Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will, today, deliver his second State of the Nation Address, exactly 13 months after he was sworn in as President.
On January 7, 2017 when he was sworn in, one of the daunting tasks he faced was getting the ailing economy under the care of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) up and running, in a bid to generate meaningful jobs for the thousands of desperate unemployed youth.
As he appears before Parliament, the President would be expected to tell the story of how the near-double digit budget deficit he inherited has so far been reduced to about 5.6 percent while economic growth has more than doubled to 7.6 percent.
While the macroeconomic fundamentals appear to be moving in the right direction, a lot more will be expected of the Nana Akufo-Addo administration, especially so far as growing the real sector of the economy is concerned.
For most people, while macroeconomic stability is desirable, the impact of such economic “good news” in their lives matters the most. And one issue that will surely come up again is unemployment and the plans being put in place to defuse what the president himself admits is a “ticking time bomb.”
If ever the talk about unemployment never seemed real to anybody, the over 84,000 young people who lined up the streets of Cantonments to be screened for jobs meant for 500 people in the Ghana Immigration Service, provided that rude wake-up call that the Akufo-Addo government very much needed.
This government has maintained it is capable of providing jobs – meaningful jobs for that matter, through some of its flagship policies such as the One District, One Factory (1D1F), and Planting for Food and Jobs, etc.
The 1D1F, in particular, has come under a lot of scrutiny as not much has got off the ground, one year on, to pass for the much-anticipated factories.
As far as the unemployment is concerned, the President would have to tell Parliament the true state of the flagship 1D1F policy and when that laudable policy will begin bearing fruits.
Already, there is enough controversy regarding the over 700,000 jobs supposedly created by the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative.
Job creation anywhere is a positive thing but when the reality on the ground does not back the figures being provided, there is always going to be that debate.
The President will have the opportunity to provide a holistic review of the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative and give its true state as far as providing both jobs and food security are concerned. And on agriculture, he would be expected to tell the House the true state of the country’s agric sector after the fall army worm scourged thousands of farms last year.
While at that, he is also expected to brief the house on the progress made on the one village, one dam; one district, one warehouse initiatives, and above all, work done so far to implement government’s Marshall Plan for Agriculture as announced by the Finance Minister in the 2018 budget.
When he zooms in on the educational sector, the President should be recounting the progress made in the free SHS programme and plans being put in place to ensure sustainability. The delivery of the free SHS campaign promise was a major milestone for the Akufo-Addo government but the challenge for most policy analysts has been its sustainability – an issue which will no doubt have to be addressed by the President, yet again.
Another issue in the education sector that the President will have to touch on would be his government’s sluggish response to the dozens of lives lost in a number of senior high schools.
To prevent a panic situation and a reoccurrence, the President will be expected to detail what mechanisms have been put in place to allay the fears of both parents and students alike.
President Akufo Addo would have to tell Parliament what plans his government has made to put to use the numerous health facilities built with taxpayer’s money which are not in use.
While doctors, nurses and other health professionals remain without jobs, and people continue to die from preventable deaths, President Akufo-Addo’s address on the state of the health sector would have to bring closure to some of these niggling issues regarding who manages what health facility.
Last year, appearing before Parliament in his maiden State of the Nation Address, the President said he was a man in a hurry. That year saw the introduction of some initiatives such as the paperless port, seamless business registration portals, among others.
These initiatives were not without hitches and the President would have to provide details on how these systems are being enhanced to support the government’s agenda to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
Given that VRA has said it will be procuring some power from Cote d’Ivoire to avert a ‘dumsor’ relapse, the President would have some convincing to do as to how to confine dumsor to the annals of history.
As usual in the country’s recent history, the president will use the occasion to taut the various policies his government has rolled out in its first year, most of which are yet to bear significant fruit, really, expect the minority to be on the flanks, heckling and pouring cold water on his effort.