The opposition National Democratic Congress last Saturday launched its Manifesto which consciously or unconsciously only seeks to endorse most of the major policies and programmes already spelt out in the incumbent New Patriotic Party's Manifesto.
The NPP Manifesto for the 2008 elections pledges to continue and expand the laudable policies and programmes embarked upon by the eight years of the Kufuor-led administration, in addition to a few programmes for national development.
They include the School Feeding Programme, Capitation Grant, National Health Insurance Scheme, National Youth Employment Programme, Free Basic Education, among others.
The NDC leadership, in its Manifesto for the 2008 general elections, has also promised to improve and expand the above mentioned programmes and policies being implemented by the governing NPP. Indeed, a careful analysis of the NDC manifesto reveals a party desperately trying to rebrand the policies and programmes that have served the NPP and the people of Ghana so well.
Almost every programme, from national Health Insurance Scheme through the $1bn Northern Development Fund, has been given a new name - but no difference in approach and or implementation – in the NDC manifesto.
On NHIS, the NDC said it would make it a Universal Health Insurance – which it claimed would reflect the universal contribution of all Ghanaian residents to the Scheme – whilst on education, the opposition party indicated in the document that it would adopt Free Compulsory Basic Education from kindergarten to Junior High School and to also promote ICT education.
The NDC also has stated that it would provide enough vocational institutes to absorb JHS graduates who do not get admission into Senior High Schools.
Interestingly, the NPP's Nana Akufo-Addo has promised free universal education up to SHS level, building upon the foundation laid by the Kufuor administration.
All these policies and programmes are captured in four thematic areas of the NDC manifesto which are; transparent and accountable governance, strong economy for real jobs, investing in people and expanding infrastructure for growth.
The NPP Manifesto also has four thematic areas: strengthening the country's democracy, structural transformation of the economy, modernizing the society and regional and continental integration.
According to John Mahama, NDC Vice Presidential candidate, the party's Manifesto when implemented under an NDC government, would make life better for majority of Ghanaians, pave way for prosperity and create opportunities for all "and not just a few."
He told the enthusiastic party audience that the NDC was on the verge of making history in the sense that the party would win the 2008 polls for President Kufuor to hand over power to Prof Mills, NDC presidential candidate, as the next President.
He described the NDC Manifesto as “focused, realistic and achievable”, saying the electorate are now discerning and so politicians could not get away with empty promises.
The NDC vice presidential candidate premised his argument on the fact that the Manifesto was drafted on the basis of wide consultations carried out by the party's presidential candidate, John Evans Atta Mills, through his door-to- door campaign and the meetings held with a cross-section of the Ghanaian society.
Mr Mahama disclosed that the NDC would respect international agreements, deal frontally with corruption, initiate major assault on poverty, make the Serious Fraud Office an independent body, strengthen and review the status of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice and also review the Assets Declaration regime to make it more meaningful.
Significantly, all of these 'pledges' are captured and expanded in the NPP manifesto launched on Tuesday September 23, 2008.
Prof Mills on his part, pledged that within hundred days of his Presidency he would cut down what he referred to as “extravagant and ostentatious spending in government.”
According to him, the NDC has the men and brains to govern the country and maintained that “only a God-fearing and honest man” could salvage the nation saying, “Atta Mills' Presidency would provide that kind of leadership.”
Former President Rawlings, founder of the NDC, said in order for the party's Manifesto to become real, “human beings must work for it”, and urged party supporters to work hard to ensure that the NDC wins the 2008 polls.
Other leading members of the party who addressed the audience were Lee Ocran, Chairman of the NDC Manifesto Committee and MP for Jomoro; Betty Mould Iddrisu; Alhaji Mumuni, Vice Presidential candidate to Prof Mills in the 2004 polls; Kwabena Adjei, NDC National Chairman; Alban Bagbin, Minority Leader and MP for Nadowli West and Iddrisu Mahama, NDC National Youth Organiser and MP for Tamale Central.