Former Finance Minister and now aspiring to lead the New Patriotic Party into Elections 2008, Hon. Yaw Osafo Maafo, has advocated a change in national development plans.

Osafo Maafo believes after 50 years of nationhood, Ghana must shift from extracting raw materials into an era of harnessing advantages she has relative to her neighbours for national development.

Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, he said “The way things look, it is time for a change. It is time for a change because our initial development was based on the extraction of raw materials as timber, gold, bauxite …Our timber is getting exhausted and the others we did not process them much in this country and the contribution of it to our development is not as significant as it should be.

“Now you will notice that there are many countries who have no raw materials of any type but they are developing very well… the question is what are the advantages that we have?”

“Number one is the human resource base of this country and the nature of the people. Ghanaians are considered very nice people and people are able to tell a Ghanaian from other West Africans by just talking to them or dealing with them even when they are outside this country…”

Other advantages, according to Osafo Maafo, is the country’s economic stability, which he described as ‘very important’, and explained that “today your currency is stable and therefore people have confidence to deal in your currency. A bank, an international bank floated a cedi-denominated bond worth 25 million dollars and it was over subscribed, meaning that people have confidence in your currency.”

Again, he said Ghana is perhaps the most stable nation politically in the sub-region, and given her unique position at the centre of the sub-region; accessible by land, sea and air, the country obviously deserves better for her development.

“If you put all these things together, then if you examine what is happening at the moment, then it is time for a paradigm change, it is time for us to think outside the box to put all these things together for the benefit of the people…”

Reminded that the advantages he talks about have been with us all this while and will therefore not hit anyone as new, he said there is everything new about it.

“The fact is that nobody would come and operate a bank in Ghana when your interest inflation is 41 percent. Nobody would do that, because you are trading in money, you are trading in the local currency which is the cedi and therefore nobody would come if your currency value changes every week. What is new is that the NPP government under President Kufuor has done an excellent job in managing the economy, in good governance, in safety and security and therefore Ghana now has become very attractive to its neighbours in West Africa. The paradigm has changed and that is why we have to look at it in a new context.”

Osafo Maafo discounted claims that he was fronting for other presidential aspirants and would in due course step down. He said those claims could only have been concocted but never the truth.
He said during his nation-wide tour of constituencies to campaign for support, it has become clear that even at the moment he is far ahead of his would-be competitors.

“If you talk about people who have served the party very well from the beginning to now, I am one. And in my going round I am also totally convinced that I am extremely popular within the NPP, extremely popular.”

Again prompted by host, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah that delegates would say the same to all the candidates and therefore one could not bank his hopes on what assurances delegates give, he said in his case, the assurances were no lip service.

“I’m aware that the delegates, because they want to be nice to everybody and say that they will vote for you, that’s true…I have my network and I’m sure about what I’m talking about. The delegates think that I have proven leadership qualities; the delegates believe that I can beat Prof. Mills in the election; the delegates believe that next election is so crucial because we have served the eight years and the NDC has also served constitutionally eight years, even though on the whole they have served about 19 years and therefore this election is like a 2-2 draw and we are in penalties. And therefore we need a candidate that the by and large of the population also want and that is very important.”

Osafo Maafo said he respresents that person who could, apart from the support of NPP followers, win floating voters and possibly NDC sympathisers.

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