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On Sunday, our main opponents in the December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections, the National Democratic Congress, launched their campaign in Cape Coast for a third consecutive term, totalling 12 years in power. The President, straight from Cape Coast, went to the Western Region, following our candidate’s campaign footsteps.
But the President had a false start by resuming his campaign rounds with insults. We all know that John Mahama is too sensitive to fair criticism. But it gives him no excuse to use un-presidential language against his opponents, chiefs and people. To him all the people complaining about bad roads in the Western Region are sleeping. He should tell that to the commercial drivers who spend over 10 hours just to travel from Sefwi Wiawso in the northern part of the region to Takoradi, the regional capital. He must tell that to the chiefs and people who cannot get their farm products to the markets because of bad roads.
During Akufo-Addo’s tour of the region, he saw for himself how bad roads affect economic and social activities of the communities there.
Ogyeahorhuor Kwaku Gyebi II of the Anhwiaso Traditional Area, Nana Kojo Adoah IV of Adabokrom (Bia East), Nana Aning Baffour II of Essam (Bia West), Nana Ntaadu III of Bonzai (Juaboso), Nana Kwame Nkrumah I of Bodi, Nana Badu Kwasi Kwarteng II of Akontombra, and the chiefs and people of Heman, Prestea Huni Valley, all mentioned the bad state of their roads as their number one concern.
How can a president who has made infrastructural projects his main campaign message think it is wise and decent to insult those who ask for the same thing? Isn’t this strange?
At the NDC campaign launch in Cape Coast, speaker after speaker took turns to focus on the next president of the republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. As usual, they were not able to single out one policy initiative by Nana Akufo-Addo which they could confidently criticise. Speakers who used insults against Akufo-Addo got the loudest cheer.
The high point of Sunday’s campaign launch was supposed to be the president’s speech. We saw vivid pictures of delegates emptying the stadium in the middle of the president’s empty speech. It symbolised the fact that Ghanaians were no longer prepared to listen to the lies, propaganda, deceit and empty promises. Eight years of waiting in vain for the Better Ghana that was promised has surely had its toll.
SPLITTING WESTERN REGION
Nana Akufo-Addo believes that it is time to deepen democracy and democratic accountability in Ghana, especially after 24 years of the 4th Republic with no significant shift in the few areas of economic activity since the colonial days. The NPP message for this election is hinged on Nana Akufo-Addo’s vision of boosting economic activity, by creating and supporting viable industries in every inhabited geographical corner of this country. This is based on his commitment to create a free and prosperous society of opportunities for every Ghanaian, regardless of circumstances of birth, such as geography. The One District One Factory industrialisation policy is at the heart of this. But, aware of the facilitating nature of good governance to economic activity, the NPP promises to undertake significant reforms to improve service delivery at the grassroots level.
As we all know too well over the decades, when a community is a long hours of drive away from the regional capital, it may not get its fair share of attention and progress. Also, where the head of the district owes his or her position to the centre, the presidency, rather than the local community (the grassroots), the temptation to do things to favour the appointing authority and the aligned special interest group rather than the people the DCE is in office to serve, is negatively greater. This democratic deficit is what Akufo-Addo is determined to fix once and for all when elected. Ghana needs it if we are to recalibrate the structural centuries-old development imbalance that exists.
That is why the NPP intends to make the case for and, where necessary, take these democratic issues to the country in a referendum.
Among these, as articulated by Nana Addo DankwaAkufo-Addo in his speeches, are to:
• Abolish DCEs and MCEs being directly appointed by the President
• Let the locals directly elect their DCEs and MCEs
• Increase funding to District Assemblies
• Give the regions and districts greater control of their development priorities
• Create new regions where necessary.
We are determined to curb the existing excessive concentration of power at the Presidency and with the central government. We want to take away the curse of winner-takes-all politics in Ghana to ease political tensions and increase the quality of political competition in policy and programme delivery across Ghana. We want to offer greater scope for solutions to be customised to local problems.
At the NDC campaign launch in Cape Coast, speaker after speaker took turns to focus on the next president of the republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. As usual, they were not able to single out one policy initiative by Nana Akufo-Addo, which they could confidently criticise. Speakers who used insults against Akufo-Addo got the loudest cheer.
The high point of Sunday’s campaign launch was supposed to be the president’s speech. We saw vivid pictures of delegates emptying the stadium in the middle of the president’s empty speech. It symbolised the fact that Ghanaians are no longer prepared to listen to the lies, propaganda, deceit, and empty promises. Eight years of waiting in vain for the Better Ghana that was promised has surely had its toll.
NDC AND INTOLERANCE
The NDC, which has made it a business of fabricating tags for their political opponents, believe their best chance of staying in power is to brand Akufo-Addo and NPP falsely as intolerant, divisive and violent. To this effect, they have authored a false document, claiming it to be an internal NPP memo, dated May 1, 2016, by a group they have called ‘Strategic Advisory Team’. Let it be told right here, there is no group in NPP with that particular name and, if there were, we would not spell the name of our flag bearer wrongly. Yes, we recently inaugurated a strategy team, which, I, John Boadu, am a member of but it was not even in place on May 1 to write such an NDC-serving memo which only seeks to paint NPP bad. In fact, the committee started sitting on 5th May, 2016.
It is all part of the discredited, unimaginative big NDC plot which says the only way they can hold on to power is to portray the NPP as ‘not ready for power.’ That is what this bogus document seeks to do. Our only advice to Ben Ephson, the Managing Editor of the Daily Dispatch, the paper publishing it, is this: do not allow your paper to be used for this cheap, and unintelligent piece of trash. It is beneath the reputation you seek to portray. We demand an immediate retraction and apology from the Daily Dispatch. The Dispatch story was on 10th August, 2016 – Wednesday edition, No: 013.
Let it be known, the NDC will not succeed in trying to paint the NPP as rather intolerant. The memories of Ghanaians are not asleep. Was NDC tolerant when the president’s own loyalist and Campaign Coordinator, Kofi Adams, was suspended and thrown out of the party without a hearing for allegedly saying he would work against the re-election of the late President Mills?
Was the NDC tolerant when in December 2004 they suspended their own General Secretary, Dr Nii Josiah Aryeh, without a hearing? Is President Mahama aware that 12 years after, Dr Aryeh is officially still under suspension?
Was the NDC tolerant when threats, insults and assaults forced their Chairman, Dr Obed Asamoah, and a few others to quit the party to form their own party for the 2008 elections?
Was the party tolerant when they forced out former First Lady Mrs Konadu Agyeman Rawlings to form her own party in 2012 because they were uncomfortable with her criticising the president from within as vice chairperson of the NDC?
Was the president and leader of the NDC aware of The Chronicle report that the NDC Women’s Organiser for Takoradi was recently suspended because she leaked to the press an allegation that her constituency chairman stole money which the MCE gave out to be distributed to women in the community?
In his speech, the president made it clear to Ghanaians that there are indeed two Ghanas: the Ghana where he lives comfortably with his family, friends and cronies, and the Ghana where the vast majority of the people reside, the Ghana of hardships, frustrations and hopelessness.
The president spent some time to list some of his major failures on the economy and energy crisis. But, as usual, he chose to blame everything and everybody for his failures except the man who was sworn in on January 7, 2013 to lead - ¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬himself. He avoided talking about jobs. He avoided corruption, the one word that gets his lips to shake whenever he tries to pronounce it.
He looked into the eyes of parents who are thinking of how to find GHS3000 to pay for their kids who will be fresh university students next month and said his policies were putting money in people’s pockets. He looked at the kayayei, the young woman who journeyed to Accra from Damongo in search of a better Ghana, who now struggles for food and shelter for her six-month old baby and said to her, “Give me another four years in office.” He looked through the eyes of the farmer who has been neglected and is producing less and selling less and said, “I, John DramaniMahama, am changing your life.” This is how far the president has lost touch with reality.
He chose, for instance, to ignore completely the anxiety of tens of thousands of public sector workers over a deal that he, President John Mahama, struck with the International Monetary Fund which will see to a mass layoff of workers in 2017 if we make the mistake of re-electing him.
He chose, for instance, not to explain why 300,000 young graduates who finished university in the last few years are still holding their CVs at home, and cannot find jobs out there.
The number one concern for the majority of Ghanaians since John Mahama took office remains the same. It has not changed. His biggest achievement is to keep adding to the unemployment numbers in Ghana. It is estimated that nearly half (48%) of Ghanaians between 15 and 24 years do not have jobs. Yet, the president has no answers on how to create the 300,000 new jobs that Ghana must create annually to tackle unemployment.
Under Mahama, those looking for jobs cannot find any; those who had jobs have lost them; and those with jobs are afraid of losing them. Yet, the President refuses to speak about this. He refuses to explain why when the NDC took over in 2009, the National Youth Employment Scheme had 110,000 people on its payroll, and nearly eight years down the line, its replacement, the Youth Employment Agency, has employed less than 70,000 young people. Mahama is simply a job killer.
President Mahama cannot tell us why in spite of borrowing the equivalent of $30 billion he has not been able to generate enough jobs to match just a fraction of it. And, yet, those who will have the burden of paying for all the borrowing are the young people.
In 115 days’ time, Ghanaians will return to the polls to elect the next president and Members of Parliament. To the young people of Ghana, who make up the majority of voters, we say to you, the greatest threat to your future is to vote for John Mahama on December 7.
CORRUPTION COSTS LIVES
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, we must not underestimate the cost of corruption. When a government spends three times what it should cost to build a school block, it means three times as many jobs could have been created for those who build, for the teachers and other supporting staff who would have worked there if three schools were built instead of the one. Or, the social services for which the savings made could have been used.
Every corrupt deal costs jobs; corruption costs lives; corruption kills business; corruption arrests the development of our youth. We need a leader we can trust with our money.
The NDC’s own founder, ex-President Jerry John Rawlings, can foresee the electoral defeat that awaits his party. To him, the NDC has lost its way. To him, the party is suffering from integrity crisis. And this sentiment is shared by many perplexed NDC supporters who, to use the common phrase, “can’t think far, can’t think madness”. They are suffering just as much as the average Ghanaian and cannot understand why.
LORDINA MAHAMA AND HER GIFTS
The president was silent on why babies are dying in our hospitals because there are no incubators or oxygen. The president did not explain why students in boarding schools had been left to starve, while his wife, the first lady, can find money to travel across the country giving away election-year goodies. Let’s be clear, the NPP is all for charity work. But, we also have the right to question the timing of the escalation of the First Lady’s gifts-sharing expedition and the volume and costs of the gifts being shared.
In 2012, we saw how over the last four months to the polls, some $4 billion dollars that was not budgeted for was taken out of state coffers and spent in a desperate and reckless attempt for Mahama to hold on to power. We all remember the stories of GYEEDA, SADA, Isofoton, Woyome, CP, etc.
It seems the script is being repeated, except the characters may be slightly different. Mrs Lordina Mahama has assumed a special role in the 2016 NDC campaign. She is effectively the Chief Director of Gifts. The wife of the president of the republic is going around the country, with a fleet of trucks loaded with goodies, which she is sharing for votes. These run into millions of dollars. Ghanaians deserve to know. How much is being spent? Who is paying for it? Where is the money coming from? Is it from our taxes or from friends? Which friends? Are they friends who are also capable of winning contracts to build walls and roads? The First Lady must be transparent and accountable.
GHANA IN CRISIS
Ghana, as Nana Akufo-Addo continues to say, is indeed a nation in crisis and you, Mr President, has no answers to the crisis you created. We are in crisis because we suffer from a leadership crisis. Ghana’s crisis is mainly man-made; it is Mahama-made. It is needless, avoidable, unforgiving, unforgivable and totally irresponsible. Leaders are elected to offer solutions and not to create crises.
At Cape Coast, the NDC could not explain why, according to the latest independent polls, 70% of Ghanaians were convinced that Ghana will be in serious trouble if we allow John Mahama another four years to drive Ghana along this wrong and dangerous direction.
The NDC took a country on the verge of a gigantic, progressive take-off, and after eight years in office, John Mahama says we are back where the NDC started, ready for that take-off! That take off, Mr President, was what you inherited in 2009.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is how wasted the last eight years have been. President John Agyekum Kufuor and the NPP left behind a nation with a small, manageable debt of GHS9.2 billion, free from any IMF programme, a fast-growing economy, boasting a vibrant financial sector, a booming agriculture, and about to produce oil. Yet, Ghana in 2009, was a nation with a confident, healthy people, who were very excited about a future of fantastic possibilities.
The NDC spent their first six years destroying the economy and the next two years handing over the economy over to the IMF to rescue it. In the final year, they tell us things are finally normalising. In other words, ladies and gentlemen, the record on which the president is fighting for re-election is that after eight years he has made the country worse than he found it.
12 YEARS FOR NDC?
Ghana today is worse than Ghana in 2012. Ghana in 2012 was worse than Ghana in 2008. It has been eight years of back-pedalling and backsliding, eight years of wasted opportunities and squandered resources. Would Ghanaians want to give NDC 12 consecutive years in office? That, after all, is what President Mahama is asking Ghanaians to do on December 7.
Today in Ghana, Government borrows money, not to build, but to pay off debt. Today in Ghana, Ghanaians are taxed and taxed and taxed so that Government funds its reckless spending. Today, we use nearly 40 pesewas of every one Ghana cedi raised in taxes to just pay interest on the national debt, which is well over GHS100 billion, ten times bigger than what it was just eight years ago. No country in the world has scored such disastrous figures over the same period. Eight years ago, one kilo bag of gari was 20 pesewas. Today, you will be lucky to get it for less than GHS6.50. This is your record, Mr President. This is how you are transforming Ghana and changing lives.
The danger is that if we leave John Mahama and his NDC in office for another four years, Ghana will be completely broke, buried in debt, and workers will not get paid, contractors will never get paid, our roads will get worse, our hospitals will become mortuaries, our streets will become dangerous, and our schools will fail our children and imperil the very future existence of our country. In short, John Mahama is a danger to your welfare, to our economy, to our collective future. Sack him, save Ghana.
SECOND TERM NOT AN ENTITLEMENT
President Mahama and his government think so low of the people of Ghana that they believe they will win again if they show us beautiful pictures of the few roads that they have tarred with money that could have fixed three times as many roads. They believe if they show us the few flyovers they have constructed with money, much of which flew over into personal accounts in Dubai and elsewhere, he will get a second term. President Mahama thinks so little of Ghanaians that he thinks if he uses our own money to print a Green Book of Corruption, Inflated Projects& Drawings, we will all thank him and say, “JM Toaso!” But, no Mr. President. Your time is up! That is the message from the people.
When you listen to the President’s campaign message, he speaks as if a second term is the birthright of every elected president. That even if you spend your first four years enriching yourself, your family and friends, while impoverishing an entire nation, you are still assured of another chance to inflict more pain on the masses. Mr President, a second term is not an entitlement!
The NPP is asking Ghanaians to consider this: if this is how careless, reckless and insensitive Mahama can be in his first full term, think of what he will be if you give him another four years, when he knows it will be his last term to do whatever he pleases. If he did not care about you in his first term, what about his second and final term?
A party that spent eight years to destroy an economy that was booming, only to run to the International Monetary Fund for a bailout should not even have the audacity to go to the electorate for another term.
Let me repeat a promise Nana Akufo-Addo, the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, has given Ghanaians. The NPP will renegotiate the agreement Mahama signed with the IMF. In our view it is totally wrong for a government to completely mismanage the economy, recklessly blow the nation’s cash, and turn around to sign an agreement that imposes hardships on the people. We will not allow the good people of Ghana to continue paying for the sins of the president and his circle of privileged few, who, like the proverbial vampires, have been sucking the life off innocent Ghanaians
Unlike the NDC, the NPP will not kill businesses by imposing high taxes and tariffs, deny them power to operate or access to cheaper interest rates. We will reduce taxes, tackle corruption and manage the economy with competence, integrity and vision to create the favourable macro-economic environment businesses need to succeed and create jobs.
MONTIE 3 AND INSULTS
Our last point is to just touch briefly on the president’s unwarranted attacks on the NPP. According to him, the NPP has won “Olympic gold medal in insults”. President Mahama conveniently refuses to comment on the Montie 3 matter because he knows that will deny him the opportunity to lie about the NPP. We all know about the lies, threats, daily insults and attacks on prominent people like Akufo-Addo that characterised the work of Mugabe and his panellists. Mugabe enjoyed full 24-hour armed protection from National Security. Can the President deny that Mugabe’s talk show was directly sponsored by the Flagstaff House? And, is that not the reason why NDC activists are so angry with the President for presumably watching the three go down?
In Cape Coast, did the President not hear when his own minister and MP for Odododiodio say that short people cannot be president in Ghana?
The President also accused the NPP of doing what he was happy to do in 2008, which was to put the Electoral Commission under strict scrutiny. When John Mahama was questioning Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan and his commission of a bloated register threatening a peaceful election eight years ago, what did he think he was doing – singing the Commission a love song?
As I said yesterday, the NPP sees the decision of the High Court in the case filed by Mr Paul Afoko against his suspension for misconduct as National Chairman of the party to be a reaffirmation of the unyielding tenet that ours is a party that operates on the principles of rule of law, discipline, and equality before the law. The court held that the procedure and processes that led to the suspension were “lawful, just and fair”. No member is above the constitution of the party. We are proud of these credentials. If the president’s way is to tolerate and shield those who are corrupt and sin against the laws of the land, then that is not the kind of standard he should force upon the NPP.
For us, the issues that bedevilled the party until the end of last year were very unfortunate. But, the leadership took the decision it did in the ultimate interest of the party. We will not jubilate over the decision of the court. But we will not apologise for upholding discipline and the rule of law. That is who we are and it is with these unyielding principles that we will serve our country if given the opportunity. We will continue to reach out to all and sundry to get on board. This campaign is not just for elected officers of the party. It is for all NPP people and it is for all Ghanaians, whether you voted for us in the past or not, whether you are a first time voter or not. Let us work together for Ghana.
We stand and compete united, disciplined, and focused on the 2016 campaign for CHANGE and equally confident of victory come December 7. We are fortified by the strong, popular support being manifested towards our presidential candidate in his interactions with Ghanaians across the country.
Finally, the president is going around telling Ghanaians there is hope around the corner. But, that air of hope is not because of you, Mr President. It is because Ghanaians can sense change coming. There is hope in the air because there is change around the corner. And, that change is about voting you and your party out of office and paving way for a leader and a party that can get things done, Nana Akufo-Addo, and the NPP.
Ag. General Secretary