The flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, yesterday presented his vision to restore hope, dignity and prosperity to the people of Ghana, saying it was a solemn pledge that would be honoured at all cost.
According to him, it had become clear that Ghanaians had become despondent because President Mahama did not recognise the suffering of the people of Ghana and might not be hearing their cry because he had sadly insulated himself from the reality on the ground.
He said it had become a fact of the lives of Ghanaians that not many people or political parties appreciated the significance of a manifesto in a democracy.
Some, he said, saw a manifesto simply as a list of promises to attract votes, for which reason not much thought or attention was given to its fulfilment.
The flag bearer of the NPP said this at the launch of the party’s manifesto at the Trade Fair Centre in Accra yesterday.
The manifesto is on the theme: “Agenda for change – Jobs, prosperity and securing the peace”.
Nana Akufo-Addo said he fully understood the significance of putting his signature to a contract, saying: “A manifesto represents, for me, a solemn social contract between the electorate and the elected. It is meant for everybody trying to earn a living that their efforts are appreciated and they are able to prosper in their chosen fields.”
Highlights of manifesto
The manifesto, among other things, promises to address the high public debt situation that has saddled the economy by passing a fiscal responsibility law to bring comprehensiveness, transparency, accountability and stability to the entire budgetary process.
It also promises to address the problem of unemployment with the one district, one factory policy, as well as the removal of all taxes and bottlenecks that hinder the growth and progress of the private sector.
The NPP aims to undertake an industrial development programme underpinned by working with industry to enable it to access medium to long-term loans, implementing policies that will reduce the cost of doing business, pursuing aggressive industrialisation based on value addition, providing tax and related incentives for manufacturing businesses, investing in skills training and apprenticeship and providing resources for small businesses and start-ups to flourish.
A mammoth rally attended by thousands of party supporters from across the country was held to climax the day's programme.
President Mahama is insensitive
Commenting on what he called the insensitivity of President Mahama to the plight of majority of Ghanaians who were suffering, Nana Akufo-Addo said, “If the President would only look a little closer behind the veneer that closets him, just a little behind his immediate circle of family and friends, he will see and feel the agony of Ghanaians. If he looked a little closer, even at the rank and file of his own party, he would recognise that this is, indeed, an economic crisis.”
If the President looked a little closer, he said, he would see the army of desperate young unemployed who were in despair and would also see the number of teachers and nurses who had worked for three years and had been told they would be paid for three months.
“If he looked a little closer, he would see the number of businesses that have collapsed as a result of the ruinous years of ‘dumsor’,” Nana Akufo-Addo maintained.
He said admittedly, there were a few people who had prospered under the Mahama-led government and those were largely the members of the President’s family and those in his inner circle.
Ghana, he said, remembered how an NPP administration under the leadership of former President John Agyekum Kufuor took the country under Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) conditions and within seven years transformed it to a middle-income status.
Ghanaians, he said, were witnesses to the buzzing business atmosphere and the daily expansion of enterprises, as well as the number of Ghanaians living in the diaspora who took the big decision to come back home amid the restoration of the cedi to good health.
Ghana’s current situation tragic
But he posited that it was a tragedy that now “we are famous for all the wrong reasons and the hope that came with the discovery of oil and for being known as a country with a well-managed economy has disappeared”.
The country’s current sad situation, he said, could not and should not be its lot, adding that he had said it often and would keep saying that “we are not destined to be poor”.
For him, it was the belief that Ghana deserved a brighter future and could be made to work again that drove him and kept him going.
“I stand before you, a Ghanaian patriot who knows the best for our nation. Yes, I am passionate about education because it is education that made me. Education is the anchor of all our plans and policies. I am passionate about the rule of law because it is the bedrock of a successful, well-ordered and prosperous society. The guarantee of rule of law breeds confidence and attracts investment,” he added.
The NPP flag bearer said he was appalled by the poverty and deprivation that he saw around the country because it was unnecessary.
Government of integrity
The NPP, he said, had drawn up a comprehensive programme to grow the economy and make sure no part of the country was left out.
On corruption, he said he was disgusted at the “cavalier attitudes towards corruption in public life”, noting: “I am offering the people of Ghana a government of integrity.”
He was offering himself, he said, as a small and honest man with a big heart for Ghana, adding: “I offer myself as a man born before independence and the Good Lord has been good to me and blessed me with good health to lead an enthusiastic and competent team.”
The NPP, he said, believed in the programmes that it had drawn up in the manifesto because they offered solutions to the crisis of the years of mismanagement that the NDC had brought to the country.
Akufo-Addo’s desires for Ghana
His desire, he said, was for a country whose public discourse was directed at resolving the urgent needs of the people and not one based on a “constant diet of ceaseless propaganda, deliberate misrepresentations and outright lies”.
“I want a Ghana where government is accountable to the electorate, not with artist impressions of projects and green books but with cold facts and figures. That is how public officials treat citizens with respect.
“I want a Ghana where we do not have a political cycle of three and a half years of suffering and three to four months of concerted efforts to buy off the memory of pain,” he added.
His vision, he said, was a Ghana where honest labour was remunerated with honest returns, with a vigorous social welfare system that protected the vulnerable and the disadvantaged and a Ghana which was a leader in technological innovation and scientific research in the region, on the continent and in the world.
“I want a Ghana where the rule of law is the ultimate and equal sanction for all citizens. I want a Ghana where political activity is conducted with civility and honour and no one thinks of rigging an election as an option,” he said.
Earlier, the running mate to Nana Akufo-Addo, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, had addressed a stakeholders’ meeting of civil society and identifiable groups, embassies and diplomatic missions and political parties where he discussed the party’s position on the economy.
There were other presentations on job creation, agriculture, energy and women empowerment.