Accra, May 29, GNA - Dr. Edward Nasigrie Mahama, Leader of the People's National Convention (PNC), Saturday told the party's delegates congress that he was ready to relinquish his position as leader of the party, if it took that to unite the Nkrumahist parties.
He said, the PNC believes the Nkrumahist parties must unite and provide the nation with a credible alternative to the "neo-colonialist administration" of the NPP.
"The PNC stands by the Grand Coalition and is prepared to work out an alliance with the CPP as a first step to building that alternative and eventual unity of the Nkrumahist parties and "I am willing, ready and able to make any personal sacrifice, including relinquishing the position of leader to achieve that unity," he said.
Dr. Mahama, one of the two presidential aspirants of the PNC, noted that the current procedures for drawing up a national budget for Ghana, the structure of which include a large chunk of foreign support in the form of loans and grants, indicated that Ghana was not only HIPC but also imprisoned in a dependency position.
He said the PNC believed that Ghana could get out of the dependency syndrome if she got a leadership that was committed, sincere and honest to the people and respected their sovereignty by making decisions in an open and transparent manner that democratic dispensation required. Dr. Mahama noted that available statistics from international studies indicated that due to neo-colonialist tendencies and poor leadership, five million Ghanaians lived in poverty and it would take them at least 25 years to get out of poverty.
He assured Ghanaians that, "if the Nkrumahist family was given the opportunity at the 2004 elections to rule this country, it would turn the fortunes of the nation for the better."
Mr. Charles Kofi Wayo, the other presidential aspirant of the PNC, who recently defected from the ruling NPP, did not spare his former party when he said, "the NPP deceived Ghanaians with promises of jobs into voting for them in 2000, but they turned to the IMF just like the NDC." He said Ghana needed leaders who would project the country with dignity and not as a beggar-nation as current leaders do, adding that, the PNC was offering a new plan, new direction and new focus that would project the country as a sovereign state, made up of people with dignity and a sense of independence.
Thiphycal of his style of his delivery, Mr. Wayo said: "it was high time our leaders stopped begging for alms everywhere they meet the people, whether here or outside - we must realise that there is no free lunch anywhere - we must encourage our people to work for themselves because in America people work for 19 hours a day to make a living." The acting National Chairman of the PNC, Col. Zanlerigu noted that most Ghanaians had lost faith in politicians over the years, saying however, that even the critics of Nkrumahist and Limann regimes attested to the acute honesty of the two past presidents of Ghana.
"We believe that we have what it takes to change the perception of Ghanaians about politicians when given the chance to rule this country in the 2004 elections," he said.
There were solidarity messages from representatives of all the political parties in the country and from the tertiary institution and foreign caucuses of the party.
Mr. Kwadwo Afari, Press Secretary of the NPP praised the PNC for its commitment to the promotion of democracy and the rule of law in Ghana, and called on members of the party to conduct themselves in a manner as would ensure a peace, free and fair elections this year.
He said, "politics in this county should never be a life-and-death struggle between opposing groups - we are all seeking an opportunity to serve our country, not ourselves and we must do that peacefully." Mr. Bede Zeidan, Deputy General Secretary of the largest opposition party, NDC said the NDC believed that it shared common ideologies with the PNC and was therefore, willing to collaborate with the PNC in this year's elections.
He therefore, appealed to the PNC leadership to leave room for collaboration with the NDC in their strategy for the 2004 elections. Mr. Dan Lartey, flag-bearer of the Great Consolidated People's Party (GCPP), a member of the Grand Coalition, said it was a great relief to see the PNC go to congress at last, adding that it would pave the way for the Grand Coalition to move to the next step of selecting a common flag-bearer for the 2004 elections.
Among those present were members of the diplomatic corps, traditional council and thousand of party members, who sung and danced in praise of the party and of their choice of the candidate for the various positions up for grabs. The 1,700 delegates attending the congress, were expected to elect a National Executive and a flag-bearer and were also required to evolve strategies for the 2004 electioneering campaign as well as amend the party's constitution to conform with demands of the time, especially in the face of it membership of the Grand Coalition.