Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the State of the Nation Address delivered by the President which is titled “Partners in Vision” to this House on the 25th February, 2010, and also to thank His Excellency the President for keeping to his faith by establishing the Constitutional Review Committee and also organising the National Conference on Decentralisation as promised in his first State of the Nation Address.
However, the President's promise to deliver monthly addresses to the nation has never materialised and that is something we must take note of.
Mr Speaker, on page 2 of the Address, the President states and with your permission, I quote:
“. . . we promised an Agenda of Change for a better Ghana . . .”
And he goes on to say that:
“. . . So far much better.”
We on this side of the House think otherwise and I believe many Ghanaians share the same view. With us “so far so
bad” and much better is expected of the administration. Indeed, the President's slow pace, or slow before acting, which is borne out of fear of making wrong decisions if he hastens up is not helping the country in any way, and we must be reminded that he has seriously twenty months to go to make effective governance and therefore, he should rather hasten up so that Ghanaians will benefit from his Administration.
On page 8 of the Statement, paragraph 2, the President again raises a question which is constantly asked by many Ghanaians to him and again, I quote:
“Where is the money in our pockets that you promised?”
In the President's written Speech, we see that he again, with the quotation, said: “. . . here too real change is happening”; yet in his extempore speech, he denied having said so, and in my opinion, this is a serious thing because there is a conflict between what is written, what he has sat down and reflected and written for Ghanaians and what he himself intuitively is saying before this House.
If a President is denying the fact that by the effectiveness of his Adminis- tration, money would rarely go into people's pockets, then it means that we should not have any hope in the Administration. Because all that we expect the Government to do, is to initiate policies and programmes that would really enrich our pockets so that we can live a decent life.
So by the President's denial of even the Statement, or abdication of his responsibility as our leader who will create the necessary wealth in our pockets, he is, indeed making Ghanaians feel a sense of hopelessness and also lose confidence in the system that he is running.
If really the President believes that a real change is happening as I have referred to in page 8, line 5 of his Address, why
cannot the President not convincingly and affirmatively accept the challenge that, yes, they promised that they would put money in our pockets because by their efficient and effective administration, they would introduce policies that would really create the necessary wealth for us? Indeed, it seems that nothing is really happening and I believe that is why when confronted with some shouts, he lost track and created that inconsistency.
Again, the President mentioned the
distribution of free uniforms to some schools in Awutu District in the Central Region. Mr Speaker, the true fact is that, out of the GH¢17.1 promised in the 2009 Budget Statement, only 50 uniforms were supposed to have been presented to some schools in Awutu District, and this even comprised 25 uniforms for boys and 25 for girls.
The reaction of the people then was that, these were over-sized and under- sized uniforms which could not even fit the school children. And then one wonders why this should happen and then begin to ask a number of questions. How were the pupils identified that their measurements could not be taken, and we had over-sized and under-sized uniforms presented to these school children?
Then we also asked, were there not some tailors and seamstresses in Awutu District to sew the dresses, when in fact they need jobs? And where did these uniforms come from, that it took almost a year after the promise in the first State of the Nation Address before even two schools in Awutu District were presented with some of these uniforms? I believe, with this snail pace that is happening in all sectors of the Administration, the promise that the President is making that by the end of this year, all schools in Ghana would be given school uniforms, is again going to be a mirage and I believe we should not take him seriously on that.
Again, in his Statement the President intends to provide free education to
disabled children and I am surprised, I am really astonished as to what the President really means by “free education for disabled children” -- because disabled children of primary school age are also children like all other children in Ghana and they are entitled to all the benefits that government has bestowed on basic education level children. So I wonder whether these children that he is referring to -- the disabled children are not covered by some of our policies that we have initiated in the basic sector. Like our policy of free education -- Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE), are they not covered by this policy?
Are they also not covered by the Education For All Goals, the EFA Goals? Are they also not covered by the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in education? Are they not covered by some of the initiated policies like the Capitation Grant, Free School Feeding and now, the Free School Uniform and the 10 free-exercise books?
So what is special then about the disabled children? Perhaps, the President needs to define what he means by “free education for disabled children” because in my opinion I find it difficult to -- [Inter- ruptions.] Many parents need to be told the content of this.
Now, the President again talks about