Politics

Review of President Mahama’s State of the Nation Address

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President John Dramani Mahama

As I write this, my lights are off again. They were off when I got home from work at 6pm. They came back on at 9pm and went off again at 11:30pm just when I was beginning to fall asleep.

It is 1:36am and I cannot sleep. The loud noise from generators in my neighborhood and the heat won’t let me. I could open my windows but that would mean waking up with a sore throat from the air pollution.

In fact the noise and pollution are the least of my problems with the power situation. You see Sir, I have been robbed at knife-point in my bedroom before, and in four weeks, attempts have been made by the thieves to break in again. Each time, after or during a blackout.

I live behind high walls in a good neighborhood. I have dogs and a security man, I shouldn’t be afraid of the dark, but I am.

And I was hoping you’d offer me some hope, reassurance, something in your State of the Nation Address to show that my woes would end soon. I heard your comments on the erratic power supply the day before your grand speech. I couldn’t believe all you could say was “I insist the load-shedding would be over by the end of 2013.” And that you were as “uncomfortable” as everyone else. Really, Mr. President you are as uncomfortable as I am? Terrified and unable to walk out of your bed during blackouts?

How can you be uncomfortable? You, who live in well-lit Flagstaff House with proper security? How can you? You, whose family is no longer at risk from armed robbers. Your business isn’t failing on your watch. How can you be as uncomfortable as the rest of us Ghanaians?

And if your speech especially that “sleepless night” comment was meant to soothe our collective pain, you only shattered every hope we had that this erratic power supply season would end soon.

I have gone through your speech, I mean the bullet points and I’m even more crushed that you in whom many had such faith would courageously tell Ghanaians some of the things in it.

You failed to apologize for the inability of your government to meet the last deadline you gave Ghanaians for the load-shedding to end. Yet parts of your speech read like this “Government’s overall objective for the energy sector is to ensure reliable, stable and progressively cheap power for economic development in the country and the wider West African region.”

What does this even mean? I’d repeat your promises but they were hollow too. As for your plans to end the load-shedding, 500Megawatts by the end of the year? When were you told this by team of experts?

Sir, your non-committal comments on our current energy situation isn’t the only painful feature in that speech. Your plan for the cocoa sector was stunning too.

“Continued payment of at least 70 per cent of the world market price of cocoa to farmers and distribution 20 million hybrid cocoa seedlings free of charge over the next several years.”

I could swear I have heard you give the ‘we-must-add-value’ to our natural resources speech before. Mr. President, are you aware there are no artisan chocolate-making companies in Ghana? Do you also know farmers cannot afford to buy most of the finished cocoa products?

I want to believe it is your optimistic urge which made you come to Ghanaians with a speech full of promises and nothing else.

Sir, over 64% of pupils at the basic level cannot read and write. The Ghana Education Service (GES) has said there is a 60,000 teacher deficit at the basic level with over 80,000 pupil teachers filling the classrooms. That is not the only problem facing the education sector. In some places besides contending with lack of textbooks, classrooms and teachers, students have to imagine computers during ICT classes.

The crime rate is still high in spite of the statistics from the Police. 559 armed robbery cases were recorded. 271 rape cases were also recorded. Key word is recorded.

The cost of living has shot up even higher with the recent fuel price increase, and majority of Ghanaians still live below 2 dollars a day.

I could go on and mention the 1.5 million deficit in housing, the filth, the over five million Ghanaians who practice open defecation and also the issue of water rationing.

The situation is dire and yesterday you failed to tell us how you plan to solve even one of our many problems. Your bag of treats had nothing. No strategies, no deadlines, and if I may dare, no hope of a transformed nation under your government.

In fact your speech suggests you plan to practice the fire-fighting kind of governance which your predecessors practiced and made Ghana a middle income country with nothing to show for it.

Mr. President, whatever you do your name will be in the history books as President but if you want to leave your mark in the sands of time, I suggest you fire speech writer, demand a proper development plan from your policy gurus and stop giggling when Ghanaians resent the situation we are in at the moment.

Yours,

A Citizen mad as hell

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