PAPA KWESI NDUOM, MP AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OF THE CONVENTION PEOPLE'S PARTY (CPP) - FIRST QUARTER CAMPAIGN REVIEW - TUESDAY, MARCH 25, 2008
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media:
Something wonderful is happening in Ghana. It is called change. Ghanaians all over the country are saying, "YERESESA MU".
Thank you for accepting our invitation to this Media Event to discuss the status of my campaign to become the next President of the Republic of Ghana. Our purpose today is to present to you where we have been since I became the Flagbearer of the CPP; the issues that have been presented to our campaign by the various stakeholders we have met throughout the country; the ideas and solutions we have offered; and how we have been received by the people. We have displayed photographs from the campaign to give you a feel for what is happening in the country.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The difference between the Presidential Candidates As you know, I am practicing a positive campaign of ideas and proposing solutions to the problems we face in Ghana. I am the one who is actively looking forward to a debate with the other candidates so that Ghanaians can make a choice based on the ideas and solutions we are offering. Kwame Nkrumah will not be on the ballot in December 2008. J. J. Rawlings will not be on the ball ot. J. A. Kufuor will not be on the ballot. Hilla Limann will not be on the ballot. I am not looking backward. For me, it is what I can and will do from January 7, 2009 into the future that I want Ghanaians to focus on. It is my hope that you have noted the differences between the Presidential Candidates especially what we do and say as we go about campaigning. There certainly are differences.
I represent real change.
Change that Ghanaians can feel; change that will benefit all Ghanaians, not just a privileged few; change we can all feel in our individual pockets. Others are offering more of the same - continuity to benefit those who have become well-connected since 1993, professional politicians and the elites in society; politics that divide our people and a nation that cannot meet the basic needs of its people. You know what I am talking about. Some want to continue to polarize everything into those "for" and "against" them. Everything that comes from them is good. Everything that comes from someone else is bad. The CPP wants to change this bad attitude and unite Ghanaians towards the common cause of freeing our people from poverty. The CPP will work to make this nation strong and its people, proud and prosperous. For this to happen, change must come through the ballot box in December, 2008.
Ghanaians have done it before in 2000 and they can do it again. What we hear from the field is that Ghanaians are ready to vote for change again in 2008. Where we have been We have been to all ten regions of the country since my election as Flagbearer. Our 'Community Based Campaign" in the first quarter was designed to ensure that we enter a variety of communities in the regions, interact with key stakeholders and the general public so that we can test our strength and appeal. Just two examples of where we have been so far. In the Western Region, we have been to Wassa Akropong, Bogosu, Prestea, Tarkwa, Axim, Nkroful, Essikado, Agona Nkwanta, Busua, Nsein, Heman and Shama. In the Northern Region, we have been to Damongo, Tuna, Bole, Sawla, Tamale, Yendi, Chereponi and Sang. In all the ten regions we have met market women and their customers in the various markets; Drivers' Union leaders, the drivers and travelers at the lorry parks; religious leaders, trade associations; the Trades Union Congress, traditional authorities; and others. We have attended funerals, festivals and programs organized by education institutions. We have met with members of the media to exchange views on the campaign. This has been a serious, comprehensive and fulfilling first quarter. In line with my Campaign of Ideas, I have presented papers and addressed press conferences that have dealt with topics such as - reducing the size of government, honouring our past leaders, workers, the private sector, water and oil and gas. I have produced a pamphlet on ideas to guide my campaign and enable us to stay on the positive path. Some of the key issues presented by the people The key issues that have been presented to us are unemployment, corruption in our society, the need for government to be seen to be caring, shortage of water, an unclean and unhealthy environment and as people put it, they don't feel "change in the pocket". What Ghanaians want are the basics - a job that will pay a living wage, a roof over the head, good drinking water, uninterrupted power supply, a good education for their children, good health and freedom to be what they choose to be. The people in the Northern part of Ghana are very much aware of the big gap in development that exists between the North and the South. The CPP has always known that the Northern part of Ghana needs special attention in terms of education, social services, infrastructure, community development and job creation. They know how difficult it still is after 50 years of independence to travel to the Upper West region from the Brong Ahafo region and to travel from Wa to Bolgatanga in the Upper East region. It has been made very clear to us that Ghanaians want change. Moreover, they want an alternative to the NDC and the NPP. They know what the two have to offer and they are saying that Ghanaians deserve the best after "good" and "better". Our message We have told the people that a CPP administration will live up to the name, "Edwuma Wura". We will implement a consistent and aggressive government policy to support domestic industries to provide sustainable jobs and living wages and salaries to our people. My goal will be to ensure that we have Ghanaian companies who grow big to compete with foreign imports and are strengthened to compete in international markets. We manufacture fruit drinks, chocolate, electrical supplies, cloth, computer software, soap etc. We produce rice, cotton, salt etc. We have the potential to produce many other products that are basic and essential for our people and industries. Yet we have opened our doors very wide to imports that suppress our potential for job creation. A government led by me will strengthen Ghanaian industries for the benefit of the many young men and women looking for jobs that will pay them living wages and salaries. This will be done through low-interest government loans and guarantees, technical support to ensure ability to achieve sustained growth, tax incentives and market advantages.
A CPP administration will take full responsibility to prepare a comprehensive plan to renew and spread basic social infrastructure - water, electricity, schools, roads, rail roads and housing - throughout the country. This we will be able to do by reordering our priorities and raising the necessary funds from domestic and international sources; and finding the best people to implement the plan with a sense of urgency. The people's response to the CPP The people's response to the new CPP so far has been great. We feel encouraged and excited about the enthusiasm shown by the people in Sandema, Prestea, Dzelukope, Damongo, Ada, Sekyedumase, Tuobodom, Nkawkaw, Afranse and Wa and other parts of the country. They understand and like our positive approach to the campaign. The CPP, the Party that toiled for Ghana to win independence from the British will not do or say anything that will destroy the country. The people appreciate this. The CPP is known as "Edwuma wura". I am known as someone who has proven in his private life to be "Edwuma wura". The CPP set up more than 68 industries and organizations that brought jobs to thousands of Ghanaians Kumasi, Komenda, Kade, Pwalugu, Tema, Akosombo, Ejura, Abosso and many other places in Ghana. I have provided direct employment to more than 500 people in Tamale, Obuasi, Takoradi, Ho, Hohoe, Kumasi, Elmina, Techiman, Tarkwa, Kasoa, Accra and Tema. Ghanaians love this combination. They believe that this proven experience of job creation is what the millions of unemployed youth need, not politics of promises, promises and promises. The people appreciate our humility in asking for their vote, asking them to join this new CPP and asking for their support. We are coming from behind so we are working hard, moving swiftly and touching the hearts and minds of the people. Our registration drive is going very well. Already, about 200,000 people have registered to join this new CPP. We will exceed 250,000 registered members soon from all polling stations and then we will activate the legendary CPP organizational magic for the December 2008 elections. The quality of people competing to become Parliamentary Candidates for the new CPP is great. They are popular, respected and capable of winning many seats in all the ten regions. This time, any vote cast for the CPP will elect a President and a Member of Parliament from the great, new CPP! Current Topics of National Interest In many parts of the country, Ghanaians are experiencing a shortage of water. People can be seen in the capital city of Accra carrying buckets and containers of all types looking for water. In parts of Accra including sections of East Legon, water has not flowed through the pipes in six months. Many communities in my constituency, Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem do not have access to good drinking water. The situation in the three northern regions is even worse. It is for this reason that guinea worm and other water related diseases are still with us particularly in these three regions. What I want Ghanaians to know is that this situation is one of the most direct results of the 1966 military coup. The coup cut short the many infrastructure projects planned by credible Ghanaian and international experts and embodied in the Seven Year Development Plan. Indeed, since the 1960s, our water distribution system has not seen comprehensive expansion and modernization. One contributing factor has been the acceptance of successive governments since the mid-1970s of the advice of certain international development finance companies to leave the water and electricity sectors to the private sector. It had been the demand of many of these agencies that the public utilities should be given to the private sector. By extension, governments had been discouraged from investing in the production and distribution of water and electricity. Unfortunately, previous governments had not found alternative sources of financing development in these areas away from the international finance agencies. As a result, our production and distribution systems have become inefficient, have not kept up with population growth and cannot meet demand. I am aware of the recent efforts made by the current administration to tackle the problem. But a lot more needs to be done and it requires the will and commitment of the CPP to do it. The discovery of oil and gas in Ghana has been anticipated for several decades. So the recent announcements of the discovery of oil in significant commercial quantities off the shores of the Western Region do not come as a surprise. It is the view of the CPP that communities within which extractive natural resources are found must by necessity be given preference in the sharing of benefits that accrue to the nation. Yes, such resources are vested in the state. However, who today wants to condone the rape and neglect of communities such as Akwatia, Obuasi, Prestea, Obuasi, Nsuta and the rest where extractive resources have been taken away to benefit foreign investors and disappear through a poorly defined sharing of revenue by the state? A CPP administration will prevent the situation where the people of the Niger Delta in Nigeria suffer in poverty while the oil companies and their government reap the benefits from happening in Ghana. I am calling for a plan of development and modernization for the immediate communities where oil and gas has been found. For fairness sake, I will also go back to ensure that those communities that have provided gold, diamond and other minerals also get the justice they have been denied for so long. This is an important promise I will keep. A CPP administration will use this opportunity in a very good way to benefit the all Ghanaians and not a privileged few. In this regard, we will make sure that whatever decisions are arrived at on how to invest benefits from oil and gas are passed into law by Parliament to ensure that implementation does not vary by political ideology or the personal desires of any one leader or political party. The CPP has trust and confidence in the Electoral Commission. I have contested three public elections conducted by the Commission. The problems I encountered during the elections were not caused by the Commission, but by the political parties. So the Electoral Commission must take steps to ensure that all political parties behave and that polling agents do not engage in illegal activities to gain votes or prevent others from voting. As the party that won independence for the country, the CPP will not engage in anything that will undermine the credibility of the Electoral Commission. If the credibility of the Commission is eroded, we will not know any peace after the next election as some political parties appear to be pitching themselves for an unhealthy contest. That is why the Electoral Commission itself must sit up and ensure that its database is accurate. Government must also release the funds required by the Electoral Commission on a timely basis to remove all doubts about the capability of the Commission to conduct free and fair elections. Conclusion The CPP is happy about the response of the people of Ghana to our campaign so far. I am personally fighting a good fight knowing fully well, that many Ghanaians have not seen improvement in their standard of living in recent years. In December this year Ghanaians will choose jobs, good health, a good education and a good life over vindictive and divisive politics by voting for the CPP. I am here to urge the people of Ghana to continue to choose hope by supporting the new CPP. Everywhere we have been Ghanaians are saying that they have tried the NDC, they have tried the NPP and they want something different. They want an alternative. Now we know what the others can offer. It is now time for the CPP to come back and work its magic in the country for the prosperity of all Ghanaians. Some are even saying that they have seen good, they have seen better and they now want the best. And CPP is the best! I want to encourage our supporters to recruit more Ghanaians to register to vote when the Electoral Commission opens the voters register. We are doing what we need to do by registering new members to join our Party. We are also accepting applications from people who want to contest the December election as Parliamentary Candidates for the CPP. I am pleased to inform you that we are getting inquiries from very many good, popular and well positioned Ghanaians from home and abroad who want to become CPP Parliamentary Candidates. This is an exciting time for the CPP. The CPP indeed can win the 2008 elections. Our Party has changed from the one that contested the 2000 and 2004 elections. We have new leaders, an enthusiastic membership of both young and old Ghanaians, a great message of hope, "Work and Happiness" and the State working to give an advantage to Ghanaians in their own country. Most important, Ghanaians are saying to us, there is opportunity for us this year. They are saying to us, there is demand for the CPP in 2008 that was not there in 2000 or 2004. This time, a vote for the CPP will not be wasted. A vote for the CPP will bring about the change Ghanaians will feel because it will put a CPP man in the Flagstaff House. I am asking the people of Ghana respectfully, to vote for change by voting for me and the CPP come December, 2008.