By Maxwell Ofori..
President John Dramani Mahama has disclosed his utmost respect for the President-elect, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, having sat in Parliament with him for three consecutive terms.
Delivering his final State of the Nation Address, President Mahama recounted some moments both of them shared whilst serving their constituents in the lawmaking chamber. According to the President, Nana preferred calling him “Johnny” whenever they met at the snack bar at Parliament House. He said, he first entered Parliament as Member of Parliament for Bole Bamboi in January 1997.
Mr. John Mahama added that it was, perhaps not coincidentally, the same year that Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo also entered as MP for Akyem Abuakwa, citing that, “taking breaks from the business of the house to grab something to eat at the snack bar, Nana Addo always stood at the end of the counter, his signature white handkerchief tucked into his sleeve. “Johnny” he would shout in greeting, as he preferred to call me. Incidentally, we both served three terms in this house, departing together in January 2009.”
“This is how long I have known the president-elect and worked with him. I have the utmost respect for him,” he remarked.
The former MP for Bole Bamboi further indicated that, given the history of both of them, especially that they have each had their turn on each side of a presidential election, it would seem only natural for them to be considered worthy opponents.
The President, being famously known as a good communicator, started his address on a solemn tone, which was evident on face value. His body language, together with his dictions, from the beginning, was not usual of Mr. Mahama.
Unfortunately, the dullness of the President while giving his fourth and final address on the state of the nation reflected in the usual cheering he used to receive from the Majority side of Parliament throughout his addresses on the floor as the President.
Meanwhile, the President, in his address, noted that himself and Nana Addo worked together when he served as Ranking Member on the Committee of Foreign Affairs, at a time Nana Addo was the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
“One of the issues on which we crossed swords was the murder of some Ghanaian youth in The Gambia. It is instructive that as I leave office and he takes my place, Gambia, once again, is a nation that is engaging international attention,” he asserted.
That notwithstanding, President Mahama highlighted some successes his administration had chalked in his four-year term. He touched on the economy, where he stated that the economy had been stable through the tireless efforts of his administration, while advising the incoming government to continue with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme till the end of 2017.
“Mr. Speaker, we inherited an economy that was running a high deficit, with increasing inflation and interest rates. It was also characterised by a rapidly depreciating currency. This unstable macro environment created an unfavourable investment environment for both indigenous and foreign capital.
“Mr. Speaker, while the deficit target will be missed this year on account of inability to meet revenue targets, it is important for us to continue to pursue fiscal consolidation in the 3rd and final year of the programme.”
He also stressed on the fact that there had been massive improvement in the road networks of the country, social intervention programmes, as well the health and education sectors, but without agriculture.
“Mr. Speaker, it is my assertion that the information I’ve provided is a snapshot of the current state of our nation. As I have said before, I will allow history to be the judge of how I have served our nation; how well I have done my part in running my lap of the relay. What that verdict will ultimately be, I cannot say. I can only say that I have done my best, given my all, and done so with the best intentions for my country, our country.
“This is why I stand here today, Mr. Speaker, holding the baton of leadership, prepared to pass it on with pride, goodwill and determination, to Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and ask all Ghanaians to cheer him on as he runs his portion of this relay for Ghana,” he concluded.
Whilst the President was departing from the Chamber, the Majority side showed placards with inscription “JM Ayekoo”, while the Minority waved white handkerchiefs.