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A communicator with the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kwame Asafo Adjei, has said the attack on journalists over their ‘abysmal’ performance at media the press is much I do about nothing.   He called the general public to respect journalists who participated in the media encounter with President Nana Akufo-Addo and stop the unnecessary attacks.   ‘’Let us respect the journalists who asked the questions. They may have asked questions Ghanaians did not appreciate but what we should understand is that, we can never have every single citizen appreciate the questions asked. We all have our varied opinions and so I would encourage Ghanaians to stop attacking the individuals who asked the questions,’’ he said.   He disagreed with those who have called on the president to scrap the media encounter because it will always serve as an avenue for journalists to assess the performance of government.   He described Nana Addo’s performance as sterling. The achievements under the NPP have been splendid, he added.   He said, the NPP was on course with its agenda for jobs, and economic stability through fiscal discipline.     He also touted the success of the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ and the free senior high school.
Journalist and radio presenter, Nana Kwabena Bobie-Ansah, has said he would have asked President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, why his administration is practicing nepotism, (family and friends’) form of governance.   The astute media practitioner says the current President lambasted former President John Dramani Mahama, for doing same during the campaign period and even went ahead to appeal to Ghanaians, to vote against the NDC and vote for him because he will never practice nepotism.       He was reacting to the concerns raised by some professionals following the questions asked the president at the media encounter held on Wednesday.     The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has rated questions from Abdul Hayi-Moomen – GBC, Kwesi Pratt – The Insight Newspaper and Bernard Avle, Citi FM as the best. According to the foundation, these questions were relevant, purposeful and precise.   It also rated as worse and irrelevant questions from Gordon Asare Bediako, TheNew Crusading Guide, Naana Ntiri, Peace FM and Prince Godfred Obeng, Ark FM as the worst.   In an interview with Kwame Tutu on Rainbow Radio 87.5Fm, Bobie Ansah said, he was expecting someone to ask that question but felt bad when no one asked.   He described as unfortunate the appointment of the president's  daughter as head of the Creative Arts Council.     He complained about the process in selecting the representatives from the various media houses.   According to him, standing in front of a president to ask a question is not an easy task however, people are usually attacked by supporters of leaders when they raise relevant questions or critically examine leaders.   He said politicians would always want to deal with sycophants, boothlikers, hypocrites and some of our senior journalists can be categorized under these group of journalists, he added.   In his opinion, the journalist from Mankessim who asked about the Cashew Roads; Country Man Songo and Kwesi Pratt were his star journalists on the day.  
Tax expert Mr. Cudjoe Akpabi, says we have a lackadaisical attitude when it comes to procurement in Ghana.   He was reacting to claims by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that, some contracts under former President John Dramani Mahama, were inflated.   He called for a further probe into the matter to allow the perpetrators face the law.   He said there was collusion on the part of public officers including the contractors and those who looked at the contract.   Mr. Akpabi said, we need to see those who may have inflated the cost so they are punished for the criminal offence committed against the state.   ‘’If government is serious in unraveling the matter, it is easy. He should bring all the professionals together, interrogate the audit service further and tell Ghanaians how they arrived at the figure,’’ he said.     President Akufo-Addo yesterday [Wednesday] at his second media encounter alleged that, some contracts cost under Mahama were inflated. He said his administration has paid some GHC1.6billion to contractors last year to contractors.   “I am being urged to pay contractors, I am paying them. Last year some GHC1.6 billion was paid to them. This year too, payments have started and we will pay them. We have found out some of the contracts were inflated while others were not existent.’’ Mr. Akpabi said we’ve not been doing things properly so far as procurement ‘’is concerned’’.     ‘’There must be proper explanation,’’ he said.
The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, hosted journalists from various media organisations in Ghana to respond to their questions on the performance of his government in the first year and the general state of affairs in the country. Commonly referred to as “Presidential Media Encounter,” the event is the second since the President assumed office on January 7, 2017. The first media encounter was held in July 2017. The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) sees the exercise as an important initiative that helps to deepen the culture of democratic governance in Ghana. The event serves as a platform that allows the President to account to the people on his stewardship. We therefore commend the President and the government for following the footsteps of predecessor governments as far as the regular media encounters are concerned. In order to help guide post-event reflections on the usefulness of the event and to provide useful insights for future events, the MFWA presents its perspectives of today’s media encounter. The analysis assesses the overall arrangement and format of the event, quality of the questions that were asked, the quality of the President’s responses to the questions and makes some recommendations for future encounters. Thus, this document is presented with the following sections: format of the event; quality of questions asked; critical missing pieces, the President’s performance and recommendations. Format of the Event The event was generally well organised. The President was well composed, articulate and created an atmosphere of conviviality throughout the event. The President’s introductory address was, however, too long and tended to focus nearly exclusively on the achievements of the government with almost no focus on failures, missed targets and challenges. The procedure on selecting those to ask questions could have been better coordinated right from the beginning. For example, an expectation was created that there would be an opportunity for journalists from each of the regions to ask a question but it did not turn out so. However, the effort to ensure gender balance in the filing of questions is commendable. Quality of Questions Asked A total of 20 journalists asked questions on various issues and sectors. These questions were analysed and this report presents the MFWA’s perspectives on some of the best and worst questions. Analyses of the quality of questions were based on basic principles of good questioning such as: relevance of the question; whether a question was a leading question; whether the question had good background and contextualisation; the clarity of the question and whether a question made references to data, facts and illustration. Using these principles, some questions were found to be really good while others were judged to be poor. The following three questions were found to be the best of the day: 1.  “I take it that given the size of the economy you couldn’t have addressed all issues in your opening statement and so I take it that the issues you raised are on your priority list. However, there is one issue that I find not addressed in your address, which I think without it can bring every plan of yours to nought. It’s the issue of security. In 2014, a young man known as Alema was alleged to have joined ISIS. In fact, his family confirmed that story. In 2016, security experts revealed on GBC 24; in fact they showed us evidence of how some members of ISIS were getting in touch with some young Ghanaians. Just a couple of days ago, the Ghanaian police arrested some persons with seven grenades. You didn’t address that. Mr President, how safe are Ghanaians under your watch?” – Abdul Hayi-Moomen – GBC The question was relevant and purposeful. The questioner provided useful background and context. It wasn’t framed in a close-ended way and asked with clarity. 2.          “I would like to find out how you could have come to the conclusion that the Ministry of Trade has been cleared of the extortion allegations that were made – frivolous or otherwise – when indeed the parliamentary committee has just began its work. What is the basis of your conviction that the Ministry has been cleared of the allegations?” – Kwesi Pratt – The Insight Newspaper This was a very useful follow-up after the President had sought to dismiss the usefulness of the on-going bipartisan parliamentary enquiry on the issue of “cash for seats.” The question was clear and precise. 3.          “I remember the vice President said and has said so many times that we are building a modern formal economy premised on National ID, Digital Address and mobile payment interoperability; and in February 2017 in your State of Nation address, you said and I quote the process for a comprehensive National ID System and the property titling system will be completed this year. When we met here in July 2017, you repeated the National Identification scheme will be working by the end of the year as promised and the digital address system will be functioning; end of quote. So two weeks into January, what is the state of the National ID and the mobile payment interoperability system?” – Bernard Avle, Citi FM The questioner provided good background and context including quotes. It was a question that probed the delivery of the government on key promises and its failure to meet publicly announced deadlines.   The following were found to be the worst questions asked: 1.  “We are in the 25th year of the 4th republic and 2012/2013, you led the NPP to the Supreme Court, the petition, I will like to find out whether the live coverage, the outcome and the immediate consensus or acceptance of the ruling is a major hallmark of the 25th anniversary of the 4th republic” – Gordon Asare Bediako, TheNew Crusading Guide. By far, this was the worst question of the day. It lacked relevance and context. 2.          “My question is, something unprecedented happened in Ghana here, that is during your first year, that is the coming in of visitors mostly Presidents. Classical example was the Emir of Qatar, President Macron and all those people coming in. In your view Mr. President, what do you think accounted for their interest in coming into Ghana, especially in your first year” – Naana Ntiri, Peace FM While there may have been a number of foreign dignitaries coming in at the same time it cannot be described as an unprecedented phenomenon. It appears to be a question that sought to provide an opportunity for the President to tout the achievement of his administration. 3.          “Mr President, there is this school of thought that believe that incumbency is advantaged, disadvantaged sorry its disadvantaged and I want to have your view on that” – Prince Godfred Obeng, Ark FM The question was not clear. It lacked purpose and relevance as no context was provided. 4.          “Mr. President, thank you for the opportunity and I want to commend the hard work that you have put in galamsey fight because it has really yielded results. Mr. President, my question and I want to refer to the question on Ghana beyond aid. Because we don’t know or we don’t have a vision of where Ghana wants to be in the long term, when policies are introduced by political parties a lot of questions are raised about them, all the sectors have their own plans but we don’t have a vision as to where they rise to. The US President has made very derogatory comments about us, people were up in arms but I must say it’s rather a painful truth because of the way we do our things. Mr. President the question I want to ask is when are we having a national plan?” – Annie Ampofo, Group Nduom Media. The background to the question lacked focus and what ultimately was the question was factually incorrect because Ghana has a development plan as was alluded to by the President in his response. Other Observations: The question on the menace of vigilante groups asked by Eyram Bashan of EIB Network was a question on a relevant issue. The value of the question was however undermined by the questioner’s reference to the weak capacity of the security agencies to deal with the issue. The President in his response then makes reference to the weak capacity as cited by the journalists as part of the challenges in dealing with the menace. Kojo Yankson asked a question about the justification for the appointment of 110 Ministers and whether or not it was time for the President to reduce the number. Given that it was one of the issues that the President had already addressed in his introductory remarks, that question had become redundant. Other Critical Issues that were missed §  Free SHS blueprint and the sustainability of the initiative §  The delay in the passage of the RTI despite promises and deadlines §  Health – increasing prevalence of HIV infections; recent health challenges in second cycle institutions; state of National Health Insurance §  The Digitisation of institutions and services versus challenges of cyber security The President’s Performance  Overall, the President was composed and demonstrated knowledge on many of the issues around which questions were raised. In cases where the President did not have an idea or could not respond to a question, he demonstrated honesty. For example, he made it clear that the 2014 World Cup Committee White Paper was not on his radar. He also admitted the inability of his administration to meet the deadlines on the issuance of the National ID and the rollout of the mobile interoperability system. In some instances, he relied on his sector ministers to deal with specific questions relating to specific sectors, which we deem a good strategy. The low points on the President’s performance were on his responses to the question on vigilantism. For example, the President’s reference to how overwhelmed the security agencies are in dealing with the problem of vigilante groups cannot be justified. Indeed, the problem is one of lack of political will and not limited capacity on the part of the security agencies to deal with the problem. The worst moment in the president’s responses was his attempt to discount or dismiss the on-going bi-partisan investigations into what has become known as the “cash for seat” saga. Indeed, the President’s comment devalues the on-going work of the bi-partisan committee. This is especially so because the President in his introductory remarks took pride in the fact that under the first year of his administration, a number of bi-partisan investigative committees have been set up to investigate allegations of wrongdoing. Recommendations for Future Encounters §  Journalists should prepare adequately and have questions that have been well researched with proper background and context. §  Journalists should endeavour to ask follow-up questions when earlier questions by others have not been answered satisfactorily.   §  More time should be allocated for questions in future encounters.
President Nana Akufo-Addo on Wednesday announced that, his administration have been able to transfer some GH¢3.1 billion of Tier 2 pension funds into the custodial accounts of the pension schemes of the labour unions.   Addressing the media in his opening remarks at the second edition of the presidential media encounter, the president said the transfer of  have been outstanding for six years, and about which the labour unions had been loudly complaining.   But reacting to the announcement made by the president, Communications Director for the Coalition of Concerned Teachers, Norbert Borborchie lamented, although government has paid some amount, it was less than 25 percent.   He told Kwame Tutu on Rainbow Radio 87.5Fm that, they are expecting government to pay up to 50 percent of the funds by close of 2018.   Mr. Borborchie said they can neither commend government nor chastise it because they believe it was the duty of government to do what it did.   He said probably, the former administration may have suffered defeat because it failed to heed to the call of labour union in resolving their challenge.   He said, the current administration promised to deliver on this concern and so it is not an extraordinary achievement.    ‘’So far, what we have received is not huge or small. We will also not commend government or take a swipe at it. We are still expecting the figure to increase up to 50 percent,’’ he concluded.
The statistics on the number of jobs created under the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) will be ready in the next three months, President Nana Akufo-Addo has said.   He told journalists on Wednesday during an encounter that, his government is in the process of putting together the statistics on the exact number of jobs that have been created his the NPP government came into office a year ago. “We are barely one year in office and so we are in the process of putting the data together. I cannot provide those statistics readily, but I think in the next three months or so we should be able to provide those statistics.’’ The president in his introductory remark at the event expressed worry at the unemployment situation in the country.   He said, ‘’I would like to start this conversation with the sad scenes that were played out in many parts of the country, some weeks ago, in all the regional capitals of our country. Young people got up at dawn, and formed long queues in stadiums and parks, in the hope of getting a job with the Ghana Immigration Service. I know it is not a new story. Some eighty four thousand (84,000) people applying for jobs, and over forty seven thousand (47,000) of them meeting the minimum requirements as advertised, and the organisation only looking for five hundred (500) people to hire,’’ he added. He continued: ‘’Similar scenarios are being played out in all sectors of the public service. The Ghana Revenue Authority also advertised for various categories of staff. Some fifty nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety one (59,991) responded to the advertisement, out of which twenty thousand, one hundred and seventy seven (20,177) met the requirements, and the available vacancies are three hundred and fifty (350). ‘’The recent recruitment exercise in the Ghana Armed Forces went along similar lines. Some twenty six thousand, and thirty two (26,032) young people applied to be enlisted into the Other Ranks; twenty one thousand, and seventy three (21,073) of them qualified, and were shortlisted. The number to be taken to start training later this month is one thousand, eight hundred (1,800). The Police Service recruitment exercise tells a similar story. Some one hundred and fifty eight thousand, seven hundred and thirty four (158,734) young people applied, and seventy nine thousand, nine hundred and nine (79,909) of them met the requirements, and financial clearance has been given for two thousand (2,000) of them to be taken into the service. ‘’Once I started looking, I found similar stories all around. The grim story of youth unemployment has been a tragic part of our lives for far too long. When I became President, therefore, I knew my work was cut out. We had to do things differently, if we were going to banish the spectre of desperation, and restore hope to our youth,’’ he concluded.    
The two Guantanamo Bay detainees who are currently residing in Ghana will have their fate determined by Parliament after they resume from their recess, President Nana Akufo-Addo has said.     His response followed a question he was asked by a journalist at his media encounter held at the Banquet Hall today [Wednesday].   Some legal practitioners including Kofi Bentil, has challenged government to update Ghanaians on the two detainees or he would be forced to use legal means to demand for answers.   Nana Addo in his response said: “The GITMO detainees, the period is up, a decision has to be made and that decision is under active examination, we need to be able to say something to Parliament when it resumes,” he said He noted that government will take that decision as early as possible on whether they will stay or arrangements made for them to leave the country. “The period under which the agreement was made has come to an end, we have to decide whether or not we are going to grant them permission to stay, whether we are going to make arrangements for them to go somewhere else. Those things are being actively examined as we sit, but I am fully aware that a decision on them has to be made, and it cannot be made in six or five months it has to be made now,” the president said. Parliament in 2017, ratified the agreement between Ghana and the United States of America (USA) on the resettlement in Ghana of two former detainees of the US Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Mahmud Umar Muhammad bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al Dhuby.   The ratification was in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling, which called for the ratification of the verbal agreement to resettle the two men in Ghana within three months.    
  The President of the republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said that vigilantism will never recur in Ghana.   He made this statement during his media encounter held at the Banquet Hall today [Wednesday].   He further indicated that he ‘’is continuously working to ensure that discipline and order is maintained.   The activities of vigilante groups associated with the ruling government, painted a negative image for his administration.   ‘’Ladies and gentlemen, I should not omit from this accounting the disgraceful behaviour of some members of my party, the NPP, which has been described as vigilantism. I believe there is no longer any argument that criminal behavior wears no political colours, and is solely to be dealt with by the police. I pray that we have seen the last of it. We are continuously working to ensure that it does not recur, that we uphold the rule of law,’’ he said     By: Osei Richard Darlington (Intern, Rainbow Radio)
President Nana Akufo-Addo has touted his flagship agric programme, the Planting for Food and Jobs have been successful. The President stated that the Programme, which registered over 200,000 farmers in the 2017 crop season, has been a big success. “I am particularly excited about the institutional sub–programmes, where 20 Senior Technical High Schools, National Service Scheme and the Prison Services were supported to cultivate their own farms. Under the Youth in Agriculture programme of Planting for Food and Jobs, 10,000 youth were supported to cultivate 800 hectares and 10,320 hectares of rice and maize, respectively,” he added. Under the Programme, the President noted that average yields of maize and rice have increased, and the country’s warehouses are filling up. “Whilst the full picture of this success is yet to emerge, it is noteworthy that many farmers have expressed their satisfaction that, for the first time in a long while, a deliberate government policy has helped to boost their harvest. We are doing things differently, and we are getting results,” he added. On the fight against the illegal mining phenomenon, popularly referred to as galamsey, President Akufo-Addo stressed that his administration inherited a situation where illegal mining or galamsey had become a serious menace to the very existence of the country, explaining that Ghana’s forests and water bodies had become degraded, and the health of those engaged in the activity and their communities were all at risk. “Let me state here again my gratitude to the media for the support they are giving in the campaign we are undertaking against galamsey. This is not a short term campaign, and we need everybody’s support to make a success of it. As I have said a few times, since the Almighty blessed us with precious minerals, there has always been and always will be mining in our country,” he said. The President continued, “We are not against mining, but we cannot accept mining in a manner that risks destroying our country. The reforestation programme that we have started should help to regenerate our forest cover and water bodies, and, hopefully, provide an attractive alternative employment to galamsey. On this subject, all of us, and not just government, have to do things differently.”    
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says he will only contest the 2020 polls if only he is allowed to do so by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).   He was responding to a question asked by journalists at the media encounter held at the Banquet Hall today [Wednesday].   “If at the end of the day, the NPP decides they want to renew my flagbearership and to go the country, I will do so and I will do so with a great deal of confidence.” President Nana Akufo-Addo added: ‘’ “I do not have a difficulty facing the Ghanaian people. I have been trying to do so all my life in various degrees of success and I do not have any difficulty, and especially with the opportunity that has been given me to serve them in this capacity.’’   On the issue of whether he was enjoying incumbency advantage, the president responded saying: “As far as the issue of incumbency is concerned, it should never be an advantage in a proper functioning democracy because the process should be sufficiently transparent. The voice of the people at any one stage will be kept through. It cannot be because incumbency advantage is in an advanced stage then it means the electoral plain field is being distorted or engineered to favour incumbency. That should never be the case. The only advantage you can have if you are in government is the quality of your performance.” He added that “if the performance [of a government] is good and the people feel it is worth endorsing for another round, they will do so. If they feel that the performance is poor and it is not worth endorsing, they will destool you so there should be no issue that incumbency is an advantage. Incumbency can only be an advantage in a situation where it means that some distortion, some unfair, some untoward advantage is being gained by the fact that you are in office.”     Acting General Secretary of the ruling NPP, John Boadu on Tuesday told Accra based Joy FM that, it will be extremely strange for any party member to contest Nana Addo in 2020.  ‘’If any other person also put in application- which would be strange considering the performance he has put up only in one year; the kind of things he has done in one year, by that time; even other opponents of the party  may not put in an application to contest him. How much more internally?’’    
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