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20.11.2008 Elections

Paa Kwesi Nduom's profusions - "We are where we are" – Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom (CPP Presidential Candidate)

By The Statesman

There is a time in the affairs of a nation, when its people must take a principled stand for what they truly believe in. We are in such a time.

 Ghana  stands on the brink of history.

The 2008 Elections will either catapult our country into the top ranks of African success stories or slide us back into the slimy quagmire of electoral chaos, tribal conflict and unachieved potential.

This will send the country backward into economic instability, capital flight, worsening unemployment, poverty and back towards dictatorship.

The choice is very clear. On one side is the NPP which presents a very clear message and vision of hope and moving forward towards first world status; founded on the rule of law, press freedom, political freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of communication, freedom of criticism, freedom of association, freedom of worship.

On the other side we have the NDC which is threatening fire and brimstone.

The NDC in the time leading to elections have proceeded to accuse every political institution that it does not control of attempting to and rigging the elections.

It has attacked the NPP; it has attacked the Electoral Commission. It has attacked the Security Forces.

 The NDC promises violence if it does not win the elections.

It has already made up its mind that it has to win the Elections; that if any other party, particularly the NPP, wins the Elections, then that party must have rigged the Elections. The NDC is not leaving it to the good people of Ghana to make their own choices.

 They already know that the good people of Ghana have spoken. And they have spoken their preference for the NDC. Even before 7th December, 2008.

 The NDC assumes that Ghanaians have forgotten why the electorate rejected it in 2000 and 2004.

They prefer to think that Ghanaians rejected them because as a party they suffered from an economic downturn caused largely by external forces; also that they made some mistakes in their election strategy, such as trying to impose unpopular parliamentary candidates on their teeming supporters. The NDC wants to think that way, let them think so. It is a free country.

 The real reason Ghanaians rejected the NDC was because they were fed up with their autocratic rule, lies, corruption and economic mismanagement.

The patient and long-suffering Ghanaian people had lived through the murders, whippings, illegal jailing, seizures of private properties and commercial assets, interminable curfews (3 years), hunger and poverty of the PNDC era.

They watched bemused as this same PNDC transformed itself into the NDC and stole the elections of 1992 and 1996 through brutality, rigging and intimidation.

To those of us that lived through the period, what Mugabe has been doing in Zimbabwe is very familiar to us. Déjà vu as the French would say.

The fact is that Mugabe and Jerry John Rawlings are both professed believers of the democratisation of violence. They both believe in using violence as a political strategy and tool.

Finally, in 2000, the people of Ghana threw off the yoke of political bondage and voted out the NDC.

Unfortunately, the other political parties, who know that they are minorities, instead of taking a principled stand against the preachers of war, are short-sightedly trying to score political points by portraying both the NPP and the NDC as parties at war, trying to woo voters from a perception that they themselves are creating. These parties are the PNC and the CPP.

Today, the CPP is also conveniently thinking that Ghanaians have forgotten that their mentor, Kwame Nkrumah, threw his compatriots into jail without trial, declared himself to be the Life President of a stolen democracy, irresponsibly shared the nation's wealth amongst party functionaries and dragged the country"s economy into a smelly boiling cauldron of failed industries producing a broth of unpalatable and gagging inefficiency.

 This was a system of State Enterprises in which workers stayed at home and collected salaries after bribing timekeepers who would mark them as having reported for work.

Some party members collected salaries from the Workers' Brigade, State Farms Corporation and the State Housing Corporation at the same time. And no one could talk, because if you did, you were labeled a capitalist saboteur and went straight to detention.

Fathers and mothers could not talk frankly at home because their indoctrinated children would report them to their Young Pioneer masters.

The Boys Scouts and Girls Guide Movements were banned and the Young Pioneers made mandatory in all public schools.

Housing estates were built but only party functionaries had access to them. This is the CPP that Nduom and his gang want to lure our children into, baiting them with "work and happiness…' Under the CPP there was happiness for the CPP members but no real work. All one needed was a party card.

There certainly was no happiness for non-members of the CPP. There was no freedom of speech, no freedom of association, no freedom of criticism, no political freedom.

Even members of the inner circle CPP who criticised Kwame Nkrumah or the leadership were thrown into prison.

That is why the 1966 coup d'état was necessary. There was no other way to restore the freedoms Ghana had gained at independence and which had been stolen from Ghanaians by the CPP.

 So, we are where we are.

We are a modernising country, improving on many fronts: improving educational facilities, health facilities, better roads, deepening democracy, a stable currency, declining inflation.

 We now have a robust economy able to withstand external shocks such as the world fuel crisis, the global food crisis, the effects of the sub-prime mortgage debacle of the U.S.A., and now the global recession that the world is plunging into.

Ghana's international reputation is unparalleled in its 51 year history. The country enjoys peace with all its neighbours.

We have become a true star of Africa. Ghanaians can now hold their heads high wherever they find themselves in the world.

No doubt we have challenges: institutional weaknesses, systemic corruption, poverty, a still weak infrastructure, and a damaged national psyche still recovering from the trauma of Nkrumaist dictatorship, military and authoritarian rule.

There is a tsunami of South American drug cartels washing over West Africa that is going to take all the courage and diplomatic skills that our leaders can muster in order to organise a regional answer to a regional invasion of drugs with incredible money and actual military weaponry behind them.

Yes, we are where we are. Are we going backward? Are we staying where we are? Or are we moving forward into a new vision? As Ama Ata Aidoo asks in her classic play, Dilemma of a Ghost, 'Shall I go to Elmina; shall I go to Cape Coast? I don't know, I can't tell. I don't know. I can't tell.'

Ghanaians must stand up and be counted. Not as undecided ghosts, but as men, women and youth of conviction, hope and belief in the innate ability of Ghana to rise up and reach for the sky.

We must choose a man of vision and the courage to stick his neck out and say, 'I believe in Ghana'. We need a leader who will bring back our courage; our sense of direction; our destiny.

One who truly believes in Ghana. One who believes in you and believes in me, not only as Ghanaians, but as children of God. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

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