State Of The Nation Address OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL Delivered By H. E. John Dramani Mahama President Of The Republic Of Ghana
Continued from yesterday’s issue
The newly established Media Development Fund aimed at improving capacity within the media will be operationalized this year.
We shall also support the National Media commission to enact the needed regulations that will establish an organizational framework and standards to ensure balance, fairness, access, opportunity and objectivity in the media.
Access to the establishment of Community radio will be improved to allow millions more to benefit from the unique attributes of this medium.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS, JUSTICE AND THE RULE OF LAW
Mr. Speaker, a major governance issue for the year will be the implementation of the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Commission. For this purpose, an Implementation Committee has been established to be responsible for all aspects of the programme leading to the enactment of constitutional amendments. Subsequent to the constitutional amendments, which the CRC Implementation Committee is currently working on, we will proceed to transform the Legal Aid Board into an independent constitutional body, implement the recommendation for CHRAJ’s decisions to be made directly enforceable, and introduce the recommended weekend and small claims courts.
Mr. Speaker, we are proposing to revise the Criminal Offences Act to redefine corruption to include the more expansive definition covered in the UN Convention Against Corruption and the AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. We will give impetus to the fight against corruption by strengthening the anti-corruption agencies and sanctioning culpable persons to serve as a deterrent to others. The work of the Sole Commissioner into judgement debts will help us bring to order an unacceptable phenomenon that has become a huge charge on the public debt. We would push for critical reforms in the AGs department. I will implement the Freedom of Information Act as soon as it is passed by Parliament.
Our commitment to the fight against corruption remains unshakeable. We would streamline and root out the rot that has become associated with the alienation of public lands.
FIGHTING NARCOTICS TRAFFICKING AND CONSUMPTION
Mr. Speaker, I am firmly committed in ensuring that Ghana is absolutely insulated from the illicit
To this end; we will pursue the programme for the legislative conversion of the Narcotics Control
Board (NACOB) into an autonomous Commission.
We will also continue to strengthen the inter-agency coordination mechanism involving NACOB, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, the Police, BNl, the Food and Drugs Board, Aviation Security and the Immigration Service and ensure increased international cooperation especially for surveillance.
We shall maintain a zero tolerance for drug trafficking and I request all officials engaged in tackling this menace to maintain a high sense of integrity in order to win this battle.
Mr. Speaker, the security and safety of all citizens will be a priority. We have been making modest gains as crime statistics show that the incidence of crime is on the decline. This notwithstanding, we will continue to resource and adequately equip the security services to ensure that no Ghanaian feels unsafe in their lawful pursuits.
A worrying trend in our crime indices is increasing cases of rape and defilement. In many cases families, religious leaders, traditional rulers and sometimes public officials intervene to cover up and resolve these cases at home. I wish to emphasise that rape and defilement are criminal and must be handled by the criminal justice system. We must bring to book paedophiles and rapists who prey on our women and rob them of their dignity. I am instructing the IGP, DOWSU, GCSP to work together to ensure that all of such cases are brought to justice.
Mr. Speaker, we will continue to provide critical support capable of augmenting the developmental service mix of our armed forces while providing adequate security for our citizens. This strategy involves:
1. Enhancing the health and logistical infrastructure that enables the security agencies to lead rescue and support missions, step in when we have major disruptions in basic services — water, health, sanitation, floods and natural disasters and also perform their traditional world-acclaimed peacekeeping and development role in post-conflict situations.
2. Undertake a comprehensive Security Services Health Sector Initiative that will improve basic, primary and referral health facilities within the security services and also make those facilities available for use by the general public. In this regard we will build a second military hospital in Kumasi and upgrade the medical stations in the various barracks.
3. Address the critical office and residential accommodation problems facing the military and the Police, Prisons, Fire and Immigration Services as well as NADMO.
Mr. Speaker, in collaboration with the National Peace Council, the UNDP, The Otumfuor Committee and other stakeholders, I intend to begin a new round of bringing to closure some of the protracted chieftaincy conflicts in the north. I call for the cooperation of all my compatriots in these areas to give peace a chance. We can only succeed in turning around the fortunes of the 3 Northern regions if we have an atmosphere of peace and security.
Mr. Speaker, Ghana’s foreign policy of positive neutrality will remain our focus with emphasis on economic diplomacy hinged on our national interest. Ultimately, our foreign policy will deliver good neighbourliness, peace at home and abroad and economic wellbeing by strategic partnerships.
Mr. Speaker, our commitment to peace and security in the West African Region Is paramount in our foreign policy considerations. We have recently joined with ECOWAS in seeking a permanent peaceful resolution of the conflict in Mali, by contributing a modest detachment of our armed forces to participate in the African-led force operating in Mali, AFISMA.
As the actual armed conflict is abating, Ghana stands ready to use our rich mediation experience, to assist Mali return to stable, representative democracy, just as we have done In time past in helping bring peace to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d’ lvoire.
As a commitment to peace and stability in the region, I have pledged at the Africa Union and the United Nations, that Ghana will not serve as a haven to destabilize any of our neighbors. I wish once again to assure any refugees on our territory that they are welcome guests as long as they do not use Ghana as a base to destabilize the Governments in their home countries.
Under my l-’residency, (Ghanaians and the international community can trust that (Ghana will uphold all its commitments to the UN, the AU, the Commonwealth, ECOWAS and other international organisations to which we belong.
Ghana will continue to take all necessary measures, in cooperation with relevant international agencies, to fight against international terrorism, money laundering, narcotics and human trafficking.
Mr. Speaker, the financial framework within which the programs and policies discusses in this address will be executed will be outlined when the Minister of Finance in the coming weeks, presents the Budget and Financial Statement of Government to this house.
Mr. Speaker, fifty years ago our nation’s founder and the first President of the Republic Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah urged Ghanaians to remember that the eyes of the world are upon us in whatever we do. These profound words have as much meaning today as they were five decades ago. It is a challenge to us to work together to bring honour to our country and its people.
I reaffirm my commitment to uniting Ghanaians as one people. We are a nation of diverse cultures and religious beliefs; there is a tremendous amount of beauty in our diversity. While we celebrate our diversity, let us explore what unites us instead of focusing on the things that divide us.
Let us build trust — remembering always that civility, humility and discipline are signs of a strong national character. Real change is when everyone pulls together, works together, when we all exercise our responsibilities to country, our local communities and our families.
Let me state to this august House
1. That I shall work to ensure that every household in this country will soon enjoy uninterrupted water and power supply;
2. That our young minds desirous of opportunities for basic and secondary education shall have the space in our schools and shall have quality, affordable education that will improve their career and life expectations;
3. That our mothers shall live longer and healthier as they perform the God-given function of child-birth;
4. That our inner cities shall witness significant renewal in sanitation and housing
5. That the economic opportunities of this country will be open to all our citizens irrespective of gender, ethnicity, religion or political affiliation.
6. That our governance systems shall deliver the services and opportunities we promise to the citizens of Ghana; and
7. That our citizens will assume their right to demand accountability for these services and rights and that our roads infrastructure is not only expanded but also made safer for our people.
Mr. Speaker, we are determined to deliver on the development goals, which I have outlined. We have objectives to meet and the expectations of our people to fulfill; our people expect to see results, whether it is in the delivery of water, electricity, healthcare or sanitation services. We must not overlook the little things that matter to our people even as we stress on responsible citizenship as an important factor in nation-building.
Political office holders including Ministers of State, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives, CEO5 of public institutions and middle and lower management personnel will be required to exhibit a high sense of responsibility and diligently execute their mandate to meet the needs of the ordinary Ghanaian. It must not be business-as-usual.
Mr. Speaker, we may be confronted with many challenges as a nation but our collective resolve is far greater than those challenges.
Mr. Speaker, as I said on that eventful day of my inauguration, “change does not happen overnight and sometimes, despite whatever progress has been placed in motion, it will appear to be darkest before the dawn of the new day makes that progress visible. In such times I will be counting on you to maintain the faith and the trust that you have placed in me as President. I will not let you down.”
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.
I know I lead a nation of great people who have it within us to establish that fair and just society of opportunities for all to which I dedicate my entire efforts.
Mr. Speaker, the future Is here; the future is ours; the youth, women and men, and especially the children of our motherland, Ghana, expect noticeable improvement in their lives.
In all this we acknowledge our abundant faith in God and his bountiful mercies on our nation. God’s divine favour is on Ghana. We have no cause to fear. With God in our boat we smile at the storm.
I know we will not fail our country and I know the Good Lord will not fail us either.
God bless Ghana.
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