to good health care and the right to education”.
What it tells us is that whenever a President delivers a Message on the State of the Nation, at least, these five ingredients should be part of the menu that the President provides to this House.
Mr Speaker, the events of article 67 is a once-in-a-year one and that of article 34(2) is also a once-in-a-year event; both of them are obligations imposed by the Constitution on the President.
So as I said, we should find a way to juxtapose both articles 67 and 34(2) and that should provide us with the benchmark -- I know that the Hon Eric Opoku who is the spokesperson on the Minority side on agriculture, is also a convert of the Latter-day saints fraternity and he agrees that this should be the benchmarks --
Mr Speaker, the President began his Message acknowledging the transition of some heroes of this nation beginning with former Vice-President, Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur; the former United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan; former Senior Minister, Mr J. H. Mensah; former Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice V. C. R. A. C. Crabbe; P.N.D.C Secretary, Mr K. B. Asante and the renowned poet; Professor Atukwei Okai.
That recognition of the effort by the President symbolises the recognition of the nation to the role played by these individuals in their respective sectors of endeavour.
These people represent the conglo- meration of the Ghanaian society; politicians, academics, public office holders and plebeians who climbed to the
upper ranks of society and served in all three Arms of Government as well as acclaimed Ghanaian international diplomats. That recognition is also an acknowledgement of the collectivity and togetherness of the Ghanaian people.
Mr Speaker, since the delivery of the Presidential Message, we have lost three former Hon Members of Parliament in rapid succession; the Hon Joe Donkor, former Deputy Minister for Employment and Social Welfare; the Hon Lee Ocran, former Minister for Education and former Ambassador and the Hon David Henric Yeboah.
That cannot be comforting at all. Mr Speaker, our condolences to their respective families.
Mr Speaker, the President then related to the restoration of peace at Dagbon, and paid a glowing tribute to the Committee of Eminent Chiefs; Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene; the Nayiri, Naa Bohugu Abdulai Mahami Sheriga, Overlord of Mamprugu; and the Yagbonwura, Tutumba Boresa Sulemana Jakpa, Overlord of Gonjaland.
Mr Speaker, earlier at another ceremony, the President had cited the new Ya-Na, Mahama Abukari II, the Andani and Abudu Gates, and the Dagbon people in general for allowing for the settlement of what otherwise would qualify to be described as a family feud.
The culmination of recent events has been the successful organisation of the funerals of two former Ya-Nas and the subsequent installation of a new Ya-Na. As a nation, what else could we hope for? Peace up north to facilitate real socio- economic development. Mr Speaker, we should say ayekoo to all.
The pivotal issue in the Dagbon imbroglio is security; it is a human rights matter and the Constitution compels the President to speak to human rights and he did just that. Some of my Hon Colleagues on the other Side have critiqued the President as far as security is concerned, that he did not make any reference to the Ayawaso West Wuogon events.
Mr Speaker, I believe that the President did not mention the Ayawaso West Wuogon events, not out of spite, but because he has already caused a Commission of Inquiry to be set up in that regard.
Mr Speaker, by the provision of article 278, Parliament may, if it determines that a matter is of public importance, by a resolution request the President to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into the subject matter contained in the resolution.
The President did not wait for Parliament but he, having satisfied himself that such a Commission was required in this matter, appointed one. Mr Speaker, that is a mark of responsibility.
Mr Speaker, the nation has witnessed dastardly acts committed in the name of elections, and of bye-elections at Chereponi where a Castle operative opened fire point blank on seven persons, the bullets maimed these seven persons and instantly rendered them unconscious. Mr Speaker, the then President did not deem it appropriate to set up a Commission to investigate.
The Castle operative was never apprehended but on the other hand, the officer in charge of the operating theatre at the Yendi Government Hospital was the one who got accosted for rendering the
facility accessible to Prof Frimpong Boateng who operated on all seven persons to remove the bullets which were firmly planted in their bodies and thereby saved their lives.
Mr Speaker, in the conduct of the outstanding elections in seven polling stations in Akwatia, party thugs came and unleashed on NPP members and sympathisers a reign of terror and the only crime of the NPP members was that they were attending a Sunday rally at Akwatia.
Mr Speaker, many people, including Hon Members of Parliament, were injured and several vehicles including those of some NPP Hon Members of Parliament such as Hon Isaac Osei and the current Hon Deputy Regional Minister for Ashanti Region, Hon Elizabeth Agyemang, were attacked and damaged by some goons.
Mr Speaker, no Commission of Inquiry was set up by the then President, and Parliament, unfortunately, did not call for the setting up of one; at least, by way of showing solidarity with our own Hon Colleagues. Mr Speaker, the then President did not consider it worthy to appoint a Commission of Inquiry and nobody got apprehended.
In Atiwa and Talensi, accounts relating to gory events were told and the Presidents then did not deem it necessary to appoint a Commission of Inquiry and the nation was left in a state of suspended annihilation. Today, a sitting President has deemed it appropriate for us as a nation to bring such despicable misbehaviours to a halt.
Let us all have patience for the Commission of Inquiry. It is sad to recount that a Hon Member of Parliament on the other Side of the political divide stated that the Commission of Inquiry is
powerless in such instances. Mr Speaker, such a statement which comes from a Hon Member of Parliament, who is also a lawyer, could only be described as unfortunate and the reason is quite simple.
The finding of a Commission of Inquiry has the effect of a judgment of a High Court. Mr Speaker, that is so.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague, the former Hon Minister for Roads and Highways, is shaking his head that that is not so. Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, I would read the Constitution to his hearing and article 280(2) provides:
“Where a commission of inquiry makes an adverse finding against any person, the report of the commission of inquiry shall, for the purposes of this Constitution, be deemed to be the judgment of the High Court; …”
Mr Speaker, so where is this misreading of the Constitution coming from, that the Commission of Inquiry is toothless? It is only sad to listen. Mr Speaker, so in the face of this, how could any Hon Member of Parliament argue that the Commission of Inquiry is toothless and by implication a waste of time, energy and resources? God should save Abraham.
Mr Speaker, while we are at this, it is important to call on the Ghana Police Service not to relent on the pursuit of the assailants who went to the NDC Ashanti Regional party headquarters and shot and killed in cold blood some of their own compatriots.
Mr Speaker, a group is trying to put some bodybuilders, popularly referred to as machomen within Kumasi together. The intention, to all intent and purposes
may be devilish. In 1996, Ashanti Region witnessed gruesome activities which were orchestrated by some people who found relevance in political violence. It is the reason why the Ghana Police Service in Ashanti Region and Kumasi in particular must act with speed to bring the perpetrators of that heinous crime to justice.
Mr Speaker, the next issue that the President addressed was the health of the economy as required by article 34(2). Mr Speaker, I want to quote what the President said at the last paragraph on page 4:
“Mr Speaker, production in the economy as measured by real GDP growth has picked up very strongly in the last two years. From 3.4 per cent in 2016 …”
Mr Speaker, to be very honest, the President was even very charitable because the rebasing of the economy has sent the 3.4 per cent GDP growth rate in 2016 to 2.2 per cent growth rate, which makes it the worst growth rate in the country's history over the past 30 years. Mr Speaker, even the 3.4 per cent is the worst GDP growth in 22 years, yet people think that they must be applauded.