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20.10.2008 NPP News

Address delivered to the Diplomatic Corps by the NPP Presidential Candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Thursday, 16th October, 2008, at the NPP Clubhouse

By The Statesman

INTRODUCTION

Good Evening, your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

I thank you most sincerely for honouring my invitation at such short notice to discuss with you the elections scheduled for December 7th here in Ghana.

While this is a choice that will be made by Ghanaians for Ghana, in this increasingly interdependent global village, what happens anywhere is of interest to all. In that spirit, we have followed and are following, with keen interest, campaigns in some of your countries.

Activities or events, be they negative or positive, can cross borders or even continents in a matter of hours or days. We are currently witnessing a global crisis that started in America and has now spread to other continents.

In the same vein, terrorism, drugs, disease and pestilence that start on one continent can spread to others quickly. That is why I thought this briefing will be useful.

RESPECTING ELECTION OUTCOME

Your Excellencies, let me begin by assuring you that our party, the New Patriotic Party and I are resolutely committed to working for peaceful, fair and transparent elections on December 7th.

There has been concern about whether these elections will be peaceful as a result of belligerent pronouncements by some in our country that constantly referred to the unfortunate experiences of our brothers and sisters in Kenya and Zimbabwe and  that were followed by disturbances during the registration exercise and later on in Tamale, Gushiegu and one or two other places.

 In response to these incidents both the NDC and the NPP sent fact-finding teams to the north. Subsequently, following extensive consultations with me and other party leaders, the National Chairman of the NPP, Peter  Mac Manu, addressed a press conference here in Accra.

In his remarks, he called for the NDC to join us in working to assure a peaceful election and urged the security forces to act with firmness and fairness to assure a peaceful election.

He recommended other measures, including joint military-police patrols. Furthermore, a few days ago, also after extensive consultations with me and other leaders, Mr Manu wrote a historic letter to the National Chairman of the NDC, Dr Kwabena Adjei, inviting the NDC Chairman to join him in an effort to reduce tensions and work for a peaceful election. We are yet to receive a response.

Your Excellencies, the commitment of my party and I to fair, transparent and peaceful elections is not new.

Indeed, since independence, we have been the most reliable and consistent advocates of free, fair and transparent multi-party elections in Ghana.

Since the return of democracy in 1992, the NPP has led the efforts to clean up our electoral register and systems.

We fought for transparent ballot boxes, successfully.

We fought for a register with photographs of voters, successfully.

We fought for the training of polling agents, successfully.

We fought for the involvement of all political parties in the selection of Electoral Commission members, unsuccessfully.

That was in opposition. Since 2001, during our tenure in office, we have deepened our democracy, not just in Ghana but also in Africa.

Our government has been important in the promotion of democracy, peace and stability in Liberia, the Cote D'Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Kenya.

As the principal author of "THE STOLEN VERDICT', published by the NPP after the 1992 elections, that catalogued these defects and helped launch most of the reforms I have enumerated, I can state in candour, in the Presidency, democracy will never have a more ardent nurturer and protector than I, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

The historic mission of our party these last sixty years has been to work through thick and thin for the entrenchment of democracy in Ghana, a mission that has been fraught with countless sacrifices, including the death of our founder, J. B. Danquah, the man whose scholarship gave Ghana its name, in preventive detention.

Many others also suffered preventive detention and the first political refugees in post-independent Africa came from our tradition. I carry the big weight of history on my shoulders.

Today, based on my party"s oft-demonstrated commitment to free, fair and transparent elections, both in opposition and in government, let there be no doubt that we will work assiduously for a free, fair and transparent election.

Furthermore, we will respect the verdict of the people, regardless of the outcome of this election.

We were for democracy yesterday; we are for it now and for it forever— without equivocation.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, as a result of the work of the people of Ghana and many of our institutions, notably, the Electoral Commission, Political parties like mine and the Press, our democracy has made great progress.

However, I must acknowledge, in gratitude, that without the support, both material and otherwise, from some of the countries represented here, we could not have come this far.

Thank you for your invaluable contributions to our democracy, peace and stability. As an ardent nationalist who passionately believes in Ghana, I cannot wait for the day when we can finance our electioneering activities completely from our own resources.

CENTRAL ISSUES IN ELECTION

The central issues in this election are clear:

First, which party and Presidential candidate can be trusted to manage our economy in the best interest of all Ghanaians?

Over the last seven years, despite global challenges, including increases in fuel and food prices, under the NPP, our economy has improved tremendously.

It has quadrupled from 3.9 billion USD to about 16 billion USD while inflation, interest rates and poverty have all decreased. These improvements have led to recognition by reputable institutions around the world as well by many of your countries, through debt forgiveness.

As a result, we have been identified as one of the best places to do business amongst emergent economies, and there has been significant increases in Direct Foreign Investments.

Both of our Finance Ministers under President Kufuor, including the late Honourable Kwadwo Baah Wiredu have been lauded internationally for their management of the Ghanaian economy.

Indeed, last year, when we went into the private markets to raise 750 million USD, it was over-subscribed to the tune of 3.2 billion USD. While the generosity of some of our friends has contributed to our success, we are justifiably proud of our record.

On the strength of our past performance, we have pledged that the next NPP government, under my leadership, will complete the transformation of our economy from the 'Guggisburg economy', whereby 70 percent of our foreign exchange earnings are from primary products to a modern economy where 70 percent of our foreign earnings will come from 'value-added' products.

This will be achieved through investments in strategic sectors, improving the financial and investment climate, reduction in corporate taxes and making governmental institutions more business-friendly.

Secondly, which party can be trusted to modernise our country? We believe that education, health and infrastructure are the keys to building a modern society.

Over the last seven years, the NPP has walked that talk. We have increased the proportion of our budget dedicated to education. In 2000, 4% of GDP was dedicated to expenditure on education, amounting to some 175 million dollars; in 2007 it rose to 9%, amounting to some 1.2 billion dollars.

With the additional resources, we have built or expanded schools, introduced the Capitation Grant and School Feeding Program and a new education policy.

As a result, enrolment has increased across all levels of our educational system by at least a third.

In the health arena, we introduced the National Health Insurance Scheme over the objections of the opposition NDC.

To date, 11.3 million Ghanaians have registered for the Scheme and freed themselves from the 'Cash-and-carry' system that was bequeathed to us by the NDC. Indeed, the NHIS is considered one of the most humane and pro-poor in the world.

In addition to this, we have made investments in water and sanitation that have improved health significantly.

In the area of providing water, we have provided over 8 thousand boreholes, compared to less than 4 thousand by the NDC during their time and completed twice as many pipe-borne water systems as they did. Cape Coast, Winneba, parts of Accra, Koforidua, Tamale and Ho are all cities that have had significant investments in their water systems over the last seven years.

When I am elected, my government will build upon these achievements. In education, we will make Senior High School education free while providing Universities in all the regions that have none, while expanding those that exist.

Furthermore, we plan to fund training and apprenticeship programs that will help prepare our young men and women for the jobs of tomorrow.

The eradication of illiteracy in Ghana and the preparation of an educated labour force for Ghana's modernising economy can no longer be postponed and it will be one of my urgent  priorities.

In healthcare, we have pledged to strengthen and extend the NHIS by building more health facilities, training more health workers and improving the professionalism of the NHIS staff. In addition to this, we plan to make significant investments in sanitation, the prevention of motor vehicle accidents and the promotion of preventive health in general.

In the area of infrastructure, we have extended the total accesible road network from a 38 thousand kilometres to 64 thousand kilometres.

Thirdly, Your Excellencies, as to the question of which party can safeguard our democracy, the differences could not be more stark.

The NPP was conceived and born in a democratic tradition dating from the beginning of our struggle for independence.

We are democrats by nature and by choice. On the other hand, the main party of the opposition, who are our principal opponents, the NDC was nurtured, conceived and born from authoritarian origins.

While we must trust their pledges of being committed to democracy, we must verify them for they were dragged, kicking and screaming to our current democratic dispensation.

It is not easy for a leopard to change its spots. Indeed, the story of our historic transition in 2000, when for the first  time an opposition party took office peacefully following its victory at the polls, will show one day that there was a serious tug of war between the responsible and revolutionary wings of that party over the transfer of power.

Fortunately for the peace and stability of Ghana and her democratic development, the responsible elements, especially those in the security services, won the day.

It is our candid opinion that as long as the revolutionary wing of the NDC continues to have significant influence in that party, our democracy will not be safe in their hands. 

 Your Excellencies, even as we approach this election, Ghanaians are pondering whether a vote for Professor Mills is indeed a vote for him or for someone else. Will a President Mills be his own man?

Therefore, on issue after issue, in area after area, the question is who can take Ghana into the future and increasingly, Ghanaians are realising that it is the NPP.

ASSESSMENT OF ELECTIONS

Since the beginning of this year, there has been talk that this elections are too close to call.

We have seen self-serving analyses from people like Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, son of the defeated NDC presidential aspirant, who is the Middle East and Africa analyst of the Eurasia Group, making that point recently.

This coupled with the ceaseless talk of following the examples of Kenya and Zimbabwe by those who have a vested interest in a contested election, has created a false sense of alarm.

Indeed, some of you may have inadvertently bought into the propaganda.

Nothing can be further from the truth. Since the beginning of this campaign, I have visited every constituency a number of times.

Yesterday, I returned from visiting some constituencies in the Western Region. I can assure you that this election will not be close.

From the size of the larger and more enthusiastic crowds that have met me as well as opinion polls by reputable local and international firms that show us not only ahead but widening our lead, I predict in all humility that I will be elected the next President and my party, the New Patriotic Party, will retain and almost certainly increase its parliamentary majority.

LEADERSHIP

One very important issue in this election is what each of the presidential candidates brings to the table.

I have made my own way. Over the last 30 years, I have been on the frontlines of the struggle to make Ghana a better country.

In 1975, while some of my colleagues were comfortably in academia, I left a well-paid job with a prominent international law firm in France to return to Ghana. Since then, from the fight against the UNIGOV concept to the 'KUMI PREKO' demonstrations, I have been in the thick of the struggle for democracy in our country.

Even before my service in government, I had repeatedly fought to advance the frontiers of our democracy.

None of my competitors in this election featured in the pro-democracy movement of the last three decades. In government, I led the repeal of the 'Criminal libel' law, and the establishment of commercial courts as Attorney General. As Foreign Affairs Minister, I was central to Ghana's efforts to foster peace all around the region.

From my experiences, both out of government and in government, I am prepared to be President.

When I am President, while I will consult others sometimes, you can rest assured that I will be making the major decisions that are appropriately the responsibilities of the President.

CONCLUSION

Your Excellencies, power, this year, will be won through peaceful, fair, free and transparent elections. It will not be ceded to people as a result of their determination to foment violence before during or after this election.

I and other leaders of my party have indicated repeatedly our commitment to and determination to work for an election whose result we can all respect and be proud of.

It is my belief that no drop of Ghanaian blood needs to be spilled in this election. We have not looked beyond the precipice to see the ramifications of an election whose results are contested not just in the courts but in the streets but we have seen Kenya and Zimbabwe and we do not wish such things for our country.

We urge all other parties to commit to and work for such an outcome.

Your Excellencies, the Electoral Commission was established under the NDC.

Indeed, the current Chairman and Deputy Commissioners were appointed by former President Rawlings. While over the years, we have had occasion to disagree with the Commission and still do on some

The attempts by some, particularly in the NDC to discredit it in a cynical effort to undermine the integrity of the December election is unprincipled and harmful to our country's interest. Our country can do better than aspire to follow the unfortunate events in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

We can show the world, as we have done over the last one and half decades that in Africa, there can be free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections.

We urge all parties, institutions and the international community to join us in working for such an outcome.

I thank you for coming and I am available to answer any queries.

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