Promising a ‘New Ghana' the NDC manifesto is notably, specifically silent on job creation. Indeed, the word ‘job’ is completely missing from the entire document.The 63-page document is remarkably modest on details but uncharacteristically bold on promises, if compared to the party’s four previous manifestos and numerous national budgets.
The NDC promises that "Ghana’s clothing and textiles and art work industries, as well as artifacts etc. shall be one of the best developed in modern Africa."
But, there is disappointment for those expecting clear egalitarian indicators from a party that claims it has metamorphosed in opposition from iconoclastic neo-liberalism to vociferous social democracy.
The manifesto gives no promise of continuing with the affordable housing scheme. It favours state-provided housing, but recognizes the mortgage opportunities now provided by a stable macro-economic environment. It says the state would build houses and condominiums to "accommodate the junior rank through to the highest [police] officer," while "mortgage facilities shall cover retired police officers."
Ironically, though the NDC has been vehement in its opposition to the NPP LEAP policy of giving free monies to the very needy, their manifesto promises the "setting up of a special mitigation fund." It adds, "A base amount to be determined shall be paid out on a monthly basis to such citizens and not more than three of their children."
The streets would be rid of "mentally deranged persons" under an Atta Mills government.
The NDC would be tough on refuse. Sanitary inspectors "will give spot fines, and or prosecute at sanitary courts."
The document is absolutely silent on how the party intends to finance its manifesto promises.
Key pledges in NDC Manifesto
* Houses must be painted every year
* District/Municipal Assemblies shall levy a property tax of 20% which will go to the allodial owners of the land ad infinitum
* Every plot to be sold shall be serviced and not sold in its virgin form
* Govt to purchase land wholesale and sell them free-hold to developers
* TOR will not be sold to the private sector
* Attorney-General shall be independent
* Taxes and insurance charges on petroleum shall be reviewed
* To see Ghana halt, within 8 years, new HIV/AIDS infection
* Progressively do away with open drains
* All medical professionals shall be bonded to work for five years or redeem themselves by paying fines
* All dilapidated classrooms and under-tree learning will be a thing of the past within six years
* Personal housing loan schemes shall be made available to teachers
* Supermarket chains shall be encouraged
* Retail industry to be regulated; reserving a large portion for Ghanaians * Road Traffic Courts, Sanitation Courts in every district * Develop vibrant fibre industry for export * Assist media institutions with credit to acquire newsprint, equipment, etc * 5% of national annual budget will be invested into research
Most African countries have been wary of plans to base the command, Africom, on the continent.
Africom's commander, Gen William Ward, said there were no plans to create large US garrisons on the continent.
The military command was created last year to unite responsibilities shared by three other US regional commands.
The US plan had been misunderstood by some African countries, Gen Ward told the BBC.
The key aim of Africom was to build the capacity of African countries for security and peacekeeping, he said.
Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua announced in November that he would not allow his country to host an Africom base and that he was also opposed to any such bases in West Africa.
South Africa and Libya have also voiced strong reservations.
Only Liberia, which has historic links to the US, has offered to host it.
There has been concern that Africom is really an attempt to protect US oil and mineral interests in Africa, amid growing competition for resources from Asian economies, says the BBC's Alex Last in the Nigerian capital Abuja.
Gen Ward said Africom was not about militarisation but consolidating existing operations under one single command, while helping Africans with military training and supporting peacekeeping and aid operations.
Ministers of State would therefore have to play their expected parts well, he said when he swore in Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, Minister of State, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, and Ms. Vicky Bright, a Deputy Minister at the Office of the President, at the Castle, Osu.
President Kufuor, speaking after administering to them the Oaths of Allegiance, Office and Secrecy, called for total loyalty. To Mr. Mensah-Bonsu, he said he should make sure that Government's business was not delayed or frustrated by Parliament. He should make sure that both sides "come along" with Government for passage of Bills into laws and smooth conduct of the business of state.
Turning to the Deputy Minister, President Kufuor, asked her to work around clock and be above doubt and speculation.
He said as a liaison between the President and the Attorney-General, she should be alert to any matters that might have escaped the office of the Government's Chief Legal Adviser and slipped to his Office.
Mr Mensah-Bonsu pledged that they would do their best to justify their inclusion and help to move the Government's development agenda forward.
Delivering his last State of the Nation address to Parliament, he said on assumption of office, he found the country's education system in a parlous condition.
"From 2001, using resources from the HIPC Fund, Budget Allocation and the GETfund, government launched a programme to rehabilitate broken down educational institutions from basic through secondary to tertiary level."
He said other initiatives which have been implemented include the Capitation Grant, the School Feeding Programme and improved students' loan schemes, all of which have contributed to increased intake of pupils and students through all the levels. President Kufuor said on account of Ghana's school feeding programme, when he was invited to address the Council of the World Food Programme in Rome a week ago and "together with a group of pupils from Ghana, I told the Ghana story".
He said with the story, Ghana's School Feeding Programme had become a model for other developing nations around the world.
President Kufuor said the implementation of the constitutional provision of Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE), which had been captured within the new education reform programme, took off on schedule last September.
He said since the First Republic, various educational programmes had recognized the need for science and technology but had not sown the seed for inculcating the essential disciplines in the pupils. "What this government seeks to do at all levels is to acculturate science in them, so that by the time they leave school, their mindset and outlook will reflect an appreciation of science and technology as a way of life."
Touching on Teacher Training Colleges under the education reform, President Kufuor said the entire 38 Teacher Training Colleges were being upgraded into diploma awarding institutions, across the curricula of learning, from science through arts and ICT.
"Further, 15 of them have been designated science colleges to be steeped even deeper in these subjects to provide specialist education for Science, Mathematics and Technology teachers. Technical and Vocational studies are being highlighted in the Reform.
"Government policy is to build Vocational and Technical institutions in every district, so that the youth will learn to use not only their mind, but their hands as well."
President Kufuor said a Distance Education Programme to upgrade teachers beyond the diploma level had been laid.
"Improved conditions of service are part of the incentives to motivate teachers to deliver quality service," he said, adding that, refurbishing of the universities and teacher training colleges were part of government's policy of attracting and retaining young qualified personnel.
President Kufuor said the burden that used to rest solely on the state for the provision of tertiary education was being lessened by rapidly increasing private tertiary institutions, "some of which are proving very competitive in terms of quality of programme delivery and student intake".
He commended the founders of these institutions as well as the national Accreditation Board for their part in the process. "My appeal is that, the curricula of these private institutions should expand beyond Religion, Business and Social Sciences into Mathematics, Science and Technology in line with government's new educational policy."
Touching on health, President Kufuor said integral to human resource development and the achievement of the UN's Millennium Development Goals was a robust health delivery programme.
"For this reason, government has seen to the rehabilitation of the regional hospitals and district health posts, capacity building within the sector and improvement in the conditions of service of health workers.
"Currently, the main driving force of health delivery is captured in the adage 'prevention is better than cure'," he said. The focus was on disease prevention and promotion of healthy life-styles that included healthy eating, at home and in schools, physical exercise, use of potable water and environmental cleanliness, President Kufuor said.
Ghana prides herself as a beacon of good governance - President
President John Agyekum Kufuor on Thursday said Ghana prided herself as a beacon of good governance and commended Parliament for doing an excellent job in dealing with the issue of corruption, which was an affront to good governance.
He said last year saw the public hearings of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament for the first time and though some of the revelations were mind-boggling, the Committee's proactive stance demonstrated appreciation that concerns about corruption were more helpful when they went beyond mere complaints.
Giving his last State of the Nations Address in Parliament, the President said based on this, the Attorney General's Department had set up an Anti-Corruption Unit to study the recommendations and to prosecute cases that needed to be prosecuted.
He said the Legislature played an important role in the drive for good governance and how to equip the House for its critical role must be of concern to all.
"It is, indeed, a shame that our MPs do not have adequate office room and staff to assist their work," he said, adding that, although he made a promise to provide adequate resources for them in his first State of the Nation address, a loan facility of USD 25 million waiting to be utilised for the purpose was diverted to an apparently more urgent purpose by those who secured it.
The President, however, noted that fresh resources were on hand to refurbish Job 600 for use by the MPs and urged the House to consider preparing a comprehensive budget of its needs for funding in the same way as the Judiciary did.
"In offering this advice to the House, I am tempted to say it is because I care about you."
President Kufuor noted that law and order, an integral part of good governance, also required enforcers in the right numbers proportional to the population. However, compared to the UN ratio of Police to citizen at 1:500, Ghana currently reported a ratio of 1:994.
He said the number of policemen, which stood at 15,983 in 2001 had gained an additional 10,132, adding that, resources lately provided to the police included vehicles, communication equipment, ammunition and uniforms.
The President said, the idea of communities volunteering units for community protection in the past could be revisited. However, that should not be recommendation for instant justice which must be condemned in no uncertain terms.
The defending champions ensured they held on to the trophy when, after a slick passing movement, Aboutraika struck in the 77th minute.
The result was the Pharoahs final act in what has been a hugely impressive campaign in Ghana which saw them build on defeat of the Cameroonians in their opening group game to record victories over Sudan, Tunisia and Ivory Coast in the semi-finals.
The only minor blemish on an otherwise perfect passage to the continental trophy was the 1-1 draw with Zambia.
Egypt were adding the 2008 trophy to their wins in 1957, 1959, 1986 (on penalties against Cameroon), 1998 and 2006 with coach Hassan Shehata joining an exclusive club numbering just two of coaches who have won back-to-back titles.
The Elephants, who will meet either Tunisia or Cameroon for a place in the final, struggled until Didier Drogba scored the second goal on 70 minutes.
It was then all too easy for Ivory Coast, who added three within 13 minutes through a Salomon Kalou double and a Bakary Kone goal.
"It was a very complicated match until our second goal," Gili told reporters.
"Guinea was causing us a lot of trouble and until we doubled our tally, there was a chance for Guinea to equalise in a counter-attack," the Frenchman added.
Ivory Coast opened the scoring in the 25th minute with an Abdelkader Keita goal but then failed to convert their chances, with Aruna Dindane missing an open goal after dribbling past Guinea keeper Kemoko Camara.
"Somehow, we managed to be patient and my players held their composure. They were very thorough and I want to congratulate them for that," said Gili.
"The first half was hard," said centre back Kolo Toure, who was sitting on the substitutes bench"When we were 2-0 up, it became quite easy but before that, I can tell you it was very complicated."
Toure said he should be 100 percent fit again for Thursday's semi-final in Kumasi. (Editing by Rex Gowar)