A member of the National Democratic Congress’ (NDCs) communication team, Koku Mawuli Nanegbe, has lambasted President Nana Akufo-Addo, for ‘’peddling lies’’ about his so-called achievements in the economy.
He asserted, government’s claim of better economic performance than that of the NDC was nothing but lies.
President Akufo-Addo on Wednesday told journalists that, the performance of the Ghanaian economy in 2017, is a vindication of the decision taken to appoint 110 Ministers and Deputy Ministers of State.
Citing a quote from the speech of the Vice President, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, at Legon, at the opening of the New Year School, President Akufo-Addo stated:
“The question that we should ask is how can you inherit a budget deficit of 9.3% of GDP, proceed to reduce taxes, bring down inflation, bring down interest rates, increase economic growth (from 3.6% to 7.9%), increase your international reserves, maintain relative exchange rate stability, reduce the debt to GDP ratio and the rate of debt accumulation, pay almost half of arrears inherited, stay current on obligations to statutory funds, restore teacher and nursing training allowances, double the capitation grant, implement free senior high school education and yet still be able to reduce the fiscal deficit from 9.3% to an estimated 5.6% of GDP? Quite simple, this is a remarkable achievement and this is what we mean by competent economic management.”
But Koku Mawuli Nanegbe rubbished the claims and challenged government to provide the evidence to buttress their point.
‘’We need the figures for comparison. The lies are one too many. We need the figures. The NPP are lying to Ghanaians. They need to end the lies and provide us with the figures.’’
In his view, the opening remarks by the president at the media encounter were needless. Nanegbe also agreed with Prof. Gyampo who called for the encounter be scrapped.
He said the argument that, market would have performed better than some journalists who asked the president questions, was also true.
According to him, the encounter was of no value and the avenue was only was by government to achieve an aim. He challenged government to show Ghanaians the record of their job creation.
The payment made by government to cover debt owed contractors he added was false because contractors of GETFund have disputed the claims.
The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Thursday, 18th January, 2017, received letters of credence from two envoys accredited to Ghana, from the Republics of Niger and Japan.
Presenting his credentials, the Ambassador-designate from Japan, Tsutomu Himenu, touted the existing, cordial relationship between Ghana and Japan, and praised the country’s role and status as a beacon peace, democracy and stability in the region.
Mr. Himenu, amongst others, referred to President Akufo-Addo’s speech at the recent United Nations General Assembly on UN reforms, and pledged Japan’s support for the cause, stressing that “it is time Africa holds her rightful place on the world stage.”
He also appealed for increased collaboration between the two countries, and reiterated Japan’s economic support for President Akufo-Addo’s vision of a “Ghana Beyond Aid”.
On his part, President Akufo-Addo expressed the gratitude of the Ghanaian people to Japan for the support given to Ghana over the years, through agencies like TICAD and JICA, and hoped that the new ambassador will follow in the footsteps of his predecessor.
Conveying regards from the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, the Ambassador-designate, Alhousseni Ousmane, said Niger intends to foster closer collaboration and ties with Ghana, which will guarantee the progress and prosperity of the peoples.
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 Vice President for the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), Bessa Simons, has described year 20017 as a good one for the music industry.
According to him, the reason for his statement was because we’ve got some young brilliant musicians who released beautiful songs in 2017,’’ adding, ‘’and I know this year  is going to be better.’’
MUSIGA he noted organized a retreat in the bid to find ways to move the industry forward and at the retreat, we realized that, the best way was to get more young and vibrant and talented musicians to come into the music industry.
He added: ‘’and to do that, we have putting in place measures that will make it much more inviting young musicians doing Ghanaian music.
Bisa Simon indicated, MUSIGA and the creative arts industry in general, had more investments in 2017.
‘’More people invested in the music industry,’’ he added.
He said in a bid to develop the human resource capacity of the music industry through training, MUSIGA in partnership with the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI), under the supervision of the School of Performing Arts (SPA), University of Ghana, with sponsorship from the Skills Development Fund (SDF) introduced the Music Academy.
In all some 120 participants were trained in ten subject areas, four of which are core subjects and six specializations.
The modules are in Studio Specialization, Western Instrument Specialization, Traditional Instrument Specialization, Copyright and Publishing, Music Business Management, Using ICT for Career Development, Centre Stage Grooming and Vocal Techniques, Music Theory and Musicianship, Survey of Music In Ghana and Songwriting, Composition and Arrangement.
The next batch of students he announced would be enrolled this year and the academy will soon start awarding degrees.
He encouraged musicians especially the young ones to appreciate MUSIGA because it is the only family for musicians.
Bessa Simons urged members not to be deceived by the negative narratives about MUSIGA because the union has achieved a lot under President Bice Osei Kuffour, aka Obour.
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.
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.