SPEECH BY NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OF THE NEW PATRIOTIC PARTY, AT THE LAUNCH OF THE PARTY MANIFESTO ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2016, AT THE TRADE FAIR CENTRE, ACCRA.
I am glad that we are making such a happy event out of the launch of our Manifesto. It is a fact of our lives that not many people, or political parties for that matter, in our country appreciate the significance of a Manifesto in a democracy.
Some see it simply as a list of promises to attract votes, and not much thought is given to their fulfilment. To others, it is an opportunity to engage in some light-hearted tomfoolery. For my part, I fully understand the consequence of putting your signature to a contract.
A Manifesto represents for me, a solemn social contract between the electorate and the elected. The Manifesto should also help the electorate to distinguish between the various political parties because the plans and programmes they set out would be influenced by the ideologies and beliefs. By offering the NPP Manifesto to the Ghanaian public today means, I, as the presidential candidate of our party, sign my part of the contract. Your vote would constitute your signature on the contract and your mandate for me to implement the ideas in the Manifesto.
There is a dangerous lie, poisoning our politics that must be quashed decisively. The notion that the two major political parties, the NDC and the NPP, are the same. We, in the NPP, know from whence we came. We have never had any identity crisis. Right from our UGCC roots through the various incarnations to the present day NPP, we have held firm in our belief in multi-party democracy and free market economics; even when these were not the fashionable ideologies on this continent of ours. We were never tempted during the many years we spent in opposition to compromise on our beliefs and when at last we had the opportunity to govern this country under President J.A. Kufuor in 2001 through to 2008, our performance demonstrated we were comfortable in our skins, to borrow a manner of speaking. The private sector flourished and businesses thrived. I do not propose to speak about what the NDC stands for, save to make the point that the Party had been in power for eight years and it was when they had lost power and were in opposition that they met and decided they were Social Democrats. One would hope, therefore, that our Manifestoes would show us for what we are and stand for.
We of the NPP have always taken our Manifestoes seriously because we believe politics is a serious business and asking for the mandate of the people to govern is a serious business. Our Manifesto also gives us the opportunity to reiterate our firm stand as the party of the rule of law, the party of business and the party that builds and creates wealth. When we drew up a Manifesto that we titled Transforming Lives, Transforming Ghana, you would remember that some people simply wanted “e dey bee keke”, and when they appropriated our title, they have been at a loss about what to do with it.
On the one hand, it is possible to see the comic side in the Manifesto pilfering phenomenon and agree with the “great minds think alike” wisecrack, but, on the other hand, it is a dangerous practice for our country for political parties simply to take on concepts and programmes they do not believe in, nor have thought through.
Let me give a few examples to illustrate the point I make. The NDC did not believe in the National Health Insurance Scheme; they demonstrated the level of disbelief by walking out of Parliament when the NHIS Bill came to Parliament and it was passed without their input and came into operation in 2004.
Proof that they did not believe in it and certainly did not understand it came in 2008, when the NDC campaigned on a hare-brained idea to change the NHIS to a one-time premium paying scheme. Is it any wonder the NHIS has been in so much trouble since 2009 under the government of the NDC?
Or let’s take Free SHS. The NDC made it volubly clear they did not believe in it, they did not like the idea and they rubbished it at every opportunity. It is not surprising therefore that they have been having such a hard time trying to run their watered down version of Free SHS.
In other words, it helps to believe in something, to spend time and energy to think it through, and to get passionate and competent people to lead in the implementation of the programme. That is the NPP’s attitude and our approach to the business of governance.
We are not looking for catchy and/or meaningless slogans because they will win votes. We have not put together a Manifesto that sounds good, but does not positively affect the lives of the people of our country.
You have heard all our speakers today state clearly that we are offering solutions to the problems that face our country. We are offering solutions that will take our country out of the crisis in which we find ourselves.
I have heard the President of the Republic make the breath-taking claim that the economy is not in crisis, and he went further to suggest that those who say the economy is in crisis have bad eyesight. The President even says that those who say our economy is in crisis are unpatriotic!
Let me state clearly and without any equivocation that John Dramani Mahama cannot teach me any lessons in patriotism. My love for and belief in Ghana is total and has stood the test of time.
All true lovers of Ghana know that the circumstances of our existence these past eight years is not the Ghana that our forebears fought for. The Ghana of the past four years is certainly nothing like the Ghana that the current population of Ghanaians aspire to.
I want a Ghana that has equal opportunities for all its citizens and provides quality education to ensure a skilled workforce that can compete in the globalized economy. When we talk about restoring allowances for teacher trainees, for example, it is not because it is a vote catching strategy; it is an integral part of restoring dignity to the teaching profession.
I want a Ghana where our young people can feel and be confident of a vibrant future. I want a Ghana where hard work pays and competence rewarded. I want our farmers, fisher folk, traders, teachers, drivers, mechanics, students, nurses, carpenters, artisans, professionals, hair dressers and tailors, and everybody trying to earn a living to feel their efforts are appreciated and they are able to prosper in their chosen fields. I want a Ghana where honest labour is remunerated with honest returns.
I want a Ghana which has a vigorous social welfare system that protects the vulnerable and the disadvantaged.
I want a Ghana which is a leader in technological innovation and scientific research in the region, the continent and the world.
I want a Ghana where we appreciate the importance of the environment and we know and acknowledge that we are custodians of the forests, the rivers, the lands and the animals for generations yet unborn.
I want a Ghana where the cleaning of surroundings is not limited to a monthly activity, but is what we do regularly as part of daily activity.
I want a Ghana where every citizen has access to potable water.
I want a Ghana where the rule of law is the ultimate and equal sanction for all citizens.
I want a Ghana where political activity is conducted with civility and honour and no one thinks of rigging an election as an option.
I want a Ghana whose public discourse is directed at resolving the urgent needs of the people, and not one based on a constant diet of ceaseless propaganda, deliberate misrepresentations and outright lies.
I want a Ghana where government is accountable to the electorate, not with artist impressions of projects and green books, but with cold facts and figures. That is how public officials treat citizens with respect.
I want a Ghana where we do not have a political cycle of three and a half years of suffering and three to four months of concerted effort to buy off the memory of pain.
I want a Ghana where the innate good humour and well-known vivid imagination of the people are harnessed to build the happy nation that we should be.
I want a Ghana which is determined to advance its pan african vocation to build a strong West Africa within the context of a strong, confident Africa, that plays its proper role in the comity of nations.
President Mahama might not recognize the suffering of the people of Ghana and might not be hearing their cries, because he has sadly insulated himself from the reality on the ground. He has probably not met young Godwin. He did what every child is urged to do: he went to school, he studied hard, he got good grades, he chose to go to the School of Hygiene and he finished three years ago. He is still sitting at home, he hasn’t got a job. No one who has been through the School of Hygiene for the past four years has been placed in our health system. I have met many of them and thousands more like him; young, vibrant Ghanaians who want to work, but cannot find jobs, because President Mahama has run our economy into the ground.
If the President would only look a little closer behind the veneer that closets him, just a little behind his immediate circle of family and friends, he will see and feel the agony of Ghanaians.
If he looked a little closer even at the rank and file of his own party, he would recognize that this is, indeed, an economy in crisis. Maybe the President should talk to young Awal Mohammed, who was, until this past week, the deputy Director of Communications of the NDC Zongo Caucus. He does not sound to me like an unpatriotic young Ghanaian. If the President looked a little closer, he would see the army of desperate young unemployed who are in despair.
If he looked a little closer, he would see the number of teachers and nurses who have worked for three years and been told they will be paid for three months. If he looked a little closer, he would see the number of businesses that have collapsed as a result of the ruinous years of DUMSOR. I have met the hairdressers, the vulcanizers, the tailors and the food sellers, who have been reduced to penury, because their businesses could not survive the energy crisis.
Yes, there are a few people who have prospered under this government, largely members of the President’s family and his inner circle.
This country remembers how an NPP Administration, under President J.A. Kufuor, took a country under HIPC conditions and within seven years had transformed it to a lower middle income status.
We were all witnesses to the buzzing business atmosphere and the daily expansion of enterprises. We all saw how many Ghanaians living in the diaspora took the big decision to come back home. We all saw our currency restored to rude health and nobody needed to be told that Ghana was where it was all happening.
We gave rise to the legend of Africa Rising, and was, indeed, its poster boy. It is a tragedy that we now are famous for all the wrong reasons and the hope that came with the discovery of oil and for being known as a country with a well-managed economy has disappeared.
My fellow compatriots, our current sad situation cannot and should not be our lot. I have said it often and I will keep saying it: we are not destined to be poor. It is this belief that Ghana deserves a brighter future and can be made to work again that drives me and keeps me going.
I stand before you a Ghanaian patriot that wants the best for our nation. Yes, I am passionate about education because it is education that made me. The countries that have made rapid great strides in our time have relied on an educated and skilled population. Education is the anchor for all our plans and programmes.
I am passionate about the rule of law because it is the bedrock of a successful, well-ordered and prosperous society. The guarantee of the rule of law breeds confidence and attracts business.
I am passionate about promoting a state structure that rests on a true separation of powers, with three genuine co-equal branches of government, because that guarantees good governance and is the best protection for citizens.
I am appalled by the poverty and deprivation that I see around our country, because it is unnecessary. We have drawn up a comprehensive programme to grow our economy and make sure no part of the country is left out.
I am disgusted at the cavalier attitude towards corruption in public life. I believe that the everyday petty and oppressive corrupt practices that blight the lives of ordinary Ghanaians will disappear if high government officials are seen to be persons of integrity. That is the quality of governance, a government of integrity, I am offering the people of Ghana.
I stand before you as a small and honest man, with a big heart for Ghana.
I offer myself as a man born before Ghana’s independence, but the Good Lord has been good to me and blessed me with good health and the wisdom to attract and lead a competent and enthusiastic team.
We believe in the programmes that we have drawn up in our Manifesto, because they offer the solutions to the crisis that the years of NDC mismanagement have brought to our country.
I know that the programmes by themselves will not do the trick. We have learnt this lesson from very bitter experience. If programmes alone could solve our problems, SADA would have brought prosperity to the three northern regions of our country by now; instead of which SADA has become an embarrassment and a gaping sore on our national psyche.
But then the SADA phenomenon might well be a good example of what happens when a party takes up an idea or a programme it does not understand, or believe in or got the knowhow to implement.
To my fellow NPP members, I say to you we have a good story to tell. It is not enough to count on the suffering of the Ghanaian people as the reason to vote for us.
Our programmes will restore hope and bring prosperity. Let us go to every part of the country and spread the story of our good news; tell the young people and the students about the skills training programmes, tell them there will be opportunities for all. Tell the farmers they will not be left on their own, but will be given the support to make farming the profitable and fulfilling business it should be. Tell the business entrepreneurs that their tax burden will be reduced, and their businesses will flourish, so they can create jobs.
We must make sure our message is heard loud and clear from Axim to Aflao, and from Accra to Paga. Tell them we shall treat the mandate they give us with respect and we shall make Ghana a happy and prosperous place for all her people.
Tell them the NPP did it under President John Agyekum Kufuor and the NPP will take us to a higher level under President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Tell them of the real dangers of 4 more years of John Dramani Mahama, under whose watch the economy has shrunk systematically, with this year’s GDP growth rate being the lowest for 22 years. The IMF also tells us in its report that Ghanaian workers were poorer last year than the previous year. And they were poorer in 2014 than 2013. Tell them, it doesn’t matter if they have never voted NPP or have regularly voted NDC. Tell them that this is a battle to save Ghana.
In this election we are faced with an opponent with unrestrained and unprincipled access to state resources, with apparently unlimited cash, who have confidence that they can buy your vote. If they cannot, they will try to bully you. That is the opponent we have in this election.
So let me speak the words of David to our Goliath…
“You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel (Ghana), whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel (Ghana). Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45–47
Ladies and gentlemen, the battle is the Lord’s.
I wish to thank the Lord for giving me Mahamudu Bawumia as my running mate, and also for the life of his wife, Samira.
They have more money than us, but the battle is the Lord’s
They have more outboard motors, more roofing sheets, more laptops, more sewing machines to give away, but the battle is the Lord’s.
They have more giant-sized billboards than us, but the battle is the Lord’s.
In truth, however, fellow Ghanaians, we are many and they are few and the battle remains the Lord’s.
I thank you all.