Mr. Edward Annan, presidential aspirant in the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), has launched a sweltering attack on the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), accusing it of fanning rather than fighting the canker of corruption in the country.
In an interview with The Chronicle, the 61-year-old renowned businessman, who is now seeking to occupy the presidency via the largest opposition party in the country, indicated that as far as he was concerned, the ruling party was not totally committed to fighting corruption, which he finds very detrimental to the nation's development efforts.
“If you are asking me about my view on the fight against corruption by this government, all I can tell you is that the NPP government is not fighting corruption, but fanning it,” said Mr. Annan who Chief Executive Officer of Masai Group. He finds the Office of Accountability, one of the institutions created by President John Agyekum Kufuor to deal with the problem of corruption, a mere structure put in place by the President “just for the sake of creating a structure to create the impression that there are efforts to fight corruption”.
To Mr. Annan, ex-President Jerry John Rawlings clearly demonstrated that he was not prepared to countenance any acts of corruption within his government.
“Mr. Rawlings made his commitment very clear and so demonstrable to the extent that Ministers could not even put on expensive things for fear of being queried about the source for the acquisition of such expensive items,” he said.
Asked how he would deal with the issue of corruption if he got elected as president of the nation, the Businessman/politician who had been a key financier of the NDC party said his first step in dealing with the menace would be to create enough jobs for the majority of the employed.
He noted further that the practice of allowing Ministers and public officials, who are subjects of investigations, to resign voluntarily before the determination of their cases was an act that encourages corruption, “since people get the impression that all you have to do is to resign as a Minister or public officer if you are involved in any charges of corruption”.
The NDC presidential aspirant also accused the government of setting wrong priorities as a result of which he said the nation was suffering an unparalleled socio-economic backwardness. He attributed the problems facing the nation, particularly unemployment, to what he described as the inappropriate priorities of the ruling government.
Mr. Annan was emphatic that socio-economic conditions in the country would have been far better if the government of the NDC had remained in office. He said the NDC government set the tone for the nation's development by putting in place the necessary infrastructure required for accelerated development.
“The NPP got the opportunity to build upon the appropriate infrastructure that had been laid by the NDC, but have unfortunately have failed to put in place the necessary policies to make what is necessary for development of the nation possible,” he stressed.
When quizzed about why he had decided to contest against Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, the former Vice President to whom he had always given support, he explained that he had previously been supportive of the Professor as any member of the party should, and not necessarily because of the professor's candidature.
Mr. Annan, who promised to donate his salary to charity if he became the president of the nation, could not give an explicit answer on whether or not he had lost confidence in the former presidential candidate of the party.
He however expressed the view that the failure of the party to win power in the 2000 and 2004 general elections should be seen as a failure on the part of the party and not Mills'.
He rubbished the marketability theory of the Prof. Mills supporters, which contends that having been presented to the electorates on two occasions, Mills was the most marketed among the candidates and thus the best for the party. He explained that the fact that Prof. Mills had been presented on two occasions was not a guarantee that he would be accepted a third time.
“Eddy can market himself well enough to become the most popular and known candidate,” he assured confidently. “In the world of business, I have demonstrated my ability to market my business and myself, and this clearly proves what I can do if given the nod to lead the NDC.
“The issue of someone having been marketed before by the party, to me, is neither here nor there,” the Masai CEO stated.