Speech At Dinner/Dance Organised By UK & Ireland Branch Of Ndc Saturday 22nd May 2004
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Members of the Great NDC family,
1. I would like to thank the organisers of this event most sincerely for this evening and for what have been excellent arrangements to ensure its success.
2. I would like also to thank members of the UK and Ireland branch of the NDC for their continued material support especially as we approach the decisive period of campaigning for the December 2004 elections. No contribution is too small for whatever you can contribute goes a long way to assist our preparations for the December elections.
3. It is not only the material support that is valuable. The words of encouragement from all over are equally valuable. Indeed your words of encouragement have strengthened me personally and made me even more determined than ever to lead the party into battle with only one thing in mind: VICTORY!
4. Before I proceed allow me to convey to you greetings from the Founder, the National Chairman and National Executive Committee, The Council of Elders and all members of the great NDC party. They have asked me to assure you that Afe yi ye hen afe! Yes this is our year! Come December 2004, the NDC will win.
5. I often say the defeat of the NDC was a divine act of God. I mean it, because by that act, Ghanaians have come to know the true colours of the NPP. While in opposition they proclaimed that they have the men who had the solutions to all our problems. On the contrary, what we have now is a government that commits one blunder after another. Today, Ghanaians can now see the stark difference between the NDC government and the NPP government.
6. The NDC provided Ghana with a mature, confident but very humble and down to earth leadership. The NPP has exhibited arrogance, incompetence, naivety and indecisiveness in its management of the affairs of state.
7. The NPP government is not forthright in its dealings with Ghanaians as evidenced by its botched attempt to access a $1billion IFC loan and is currently facing a $300million CNT loan scandal, a dubious loan it is trying to access from a group called China New Techniques (CNT) Group Holdings Limited whose identity location is a secret known only to President Kufuor and his government.
8. The NPP government lacks original ideas. Most of the policies and programmes they are implementing today are part of the NDC legacy. This is true particularly in the sectors of the economy, agriculture, cocoa, forestry, roads, urban planning and development, energy, education and health.
9. But, Ladies and Gentlemen I am not here to talk about the NPP. I am here to talk about our party and what as President of Ghana after January 7, 2005, I will do for our countrymen and women for whom life has become a living nightmare under the Kufuor administration.
10. First a few words about our party. We all must be feeling proud to belong to such a great party. Our detractors prophesised the collapse of the NDC after our electoral defeat. But by God's grace the NDC today is an even stronger political force than it was in the year 2000. Let me assure you our brothers and sisters resident in the UK and other places outside Ghana, that the leadership of the party is more united than ever before.
11. A fortnight ago, our colleague and friend Dr. Kwesi Botchwey returned from the United States and immediately plunged into active campaigning on my behalf and on behalf of the Party in general. Several others whose names do not regularly feature in the news are out there in the field working hard for the party. There is an infectious spirit to work. The NDC of today has no place for any member of the party who does not want to subscribe to the prevailing sense of unity and party solidarity.
12. I wish to pay tribute to the Party Founder, former President Jerry John Rawlings, and the Council of Elders for the efforts they have made in forging a sense of unity in the party. My hope is that we will all continue to work together.
13. Unfortunately, some of us still spend time condemning real or perceived weaknesses of colleagues. For every weakness we identify in a colleague, we will find many strengths, for any vice, many virtues. It is better to pool together all our strengths and virtues and I tell you, NDC will become even more impregnable.
14. At the moment, we are engaged in resource mobilization. The response has so far been impressive because ordinary Ghanaians and people in business yearn for a new government of the NDC which they know will show compassion and ease the hardships; a government they know will be humble and down to earth, ready to listen and willing to act decisively.
15. As we enter the crucial six months leading to elections, the party will no doubt require more assistance in the form of vehicles, megaphones, bicycles and funds to sustain the large army of foot soldiers combing the length and breadth of the country.
16. The second phase of the voter's registration exercise, the photo-taking phase, is still underway. Currently voters in the Volta Region are taking their turn to take their photographs. Significantly, it was only in the Volta Region that the Electoral Commission (EC) gave conflicting dates for the photo-taking exercise. This has further heightened the perception of a deliberate attempt to manipulate the electoral arrangements.
17. The suspicion that the NPP may be planning to rig the elections has been fuelled by a number of developments including 1. The appointment of an NPP executive member as head of security at the EC 2. The tussle between the NPP and the EC over who had the mandate to issue voter ID cards as well as procure election materials 3. The failed attempt to amend the Representation of the People's Law to allow Ghanaians outside to register and vote in the upcoming elections.
18. Let me make it clear that the NDC and indeed the other minority parties were not and are not opposed to enfranchising Ghanaians living abroad. Indeed we welcome and support it. What we objected was the indecent haste with which the NPP tried to rush the legislation through without allowing any discussion with stakeholders, and the intelligence we had as to what the NPP had done by way of preparation to manipulate the amendment to its own advantage.
19. In any case, the EC had previously notified the government that it lacked the capacity to carry out an election covering Ghanaians living outside. We have confidence in the Electoral Commission but the surest guarantee against rigging by the NPP is our own vigilance.
20. Now my brothers and Sisters, we of the NDC are seeking political power not for the sake of it. We were in government for 8 years. I served as Vice-President for 4 years in the second administration of the NDC under the leadership of President Rawlings. As I stated in my speech at the Public Forum in Accra on March 2, 2004, our electoral defeat in December 2000 was the people's way of telling us to revisit our period of governance and fix our shortcomings. We have done that.
21. Today, we have a new-look NDC that combines the experience of the old and the talent and enthusiasm of the new. This new-look NDC is guided by the ideology of social democracy. As a party we believe in the free market but the market must be regulated in a way as not to create social inequality. The social democratic agenda of the party imposes on us a responsibility to create the environment that enables ordinary people to have access to basic necessities of life at costs that are reasonable.
22. Our primary concern as a government will therefore be to lessen the burden on our people.
23. I have also stated my resolve to restore trust and confidence between the Presidency, and government for that matter, and the people of Ghana. Talk to any Ghanaian today, even die-hard members of the NPP, and you will hear one common statement; this Kufuor government does not tell the truth. The NPP government lacks candour. It says one thing and does the other. We all remember the pronouncements they made about zero-tolerance for corruption only to be told two years later by President Kufuor that corruption started in the time of Adam. Armed with this new realisation, President Kufuor has refused to investigate cases of corruption and financial scandals, which have engulfed members of his government.
24. As President, I will not say one thing and do another. I have said I will not lie my way to the highest office of the land, that is, the Presidency of Ghana. When I become your President, Ghanaians can always trust me to speak the truth. I will be a decisive leader because I understand the issues. I will not promote the interest of any particular ethnic group in Ghana above any other.
25. Our people are tired off the vicious cycle of vengeance, vengeance and vengeance. Atta Mills as President will break that cycle.
26. As a country, we need to develop a new focus in the way our economy works, in the way we pool ideas together regardless of political affiliation and in the way we treat each other.
27. Time will not permit me to cover the full range of the new ideas we are bringing to the table. Very soon we shall be launching the party's Manifesto for 2004. In it, you will discover for yourselves the new direction in which we will take the country.
28. Let me titillate you with a quote from the last three paragraphs of the 'Introduction' Chapter of the Manifesto: “Our “social democracy” imposes on us the responsibility to provide for our people the basic amenities of life at affordable costs and guarantee employment to those who are willing and able to work. We will give to the generations coming a sound foundation in community responsibility through strengthening and expanding each one's contribution to the various units of governance and institutions that deliver social justice, fair play, and guarantee that each citizen obtains the benefit of his or her labour whether he or she is a farmer, street cleaner, a doctor, a miner or an engineer.
This notion of social equity must extend into the various organs of state, especially those charged with doing justice to every person and guarantee him or her security of life, limb and property whether it is a one-room house or a mansion on a hill.
This is what the NDC's “Social Democracy” is about. This will be the cornerstone of our programme for this nation when we assume office in January 2005. It on this rock of ideas and social commitment that we will build “A Better Ghana” for our people who are today suffering under a government without ideas, trapped in inertia, incompetence, mendacity, mediocrity, corruption and selfish self-aggrandisement”.
29. Even before you obtain copies of the Manifesto; there are other important party documents including the speech I made at the Public Forum in Accra on March 2, 2004, which embodies the message of our campaign, and which it will be useful to get copies of.
30. My brothers and sisters, from here let each one spread the message round. The message is “a better Ghana” under the NDC. There are many Ghanaians who have regretted supporting and voting for the NPP. They find it difficult to openly admit it. We must not rub salt into their injury by mocking them. Talk to them; explain to them the difference the NDC will make in the governance of the nation. Win them over and encourage them to call their families and relations in Ghana to urge them to vote for a party that will not make promises and fail to honour them, a party that tells the truth and does not rely on spin-doctors to mislead the people, a party that is compassionate and caring about the hardships people face; a party that does not abandon people to their fate or the altar of economic theory.
I thank you for the wonderful time we have had this evening
Long Live NDC
Long Live Ghana
God Bless You