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03.10.2008 Politics

Akufo-Addo pledges a first world Ghana

By The Statesman

It was to cheers of support and an emphatic standing ovation that Presidential Candidate for the New Patriotic Party Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo stepped down from the speaker's podium at the Conservative Party Conference on Wednesday.

Held at the ICC in Birmingham, UK, the event marked the annual conference of the British government's main opposition party, and provided the NPP flag-bearer with a chance to reflect on the longstanding relationship between Ghana and the United Kingdom, to compare the values of the two political parties, and to share his vision of how Ghana can move forward in its bid to become a truly modern, industrial nation.

Speaking to the audience of British Conservative Party members, Akufo-Addo reflected on the "long and tortuous history' between the two nations, a relationship that, in the past three centuries, has moved from one of slavery, colonialism and imperialism, to freedom, independence and economic support.

Akufo-Addo went on to highlight the shared values of the Conservative Party and the NPP, praising the parties' mutual belief in "individual liberty, freedom and responsibility, respect for human rights and rule of the law, the principles of democratic accountability and a commitment to the market economy.'

Like the Conservative Party, Akufo-Addo stressed, the NPP believes in the democratic spread of wealth through private ownership and the accumulation of capital.  From the days of the party's foundation, he explained, the vision of the NPP has always been to spread the benefit of wealth across the citizen body, opening up private ownership to more than just the 'rich and privileged few'.

However, in a world where wealth is so often unequally distributed, it is important that developing nations such as Ghana nurture links with more prosperous countries, in order to make strides away from poverty.

'We believe that our common humanity requires that we forge partnerships with the developed world, especially Britain, that would lead us to the transformation of the lives of the Ghanaian and African people, a transformation that would bring the mass of our people out of poverty into a marked enhancement of the quality of their lives,' explained the NPP flag-bearer.

Akufo-Addo identified one of the key determining factors in Ghana's proposed move to modernisation and increased wealth as the transformation of the nation's economy from one that is reliant on the exportation of raw materials to one that is more heavily industrialised.  Such a move, he claimed, would be made infinitely easier by the recent discovery of high-grade crude oil.

In reaction to Akufo-Addo's words, former Conservative Party leader William Hague described the NPP flag-bearer as 'the best example of the kind of principled, intelligent leadership that Africa needs', and expressed his belief in Akufo-Addo's vision of Ghana as a peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation.

Hague went on to emphasise the fortune of Ghanaians at having such a man as their potential leader:

'Imagine', he asked, 'where countries like Zimbabwe would be, if only they had the help of people like Nana Akufo-Addo.'