Some thoughts and reactions on President Akufo-Addo’s Maiden SONA

For the first time in nearly a decade, I momentarily felt like the proud Ghanaian citizen I used to be decades ago. It goes without saying that President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s maiden State of the Nation Address (SONA) was easily the most readable, best crafted and edited in decades.

The speech read as if it had been crafted by some of the same writers who have been writing speeches and addresses for major Western world leaders like former Presidents William (Bill) Jefferson Clinton and Barack H. Obama, and Prime Ministers David Cameron and Anthony (Tony) Blair. The quality of Nana Akufo-Addo’s speech is in in a league of its own, as far as Ghanaian presidential speeches go.

I was too young during the short-lived tenure of Prime Minister K. A. Busia, so I don’t remember exactly how his speeches sounded. However, going by the words and judgment of Prof. Dennis Austin, the longtime British resident and authoritative scholar on postcolonial Ghanaian history, I guess Nana Akufo-Addo waxed eloquently like Dr. Busia whom, I suppose, he greatly admires.

It also did not disappoint on content and substance, and so I don’t know what all these Mahama lapdogs are bitching about – my profuse apologies to the feminine rights advocates – on dubious grounds that it lacked precisely what it was longest and richest on. What is also quite interesting and predictable about them is that none of his National Democratic Congress’ critics whining about President Akufo-Addo’s having supposedly been unkind and uncharitable of his immediate predecessor’s performance record have yet to take on the former New Patriotic Party’s Member of Parliament for Akyem-Abuakwa-South on the strength of the facts and evidence presented in the speech.

For instance, one such NDC apparatchik, Mr. Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, the Member of Parliament for Tongu-North, in the Volta Region, the putative electoral World Bank of the Rawlings-minted National Democratic Congress, bitterly decried the relentless rhetorical “creaming” of former President John Dramani Mahama on the latter’s woefully inept management of the country’s economy.

However, significantly, the former Deputy Education Minister in charge of Tertiary Affairs was not able to pinpoint a single mendacity or falsehood in Akufo-Addo’s fine-toothed-comb analysis of the wanton and apocalyptic economic disaster that was the main administrative fare of the Mahama government (See “Akufo-Addo Remembered Gambia But Not Bimbilla – NDC MPs Criticize SONA”). Under these circumstances, Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa had no other choice but to pretend as if President Akufo-Addo’s policy decision of making all public Senior High Schools in the country tuition-free, starting from the 2017-18 academic year, in September, was a decision that reflected the fact of the purportedly efficient handling of the nation’s economy by President Mahama.

Of course, this is sheer sophistry, else the critic would also have pointed to the financial source or sources created by his former boss for the implementation of this noble and progressive policy initiative. The funding source of the proposed tuition-free SHS program continues to be hotly debated across the length and breadth of the country. But the President has characteristically and judiciously elected to steer clear of the same and stay way above the fray. Instead, as he hinted in his maiden SONA, he has decided to leave the details of the project to his Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta.

Another great highlight of President Akufo-Addo’s SONA was his round and balanced condemnation of the arbitrary and sometimes violent seizures of public properties by ardent supporters and sympathizers of the victorious New Patriotic Party, in the wake of the transitional period. But Nana Akufo-Addo was also quick and apt to point out the fact that it was the National Democratic Congress’ operatives who first set the precedent in 2009 when the pivot of power shifted to the Atta-Mills-led regime of the National Democratic Congress.

–Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D. 

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