Opinion: Highlights of Akufo-Addo’s 2019 SONA – Part 5 by Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

The writer, Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.

In his politically and intellectually “disarming” third State of the Nation Address (SONA-3), President Akufo-Addo also spoke about his intention of making Ghana’s capital of Accra the cleanest millionaire-city of its kind in Africa by the close of 2020. This major environmental health-policy agenda, obviously, harked back to the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, when Dr. JB Danquah heroically championed Preventive Healthcare policies in the then Gold Coast Colony. Indeed, as I read this section of his 2019 SONA, I wondered whether it would not be a good idea for Nana Akufo-Addo to reintroduce this Danquah-promoted Community Health Policy Initiative of the “Town Council” or “Tankasse” system, at least in our rural communities. But I was also a little uncertain about the daunting challenge of making Accra the cleanest city on the African continent, instead of, for example, the neatest metropolis of the West African sub-region, which I sincerely doubt could even be achieved in the offing, in view of the generally poor state of sanitation and urban-waste management in the country.

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I also thought it would have been more realistic for the President to have targeted making Accra the cleanest city in Ghana, and then we could more realistically take matters up from this level. Closely connected, seamlessly, to the preceding was the equally progressive highlighting of the savvy and cost-effective decision by the present government to reassess the value and expenditures involved in unprecedently attempting to complete all projects, especially in the healthcare sector, that were begun by previous regimes but arbitrarily abandoned by successive regimes, often for political and ideological reasons than the value or utility of these projects and programs. This section of the SONA also rang with considerable credibility because already, much to the surprise of some of his most ardent political opponents, Nana Akufo-Addo has already completed quite a significant number of projects that were initiated but never completed by the “Touch-and-Go” regime of the Mills-Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

In several instances, such as occurred in the small township of Ajumako-Sunkwa, in the Central Region, supporters of former President John Mahama were widely reported to have pelted Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu with pebbles and stones, when the latter arrived in the aforesaid township to officially open the recently completed Sunkwa Health Center whose sod had been initially cut by the former President. We are informed by media reports that but for the timely intervention of the National Democratic Congress’ Member of Parliament for the Ajumako Constituency, which includes Sunkwa township, Mr. Cassiel Ato Forson, the Health Minister and his entourage of government officials, both local and national, would have left the town bloodied and in dire need of medical treatment themselves. How ironic!

On the imperative need for Ghanaians to doggedly pursue preventive healthcare measures, this was what President Akufo-Addo had to say: “Ghana’s hardworking nurses and doctors would do their best, as they have always done, to make sure [that] we get the best healthcare, but it behooves each [and every] one of us to look after ourselves better. Apart from exercising and taking our health checkups seriously, it is imperative that we eat healthy diets to prevent diseases that are caused by poor choices of nutrition.” Nana Akufo-Addo also hinted at the wasteful and economically regressive policy agenda of the Mills-Mahama-led tandem regimes of the National Democratic Congress.

As striking examples, the President referred to several housing projects initiated by the Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party, at least since 2006, in such major regional capitals as Koforidua, Tamale and Ho that were never continued by the aforementioned regime(s), although the country continued to seriously lag behind in the number of affordable public housing units needed to adequately accommodate hardworking civil and public servants. He also intimated that while he was intent on reactivating many of these criminally abandoned housing projects, nevertheless, such architectural reactivation will only be done with contractual value or value-for-money morally and economically foregrounded.

In other words, projects that are found to have shortchanged the Ghanaian taxpayer would either have to be renegotiated on better terms or totally and permanently abandoned. Equally importantly, Nana Akufo-Addo highlighted what has come to be known in design and architectural circles as “Universal Access,” that is, the construction and designing of public houses and buildings in such a way that the wheelchair-bound, or mobility-disabled, would also be able to gain access into or inhabit such basic infrastructural facilities. To the preceding end, this is what the President had to say: “The Saglemi Housing Project, started under the last NDC government, is also high on our list of priorities this year. The five-thousand (5,000) units it offers would boost our housing numbers. We are, therefore, establishing the value-for-money issues surrounding the project in order to reconcile the number of houses built with the schedule of payments made, and accelerate delivery.”

As well, at the top of the construction policy agenda of the Akufo-Addo government is the building of coastal erosion retarding sea-walls or levees in such historical townships and cities as Adjoa, Blekusu, New Takoradi, Elmina, Dansoman, Axim and Dixcove. As well as Amanful Kumah, Komenda, Cape Coast, Anomabu, Mensah Guinea, Ningo-Prampram, Apam, Kokrobite, Bortianor, Aboadze-Shama, Nungua, Essipong and Anyanui…. The list goes on and on and on.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com  Ghanaffairs

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