7 January 2014

Ghana's President Marks First Year By Meeting Media

Accra — Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama has now been in office for one year. To mark the occasion, he invited representatives of the Ghanaian media to question him on his performance so far.

Twelve months ago, President Mahama promised a new dawn to governance in Ghana. He won an election that was, however, disputed by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).

The case went to the Supreme Court and after almost nine months, the judges ruled in Mahama's favor. In his inaugural speech he promised to fight against corruption and to build 200 senior high schools within four years, saying 50 would be built during his first year of office.

A year on, none of those schools have materialised. In his exchange with journalists on Tuesday January 7, the president conceded that his first year had been difficult.

He said the need to allocate funds to other sectors, such as the energy sector, had meant some projects, like the schools, had suffered.

"Governance is a difficult business, difficult decisions need to be made and the mark of leadership is you take difficult decisions when they need to be taken," he told the journalists, adding "That is what I have done. I believe 2014 is going to be a good year."

Tackling corruption and terrorism

President Mahama has come in for considerable criticism for his handling of corruption. He gave an assurance that a number of directives aimed at curbing corruption within politics were on course and would take effect shortly.

"I want to re-state my commitment to fighting corruption. I don't have any qualms about the fight against corruption. We will take the steps that are necessary to ensure that the good people of Ghana's money is not squandered frivolously," he declared.

President Mahama also touched on the issue of terrorism, both in an African and global context. He stressed the importance of regional cooperation, saying "We have committed in West Africa to work on an anti-terrorism plan and so together all our countries are contributing to work on preventing terrorism.

And the way to do that is not to be afraid to talk about it, but to talk about it and find how we can achieve solutions to the plague of terrorism."

Mahama's critics say there is no reason to celebrate his first year in office. Nii Armah Akomfrah, communications director of one of the leading opposition parties, the Convention People's Party, says the government can't be trusted but "they cannot fool the people. Everybody can see."

Waiting for visible results

There is also considerable skepticism on the streets of the capital Accra, DW's Ghana correspondent reports.

A young man, Paa Kwesi, mentioned the failure to build the promised 50 schools and said the president had done nothing about corruption.

These sentiments were echoed by female resident Akyia Anokye who said she was not sure if Mahama had done anything "because I have not seen anything." Leonard Tetteh commented that there is always a certain amount of difficulty when a new government takes over but this time "we are in so much distress, I have never experienced this before."

He and others will be watching closely and hoping that the president delivers on his promises for 2014.

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