STATEMENT BY NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, MP, NPP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, ON THE PRESENTATION OF THE NPP 2008 CAMPAIGN COMMITTEES 13TH MARCH, 2008 PRESS CONFERENCE AT NPP HQ, ASYLUM DOWN, ACCRA
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media:
I am happy that you have been able to honour our invitation to join the Vice President, National Chairman, General Secretary and other National Party Officers, Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, Party functionaries and members, and me, for this first news conference since the NPP elected me as its presidential candidate on December 23rd, 2007. I continue to thank the Almighty God and the Party’s rank and file for the grace bestowed on me on that fateful day, awesome though the responsibility is.
Since my nomination, I have travelled across the country, meeting with Party members, various interest groups and members of the general public to listen to their concerns. In accepting the Party’s nomination, I undertook to shoulder the burden of leading the Party to a decisive victory in the December Presidential and Parliamentary elections. For us in the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the Presidential and Parliamentary campaigns will be one and the same, as our goal is to retain the Presidency and our majority in Parliament. What we have, we hold. What we don’t have, we intend to get.
So our first task is to retain the 128 seats that we now have, for, in doing so, we will also automatically win the Presidency and succeed in making history by being the first political party in Ghana to transfer power from one President to another of the same Party. Our success will mean that the development of our country in freedom is on course for the consolidation of our democracy and the attainment of prosperity for all our people.
Values of Danquah-Busia-Kufuor Tradition
The spirit of this new age of progress and prosperity for Ghana will be sustained and our nation spared the sad history which saw bad leadership, bad governance and bad ideologies retarding its advancement. As the Leader of the NPP, I remain guided by the values of the Danquah-Busia tradition, its history and its promise and the examples of our great leaders who have gone before me, from Joseph Boakye Danquah and Kofi Abrefa Busia to John Agyekum Kufuor. Amongst these values are: an unwavering commitment to and promotion of fundamental freedoms and human rights; an abiding faith in multi-party democracy; a deep attachment to the Rule of Law; the maintenance of Law and Order; the proactive development of a market economy, individual enterprise and creativity; the economic empowerment of the Ghanaian; the recognition of each of us being the other’s keeper; the provision of a strong social safety net for the elderly, vulnerable and needy in society; a strong advocacy of individual responsibility and self-discipline; a preparedness to sacrifice for community, country and continent; an unyielding belief in the can-do spirit of the Ghanaian and; finally, a leadership constantly guided by faith in God.
NPP and P/NDC Governments Compared
It is obvious, that one of the cardinal themes of this campaign will be to compare the records of the 20-year PNDC/NDC government and the 8-year NPP government. The inescapable conclusion from this comparison is that the 8-year NPP era has proved at least twice as productive for the development of Ghana as the 20-years of PNDC/NDC rule.
In 2001 when the NPP took office, we inherited a bankrupt economy, a demoralized populace and a body politic scarred by an authoritarian culture. Since then we have compiled a record of solid achievements which have laid a strong foundation for the modernization of our society and the transformation of our national economy. Never in the history of Ghana, has freedom so flourished as in this, the first phase of NPP rule. The doubting Thomases who said that the State would disintegrate without the aid of the Criminal Libel Law have been proved to be the modern day Jeremiahs. The repeal of the law, which, under the authority of the President of the Republic, I was privileged to undertake, as Attorney-General, has led to the Ghanaian media being among the freest in Africa, if not in the world. This has enhanced, immeasurably, the process of accountability in our state and thereby the quality of our governance. The institutions of our Republic, the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary, have all witnessed a significant strengthening during this period of NPP rule.
The government’s intensive initiatives to develop our social and physical infrastructure, including a rapid expansion and rehabilitation of school buildings, the implementation of the school feeding program and the provision of the capitation grant, the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme and significant improvements in the provision of healthcare facilities, the construction of urban and feeder road networks to link various towns and villages, and the disbursement of the poverty alleviation fund to the district assemblies for development projects at the local level, have all been very successful.
We have stabilized the economy with minimal inflation, lowered interest rates while nearly quadrupling the size of the Ghanaian economy from a GDP of US$3.9 billion to about US$15 billion today.
Average lending rates have fallen from 47% in 2000 (the last year of the P/ NDC) to 24.2% in 2007. This has influenced credit to the private sector upwards from less than US$400 million in 2000 to nearly US$4billion in 2007 – a one thousand per cent increase. Ghana’s exports have risen from US$1.9 billion in 2000 to US$4.2 billion in 2007. In the last seven years of the National Democratic Congress, US$320 million was invested in manufacturing. In the first 6 years of NPP rule, US$2.3 billion has gone into manufacturing. We can go on and on… In 1993, Ghana’s daily minimum wage was equivalent to 96 US cents. By 2000, the last year of the NDC regime, the real value of the minimum wage of the Ghanaian had reduced to 60 US cents. Today, the minimum daily wage, at 2.24 Ghana cedis is equivalent to US$2.34. This is one of the many indications that under the PNDC/NDC the money in the pocket of the Ghanaian consistently lost its real value and the reverse has been the case under the NPP. Through the prudent liberal policies of this government, which has increased competition, Ghana’s mobile telephony companies have seen their clientele base increased from a total of 90,000 in 2000 to 7,603,000 in 2007.
The capitation grant, instituted to make the policy of fee-free education at the basic level a reality, and the school feeding program have combined to push enrolment at the basic school level up from 3,698,448 in the 2004/2005 academic year to 4,916,346 in the 2007/2008 academic year, an increase of some 30 per cent in three years. Coupled with the new Education Policy, these measures are changing the future of our children for the better and ensuring that social justice is not just a slogan, but a reality in Ghana. Under the NPP, I am happy to observe that enrolment at the six public universities has more than doubled from 40,673 in 2001 to 88,445 at the close of the 2006/2007 academic year, made possible by the long overdue expansion of the infrastructure of our public universities. The 10 polytechnics have also experienced high enrolment rates, from a total of 18,459 in 2000/2001 to 28,695 in 2006/2007. The private universities have also seen a sharp intake of students. There were only 1,667 students in private universities in 2000. By the 2006/2007 academic year, there were 18,278. For the health and wellbeing of our people, we passed the National Health Insurance (NHIS) bill without a single NDC vote in 2003. By December 2007 a total of 145 schemes were in operation with a total membership of 9,791,547, representing 48% of the population.
Today, many families have been freed from the clutches of the inhumane “Cash-and-Carry” system that was in operation before the NHIS was introduced. According to Mr. Ras Boateng, Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority, our national health insurance concept is considered to be the most generous and pro-poor in the whole world, with 62% of its members, including those aged 70 and above and below 18, categorized as paying no direct premium at all. Consistent with our commitment to decentralization, Districts/Municipal areas have increased from 110 to 170. These new districts will bring infrastructure and decision-making closer to people where they live. In the public safety arena, we have increased the Police Force from 15,000 to 25,000, an increase of 66% in seven years. In foreign affairs, we have returned to regional, African, and global leadership and our voice is again a respected voice in the comity of nations. The myriad of foreign policy successes in the Kufuor era is testimony to this. These achievements must give us hope that indeed the era of fulfilment, the age of Ghanaian excellence, is here with us today. We as a nation must acknowledge the great strides, we have made under the NPP. Yet, we must also have the humility to appreciate that we still have a long way to go. We need to accelerate the development of our national economy so that opportunities will abound especially for the youth, many of whom continue to be without jobs. Their welfare remains a major preoccupation for our society. To achieve this, we need to move from the 6% GDP rates of growth to 9 – 10% per cent rates of growth systematically over the next decade which will break the back of mass poverty in our country.
Mission of NPP
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, the mission of the NPP is straightforward and simple: we mean to create a future Ghana that will provide a model of progress for the rest of Africa and the world. We in this Party know that despite the international commendations for Ghana and the NPP government, the true measure of our success in government will be the opinions of ordinary people expressed through the ballot in places like Abomosu and Zebilla. We recognize the difficulties that many faces, especially in our urban environments with respect to housing, water shortages and poor sanitation. Young people are demanding more educational opportunities and well-paying jobs, and they are right to do so. We know that even more work needs to be done in shaming mediocrity, in combating corruption, the drug menace and indiscipline, and we will do more! We believe that the foundation that has been laid these last seven years provides us with the base to launch a systematic and effective attack on these critical social problems. The challenges of 2009 will be different from those of 2001.
The priorities of the next NPP government, God willing, will thus be different. Based on the excellent preparations of the Kufuor years, our party is the best positioned to implement the new priorities. We are committed to finding and implementing new ideas that will continue to make our country better. We believe that elections are about the future, not the past. Consistent with the “new” in our name, we shall always be focused on new ideas, policies and programs that will make our nation and our future better. As a renowned novelist put it, “those who live in the past must yield to those who live in the future”. The next four years of NPP government will have four central thematic goals: Firstly, the continuing consolidation of our democracy Secondly, the modernization of our society Thirdly, the structural transformation of our economy, and Fourthly, the full engagement of our nation in the process of regional and continental integration. We shall deepen our democracy by strengthening the institutions that assure the rule of law and our rights to protections under the law fighting corruption vigorously
strengthening the process of decentralization to give local communities more resources and a bigger voice in decisions that affect them. We shall modernize our society by
– protecting our environment, re-planning our towns and cities and enforcing our rules and regulations strictly but humanely – ensuring that we maintain a proper balance between our rights and responsibilities – actively promoting the arts and sports
– laying emphasis on a culture of excellence – instilling a greater sense of patriotism, confidence and pride in the average Ghanaian – investing more in equipping our youth and workforce with cutting-edge skills – creating an enabling environment for the provision of decent affordable housing for all – making the public sector more responsive to the citizens and the private sector We shall transform our economy by:
– focusing on the production of added-value goods and services rather than primary products
– pursuing a clear policy of Ghanaian Economic Empowerment that will encourage the accumulation and investment of Ghanaian
capital, locally and from the Diaspora, and making more Ghanaians winners in the global economy
– investing a significant percentage of our GDP in research and development (R&D)
– making the formal sector more attractive to the majority of local economic operators.
We shall exert leadership on the African continent by: – helping to resolve conflicts, enhancing security and consolidating multi-party democracy in the region and on the continent – promoting regional and continental integration in allowing free movement of people, goods and services across borders – promoting collaboration between African countries in the councils of the world in protecting our common interests.
While pursuing these broad goals, the next NPP government will show the necessary urgency in protecting our environment and our natural resources.
The Task at Hand- The Campaign Committee
So what is our task now, as the leading party? It is to mobilize the masses of our people to overcome the challenges to our development and ensure that our development journey is a conscious and all-inclusive one. This will require the nation talking to itself, learning from its past, listening to its children, visionaries, and its own experts, and thinking for itself. This is the path to the construction of the self-reliant, independent, confident Ghana that the founders of our tradition dreamt about some 60 years ago. Today, I am here to present to you the team that will lead the NPP effort. It is equal to the task of increasing our strength in Parliament and winning the Presidency at the December poll.
First, the campaign will have an Advisory Board, under the Chairmanship of the Party’s National Chairman, Mr Peter Mac Manu, made up of all the people who competed with me for our Party’s leadership last December, together with the Acting Chairman of the Council of Elders, Mr A.K. Deku, the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Mr Kwadwo Mpiani, the two National Vice-Chairpersons of the Party, Mrs Agnes Okudzeto and Alhaji Abdul Rahman Musa, the General Secretary, Nana Ohene Ntow and myself.
The campaign will be run by a 23-member National Campaign Committee under the chairmanship of Mr Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, the successful manager of our 2000 and 2004 campaigns. It will consist of five National Officers: The National Chairman, the General Secretary, the National Organizer, the National Women’s Organizer and the National Youth Organizer – and the Chairpersons of Eight (8) Specialized Committees, namely Communications: Dr Arthur Kennedy; Electoral Affairs: Mr Dan Botwe Fund Raising: Hon. Hackman Owusu-Agyeman; MP Identifiable Groups: Mr. Alan Kyerematen; Manifesto: Dr. Owusu Afriyie-Akoto; Operations: Mr Nich Adi-Dako; Research: Mr Victor Newman; Security: Hon. Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor MP; Traditional Affairs: Hon. Felix Owusu-Adjepong- MP. The team will also consist of the Campaign Director, Hon. Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku, MP, with his two deputies, Mr Roland Saka for the Northern Sector and Ms. Sophia Horner-Sam, for the Southern Sector. The team will be completed by the Hon. Yaw Osafo Maafo, MP, Ms. Mawusi Awitty, Hajia Rukia Ahmed and myself. The Campaign Committee will work in conjunction with the Regional, Constituency and Polling Station executive structures of the Party to pursue the all-important agenda of TOTAL VICTORY in Election 2008. Let me emphasize, all party members and activists are important parts of our effort. As we know well, our victories have come from the efforts of many unsung heroes. We need the energy of every party member and dare I say, patriotic Ghanaian to ensure we retain in office the only party with a viable project for this country’s development in freedom and her people’s prosperity. We need the prayers of every party member and concerned citizen. Together, we shall once again be victorious. We are calling upon the Electoral Commission to make sure, as it has done in the past, that its arrangements will be such that the Ghanaian people will have free, fair and transparent elections in December, whose results cannot legitimately be questioned. There will then be no justification for any group of people to disturb the hard-won peace of our country and to instigate the shedding of even a single drop of Ghanaian blood. Our people desire to continue the national journey down the path of democratic accountability, respect for human rights and the rule of law. May we all continue to believe in Ghana Long live the NPP. Long live Ghana. May God bless us all. Thank you,