We have a common stake in each other's prosperity and in the prosperity of our nation. As such we must embrace a spirit of inclusion and embark on policies that seek to uplift all Ghanaians at the same time. It is the sensible thing to do.
The Chairman, members of Private Enterprise Foundation, fellow Candidates, invited guests, members of the press, ladies and gentlemen.
I thank you all very much for the opportunity to address you this morning. It is really a privilege for me to stand in front of this august gathering of business leaders. I feel a special bond because of the personal background from which I come as a member of this community of enterprise captains.
I have come a long way on the road to the occupation of the high office of President of Ghana. It has been a rough road filled with potholes of cynicism and doubt, but we keep rolling along knowing that if we continue to spread our message of unity, our message of change and our message of hope and prosperity, that we can change the minds of Ghanaians one person at a time.
Sixteen years ago, a group of eminent Ghanaians gathered to formulate a document that would launch us into our quest for democracy in our fourth republic. The constitution which was formulated guarantees us all freedom of speech and expression. The framers of the constitution saw wisdom in creating an avenue for independent political expression through the independent candidacy provision. They realized that at some point, there will be others who may have different and fresh ideas or who may not share the ideals of established political parties. In those instances, such citizens would have a means of self expression and national political contribution as independent candidates. This would also ensure that there is infusion of fresh and opposing ideas into our political discussions.
Yet, there are some in our society, public and private, who would rather see this provision in the constitution go away. There are those who are convinced that an Independent can never be successful and proceed to put impediments and road blocks in the way to make it difficult. There are those who would rather not see any public forum where independents and party flagbearers, together, exchange ideas and debate issues of national concern.
And, there are those special interest groups who see the concept of an independent candidate as challenging the power base of established politicos and career politicians. They would rather not have this provision at all, and if we, as a nation, allow the special interests to have their way we will continue to have the same old recycled politicians and political ideologies vying for leadership all the time and dictating our destiny.
We can allow these views to prevail if we want to. We can expend our energies in this election trying to exclude, what some have even labeled as "no-hope" independents; we can speculate that the electorate is not sophisticated enough to vote any other way than along party lines or that an independent does not stand a chance even if he or she has the greatest ideas for advancing our nation.
We can do any or all of these exclusionary things, to try to protect the status quo, but in the end the only thing we, as a nation, will get is status quo politics…useless divisive and partisan politics devoid of useful and innovative ideas and proper discussion of the issues facing our nation. We will see absolutely no change because "the value will certainly be the same". And, four years from now we will be here again complaining about the same things we have always complained about…deteriorating schools, inadequate healthcare, high unemployment, corruption and the myriad other concerns that remain unsolvable year after year after year.
But, I have a better suggestion. Let us adopt an inclusionary attitude. Let us embrace the spirit with which the framers of our constitution provided for "outsider" contribution in our political discussions.
Let us come together as a nation and say we are tired of our condition; and that we want a radical departure from where we are headed now.
Let us come together and say that we know we are not insane, so we will not continue to do the same things the same way and expect different results.
Let us come together as Ghanaians, to reclaim control of our common destiny and build a society in which we all prosper at the same time knowing that as a nation, we rise together in prosperity and we fall together in hardship and failure; and that behind a neutral leader who represents us all, we stand a better chance of pursuing the unity that we must aspire to; to help us concentrate all our collective might and power on our quest for greater prosperity.
Let us come together and adopt the "nnoboa" concept where we all lend a helping hand to our mother Ghana knowing that our destinies are conjoined at the heart thus making us inseparable; that Ghana cannot prosper unless Ghanaians prosper; and that as Ghana grows so do we and as we grow so does Mother Ghana.
This is the role of an independent! Let us come together.
Let us come together and concentrate our collective might on rebuilding our deteriorating schools and building new and additional ones for all Ghanaian children knowing that when we do all Ghanaian children get quality education instead of the few children of wealthy Ghanaians who can afford to send their children overseas. Let us do so knowing we can create jobs at home for all involved in education, including teachers, raising their incomes along the way and naturally attracting more Ghanaians to pursue the noble profession of teaching. Let us do so knowing we can attract some of the best minds in our society to dedicate themselves to our children so that we can produce 21st century talent that is needed for our growth.
Let us come together and concentrate our collective might on upgrading our healthcare system to international standards for the benefit of all Ghanaians, knowing that when we do all Ghanaians get quality healthcare instead of a few wealthy and privileged Ghanaians who can afford to be airlifted to Johannesburg, London or New York in times of need. Let us do so knowing that when we do we can create jobs at home for all involved in healthcare such as doctors and nurses, raising their incomes along the way and naturally attracting more Ghanaians to become healthcare workers and helping to keep at home some of our national resources in trained and qualified healthcare workers who migrate to other parts of the world in search of better working conditions. Let us do so knowing that any extra capacity of healthcare facilities so created could be sold to other countries the same way some wealthy and privileged Ghanaians buy healthcare today in other countries.
Let us come together and concentrate our collective might on creating opportunities for everyone including the less fortunate in our society knowing that when we do we create a larger and more viable market for our own goods and services sparking an opportunity cycle that can further propel us all into greater prosperity. Let us do so knowing, on the basic premise that Ghanaians are good people, that when we do, we will reduce robberies, we will reduce theft and embezzlement in the workplace, and we will reduce corruption and a host of other crimes caused by lack of opportunity.
Let us come together!
So, on the premise of unity and the promise of prosperity for all, I set out on this journey with my dedicated assistants and a few loyal followers. As part of our goals, we have always tried to do whatever we could to deepen our democratic dispensation and to raise the level of discussions of matters of national interest beyond the mere interests of political parties and their members…. To unite us all as one people, first and foremost, before we begin breaking down into our differences…Political parties, ethnicity, religions, northern, southern, male, female, and all the other ways we find to fine tune our divisions to the micro level.
We must understand that without recognizing each other as members of the same group of people with a common bond of citizenship, common ideals, common goals and aspirations, headed for a common destiny, we will spend out time on useless divisive politics and expend our energies on matters that are of less importance that can stray us away from the right path to our dream of shared prosperity.
But, we must by all means recognize our differences knowing that it is through recognition, understanding and tolerance of our differences that we can begin the pursuit of the unity we must aspire to. If we are united we will succeed; if we are divided we will fail.
We have a common stake in each other's prosperity and in the prosperity of our nation. But to achieve this prosperity, we must come together, have faith in our abilities and trust one another. We must begin by embracing a spirit of mutual obligation amongst ourselves, between Ghana and Ghanaians, as well as a spirit of closer cooperation between business, big and small, and government. Your prosperity is only a subset of the prosperity of the entire nation. Your prosperity should not cause your brother's poverty.
I believe in the goodness of Ghanaians and Ghana. I believe Ghanaians are not mean-spirited which is why Ghana has remained a peninsula of peace in a sea of turmoil. I believe a vast majority of Ghanaians agree with me that pursuing a national policy in which we focus on helping each and every Ghanaian to achieve prosperity is bound to be good for Ghana and all Ghanaians. To quote the words of Zig Ziglar, "You can get everything in life you want just by helping enough other people get what they want". Living by the spirit of these great words necessarily requires that we align the interests of all Ghanaians in our shared prosperity and begin to understand that those of us who have been blessed with prosperity have an obligation to create opportunity for others to also prosper. Besides being the right thing to do, it is in everybody's best interest.
You see, there is a tendency for those of us who have achieved a modicum of success to disregard the plight of those who are less fortunate and who still languish in the halls of poverty. Taking a selfish view tells me that we must endeavor to change this attitude if we want further self advancement.
So, let us agree that this is the dawn of a new era of mutual responsibility in Ghana. As such, I ask you to make a promise to yourselves and to Ghana that from now on you will embrace the spirit of mutual obligation knowing that we share a common destiny as Ghanaians regardless of the rung of the economic ladder we find ourselves.
When we come together as one, we can begin to pursue our dream of a prosperous Ghana where every citizen shares in the fruits of our collective labor; a Ghana where no one is left behind as we embark on this journey to prosperity; a Ghana where everyone is happily engaged in an occupation of their choice; a Ghana that recognizes that the more passengers we pick up on this train to prosperity the more prosperous we become individually and collectively; a compassionate Ghana that always makes room on the prosperity train for one more passenger; a Ghana that cares about the health and fitness of its citizens; a just Ghana where the rule of law ensures equity and fairness in dealings amongst ourselves.
But, embarking on this journey to prosperity requires funding and other resources. So, as I stand here before you as a debtor of your attention, I make this promise to you. I will seek full engagement with you in decisions and solutions to the enormous problems facing our nation, knowing that we cannot succeed as a nation unless you succeed. In defining and negotiating our terms of engagement, we will seek symbiotic roles that cement Government's responsibility to addressing the needs of industry and allow industry to grow to meet its obligations to the nation. I will be an advocate for free market and laissez-faire economics knowing that less regulation means more freedom for you to do the right things towards an inclusionary atmosphere that seeks to uplift all Ghanaians at the same time.
To specifics: I will support a planned phasing out of the Youth Employment Program saving the nation 100 million Ghana cedis a year. I will support a 5-year short-term levy of ½% on the assessed value of developed properties with values exceeding 25,000 Ghana cedis raising another 500 million Ghana cedis a year. These two actions will raise 600 million Ghana cedis a year.
Based on consultations from our strategic engagement, I will propose an allocation of funds for the retraining of our youth for assimilation into jobs to be created by industry. The remaining funds will be allocated to industry in several forms including tax credits for Research and Development as well as equity capital for start-ups and growth-stage businesses. Specifically, I will propose a special allocation for projects relating to sanitation, the environment, and green energy production.
It would be very naïve of me to assume that we can achieve all of our dreams without effort and within a short period of time, but I do know that through perseverance, diligence and national commitment, we can get there in optimum timing.
There are some who would say that these goals are unattainable. That an independent can never amass enough consensus behind such grand goals. That there is no money, our usual excuse. Or any myriad cynical reasons that can be conjured up in opposition to us embarking on this journey. But, I do know this, that "where there's a will there's a way" and that throughout history there has never been an occasion where a cynic has been immortalized.
So, let us together chart a course to our shared destiny and let us confidently embark on this course knowing that, along the way, there will be obstacles to be faced, and that when we do face these obstacles, they will not give us reason to return to where we came from, but challenge us to find solutions that make us emerge stronger and more determined to achieve our common goals.
With this in mind, I ask for your support for my candidacy and my vision of shared prosperity for all Ghanaians at the same time. I sincerely believe it is possible, but certainly not probable without your support. If you believe in me, please tell others. It is the only way for us to take our country back.
In closing, please bear with me to re-affirm my faith and give gratitude where it is due. I thank God for the opportunity to be here this morning; for the wisdom to know and accept that my own personal prosperity is only a subset of our collective progress; for the strength to carry on; and for the courage and audacity to dream…..for, EVERYTHING BEGINS WITH A DREAM. EVERYTHING!
I thank you very much for your attention. I am available for interaction on the web at www.kwesiforghana.com.
MAY GOD BLESS OUR NATION AND GIVE ALL OF US THE COURAGE AND AUDACITY TO DREAM!