Mills speech is divisive -Minority Leader

Posted: February 18, 2011 in Politics

Parliament was yesterday thrown into a state of shock, when the Minority Leader, Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, refused to escort President Mills, after he had finished delivering the State of the Nation Address.Mr. Mensah-Bonsu, who is the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Suame, had initially accompanied the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Adeline Joyce Bamford-Addo, the Clerk to Parliament, Mr. Anyimadu, and the Majority Leader, Cletus Avoka, to welcome the President into the Legislative House.

The President, after delivering his message, went round to exchange pleasantries with all the leaders of the House and shaking their hands. The Majority side of the House received him with much joy, with some having a tete-a-tete with him. The story on the Minority side was not different.

When the President got to Mr. Mensah-Bonsu, the latter whispered into his ears, “Mr. President, this is a very bad State of the Nation Address, and we were not expecting that from you.”

The message hit hard on the face of President Mills, but he could only afford a smile and a short answer, “Dem a” (is that so) to Mensah-Bonsu’s comment.

Notwithstanding the exchange of pleasantries, Mr. Mensah-Bonsu was expected to join his colleague leaders from the minority side to see off the President, but that did not happen, as he remained standing in front of his seat to receive acknowledgements from colleague minority NPP members.

Mr. Cletus Avoka and his deputy, Rashid Pelpuo, had insisted Mr. Mensah-Bonsu join them to see the President off, but he refused.

“If he is not willing to go with us, let’s leave him,” retorted Rashid Pelpuo, as he accompanied Cletus Avoka to see off the President.

Some of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MPs on the majority side, who saw the action of the Minority Leader, became furious, and started chanting, “mo ngya no, se onko a mo ngya no”, literally meaning ‘leave him alone. If he is not going, leave him’.

But, what was seen by the Majority as gross disrespect, the NPP Minority MPs saw it as heroism on the part of their leader, and started hailing him. They formed a long queue, and shook his hands one after the other, to congratulate him on his wonderful exploit.

Prior to his refusal to see off the President, Mensah-Bonsu had criticised him for being partisan in his State of the Nation Address in seconding the motion moved by Cletus Avoka to suspend the sitting of the House.

“Madam Speaker, we must allow things that unite us, but never in my life have I seen a most divisive State of the Nation Address. This is the most partisan State of the Nation Address I have ever seen,” said Mr. Mensah-Bonsu.

He seemed unfazed when The Chronicle approached him over his action. He told this reporter that the President did not dwell well in addressing the issues, as prescribed by Article 32 (4) of the 1992 Constitution, and also showed the highest order of gross disrespect by not acknowledging the Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Justic Theodora Georgina Wood, and former President Kufuor.

“The President didn’t acknowledge the presence of the Chief Justice and the presence of the former President. The Chief Justice was sitting next to him. Is the President telling us that he did not see her? Or did he have an agenda to descend on the Chief Justice on the work that she has done? It doesn’t help this nation,” he said.

Article 32 (4) states: “The President shall report to Parliament, at least once a year, all the steps taken to ensure the realisation of the policy objectives contained in this Chapter, and, in particular, the realisation of basic human rights, a healthy economy, the right to work, the right to good health care, and the right to education.”

He told The Chronicle that the President, in his previous State of the Nation Address, told Ghanaians about the economic situation of the country, and attributed it to the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) debt the NPP government left behind, but failed to address the issue when his attention was drawn to the true picture of the TOR debt.

“When we came out recently to explain that the President’s statement was not true, and explained to the world that what the he is doing is mere propaganda, what did he say? He did not say anything. The President now comes, and instead of responding to what we have said, he said he is no longer interested in debating the TOR debt,” he noted.

He described as unfortunate, President Mills’ statement of directing the security forces to be red alert, since the some people had an agenda to destabilise the country. “Why should the President be talking like this,” he quizzed.

Also to join the fray in criticising the President was the NPP MP for Nsuta-Kwamang-Beposo, Kwame Osei-Prempeh. He told The Chronicle in an interview that he was very much disappointed in the President’s address, describing it as the worst he had ever heard in his fourteen years in Parliament.

“President Mills is behaving like a presidential candidate on a campaign tour, and is saying anything that he wants to say. His message is very divisive, lacking substance, and is more of rhetoric and propaganda raised to the highest point. In fact, my view on President Mills is that he is just refusing to grow into the presidency,” said Mr. Osei-Prempeh.

On the issue of re-opening investigations into the cocaine issue that engulfed the country during the NPP era, Mr. Prempeh said, “We would have expected him to address what wikileaks said about him. The wikileaks said he, President Mills, said that his own appointees have disappointed him. His ministers and others, who are dabbling in cocaine, he ought to have said that. If he wants to re-open investigations into what happened under the NPP, the 77 pieces of cocaine which got lost, and which was investigated by, now the Chief Justice. Nothing prevents the President from reinvestigating the issues, but if he wants to show sincerity in fighting crime, we expect that he does more.

“The NPP government, as part of its moves in fighting cocaine, passed a law that narcotic offences are non-bailable. Since his government came, people have been caught with narcotics at the harbour and some parts of the country, but are being granted bail. What is he saying about that? He must also address those issues,” he added.

However, the NDC MP for Talensi-Nabdam, Moses Aduko Asaga, described the Minority Leader’s action as grossly indisciplined.

“He hasn’t given respect to the Republic of Ghana; he hasn’t given respect to the charter of Ghana, and I think that he must be condemned in no uncertain terms, because we, Ghanaians, have our values. Our values are that you must always respect the elder; you must always respect your father; you must respect your chief, and you must respect your President,” he said.

According to him, the President did well in his State of the Nation Address, since he dwelt more on all the aspects of the economy.

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