STATEMENT PRESENTED BY THE PROGRESSIVE PEOPLE'S PARTY (PPP) AT A PRESS CONFERENCE, ON 14TH MAY 2012.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Progressive People's Party (PPP), I am happy to note that over the past three weeks, the red PPP sun has been shining brightly in all the ten regions of the country. During this period, Presidential and Parliamentary Candidates, National, Regional and Constituency Executives have been on a national tour to all ten regions. The purpose of our tour was to assess the biometric voters' registration, thank our members and supporters for helping bring our party this far so quickly and make the case for Ghanaians to support and vote for the PPP and the bright red sun as the Change Ghana Needs.
We are here to report that the national leadership of the PPP is greatly satisfied and encouraged by the positive response and support of Ghanaians during the tour. We want to express our sincere appreciation to the traditional authorities, religious leaders, traders, drivers and others who received us in a befitting manner. At the same time, we are here to report that the PPP is deeply disturbed by the enormous task left undone across the country. The level of deprivation, poverty and inhumane conditions across the country contrasts sharply with the political talk and propaganda by those who wish to take credit for work they have not done. It was obvious to us throughout the tour that the PPP is unique. It is the only political party that is going to the people to discuss what its people can do to unite the country, raise the quality of Ghanaian life and solve the problems that confront us – no insults, respectful of others, no inciting people to violent behavior yet aggressively organizing and gaining strength from community to community.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There is no better Ghana anywhere in the country. While people sit in air-conditioned offices and media houses to engage in endless arguments over statistics, the people out there are expressing their anger at the slow pace of development. The people are tired of poverty in all its forms – disease infected water they drink, dangerous roads, low quality of education, poor housing, preventable diseases and very, very high unemployment. If we do not take care, many of our people will simply get tired of voting, lose faith in the democratic form of government and take matters into their own hands. Out there in the country, there is no hope for a better Ghana. Ghanaians are looking for redemption and the PPP has made itself abundantly available running to the rescue.
We are here to thank PPP members and executives across the length and breathe of this country for the great discipline and positive attitude they showed during the just-ended biometric voters' registration organized by the Electoral Commission. Our representatives at the registration centers and our regional monitoring teams who went around to observe the registration process did not prevent anyone from registering; neither did they engage in any behavior that could disturb the peace or the registration process. This is the true character of the PPP – respect, discipline and positive energy.
In our short period of existence, the PPP has sworn to work with great discipline and show respect to all Ghanaians including our political opponents. This National Tour enabled the PPP to make its case directly to the people in small community group meetings, on radio stations and at places of work. In the wake of the violence, anger and divisive behavior exhibited by the NDC and the NPP over the past few weeks, many Ghanaians have expressed the willingness to vote for an alternative political party. Many are afraid of what will happen in December if any one of those two parties somehow won the presidency. Ghanaians want to protect the peace and stability we have all sacrificed to establish in the 4th Republic. The PPP appreciates the recognition being given to the party of the bright red sun as the best alternative and a serious contender to win political power in 2012.
Biometric Voters' Registration
Over the years, Ghana has been considered as an island of peace and stability and beacon of democratic practice in a continent beleaguered with conflict and political instability. But the violence that characterized the recent biometric voter registration exercise demands condemnation from all progressives of this nation. The registration of people to take part in elections is a normal activity which should not generate violent behavior and injuring of people.
Our experience and information gathered from our members during our tour showed that the problems recorded could be laid squarely at the doorstep of politicians and specifically the actions and/or the inactions of political leadership of the NDC and NPP calculated to gain advantage in an election year. The decision of the Electoral Commission to allow so-called polling agents to “monitor” the registration and voting processes in Ghana also encouraged party people to misbehave in the name of being “vigilant”.
Chapter One of the 1992 Constitution says inter alia that ''The Sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people of Ghana in whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised in the manner and within the limits laid down in this Constitution''. The Electoral Commission must not allow political parties to bully it into ceding its responsibilities and authorities granted to it by the Constitution and the Political Parties law to anyone. The responsibility to conduct free and fair elections, to protect the ballots cast and to prevent fraud/cheating rests squarely with the Electoral Commission.
As a result of the obstruction and aggressive behavior of the NDC and NPP agents, there is wrong perception out there that it is only these parties that are on the ground. This is not true. The PPP is equally on the ground but as a law-abiding political party, we cautioned our members and supporters to conduct themselves with discipline and not engage in any unlawful or overly aggressive behaviour at the polling stations. We want to be a positive example to the people of Ghana.
In contrast, we find the lack of will, the inability or unwillingness of President John Evans Atta Mills and Nana Akufo-Addo to publicly address and condemn problems caused by their members in public very puzzling and disturbing. When the president told a nation in conflict over voters' registration that he is not a law enforcement officer or a prosecutor, we asked ourselves what then is the job description of the President of Republic. The President is the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces and on whose shoulders the fortunes of the nation rest. The buck as is said stops with him. And he must wield these powers gently but firmly and in a manner that respects our freedoms and diversity as a people.
We are appalled by the overly aggressive way that some leading politicians have gone about this biometric voters registration exercise. We find it inexplicable that Mr. Akufo-Addo has not found his voice to condemn the “call to arms” in the heat of conflict in parts of the city of Accra during the registration process. Those of us who lead must not throw more firewood into the fire. We must work to calm the fears of our people. The bad blood exhibited and anger expressed by leading members of these two political parties if not checked will lead this nation on a very negative path to destruction. But it is the NDC led by President Mills that governs this country. The responsibility to lead and act in a positive manner rests with the NDC.
The violence acted out during the voters' registration process must be considered a strong wake- up call to all Ghanaians at home and abroad. It can only mean that some politicians are determined to win the 2012 elections at all cost. This is the time for all good men and women to rise and collectively work to prevent chaos, hatred and selfishness from destroying the sacrifices we have all made over the years. Let us act tomorrow positively in the national interest to avoid chaos and instability.
National Tour – First Step
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The first step of the PPP's national tour that took us to all ten regions of the country was a tremendous success in every way.
We went out to introduce the PPP to the people. Much to our pleasant surprise, the party had gone out ahead of us. The people know the PPP already. A lot of this is due to the effective organization and public education being done by our local executives and aspiring Members of Parliament. The spontaneous jubilation and expression of happiness upon seeing the PPP convoy, party symbol and our leaders was great. Indeed, “party papa paa” and “per papa preko” can only mean PPP! At even some of the more remote communities, adults and children alike know “Edwumawura”. They quickly translate it into local language and can explain why that appellation is appropriate. We are satisfied that the PPP is truly national. Our party is well-represented nationally and considered a strong contender with the NDC and the NPP.
Our message on this tour was simply a request, “Give PPP a Chance” said with great humility. Where ever we went, we explained the PPP's colours, red and white. The white colour stands for discipline, purity and incorruptible leadership and red means determination, assertiveness and strength of character. Our symbol, the bright red sun means life, hope and being wide Awake! and ready to work. We acknowledged contributions made by the NDC and NPP in government but pointed to the enormous task ahead of us – poor education, bad roads, lack of good water to drink, inadequate health facilities and very high unemployment – all despite the best efforts of those parties who have had a chance to be in government in the 4th Republic - as the reasons for change to put PPP into power.
The PPP we explained is for free, compulsory, continuous education from kindergarten to senior high school. Ghana we said cannot afford to repeat the sad happening of over 1.5 million children failing BECE examination and ending their formal education at that level. We pledged the eradication of preventable diseases such as malaria, cholera, etc as other countries in the world with determined leadership have been able to do. We discussed how we would facilitate job creation through the use of government's purchasing power to support the Ghanaian private sector and building a world class inter-region highway to open up the country. All these and more we explained will be made possible through incorruptible leadership, the use of the best people without regard to ethnic, religious or party affiliation and the completion of projects started by previous administrations.
We asked the people after voting for the NDC and the NPP to now vote for the PPP in 2012. We have demonstrated on this tour that we have the ability to gather strength in numbers to win a national election. We have also made it clear that our 2012 campaign is going to be conducted on the strength of our parliamentary candidates, volunteers and coordinators at the polling stations and communities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The experience gained on this tour has made us more humble and even more determined that public service of the positive, selfless type is needed and the PPP wants and has the will and ability to serve and work to transform our country. Many of us had toured some of the same towns and villages we visited this time during the 2008 campaign. Unfortunately, it is as if time had stood still for four years. In some instances, the situation had gotten worse. Each and every one of us who is looking to be in government or go to Parliament in 2013 must be very sober, tread cautiously and focus on problem solving and not people bashing, being boastful or engaging in insulting language etc. Our people are suffering and we all have not done enough to lift up most of our people from poverty. A lot needs to be done. We went to places such as Aflao, Sogakope, Biriwa, Bamboi, Nyanyano, Jakepahi, Gizaa, Asankare, Foase, Moree, Lawra, Wenchi, Tumu, Bawku, Mion, Ajumako, Wallembele, Hemang, Shama, Tolon etc. It still takes 6 to 7 hours to drive from Wa to Bolga. Ghanaians are telling us that they have voted in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 but they do not see what benefit that has brought them. Ghana needs change of the positive type. The PPP is the change Ghana needs. The PPP wants the opportunity to bring transformational leadership to bring the change that will be felt by the people of this republic.
Recognition of Political Parties
Throughout the country, our people are concerned and are greatly disturbed by the continuing use of "political parties with representation in Parliament" as a means of determining which parties deserve attention; and which should participate in formal and informal activities this election year.
Some media organisations insist on picking winners and restrict who they invite to their studios. Even though such may have been the practice in the past, there is no reason to continue with it. Circumstances have changed, the political dynamics of this country have also changed, and therefore our societal institutions must also necessarily change as such distinction contradicts our 1992 Constitution.
This country is led by a President whose election is not based on how many seats he or she has in Parliament. Indeed, the President does not need to have even one seat in Parliament to be elected. This feature of the Constitution safeguards the people from tyranny of the majority.
The Constitution empowers the Republic to choose their leadership not based on the leader of the most popular party, but the leader best equipped to bring positive progressive change every citizen can feel. Political parties are not to be based on ethnic or religious lines but are to be national and on the ground, with offices opened and officers elected nationally and audited accounts provided.
The Progressive People's Party is a serious political party working to win the mandate of the people, and so, as required by the Constitution, PPP is fully represented in every district of the country with active membership in each region. Those who want to provide a platform for serious political parties must look beyond representation in Parliament and do proper research to determine which ones are firmly rooted on the ground. We urge the Electoral Commission to engage in continuous compliance review of the political parties to give guidance to those who have a legitimate reason for working with the ones in good standing.
There are a number of recommendations we wish to make to improve the system of governance and help maintain peace and security during this election year.
1. We suggest that the practice of allowing so-called polling agents of the political parties to “monitor” the registration of voters and voting on the day of election must be abolished. It enables political parties to engage in unnecessary aggression and all manner of illegal acts that if not checked will plunge this country into chaos. The Electoral Commission must not cede its responsibilities as a strong independent institution to anyone.
2. Once parliamentary and presidential candidates are officially registered as candidates by the Electoral Commission, the political parties and independent candidates must be compelled to present monthly financial reports to show income and expenditure, assets and liabilities including sources of income through the end of the year. Political parties and independent candidates who fail to comply with this requirement must be disqualified from competing in the December elections.
3. Ghana as a nation has invested in the building of an invaluable data base and the creation of a National Identification Authority. This data base uses biometric means of identifying people. We must invest more money in the work of the NIA and ensure that it gets the credibility needed to win the confidence of all stakeholders in the country. This data base should be used as the source for registration of voters. As long as one carries a National Identification Card as a Ghanaian 18 years or older, he/she should be registered as a voter. Continuous registration should be the practice from here on.
4. For future elections, the Electoral Commission should explore the feasibility and practicality of electronic voting to further bring credibility and confidence to election results.
5. The Electoral Commission must prepare the necessary procedures and legal instruments to ensure that it can nullify the results in any polling station that records more votes than are recorded in the voters' register.
6. The Ghana Statistical Service must as a matter of urgency release the census results to enable the figures to be used to check voters' registration results to help bring confidence and credibility to the voters' register.
With regard to the national campaign, we wish to suggest the following:
1. To bring the nation's collective mind to ideas and solutions, a monthly briefing on the state of the economy and national security should be given to the Presidential Candidates and five national executives of the political parties who continue to meet the criteria for certification included in the Political Parties Law.
2. All official candidates from political parties and subsequently independent candidates registered with the Electoral Commission should be assigned security personnel who can assist in ensuring protecting candidates and maintaining the peace.
3. We wish to recommend to all political parties the need to focus on the solutions they have for the many problems that confront our people. Specifically, all political parties must show how their manifestos follow the dictates of the Constitution. The 1992 Constitution offers a general policy guideline for all political parties to follow especially the party in power.
4. All political parties must commit to adhering to the Constitutional provision for accountability. It provides the requirement for accountability as it provides a proper opportunity for the President to account for his stewardship. That is what Chapter Six – Directive Principles of State Policy calls for when it directs the President to appear before Parliament at least once a year to tell the nation what it has done to implement the State Policy included in the Constitution. The Directive Principles of State Policy together represent our collective broad national agenda for the Constitution says is the “...establishment of a just and free society.” The PPP is convinced that if we were to live by these broad principles and the Constitution's requirement for monitoring and evaluation, our nation would see significant growth and development. Article 34 (2) directs that:
“The President shall report to Parliament at least once a year all the steps taken to ensure the realisation of the policy objectives contained in this Chapter; and, in particular, the realisation of basic human rights, a healthy economy, the right to work, the right to good health care and the right to education.”
Ghanaians can feel assured that should they vote for the PPP to run the affairs of this country in 2013, our party will live by the dictates of the Directive Principles of State Policy.
The PPP feels deeply humbled by the human condition experienced during this first step of our national tour. We the leaders of this party will make sure that our members and supporters continue to campaign with discipline and give respect to everyone. Ghanaians are crying for change. They want leadership that is firm and caring. Our people want political parties to stop the noise, stop the violent talk and behavior and pay attention to what they can do to solve the problems of mass failures in education, preventable diseases, high unemployment and corruption. The PPP wants the Electoral Commission to act strongly as an independent institution to ensure fairness and prevent cheating before and during the 2012 elections. We are encouraged by the recognition and support shown to us in the field. We are gaining strength. We like it when people in Moree, Tumu, Konongo, Gizaa and Keta look at us and say, “these people are serious!”
All the PPP is asking for is “Give Us a Chance”!
Thank you all and God Bless Our Country Ghana.