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Nana Akufo-Addo to Contest in 2016: Full Speech


Photo ReportingNana Akufo-Addo to Contest in 2016: Full Speech


Ladies and gentlemen of the media, dignitaries and members of the New Patriotic Party, fellow Ghanaians.

Good morning and welcome. Thanks for accepting my invitation, even though I am told most of you claim to know already what I am going to say. I do hope I don’t disappoint you.

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As you may recall, I said on August 29, 2013, the day of the Election Petition verdict, that I would take some time out of the hurly burly of politics, get some rest, reflect and then announce what I envisage for my political future.

Shortly after I made that statement, my wife and best friend, Rebecca, and I travelled to the United Kingdom, where we stayed in London for some six months. This gave me a lot of time to think about things. Such a long period of reflection inevitably meant taking a hard look at my life and what I have done, particularly in the period since the mid-70s when I have been active in political life.

I am humbled by the opportunities that I have had to contribute to the development of our nation, from the struggle against military dictatorship, through protecting the rights of ordinary Ghanaians in the law courts and on the streets, to the consolidation of our democracy and the projection of our national interest, first, in building the New Patriotic Party, and, also, as a member of parliament and cabinet minister.

Even though I will forever regret the fact that I could not lead the party to victory in 2008 and could not secure a declaration of victory in 2012, the party can be proud of what we have been able to achieve together for Ghana and, by extension, Africa, as a whole. Despite all the controversy that bedeviled the 2012 presidential election, we, in the NPP, showed responsible citizenship and put the nation first before our desire for power, because of our love of Ghana. We showed that it is possible and, indeed, desirable, to play by the rules even if it leads to unfavourable results for you. We might have lost that 2012 battle, but when the history of this period is told, I am confident that it will be most favourable to the NPP. Already, Ghana’s image as a peaceful, stable democracy has been greatly enhanced by the path the NPP took, after the controversial 2012 elections, to settle the electoral dispute in court and accept the decision of the court as final. I am proud to be a member of this great party and I am grateful to have been given two opportunities so far to lead it.

In trying to come to a decision, I asked the Almighty for his continuing guidance.

I thought about the battles we as a people have fought to get us to where we are today in a nation governed by a constitution. I thought of the many people with whom I have been in some of these battles and the loyalty and hard work that we came to take for granted from each other.

I thought especially hard about the 2008 and 2012 elections, when I was privileged to be the presidential candidate of my party. I thought about how lucky I was to have this brilliant economist, MahamuduBawumia, as my running mate in those two elections. I have been humbled by the loyalty, the confidence and trust that millions of Ghanaians gave to me. I thought about the huge disappointment that our loss brought to us all.

I thought about the passing of time and the fact that I shall be seventy years old in a few days time. I have asked hard questions of myself and of my body and I have taken the opportunity to see my doctors both here in Ghana and in the United Kingdom. I examined my commitment and the fire that burns in my belly with the desire to lead Ghana.

I had time to think about the lessons of history and the examples of other countries and how such lessons might impact on the current state of Ghana.I had long discussions with Rebecca and my daughters and some of the people who have been a source of unflinching support before coming to a decision.

I was in constant contact with Ghana whilst I was away in England.I received daily phone calls, text messages, emails, Facebook messages, and regular visits from Ghanaians from different parts of the world, from every region in Ghana, young and old, men and women, great and small. Themessage was unanimous: they all urged me to remain in frontline politics and to seek the candidacy of my party for the 2016 presidential election of Ghana.

The message from NPP members was along the lines: “You, Nana Addo, remain our best chance for 2016; Ghanaians are telling us we should bring you back.”

The message from Ghanaians who are not NPP members, including supporters of other political parties, can be summed up as: “We have heard your message, we know who you are and what you stand for and we are ready to vote for you in our numbers in 2016.”

In spite of all the disappointments of the last few years, I cannot ignore these calls, especially when, among those urging me to run,arethose who admit to supporting my opponents in previous contests, whether within the NPP or in national elections.

My wife and I arrived back in Ghana a fortnight ago, sure of the decision that we have taken regarding my future in politics.

Since getting back, I have, as custom demands, spent my time going around the elders of my party, and a few other people to inform them of my decision before going public. I am happy to say that the message was positively received.

I have been greatly humbled by the confidence that many, many Ghanaians from all walks of life, especially young people, some of whom are yet to cast their first ballot, have in me. I am profoundly grateful that so many people consider me worthy to lead this promising nation of ours, even at the young ageof 70. Fortunately for me,I chose two careers where there is no retirement age: law and politics.

I thank the Almighty I am able to say that I feel spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, intellectually, physically, and patriotically strong enough to remain in the hurly burly of frontline politics.

With great humility, therefore, I can announce that, when the party opens nominations sometime this year, I shall be ready, God willing, to contest for the position of NPP presidential candidate for the 2016 general elections.

In so saying, I seek to lead a united party. Yes, we believe in internal competition and we must not shy away from the vibrant competition of ideas that is our custom as we battle each other for positions in the party. But, winning a party position should never be achieved at the expense of party unity. Every time a party member speaks ill of another party member, we break the hearts of the people who look to us to bring back hope into their lives. Yes, we are not perfect, and, we will make mistakes along the way, and some people will get carried away in the course of arguments. But, I believe, there is no single issue in our party that we cannot resolve amicably as a family to the satisfaction of all well-meaning parties to the issue. We have done very well over the last four months, under challenging conditions, to hold elections to choose some 140,000 officers to prosecute our 2016 campaign. No party in Ghana has been able to achieve this feat and I expect none will do so in the foreseeable future. We have plenty to celebrate and plenty more to look forward to. Let us focus on the bigger pictureand complete satisfactorily the process of choosing national officers on April 12th in Tamale.

Let us keep our party buoyant and healthy to make itmore and more attractive to the many disillusioned Ghanaians out there looking for a credible alternative to the NDC.Let us protect the dignity of the NPP in all that we do or say.We do not have to compete with the government in attracting negative publicity to ourselves. They are quite capable of managing that on their own with their incompetence. The duty of an opposition party is to keep the government on its toes and not to step on each other’s toes. In so doing, there is one principle that I wish to see guiding the way we do things in the NPP. We must have mutual respect. I am particularly attracted by then Governor Ronald Reagan’s dictum: “Thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican.”

We have a strong and ever growing party of competent men and women.Every day, more and more people, who care deeply about the direction that the current administration is taking the country, are joining our party. Let us make such peoplefeel welcome and confident that they have made the right choice with the NPP. In spite of all the propaganda against us, the facts are clear that NPP is as diverse as the country that we are in politics to serve.

Let me make reference to one of the interesting statistics that emerged from the work done by the formidable DrMahamuduBawumiain compiling our case for the election petition. In many of the places that we were supposed to have lost, the gap between our votes and that of the NDC was abnormally high. It is our duty, therefore, to close that gap and we intend to do so by two means. First we intend to win the votes of the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians and, second, we shall protect those votes at every level to the point of declaration.

I have no desire to lead the NPP into another election petition in 2016. I certainly do not want to take election grievances to the streets either. I prefer we begin today to do the things that would greatly diminish any potential need to go to court. That means we want an election in which the results would be beyond dispute and would be accepted by all. That means we must secure the reforms that are necessary to enhance the integrity of the electoral system and the people who work for the system, the electoral officers.

We need to ensure the integrity of the electoral process so that we can concentrate on what matters most: enhancing the lives of the people.

The biggest threat to our democracy is the potential loss of confidence in the democratic system and the takeover offear where there used to be hope. Our people see all around them corruption, economic hardships, falling standards in education, inefficient public service system, joblessness, especially amongst the youth, and insecurity. They see awide gap between what some politicians promise and what they deliver. That is dangerous for all of us. We need to restore hope and confidence in our young people; we need to restore hope and confidence in the leadership of the nation. Every child must have the best education that this nation can provide. We need to offer young people hope, education, and skills for decent jobs with decent pay.

We can no longer postpone the need for the structural transformation of our economy. Our current raw material producing economy isincapable of generating the jobs that our young people need and deserve. It is vital that we put in place a comprehensive, systematicprogramme for the industrialisation of Ghana, so that, by the end of the next decade, industrial products, not raw materials, will dominate Ghana’s economy. We need to work out the fiscal, monetary and technological incentives that can stimulate local production of goods and services by the private sector.That is the way to deal with widespread unemployment and low wages. That is the programme that the NPP, under my leadership, will be committed todelivering. Alas, all of this hinges on fixing our energy situation. Nothing must be spared to fix it. We cannot continue blaming an Act of God or Nigerians for our predicament. It is Ghana made, pure and simple. And, it must be fixed by Ghanaians.

As the experiences of the successful countries in Asia and elsewhere have shown, government has a very important and positive role to play in spurring industrialisation and economic transformation. It needs not be state-owned; it needs rather the vision, commitment and intelligent support of the state.

But, to succeed in industrialising Ghana, we must show a far greater seriousness in building the nation’s infrastructure, including not only power, but also housing, transport, water, irrigation, and ICT. I believe we could have done much more recently even with the limited resources available. A major impediment to this is the worrying deficit in value-for-money when it comes to public procurements. The World Bank and Government of Ghana estimate a funding gap of some US$2 billion per annum to meet Ghana’s infrastructural needs. Yet, we managed to register a record budget deficit of more than US$4bn in 2012 alone, which occurred without even meeting our spending targets for infrastructural development in that election year. Two years on, our new Finance Minister continues to struggle to plug that fiscal hole instead of spending his vital energies to stimulate the economy.

The current economic difficulties call for efficient and honestmanagement of public resources and projects. Much of the difficulties facing the country today can be traced to widespread corruption and the apparent inability on the part of the current leadership to fight corruption.

The depressing reality is that corruption is costing the nation jobs, as government chooses to pay more money for less. Corruption is denying our children money to fund their education, the school feeding programme is starved of cash, ask yourself why? Contractors are not being paid. Ask yourself why? Our development partners are refusing to release funds to support our budget, ask yourself why? Salaries are in arrears, ask yourself why? Unlike what we are witnessing today, what Ghana needs is a government that makes the issue of giving value for money the underlining principle for managing public funds. We need that to develop greater confidence in the economy.

I have learnt a lot in my four decades in frontline politics. I continue to learn. I have made mistakes in my life, I have said things I could on hindsight have put better. I have tasted defeats and also chalked some successes. I have played my part to see multiparty democracy becoming entrenched in our nation. I was part of PresidentKufuor’s team that demonstrated to our people that a liberal democracy can deliver on laying the foundations for economic prosperity.I want to be part of winning the next challenge: which is to build a modern, industrialised society in Ghana, where every citizen has the opportunity to prosper. This is the driving force of my life.I will stay true to what I believe in, no matter the pressures to do what is convenient.

I am clear and convinced about the direction in which we must go as a country. I have been consistent on this because I believe in it.

I am convinced Ghana can do better than this current state of affairs. And, I believe we can make the change that will make us better than this. We have unfinished business. And, I am ready to get back to work.

God bless the NPP. God bless Ghana.

Source: Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo



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