Presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo, has assured the diplomatic corps that he and the party would respect the verdict of the people in the 2008 Election.

He said “We were for democracy yesterday, we are for it now, and for it forever..without equivocation. We are resolutely committed to working for peaceful, fair and transparent elections on 7 December”.

Nana Akufo-Addo was speaking to the diplomatic corps when he met them to discuss the impending polls, in Accra on Saturday.

He observed that there had been concern about whether the elections would be peaceful as a result of “belligerent pronouncements by some politicians in our country”, and told the diplomats that the election would be won through peaceful, free, fair and transparent election.

Nana Akufo-Addo said the NPP would win power through peaceful, fair, free and transparent elections and this would not be ceded to people as a result of their determination to foment violence before during or after the polls.

He said NPP leadership had indicated repeatedly their commitment to and determination to work for an election whose result would be respected.

Nana Akufo-Addo said he believed that no drop of Ghanaian blood needed to be spilled during the elections.

He said “We have not looked beyond the precipice to see the ramifications of an election whose results are contested not just in the courts but in the streets but we have seen Kenya and Zimbabwe and we do not wish such things for our country.And we urge all other parties to commit to and work for such an outcome”.

Nana Akufo-Addo said that the commitment of NPP to fair, transparent and peaceful elections, was not new and that since independence party members have been the most reliable and consistent advocates of free, fair and transparent multi-party elections in Ghana.

He said “Today, based on my party’s oft-demonstrated commitment to free, fair and transparent elections, both in opposition and in government, let there be no doubt that we will work assiduously for a free, fair and transparent election”.

Nana Akufo-Addo said that since the country’s return to democracy in 1992, the NPP had led the efforts to clean up the country’s electoral register and systems.

He said “We fought for transparent ballot boxes, successfully. We fought for a register with photographs of voters, successfully. We fought for the training of polling agents, successfully. We fought for the involvement of all political parties in the selection of Electoral Commission members, unsuccessfully. That was in opposition”.

Nana Akufo-Addo said since 2001, the NPP Government has deepened democracy, not just in Ghana but also in Africa and cited that it has been prominent in the promotion of democracy, peace and stability in Liberia, the Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Kenya.

He said “I can state in candour, in the Presidency, democracy will never have a more ardent nurturer and protector than I, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo”.

Nana Akufo-Addo said the historic mission of NPP during the last sixty years has been to work through thick and thin for the entrenchment of democracy in Ghana, a mission that has been fraught with countless sacrifices and that he was carrying the big weight of history on his shoulders.

He noted that while over the years the NPP had had occasion to disagree with the Electoral Commission (EC), and still did on some issues, the institution is “by and large a well-respected body both at home and abroad”.

Nana Akufo-Addo, however, said attempts by some people, particularly those in the NDC to discredit the EC in a cynical effort to undermine the integrity of the December election was unprincipled and harmful to the country’s interest”.

He said “Our country can do better than aspire to follow the unfortunate events in Kenya and Zimbabwe. We can show the world, as we have done over the last one and half decades that in Africa, there can be free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections. Nana Akufo-Addo said the NPP members urged all parties, institutions and the international community to join them in working for such an outcome.

He said the December polls was centred on three main issues, including, which party and presidential candidate could be trusted to manage the economy in the best interest of all Ghanaians, modernise the country and safeguard democracy.

Nana Akufo-Addo said that over the last seven years, despite global challenges, including increases in fuel and food prices, under the NPP, the economy had improved tremendously. He said “It has quadrupled from 3.9 billion USD to about 16 billion USD while inflation, interest rates and poverty have all decreased.

He said these improvements had been recognised by reputable institutions around the world and by many countries, through debt forgiveness.

Nana Akufo-Addo said as a result “We have been identified as one of the best places to do business amongst emergent economies, and there have been significant increases in Direct Foreign Investments”. Nana Akufo-Addo last year, when Ghana went into the private markets to raise 750 million USD, it was over-subscribed to the tune of 3.2 billion USD.

He said the generosity of some of Ghana’s friends had contributed to the country’s success, which the people were justifiably proud of. Nana Akufo-Addo said “On the strength of our past performance, we have pledged that the next NPP government, under my leadership, will complete the transformation of our economy from the “Guggisburg economy”, whereby 70 percent of our foreign exchange earnings are from primary products to a modern economy where 70 percent of our foreign earnings will come from “value-added” products”.

This, the presidential candidate said, would be achieved through investments in strategic sectors, improving the financial and investment climate, reduction in corporate taxes and making governmental institutions more business-friendly.

On which party could modernise Ghana, the Nana Akufo-Addo said that education, health and infrastructure were the keys to building a modern society.

He said that over the last seven years, the NPP had “walked that talk” by increasing the proportion of the budget dedicated to education.

Nana Akufo-Addo said that in 2000, four per cent of GDP was dedicated to expenditure on education, amounting to some 175 million dollars and this rose to in nine percent in 2007, amounting to some 1.2 billion dollars.

He said with the additional resources, government had built or expanded schools, introduced the Capitation Grant and School Feeding Program and a new education policy that had resulted in increased enrolment across all levels of the educational system by at least a third.

Nana Akufo-Addo lauded the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) over the objections of the opposition NDC, adding that to date, 11.3 million Ghanaians had registered for the Scheme and freed themselves from the “Cash-and-carry” system that was bequeathed to Ghanaians by the NDC.

He said “Indeed, the NHIS is considered one of the most humane and pro-poor in the world. In addition to this, we have made investments in water and sanitation that have improved health significantly. Nana Akufo-Addo said if elected as President his government would build upon these achievements.

He said in NPP would make Senior High School education free, provide Universities in all the regions that have none and the existing ones would be expanded.

Nana Akufo-Addo said “Furthermore, we plan to fund training and apprenticeship programs that will help prepare our young men and women for the jobs of tomorrow. The eradication of illiteracy in Ghana and the preparation of an educated labour force for Ghana’s modernising economy can no longer be postponed and it will be one of my urgent priorities”.

He said “We have pledged to strengthen and extend the NHIS by building more health facilities, training more health workers and improving the professionalism of the NHIS staff.

Nana Akufo-Addo said the NPP would make significant investments in sanitation, the prevention of motor vehicle accidents and the promotion of preventive health in general.

On which party could safeguard democracy in the country, Nana Akufo-Addo said while the electorate trusted the pledges of the NDC of being committed to democracy, “we must verify them for they were dragged, kicking and screaming to our current democratic dispensation.”

He said the NPP was conceived and born in a democratic tradition dating from the beginning the struggle for Ghana’s independence adding that the party members were democrats by nature and by choice.

Nana Akufo-Addo said “On the other hand, the main party of the opposition, who are our principal opponents, the NDC was nurtured, conceived and born from authoritarian origins.It is not easy for a leopard to change its spots”.

“Indeed, the story of our historic transition in 2000, when for the first time an opposition party took office peacefully following its victory at the polls, will show one day that there was a serious tug of war between the responsible and revolutionary wings of that party over the transfer of power.

He said fortunately for the peace and stability of Ghana and her democratic development, the responsible elements, especially those in the security services, won the day.

Nana Akufo-Addo said as long as the revolutionary wing of the NDC continued to have significant influence on that party, Ghana’s democracy would not be safe in their hands.

He observed that even as the country approached the December polls, Ghanaians were pondering whether a vote for Professor Mills was indeed a vote for him or for someone else.

“Will a President Mills be his own man?”

Nana Akufo-Addo said “Therefore, on issue after issue, in area after area, the question is who can take Ghana into the future and increasingly, Ghanaians are realising that it is the NPP”.

Nana Akufo-Addo said some people were of the view that the elections looked too close to call, coupled with the ceaseless talk by some people following the examples of Kenya and Zimbabwe creating a false sense of alarm.

He said “Since the beginning of this campaign, I have visited every constituency a number of times. Yesterday, I returned from visiting some constituencies in the Western Region. I can assure you that this election will not be close”.

“From the size of the larger and more enthusiastic crowds that have met me as well as opinion polls by reputable local and international firms that show us not only ahead but widening our lead, I predict in all humility that I will be elected the next President and my party, the New Patriotic Party, will retain and almost certainly increase its parliamentary majority”, he said.

“I have made my own way. Over the last 30 years, I have been on the frontlines of the struggle to make Ghana a better country.”

Nana Akufo-Addo said in 1975, while some of his colleagues were comfortably in academia, he left a well-paid job with a prominent international law firm in France to return to Ghana.

He said since then, from the fight against the UNIGOV concept to the “KUME PREKO” demonstrations, he has been in the thick of the struggle for democracy in Ghana.

Nana Akufo-Addo said: “Even before my service in government, I had repeatedly fought to advance the frontiers of our democracy. None of my competitors in this election featured in the pro-democracy movement of the last three decades.

He said he led the repeal of the “Criminal libel” law, and the establishment of commercial courts as Attorney General and as Foreign Affairs Minister, he was central to Ghana’s efforts to foster peace in Africa.

Nana Akufo-Addo said “From my experiences, both out of government and in government, I am prepared to be President.”

He said if elected as President of Ghana, while he would consult others sometimes, Ghanaians could be rest assured that he would make major decisions that would be appropriately the responsibilities of the President. 19 Oct 08 Attention recipients, item 04 ends first cast.

Source: GNA