Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media. Good afternoon Ghanaians and friends of democracy worldwide.
This weekend, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) will be holding its third National Annual Delegates Conference (the Conference) since the people of Ghana gave the Party the privilege of service in Government starting in January 2017.
The NPP finds this Conference coming at so significant a time in the unfolding progress of Ghana that the Party feels it necessary to share some insights before the Conference.
First, what is the Conference? Article 10(2) of the constitution of the NPP provides for a “National Annual Delegates Conference” as the supreme governing body of the NPP. It brings together over 6,500 party officers from constituencies across the country, founding fathers, branches abroad, TESCON affiliates, Members of Parliament and Government Appointees when the Party is the party of Government, like now.
The Conference deliberates and delivers resolutions on the direction of the Party, including conducting elections of national leaders as and when required. Below the National Annual Delegates Conference is the National Council, followed by the National Executive Committee which is responsible for directing and overseeing the operations of the Party through a National Steering Committee.
This weekend, Conference shall commence with Muslim Prayers on Friday 20th December 2019. The following morning, Saturday 21st December 2019, there shall be a Church Service shared with a congregation of the Seventh Day Adventists at Labone. Then on Sunday 22nd December 2019, delegates will gather at the Fantasy Dome of the Trade Fair Site at La.
The day will commence with a Church service at 9am and continue with resolutions and reports till 2pm after which there will be a Rally at the forecourt of the Trade Fair Site. The Rally will be addressed by H.E the President of the Republic of Ghana and other Party stalwarts. We are all invited to the Rally.
The theme for the Conference and Rally is “WE HAVE PERFORMED BETTER-4 MORE TO DO MORE”. Indeed, the NPP Government led by H.E Nana Akufo-Addo, given the shambles of an economy inherited in 2017, has performed far better and therefore, the NPP expects four more years to do even more.
As a nation, do we hold fast to the credible, transformational, intergenerational policies being pursued by the Government, or do we slide back into policy laziness, recklessness and greedy “create, loot and share”, the predictable end of which is massive debt and the IMF in charge?
The NPP has no doubt that we are on the right path. We are therefore urging you, the people, to also commit, support and defend the gains being made on all fronts; social, economic and political.
We are different from the NDC. We promised “CHANGE – AN AGENDA FOR JOBS”, aimed at “Creating Prosperity & Equal Opportunity for All”. That is the title of our 2016 Manifesto. And perhaps it is the Manifesto that has been the subject of most public debate and analysis since the 4th Republic, with numerous surveys and extensive public commentary on whether or not we have fulfilled our promises as a party in government.
Whilst the NPP says an emphatic yes to the progress being made, we would also like an evaluation of the long term impact of the vision of the President to transform this country beyond aid and debt into a safe, secure nation with a healthy, skilled manpower base driving diversification for opportunities and incomes with modern technology and appropriate rules, whilst maintaining relations by contributing our quota to world peace and stability.
The NPP believes we generate better choices when we are in charge. The governments produced by the NPP in the 4th Republic have been forward looking, decisive and growth oriented. The Kufuor Government inherited unsustainable debt. A country in HIPC after several years of IMF supervision and World Bank support. The situation was reversed within eight years. Debt drastically reduced, lower middle income status, oil find, substantial investments in roads, revamped cocoa, expansion of the banking sector including the successful launch of our first Eurobond and establishment of social interventions, especially free maternal health care and school feeding as well as National Health Insurance and youth employment schemes. Of course, the Kufuor Government also saw off the IMF and the World Bank.
Unfortunately, voters opted for discontinuity and revolved the NDC back into power in 2008. As Vice President and Head of the Economic Management Team and then President, now retired President and NDC Candidate John Mahama enjoyed the benefit of Kufuor’s’ new oil economy and previous progressive policies in the cocoa sector, which drove growth up to 14 percent in 2011. Yet two years later, through sheer incompetence, mismanagement and greed, John Mahama took Ghana back to the IMF with the economy in tatters.
Voter wisdom handed the country back to the Nana Addo led NPP Government with a resounding victory and very high expectations. Admittedly, within three years, not all expectations have been met. But our programme offers hope. High hopes of a very strong economy within the medium to long term.
Apart from the incompetent, reckless and greedy “create, loot and share” style of governance, the NDC, led by the same John Mahama, are currently unable to explain how the John Mahama presidency destroyed the gains of the Kufuor NPP government, much more tell us how it intends to enhance the painful gains being made by the Akufo-Addo NPP Government.
Arguably, the Government was faced with a worse situation than before because the country could not benefit from a debt moratorium through HIPC. We were not eligible as a lower middle income country. Our sickness had been brought about by reckless mismanagement and incompetence and we had to get well under very difficult circumstances, with the people seeking relief very quickly.
Listening to the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, at the Press Briefing of last Friday 13th December, 2019, it was very clear that the President had a vision and he was following the vision with clear cut programmes.
First, security. Citing the success of the Dagbon peace process, the President was emphatic about the connection between peace, security, development and stability. That footprint has boldly been extended into inter-party relations. The invitation by the President to the two main parties to sit together, dialogue and eliminate sporadic political violence in favour of policy viability is a new wind in politics in Ghana that hopefully will blow away the ‘elections at all cost’ mentality in favour of genuine choices for the electorate.
Having opted for ‘boot for boot’ and announced himself as an expert in electoral violence, former President now Candidate John Mahama is yet to tell the nation whether he supports the inter-party dialogue to reduce political vigilantism or whether he is interested that a law has been passed against political vigilantism. The last time I heard, he was still talking electoral violence. But the nation has moved on long ago.
Secondly, education and health to establish a skilled manpower base. Under President Akufo-Addo, perhaps the Education Sector has seen the most radical reform since independence. Free Senior High School is the cornerstone, benefiting millions of families. But there are also significant reforms in tertiary technical education, teacher skill enhancements and infrastructure through the innovative securitisation of GETFund inflows.
The President also remarked the centrality of good economic management. He also observed that though discussing macroeconomic fundamentals may not be fun, positioning the fundamentals in the right direction, is the only way to heal an economy. In this case, the economy had a debt overhang with a financial sector on the verge of collapse from energy debts, arrears to contractors and service providers and weak regulation. Persistent “Dumsor” had brought the large informal sector to its knees. Interest rates were rocketing whilst the cedi was coming down. Burdensome nuisance taxes were crippling small and micro scale operators. Galamsey was in free fall and the country was fast running out of water for human consumption.
With strong political will and prudent management, the fundamentals are all pointed in the right direction. Indeed, the NPP commends the President for being bold and decisive. No doubt tackling some of the ills we inherited has resulted in short term difficulties for some of the people.
For example, until the measures to streamline legal small scale mining, including law reform, take full effect, some communities where galamsey may have been rife, may be impacted by short term difficulties. But restoration is only a matter of time. So it is with the financial sector clean up. Given a little more time, depositor confidence will be rewarded with a strong financial sector capability of leading and sustaining growth in the private sector. John Mahama should be bold enough to tell this country why and how he refused to correct the financial crisis under his incompetent watch.
The NPP is particularly pleased with the Government’s ability to keep the lights on in spite of major financial issues in the energy sector. Legacy debt is being paid whilst John Mahama regime inspired burdensome take or pay contracts, committing government to pay millions of dollars for unused capacity, are being carefully re-negotiated. That the NDC could take advantage of a nation in crisis to create such debt rich schemes out of “dumsor”, beats the imagination. Happily, the lights are on. We are on track.
The Government is also strong on diversification of the economy. Asked about the cedi’s continued, albeit slower slide than before, the President was clear that only effective structural reforms to the primary product export economy could resolve that problem. Beyond cocoa and gold, exports of non-traditional products are yet to yield a significant dent in the foreign exchange numbers required to fund our huge appetite for imports, including a food import bill estimated at nearly $3b dollars per annum.
Now, viable structural change solutions are being implemented. Innovations in the Agricultural sector including but not limited to ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’, ‘Planting for Export and Rural Development’, ‘Rearing for Food and Jobs’ and the promotion of identified tree crops. These initiatives are gradually creating a base for self-sufficiency in grains, raw material for processing through 1D1F and jobs and incomes to reduce cost of living, enhance quality of life, especially in rural areas and thereby reduce rural/urban drift.
1D1F is not only about the numbers of factories established over the four year period of the Government. It is about a new rural industrial mentality inviting local and foreign capital to invest in post-harvest processing and other value adding activities for export and local consumption. Over time, this will reduce pressure on the cedi as imports of processed products are reduced. It will also create sustainable jobs and incomes and develop and modernise our rural areas.
Furthermore, the realisation of an integrated Aluminium industry will drive some of the largest job creation and foreign exchange earning capacities ever. The dream leading to the creation of the Akosombo Dam and VALCO will be complete when bauxite is smelted into Alumina in Ghana. Aluminium has huge downstream light and heavy industry potential. The NPP supports the Presidents’ bold push and expects responsible engagement on how to exploit this resource in a sustainable manner. That industry would integrate with the energy sector, making good use of our energy potential, especially gas. Left to John Mahama, he opted to give most of this precious national resource of bauxite to his brother, long after he had lost power.
Maybe the biggest surprise in the bouquet of diversification has been the budding success of the ‘Year of Return’. President Akufo-Addos’ imagination and style has probably found the illusive key that marries our inglorious past that broke up families with a future that brings a transatlantic family back together with all the potential for wealth creation. Already, reports have it that nearly $2b has been generated into the Ghanaian economy this year. For the NDC, who can only count numbers of trips and costs, the return on investment in being a sustained destination of choice for the diaspora is incalculable. Many of our business people in the hospitality and associated industries are quietly smiling their way to the bank and a jolly good Christmas.
The Ghanaian private sector is encouraged to get into this growth area. The Marine drive for hospitality infrastructure, training, local products and exotic food and menus. These are job and income possibilities that the forward looking NPP Government is creating.
Amongst the many innovations and opportunities being created are cross cutting themes, like infusing technology, enhancing delivery of justice, improving transparency and accountability and building an inclusive society.
E-Governance is making some government services easy to access including passports, NHIA renewals and DVLA activities. Financial inclusion is growing with interoperability. E-Justice systems will make the administration of justice more meaningful to many more. Institutions are being built with resources and independence to tackle corruption without fear or favour.
New Regions will bring public administration closer to the people. Unfortunately, the laudable attempt to decentralise choice on a multi-party basis to local government has had to be suspended for further consensus building. Interestingly, the NDC which broke the consensus towards this vital political reform has turned round to claim victory in the just ended District Assembly Elections. As we speak, John Mahama is yet to decide whether he likes the referendum or not. His lack of leadership and indecision obviously played a large part in the NDC’s inability to decide whether they like multi-party local government or not.
In damaging the consensus towards the referendum to amend the constitution to allow political parties to participate in district assembly elections, the NDC damned political parties as being violently partisan and not befitting of political activity at local level. We still do not know whether Candidate Mahama believes the rhetoric from his party that political parties are evil and if so, why he is leading one into an election.
The NPP thinks otherwise. Indeed, the NPP is proud of its political heritage. We believe we have contributed a great deal to the emancipation and development of Ghana, Africa and the world as a whole. A fundamental pillar of the Party’s centre right ideology is Dr. J.B Danquahs’ memorable saying that
“The Party’s policy is to liberate the energies of the people for the growth of a property owning democracy in this land, with right to life, freedom and justice, as the principles to which the Government and laws of the land should be dedicated in order specifically to enrich life, property and liberty of each and every citizen”
We are humbled by the evidence of the influence of our ideology in unfolding politics in Ghana. We believe in service that enables freedom to many to realise their talents. That is why we carry many along in social interventions that try to leave no one behind. We believe Ghana can best develop in an atmosphere of freedom. Freedom of speech, association, movement and innovation.
We are proud to be part of the growth of modern media in Ghana, removing libel laws and bringing in RTI. We have concluded the long standing review to the Companies Code of Ghana, creating momentum for private sector growth.
We have designed a new way of capital investment at local level. Through the Ministry of Special Development Initiatives and the Development Authorities, capital development is going to be bottom up. Indeed, our policies are making districts the centre of development with 1D1F, 1D1W, 1C1A and so on.
So political parties are invited to be viable development agents, rather than election machines. The NPP is ready. Our motto is
“Development in Freedom”
Reflecting the national creed of “Freedom and Justice”.
This weekend, as we go to Conference, we invite Ghana to protect the gains we have made in establishing a functional economy. We dare say the NDC cannot maintain what we are building. Indeed, from their record, they will tear it down. They will cancel and reverse our progressive policies.
As we go to Conference this weekend, we invite you again to the Rally on Sunday afternoon to affirm our development credentials. We assure you we stand ready to serve you to realise your talent and potential. Better still, join the Party. Join the NPP and contribute to developing the country in freedom.
Thank you and May God Bless Us All