Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a rare privilege to address you this morning on the occasion of your annual conference, especially as I can sense great expectations in this hall that very soon the titles of 'Shadow this' and 'Shadow that" will change for the real thing.
Our two nations, Britain and Ghana, have had a long and tortuous history, ever since James of the Royal Company of Adventurers landed on the shores of Accra in the late seventeenth century, and built there a fort of that name that still stands today.
The slave trade, imperialism and colonialism express one aspect of those relations, just as Ghanaian freedom and independence, won peaceably from British imperial power, and supported by extensive economic ties with Britain, reflect another more positive aspect.
The impact of British institutions and values on Ghanaian life is visible and undeniable. A British lawyer, for instance, would have little difficulty wandering through the Ghanaian legal system, as it is firmly founded on the common law of Britain, which is such a central and welcome feature of British civilisation.
Our two parties share many common values - belief in individual liberty, freedom and responsibility, respect for human rights and the rule of law, the principles of democratic accountability and a commitment to the market economy.
The mission of our party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), is straightforward and simple: we mean to create a future Ghana that will provide a model of progress and development in freedom for the rest of Africa and the world.
The vision of the great man who founded our party, Joseph Boakye Danquah, was eloquently expressed nearly fifty years ago at the height of the Cold War, thus: "[Our party's] policy is to liberate the energies of the people for the growth of a property-owning democracy in this land, with the right to life, freedom and justice as the principle to which the government and the laws of the land should be dedicated in order specifically to enrich life, property and liberty of each and every citizen.'
The vision was to spread the benefits of private ownership and prosperity to the majority of citizens, not just a rich and privileged few; to democratise the opportunity to accumulate capital as a meaningful way of ensuring the dignity and security of each individual.
Ghana has made great strides in moving forward from the times of authoritarian rule when big government did everything, to a future when people are entrusted with self-governance. We have done this by following our particular instincts for individual freedom, respect for traditional institutions, rule of law and social justice.
We believe it was not for nothing that Ghana was the first black African country to break free from colonial rule. Hence, our determination to show that an African people can emulate the successes of the Asian Tigers and create a modern, prosperous nation. We believe further that a globe dominated by a handful of rich nations in the north, with the majority of nations in the south languishing in poverty and misery, is not a prescription for global security. Our generation is not seeking handouts from anybody.
To paraphrase Edmund Burke, it is in the interest of the free world that wealth should be found everywhere. We do believe that our common humanity requires that we forge partnerships with the developed world, especially Britain, that would lead 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.
This therefore entails a recognition that we can no longer continue to be raw material exporting economies. The time has come for the industrialisation and transformation of Africa's economies. And, Ghana is determined to lead and be among the first of the African Lions which will embark on this course of modernisation, a process that should be considerably assisted by the recent discovery of high-grade crude oil in commercial quantities.
Our Fourth Republic, inaugurated in January 1993 , has witnessed the longest spell of democracy in our history , which has coincided with the most significant improvements in all aspects of our national life. These improvements have been particularly noticeable over the last seven years when our party, the NPP, has been in power in the areas of education, health care, expansion of our infrastructure and the overall management of the national economy.
We are determined to ensure that the impending elections in December will return the NPP to power under my leadership. Democratic parties, such as our two parties, need to work together, to spread hope and opportunity across national boundaries so that we can overcome the forces behind the shameful menaces of our time — hunger, poverty, drugs, terrorism and the degradation of our environment.
The 21st century, with the aid of science and technology and the spread of liberal democracy, offers humankind the prospects for the first time in human history of building a world civilisation of prosperity in freedom for all the peoples of the world, where the arts and culture will flourish and improve the lives of all of us on this dear planet. I am confident that we can work together to build such a new world.
Let us move forward together.
Thank you and God bless you.