Tourism and Diasporan Relations Minister, Mr Jake O. Obetsebi-Lamptey, has asked delegates to the forthcoming national delegates congress of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to elect him as the flag bearer of the party.
He said he had the capability, competence and the proven record that made him the best person for the job of a presidential candidate for the NPP and, for that matter, Ghana.
Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, who is also the founder of the Nasara Club of the NPP, was speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra.
He said he had a record of winning elections, appealing to people of all ethnic groups, of religious and social standing, creating jobs as a private sector person and having brought a big boost to the ministry.
That, he said, had created opportunities for people to realise their potential.
“We need to select a person who can be the president of Ghana and not only a candidate for the NPP, one to build on the fantastic foundation laid by President Kufuor. The person who can do that is Jake, because I know how to win elections,” he added.
According to him, he posseses the ability to work with those at the grass roots. He promised to build the party and put it on a pedestal which would make it always ready to win political power with a majority in Parliament.
“As a minister of state, I stood for re-election as the chairman of the region and won to show how party and government can work”, he added.
Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, who, during his tenure as Greater Accra Chairman of the party increased the Parliamentary seats from nine to 16, said tourism was one of the pillars he would use in bringing about remarkable growth in the economy and recounted how in less than four years at the Ministry of Tourism he had been able to bring dynamism which had brought the tourism industry a great boost.
He said as a sector, which is the second largest industry in the world, employing people in both rural and urban areas, with an increase in the kind of policy and push which the industry was enjoying, it would be able to create more than 200,000 jobs annually.
He said last year the tourism industry in Ghana grew by 16 per cent, yielding $900 million, while Malaysia, with almost similar beaches, forests and other resources, raked in $36 billion, and that a similar feat his government had the aim to achieve.
“If we put our minds to it, within 10 years we can earn about $12 billion, which has significant importance on the nation's economy and I have the capacity to do it,” Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey added.
He recalled that as the campaign manager for then candidate J.A. Kufuor in 2000, he led the party to victory in the elections which brought the NPP to power, and that by his ingenuity the party had been able to retain power.
Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey says when President Kufuor exits, the 2008 elections would not be easy for the party, hence the need to have a candidate who can galvanise members, and sympathisers, supporters, as well as non-NPP members, through raising of enthusiasm.
He said he had what it would take to woo the votes of the young, old and floating voters and that the party needed to support its basic voters to register a resounding victory.
The 51-year-old communication expert and three-time Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the party, said he had the creative ability to develop strategies to meet the challenges of the future, especially the needs and aspirations of the teeming youth in the country who were yearning for jobs.
He said with an estimated 300,000 youth entering the job market which had only few vacancies to meet their demands, “I will create jobs to give them hope for the future for if we don't, they will have very little faith in our democracy.”
As to how he would do it, Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said he would improve agricultural production through mechanisation, and accelerate the rate of value addition to the produce to ensure that the sector was reformed to benefit both the farmer and the nation through exports.
He said this was necessary because the backbone of the economy, the agricultural sector, had not been able to meet commensurate population growth and the manufacture of most of the things that the nation had been importing.
“With globalisation and more than 20 million population, we need to restructure and refocus our economy to meet the challenges of tomorrow. To do this, we should create new pillars of growth, which would make the economy grow at least 15 per cent per annum to accelerate economic development and make up for the backlog”, Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said.
“Concerning this, I have the track record in the creation of new pillars and this could be verified from when I was in the private sector as a head of an organisation that employed more than 400 people. That gave me the experience of dealing with the private sector, which had manifested in the Tourism Ministry”, he said.
He said further that since the government alone could not do everything, his administration would encourage private-public partnership through teams and allow groups and corporate entities which could do the job and create employment to do so to the best of their ability.
Story by Donald Ato Dapatem