3 Things We Learned From President Nana Akufo-Addo's Visit to NYU

Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo visited with compatriots at NYU's Africa House for a town hall, here are our takeaways from the event.

NEW YORK CITY—It was like waiting for an African wedding reception to start.

Last week Africa House at New York University hosted President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, in town for a speech in front of diaspora Ghanaians.

What was supposed to be an engaging dialogue and conversation, turned into a waiting game. Akufo-Addo almost didn't make it, arriving with only less than 30 minutes until the town hall was supposed to end. In other words, he was well over 2 hours late. The crowd that filled Eisner & Lubin Auditorium (the overflow room next door was full, too), grew weary and rightfully frustrated when the only updates received from the organizers were "He'll be here very soon."

While it was a missed opportunity for Akufo-Addo to truly exchange and speak with his compatriots, he made sure to update attendees of the work his new government has put in since he took office in February of this year.

Take a look at our three takeaways from his speech, which highlight on efforts for Ghanaian youth and fighting corruption.

©NYU Photo Bureau: Olivo

Improving Ghana's agriculture industry is a priority, especially employing recent graduates in the field to the public sector.

Akufo-Addo announced his new initiative, "Planting for Food and Jobs" to redevelop Ghana's agriculture—which plays a crucial role in the country's economy.

"We have identified 200,000 farmers for the pilot program," he says, "where we will furnish them with improved seedlings to grow maize, yam, cassava and will reduce price of fertilizer to our farmers by 50 percent."

His government also plans to implement a plan putting over 3,000 recent graduates in agriculture to the public sector where, according to Akufo-Addo, not a single student were given job opportunities in their field for the past five years.

"We’ve began the employment of these young men and women as extension officers, and this year’s budget has provided the employment to 1,200 of them," Akufo-Addo says, "with the commitment that every year from now on we will employ at least 1,500 to 2,000. As extension officers, these young men and women help our farmers adopt official and improved methods."

Senior high school education will be free of charge starting September 2017.

Education is a high priority for Ghana's president—for him broadening access to quality education is a promise he made to his people that he plans on keeping.

"It’s not that there’s a lack of inability, it’s a lack of money," he says. "Poor parents have not had the opportunity to keep their children enrolled in school, which is a major loss for the development for our country."

He continues:

"I’ve made the commitment that senior high school education, like junior high school education in Ghana will become free. This is a tool for the development of our country. This will begin in September of this year."

For Akufo-Addo, transparent government is key for Ghana to have a bright future.

Akufo-Addo plans on looking to the members of Ghana's parliament to support his efforts to transition Ghana to a transparent government to continue fighting corruption.

"We will establish an office of special prosecutor," he says. "The prosecutor will be chosen in a transparent manner, protected by statute and independent of the executive; who will make the decisions about investigating as well as prosecuting offenses of corruption."

He also plans to make history by making the assets of ministers available to the public for viewing.

"For the first time, all ministers of the government, including myself, have declared and filed their assets with the auditor general," Akufo-Addo says. "We are in the process of asking parliament to vote on the asset declaration to see if there is support for the idea of open declaration of assets, not only to file, but to publish."

Photo Credit: ©NYU Photo Bureau: Olivo
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Photo: Getty

Here's What You Need To Know About The Political Unrest In Sudan

Thousands have been protesting the Sudanese government over the weekend, supporting the military's plans for a coup.

Sudan's transitional government is in turmoil as thousands of citizens conducted a sit-in protest against them, over the weekend. A group of Sudanese citizens have called on the military to disestablish the nation's current government, as the country struggles with the greatest crisis they've seen since the end of former dictator Omar al-Bashir's controversial ruling, two years ago. The weekend's pro-military protests come as anti-military protestors took to the streets earlier this month to fight for civilian-ruled laws.

Military-aligned demonstrators assembled outside of the famously off-limits entrance of the Presidential Palace located in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum on Monday. Gatherers set up tents, blocking off access to two main intersections, cutting off access to the capital for those inside. Police attempted to wave off crowds with teargas, with Khartoum state officials saying they had, "repelled an attempted assault on the seat of government," in a statement issued Monday.

The assembly was called for by a coalition of rebel groups and political parties that support Sudan's military, accusing the civilian political parties of mismanagement and monopolizing power under their ruling. Demonstrations began on Saturday, but Sunday's gathering saw a lower attendance. According to Reuters, by Monday afternoon, thousands, between 2,000 - 3,000, had returned to voice their concerns. 52-year-old tribal elder Tahar Fadl al-Mawla spoke at the helm of the sit-in outside of the Presidential palace saying, "The civilian government has failed. We want a government of soldiers to protect the transition." Alongside a 65-year-old Ahman Jumaa who claimed to have traveled more than 900 kilometers (570 miles) from Southern region Nyala to show his support.

Protesters are demanding the appointment of a new cabinet that is "more representative of the people who participated in the December 2019 revolution that eventually led to the ousting of former president Omar al-Bashir", Al Jazeera reported from Sudan. Protesters headed towards the Presidential Palace, where an emergency cabinet meeting was being held when they were met by police forces.

Pro-civilian political parties have plans for their own demonstration on Thursday, the anniversary of the 1964 revolution that overthrew Sudan's first military regime under Ibrahim Abboud and brought in a period of democracy that the country still struggles to uphold.

Sudanese Twitter users shared their thoughts online, with many drawing similarities between the current unrest and other political crises the nation has faced.

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