the precarious state of the nation and only resorted to self-glorification.
Presenting what it called the "true state of the nation”, the National Chairman of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, touched on various issues, ranging from the bad state of the economy, the oversize government to the growing spate of corruption and described the current state of the nation as one of "hopelessness, recklessness and corrupt, with a leadership paralysis".
The event, which took place at the UPSA Auditorium yesterday, brought together the rank and file of the NDC, including members of its Functional Executive Committee (FEC), the National Executive Committee (NEC), regional executives and Members of Parliament (MP).
Notable personalities were the running mate to John Dramani Mahama in the 2020 presidential elections, Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang; a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong; the Minority Leader in Parliament, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson; the General Secretary of the NDC, Fiifi Fiavi Kwetey; a member of the Council of Elders, Kofi Totobi Quakyi, and an aspiring flag bearer of the party, Dr Kwabena Duffuor.
The auditorium was filled with an enthusiastic crowd who clapped and cheered intermittently as the presentation was made.
Mr Nketiah said "the true state of our dear nation no longer lies in flowery speeches laced in political chicanery that never accepted responsibility for anything but in taking the bull by the horns”.
He called on President Akufo-Addo to demonstrate leadership by taking immediate steps to cut down the size of his government to signal a new beginning.
"We further expect the government to be tolerant of dissent, heed calls for the implementation of the Constitutional Review recommendations, eschew profligacy, desist from nepotism and corruption, sanction corrupt officials and be honest about the true state of our nation,” he said.
Mr Nketiah stressed that it was unacceptable that in the midst of the economic crisis the country was going through, and despite the numerous calls by many groups, the President remained adamant to cut down the size of his government.
He said some appointees at the Presidency had no business keeping their positions when they added nothing unique to the country's governance.
Turning to claims that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) inherited a bad economy, Mr Nketiah said the NDC-led government rather handed over an economy with better indicators.
He noted that it was bad governance, wasteful expenditure and a bloated government that put the economy in a crisis situation.
The NDC chairman said the public debt increased from GH₵120 billion in 2016 to GH₵600 million currently, with the debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio also increasing from 56 per cent to 103 per cent within the same period.
Again, he said the budget deficit of 6.2 per cent in 2016 had increased to 12 per cent currently, while inflation also skyrocketed from 15.2 per cent in 2016 to 52 per cent.
Touching further on economic indicators, he said the lending rate, which stood at 25 per cent in 2016, increased to between 38 and 45 per cent, with the rate of exchange depreciating from 9.6 per cent in 2016 to 23 per cent in the first two months of 2023.
Mr Nketiah said the downgrading of the country’s economy from B- in 2016 to below junk status was ample testimony of a country that had failed to honour its debt obligations.
In terms of the rate of unemployment, he said the situation worsened from 8.4 per cent to 14 per cent as of 2021, as captured by the 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC).
He said the debilitating economic conditions, in addition to the high taxes and high cost of power, had led to the laying off of workers by businesses, while some of them had relocated to some African countries.
"The growth of the agricultural sector reduced from 2.7 per cent in 2016 to 0.7 per cent in 2022, despite the so-called planting for food and jobs (PFJ); growth in the manufacturing sector reduced from 7.9 per cent to 4.5 per cent in 2022, in spite of the one district, one factory (1D1F); growth in the construction sector declined from 8.4 per cent in 2016 to 4.2 per cent in 2022, despite the claim that the government built 11,000 kilometres of road. This is the true state of the nation," he said.
The NDC Chairman said the President also failed to tell Ghanaians the state of the country in terms of the fight against corruption.
"Instead of confronting the canker head-on, President Akufo-Addo has constituted himself into a corruption clearing agent, ever willing to whitewash himself and any of his appointees who dabbles in corruption, even before investigative processes commence," he said.
For instance, he cited President Akufo-Addo's declaration of "nothing dishonourable was done with the COVID-19 Funds" as one of the issues among the litany of failed attempts to conceal the rot that had left many scandalised following the publication of the Special Audit into COVID-19 funds by the Auditor-General.
"How does President Akufo-Addo reasonably expect Ghanaians to accept as honourable the Auditor-General's finding that COVID-19-related payments totalling over GH₵543 million were made to various service providers outside of the Ghana Integrated Public Financial Management Regulations, 2019 (L.I. 2378)?" he quizzed.
He stressed that the government's management of the COVID-19 funds could not be said to be honourable when the Auditor-General could not verify bills and validate dubious payments amounting to over GH₵37.6 million by the Ministry of Finance to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and private individual water providers under the ‘free water’ initiative.