HON. JAKE OBETSEBI – LAMPTEY, NATIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Thanks for honouring our invitation this morning.
Two days ago, right here in Accra, violence reared its ugly head once again in this election. After inaugurating the Konkomba Youth Association at Agbobloshie, the convoy of the NPP flag-bearer was attacked by a stone-throwing mob. The convoy halted when it became clear that disturbances were going on ahead. The police were contacted. They moved speedily to restore order and the convoy proceeded. However, before everything was over, there were injuries. Last night, these disturbances continued.
While the complete details of this latest outbreak of violence must await police inquiries, the major facts are clear. According to the authoritative “ Daily Graphic” of today “ The plotted one started when some unidentified people at Konkomba market in Accra pelted Nana Akufo-Addo's campaign team with stones, broken bottles sachet water and other items resulting in the injury of some people. This was after the flag-bearer had addressed a rally and was on his way to open a party office. The timely intervention of the police saved the situation. Some of the wooden structures around the area were also set ablaze and people suspected to be part of the culprits were arrested by the police.”
To those seeking to assign blame, this report by the “Graphic” should settle it. There should be no false equivalence here. Unless anybody wants to claim the NPP would attack its own convoy, we must identify and shame the culprits.
The NPP had an event scheduled in the area. The NDC did not have anything scheduled in that area at that time. There was a clash between NPP supporters who were there for a scheduled event and NDC members who had no business in the area at that time. What were the NDC members doing there when they did not have anything scheduled there at the time? It is clear that the NDC members went there with the sole purpose of disrupting the NPP event.
Those seeking to understand the causes of this latest outbreak of violence should contrast it with what happened on Thursday, the 16th of this month when a number of Presidential candidates, including Prof. Mills and Nana Akufo-Addo filed their nomination papers with the Electoral Commission. That day, Nana Akufo-Addo went first. Before leaving the Electoral Commission, the NPP candidate tasked party and campaign leaders to “ensure that all our supporters leave this area before the NDC gets here so there will be no chance for any misunderstanding or violence.” This was done and there was no violence.
That is the hallmark of leadership. We expect that all leaders will act in a similar manner to minimize the chances of violence when more than one party needs to be in a place at the same time.
Ladies and gentlemen, what happened at Agbobloshie was not an isolated event. The disturbances that we saw at Agbobloshie are part of a grand scheme, hatched at the beginning of the year by the NDC leadership to disrupt this elections.
They began by repeatedly invoking Kenya and Zimbabwe and stating fervently and longingly that we were heading for a repeat of the experiences of Kenya and Zimbabwe. Like false prophets, they are now working very hard to make their dire predictions a reality. They began this scheme by attacking everything the Electoral Commission is doing. They even complained about transparent boxes during the balloting for a place on the ballot for the December 7th elections. The whole nation saw that live.
They have repeatedly accused the Electoral Commission of being in cahoots with the NPP to rig the December Elections, without a shred of evidence. Despite the rising reputation of the Electoral Commission in Africa and around the world, they have condemned everything the Commission has done.
They have sent a delegation to Kenya led Hon. Kofi Attoh, reportedly to learn the science and the art of how to force power-sharing after an election. They could have visited the United States to learn how to resolve election problems through the courts. But they chose to go to Kenya because they like that model better.
They have formented violence whenever given the opportunity. The Chief Imam's office--- Tamale---- Gushiegu--- Agbobloshie—they all stand as shameful reminders of the unnecessary perils that we face as a nation as we approach December 7th. On the diplomatic front, they have recklessly spread the false news that this election is too close to call and that if the NPP wins, there will be violence.
On the media front, they have planted misleading articles to create the impression that violence is inevitable. The most glaring example is a supposed analysis by Sebastian Spio Garbrah, the son of NDC Presidential aspirant Mr. Spio Garbrah, which asserted flatly that when results are declared showing that the NPP has won, there will be violence starting from parts of Accra.
On the campaign trail, to the extent that they are campaigning, they have recklessly injected ethnicity into their campaign. They did this when Professor Mills accused President Kufuor of not caring for fishermen because he does not come from the Coast. To buttress this, they have resorted to insults, not only of their opponents, mainly the NPP but of the public. Recently, former President Rawlings alleged that President Kufuor had bribed the people of Central Region for their votes in the 2004 elections without a shred of evidence. According to the former President's logic, while regions that vote for the NDC do so with the best of motives, those that vote for the NPP must have been bribed. Despite being a prominent citizen of Central Region, Professor Mills has not seen it fit to condemn this gratuitous slur on his region. The question of course is how he will stand up for Ghana when he will not stand up for his region. We respect the vote of every Region and every citizen.
To complement these activities, the NDC campaign has taken to lying the way a fish takes to water. They have lied about our record in government and their record in government. They have lied about their manifesto and ours.
They have lied about pronouncements on the campaign trail by our leaders. These lies have had the effect of exacerbating tensions unnecessarily. They have maligned individuals or groups of people without reason. And they have contributed to the violence that we have witnessed. On our part, we have run a campaign based on our record in government, the strength of our vision for this country and the exceptional qualities of our leader and Presidential candidate. We know that elections are about the future and not the past and hope that on December the 7th, Ghanaians will vote for the party that will move Ghana forward, to a brighter future.
In the end, the NDC has shown that it does not have the New ideas that will take our country forward. They spent years condemning the National Health Insurance Scheme only to embrace it in their manifesto, albeit in a form that will kill it. They spent years saying it would be impossible to have fee-free basic education only to embrace it now that we have implemented it.
They spent years condemning the School Feeding program only to embrace it. Indeed, on many important issues, they are moving our way. With this development, the question is becoming the issue of trust and leadership. Which party can Ghanaians trust, to have the leadership, the competence and the energy to move Ghana forward? Can they trust the NDC that had 19 years but failed to deliver to implement the very policies they opposed? Or should Ghanaians do the right thing by trusting the NPP to continue building on its successes and moving Ghana forward?
While the NDC has been working to discredit our electoral process and to run our country down, the NPP leadership has done its best to lower tensions and to work for a peaceful election. After Tamale and Gushiegu, while they were threatening more confrontation, we were talking about conciliation. As our National Chairman, Mr. Mac Manu pointed out during his Press Conference on 11th September, the victims of Gushiegu and Tamale were not NDC or NPP; they were Ghanaians, with families like all of us and the properties destroyed belonged to Ghanaians. The NPP Chairman, fully supported by the entire party leadership called upon the NDC to work with us to lower tensions and to promote peace.
Furthermore, he called for firmness and fairness from the Security Forces, for joint military-police patrols and for restraint on the part of our supporters in the face provocations. We did not stop there. On the third of this month, the National Chairman wrote to the NDC Chairman, urging the NDC leader to join him in working for peace. Since then, while we are yet to hear from the NDC on peace, we have heard from them--- on violence.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mrs. Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India once said that you cannot shake hands with a clenched fist. While we are working for a peaceful elections, we are concerned that as the unjustified attacks on people trying to exercise their democratic rights continue, they will provoke reactions.
Therefore, once again, we urge the following;
First that the security forces act more forcefully to prevent the outbreak of violence at political events. Those who are caught and found guilty must face the full rigours of the law. When those who plan and execute acts of violence are not dealt with, others lose confidence in the system and tend to take the law into their own hands.
Second, that more combined military-police patrols should put out. Third, that the NDC leadership re-examine their motives and change their ways, so that their actions will be more supportive of peace and stability during this elections. Fourth, to religious bodies, the press and identifiable groups, we urge candour in the discussion of events. We must call things by their proper names. The tendency to blame both parties when clearly one of us is at fault encourages extremists on both sides. For example, reports on these incidents in Accra and resulting commentary that do not forthrightly condemn the NDC members who clearly had no scheduled event and had no business being there, do not promote peace. This is because, it excludes accountability for what is happening.
To the media, we urge that you practice a journalism based on courage and candour. Whenever there is violence, the supporters of the two parties do not initiate attacks on each other at the same time. One side is the aggressor and it is the duty of the media, in your reporting to clearly identify the aggressor.
When this is done, it will be easier to have accountability. To opinion leaders and stake-holders, we urge forthright denunciation of the purveyors of violence. On our part, we shall as we have done throughout this campaign, continue to work for peace. We believe that violence has no place in our politics. We shall continue our campaign of ideas and continue to avoid insults.
We shall continue to urge restraint on the part of our supporters. We shall co-operate fully with the security forces to ensure peace. As we move towards election-day, we urge the media to work with us to create an atmosphere of peace, calm, law and order. This they must do without fear or favour to any side. They must return to the higher ethics of their noble profession, calling things as they see them.
Let us move forward.
Let us reject violence and those who forment it.
Let us have a peaceful election.
Let us be an example to Kenya, Zimbabwe and their likes, not their imitators.
Won yaw or hie!