Accra, Ghana - President John Dramani Mahama’s maiden State of the Nation address and the minority’s boycott of Parliament during the address dominated the Ghanaian media this week.
The media also covered last weekend’s fuel price hikes and the arrest on Friday of Black Stars defender John Paintsil for assaulting his wife.
The opposition New Patriotic party (NPP) has ordered its parliamentarians to boycott all activities involving President John Dramani Mahama until its case before the Supreme Court challenging the results of the 7 December, 2012 election is determined.
This position has angered the general public that has been highly critical of the “pick and choose” behaviour of the NPP parliamentarians who boycotted the swearing-in of President Mahama and the vetting of his ministers yet would collect their salaries paid by the Executive.
The opposition MPs appeared to be feeling the heat of these public criticisms as on Wednesday there was a visible crack in the front of the party when its law makers decided at a meeting to be present in the House during President Mahama's presentation of the State of the Nation address but not participate in proceedings.
The state-owned Ghanaian Times had the headline “Minority to hear State of the Nation address” as the opposition MPs agreed to defy the party's leadership.
The newspaper said the Minority in parliament had decided they would sit in the chamber but would not participate in the proceedings of the House during President Mahama’s address.
The Minority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, announced their position to the press when asked whether the Minority would participate or boycott the House.
“Come there, you will see them sitting in their seats,” he said.
The Times said the decision of the Minority in Parliament appeared not to have gone down well with the party hierarchy who were pushing for a complete boycott.
The leadership of the party quickly held a meeting on Wednesday with the MPs and whipped them in line thus making them to boycott Parliament when President Mahama presented the address.
“Minority boycotts State of the Nation address,” was the headline of the Graphic.
It quoted the minority as saying the action was in line with its position not to engage in any act that would appear to give legitimacy to Mr Mahama’s presidency until the Supreme Court rules on the petition brought before it challenging the results of the 2012 presidential election.
The Minority Leader said his team might, during the debate on the address, walk out, sit in and decline to comment or embark on any other action to drive home its position.
Meanwhile, an Accra-based radio station, Joy FM, has quoted the Minister of Trade and Industry, Haruna Iddrisu, as asking parliamentarians of the opposition NPP to “rethink their suicidal political” decision to boycott activities relating to the presidency of John Dramani Mahama.
Mr Iddrisu accused the Minority of “doing selective and convenient application” of the Constitution.
He said the NPP’s decision would not in any way affect President Mahama’s administration because the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) had a comfortable majority in Parliament that they would use to ensure that the president succeeded in his first four-year term.
The headline of the Ghanaian Times on parts of the State of the Nation address read, ”Government targets 8% growth during fist year in office.”
The story said the Government had targeted a strong and resilient economy with a minimum growth rate of eight per cent in its first term of office.
President Mahama said this was in line with the goal of moving the country from a lower middle income status to the full middle income bracket.
He said the country had made significant progress in macro-economic stability, citing single digit inflation for more than 30 months and relative stability of the cedi.
The relative stability, he said, had been boosted by the relatively strong foreign reserves of the country that had increased significantly from about US$2billion at the beginning of 2009 to the current US$5.5 billion.
'Don't despair, President tells Ghanaians' was the headline of the main story of the Graphic on the State of the Nation address. It said President Mahama on Thursday asked Ghanaians not to despair, in spite of the challenges, since the government would take measures to address the situation and make life more bearable for them.
He said: 'We may be confronted with many challenges as a nation but our collective resolve is far greater than those challenges.'
'Our momentary difficulties must only serve in strengthening this collective resolve towards a future of limitless possibilities. Despair is not an option and we shall not make excuses,' he said to cheers of the Majority in Parliament.
'As a developing middle-income country, there is still a lot more to be done to further reduce poverty, expand infrastructure and provide more social services for our people. These challenges are enormous, but they are surmountable.'
The address, which focused on four thematic areas — putting the people first, a strong and resilient economy, expanding infrastructure and transparent and accountable governance — was titled, 'Advancing the Better Ghana — Opportunities for Growth.'
“TUC condemns withdrawal of subsidies,” was the headline of the Graphic on the fuel price hike.
It said the Trades Union Congress (TUC) had condemned the withdrawal of fuel subsidies as fuel price hikes had a ripple effect on the economy.
It said the TUC was not against increases in the prices of petroleum products. 'What we have been protesting against is the total removal of subsidies which leads to hikes in fuel prices, with ripple effects throughout the economy.'
The Secretary General of the TUC, Mr Kofi Asamoah, said: 'We would like to serve notice that the magnitude of fuel price adjustments will inform our demands for pay increase for the working people of Ghana. We need genuine consultations on fuel pricing in Ghana.'
The Graphic in another story under the headline “Fuel Politics: Is it an albatros on neck of governments?” noted that in spite of the good intentions behind fuel subsidies in the country, the practice had gradually become an albatross on the neck of governments mainly because of the political connotation that comes with it.
“Over the years, parties in opposition have made political capital out of fuel price increases only to be hit by the realities when they come to power.”
The newspaper said the historical trend indicated that since the beginning of the Fourth Republic in 1992, there had always been fuel price increases within the first three months after a new government took office, apart from 2009.
The lead story in the Graphic on Saturday had the headline, 'Paintsil assaults wife?'. It said the Deputy Captain of the Black Stars, John Paintsil was on Friday invited by the Legon Police for interrogation for allegedly assaulting his wife.
This followed a complaint lodged by a man that he attempted to rescue Mrs Richlove Paintsil from being harmed by her husband.
The footballer wrote a statement at the police station and was granted bail on Friday night. The newspaper said Paintsil, who plays in Israel, was invited by the police for interrogation following the report of assault. Police said they were investigating reports of assault and causing harm.