A GNA Colour By Benjamin Mensah
Accra, Feb. 21, GNA - When horn blowers sounded their horns after the throbs of the giant drums, it heralded the entrance to Parliament of the First Gentleman of the land, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to deliver the State of the Nation to the people’s representatives.
“Mr Speaker, I am glad to be here with you again in this august House, the Parliament of our Republic, to perform, for the third time, the pleasant duty of fulfilling my constitutional obligation, by giving Honourable Members and the Ghanaian people a message on the State of the Nation,” the President said.
“Ghana may be the toast of the world because of its economy.”
And when he had finished the almost two-hour presentation, the giant drums throbbed again, followed by the sounding of the Mmenson; the seven horns, by the National Horn Blowers from Koforidua, as the President went about exchanging pleasantries with very important personalities present to hear him give hope to the nation.
First Lady Rebecca Naa Okaikor Akufo-Addo did not hide her appreciation for the yeoman’s job done by her better half, and in the full glare of the nation, planted a kiss, perhaps saying; “Ayekoo” when he got to her.
The delivery of the SONA was in fulfilment of Article 67 of the 1992 Constitution, which states: “The President shall, at the beginning of each session of Parliament, and before a dissolution of Parliament, deliver a message on the State of the Nation.”
And so, President Akufo-Addo, arrived in a convoy at the Parliament House, driving pass the avenue trees from the main entrance, washed in the colours of the Flag of Ghana - red, yellow and green - with a mounted squadron of policemen on horses that lined the boulevard.
As he arrived, the fountain in front of the Chamber Block spewed water into the atmosphere, thanking God for a fine weather, and invoking his blessing on the day.
He then inspected a guard mounted in his honour, and took the national salute.
When time was due, the Speaker, Reverend Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, invited the Majority and the Minority leaders to usher the President into the Chamber. And on red carpet, he walked in to speak to the nation.
Vice President Dr Mahamadu Bawumia was there, former President Jerry John Rawlings and wife Konadu and former President John Mahama were there.
Constitutional Lawyer Nana Asante, as well as Members of the Council of State, traditional leaders, Service commanders, the Diplomatic Community, former Members of Parliament, and a cross section of the public were present to witness the presentation.
“In accordance with protocol and convention, it is good to see that First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, Second Lady Samira Bawumia, Spouse of Mr Speaker, Mrs Alberta Ocquaye, Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo, and Justices of the Supreme Court, Chairperson Nana Otuo Siriboe II, and Members of the Council of State, Chief of Defence Staff Lt. Gen O.B. Akwa, Inspector General of Police David Asante Apeatu, and Service Chiefs, are all present,” President Akufo-Addo said.
“Mr Speaker, the House is duly honoured by the welcome attendance of the former Presidents of the Republic, their Excellencies Jerry John Rawlings and John Dramani Mahama, former First Lady, Her Excellency Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, and the Dean and Members of the Diplomatic Corps.”
President Akufo-Addo then went into memory lane, paying tribute to the illustrious citizens who passed on last year – Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah Arthur; UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan; Senior Minister, J.H Mensah; Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice V.C.R.A.C Crabbe; PNDC Secretary, K.B Asante, and the Poet Laureate, Prof. Atukwei Okai.
“May their souls rest and abide in the bosom of the Almighty until the last day of the Resurrection when we shall all meet again. Amen!”
President Akufo–Addo had a lot to say, and so pleaded with the House to bear with him as he “may take quite some time.”
He spoke about the road to the Dagbon peace process, which “brought to an end decades of feuding that laid low the proud and ancient Kingdom of Dagbon.”
“It was a happy day, and it marked the climax of a long, tortuous journey, and a hard grind on the part of many people through the years.”
Other issues the President addressed were education, health, sports, sanitation, trade and industry, housing; and the successful creation of new geographical regions of Ghana.
“Now that the new regions are in place, we have the singular opportunity to avoid the old mistakes of urban planning that have made some of our towns and cities such unattractive places,” President Akufo-Addo said.
“The lessons would seem to show that the political capital does not necessarily have to be the site of all the institutions, and this would guide us in the setting up of the new regions.”
“Indeed, when designating the capitals of the new regions, at the ceremonies at Jubilee House last week, I made it clear that Government is committed to the equitable distribution of government structures and institutions across the regions. We will keep to the commitment.”
Also, “the economy is at the heart of all we seek to do, it is the success of the economy that will guarantee an improvement in the quality of the life of our people. I believe we all now agree that the fundamentals have to be sound if the economy is to flourish,” he said, and that the economy had been managed with discipline.
It is worthy of note that the delivery was without the usual boos and jeers, and showing of placards in disagreement with the President on aspects of the Address, a veritable sign of more maturity from the House in such times.
President Akufo-Addo used the platform to appeal to the leaders of the two main political parties; NPP and NDC, to come together, as soon as possible, preferably next week, to agree on appropriate measures to bring an end to the worrying and unacceptable phenomenon of vigilantism in the country’s body politic.
“Mr Speaker, we have our challenges, but our nation is in good health…,” he said as the drums throbbed and the horns sounded to bring closure to the programme.GNA