President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo met with journalists at the Jubilee House yesterday. For the first time, the focus shifted from the criticism of journalists for their poor questions to the defects in the organisation of the programme.
The president spent most of the time extolling the virtues of his government and repeating the achievements and the excuses we have heard over and over again. When it was time for the journalists to subject him to scrutiny, he announced the programme would not travel beyond 7pm. When he said this, it was 6:07pm so we had about 53 minutes to interact.
He took a lot of time to respond to the questions, cracked jokes and sometimes invited his ministers to answer some of the questions. The journalists were pushed to ask their questions in a minute, but there was no sense of urgency in the responses. This means the number of journalists who had the opportunity to ask questions was limited a little over two dozen. More than 100 journalists were present.
My biggest disappointment was his jab at former President John Dramani Mahama when he responded to his predecessor’s criticism of the medical drones deal.
“I prefer drones flying to deliver essential drugs to our people to investment in guinea fowls that allegedly fly off to Burkina Faso without a trace,” President Akufo-Addo said.
I find this pronouncement very unfortunate, to say the least. I was the journalist who investigated and exposed the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) corruption scandal. SADA had given GHC15 million to Asongtaba Cottage Industry and Exchange Programme to undertake a guinea fowl production and marketing joint venture project. Before that arrangement with SADA, the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), now the Youth Employment Agency (YEA), had paid GHC1.7 million to the same company to train 2000 youth in guinea fowl rearing. This was supposed to happen in the Upper East, Upper West and the Northern Region. My investigation revealed that the company took the money but did not train a single person.