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General News Sat, 19 Jul 2008

NDC promises to kill 11,000 jobs

: John Mahama says NYEP is artificial and will go! At youth explosion News Desk

John Dramani Mahama, the running mate to John Evans Atta Mills, has stated that if voted into office, the National Democratic Congress will collapse the National Youth Employment Programme, which currently employs nearly 110,000 Ghanaian youth who would otherwise have been jobless.

John Mahama, the MP for Bole-Bamboi, gave this promise when he represented the NDC Presidential Candidate at the Youth Explosion conference organised by the Word Miracle Church International on 11th July 2008. The venue was the Trade Fair Centre at La, Accra.

John Mahama's exact words were: "The NYEP is an artificial programme.” While admitting it would be disruptive to stop it at a go, he was, however, adamant that the NDC would not allow the programme to stay.

He told the large crowd of young people, many of them unemployed, what the NDC would do to the NYEP: “We'll phase it out gradually.” The NDC has consistently criticised the youth employment programme, saying it is a programme for the government’s “Party People”. Zoomlion and 'Community Police’ employees are typical of those captured under the scheme.

John Mahama went on to explain that, "An expanding SME sector should be able to absorb those in the other modules" under the NYEP.

He added that if his government found some of the people in the Community Protection Unit useful, the "qualified ones in the Community Protection Unit will be absorbed into the Police service."

However, since the NPP highlighted this in the beginning of the week, the NDC running mate has taken steps to back-track. Saying something this week in the Brong Ahafo Region which was directly opposite to the promise he gave to the youth of Ghana last week, John Mahama was reported in yesterday’s Daily Graphic (P.16 col. 1) as saying, an NDC government will not abolish the NYEP. In Sankore, Asunafo South, Prof Mills’ running mate was forced to make a u-turn to say that the NDC would rather expand the programme and make it all embracing.

But, the New Patriotic Party is not convinced.

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Communications Committee Chairman of the NPP Campaign ‘08, Arthur Kennedy, said, for 19 years the NDC could not build any tangible record of creating mass jobs like the NPP has done with the NYEP. "What the record says is that NDC made 70,000 people employed in the public sector unemployed. They also created an education system which had 240,000 school leavers being thrown out onto the streets every year without any basic skills. Now they are promising to throw another 100,000 Ghanaians onto the streets if elected."

"The choice is clear," said Dr Kennedy, on which party would secure jobs for Ghanaians. He added, "John Mahama should not now lie about something he said at a Christian gathering."

The NPP Communications Committee Chairman argued that the NYEP could not be an "artificial programme for those who are today able to feed themselves and their dependents and get back their dignity because they have a job under the NYEP."

Dr Kennedy said, "I believe the NDC number two man when he says on a public platform that his party would collapse a programme they have persistently denounced as ‘job for the boys.

He went on to assure the youth of Ghana that the "NPP will rather expand the programme. Our Flagbearer has already promised to expand that programme to employ 500,000 Ghanaians. That is a pledge we will keep." At the Youth Explosion programme, Mike Oquaye, MP, who spoke on behalf of Nana Akufo-Addo, spoke out of the NPP draft manifesto.

Some of the policies he stated are:

· National Youth Farmer Award

· Youth placement for Junior High School graduates

· ICT training formalised into school curricula

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· Expand NYEP to engage 500,000 youth

· New modules to be introduced under NYEP include

-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Community nursing

-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Rural teaching

-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Waste management

-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Graduate internship

-Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â City transport using tricycles

· Volunteerism programme for youth to create a youth bank with a wealth of experience. · Youth parks organised every year.

 The speakers were given 20 minutes each to address the over 1,000 youth, who had gathered for the youth festival hosted by Bishop Agyin Asare and broadcast live on Happy FM and Asempa FM.

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The leader of the Convention People’s Party started with a beautiful rendition of Land of Our Birth which caught the whole pavilion, after which he launched straight into his private life. "Candidates should tell Ghanaians what they’ve done with their private lives."

He then followed with a mantra of his beliefs in family values and public service among others. He continued with a record of the CPP in government more than forty years ago, referring to the railway lines, Black Star Line and power supply under Kwame Nkrumah.

He concluded by saying that CPP will make sure that what we don’t want to come to Ghana does not come to Ghana.

"We will have our version of phytosanitary requirements" so that what we produce here is not imported.

John Mahama quoted copiously from the Bible to which curiously some of the youth said "by force quote," since both Oquaye and Nduom had made references to the Bible. Some of the quotations were II Kings 22:1-2, Jeremiah 1:5-7 and the passage about Jesus debating the Pharisees in the temple.

At one point he said "And with Bishop’s permission I quote" attracting murmurings from the youth.

He took refuge in the theme, "Breaking the power of Apathy" and dwelt extensively on it explaining the different types of apathy there are and citing severally from the Afrobarometer survey which his party had rejected, to make the point that apathy was increasing in Ghana.

Running out of time, he turned to a page in his document and said, "We have a four-page youth policy but I won’t read it since we don’t have much time." He turned another page and paused for a while … "The family, society and government have a role in youth development."

He flipped a page and turned it back: "There are three categories of youth, out of school youth, youth in school and youth who have completed school." Just then the moderator signalled him to wind up. "I have five minutes more, I see. Okay I’ll try. I’ll run it quickly," said he.

"The National Youth Council is the most underfunded of all the State Agencies."

John Mahama then broke into an anecdote of a nephew of his who later in the story became in fact his in-law. As he tried to correct this error, he received spontaneous applause to round up, but he continued and the applause continued intermittently but he wouldn’t go.

Finally he succumbed, after lamenting: "If you want to be given sufficient exposition, we should be given more time."

The applause came back and he had to bow out with the moderator assuring him that during question time, he could slot in more of his party’s youth policy.

The Youth Explosion was a week long activity organised by the Word Miracle Church International. On Friday 11th July, three political parties were given the platform to tell the youth of Ghana their policy on youth development should they be elected.

Source: Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko