We thank you for honoring our invitation to this morning's Press Conference which is intended to review and also draw the curtains down on our well patronized and much publicized Freedom Power Lectures 2012.
The Freedom Power Lectures commenced in June 2012. Since then we have held one lecture every month except for the month of July when we lost our former President Professor J.E.A. Mills.
As we indicated in our bulletins, these lectures were the Centre's contribution to improving upon the quality of political discourse in the country. The strategy was to help reduce the insults and personality attacks that have always characterized our electioneering campaigns and to make the 2012 general elections more issues-based.
The idea was to occupy the media space with matters of substance and of national importance and thus eliminate the non-essential and peripheral issues as we all work together to grow the quality of our democracy and to help uncover true, honest and competent political leadership.
With the help of the Media and our Patrons we succeeded to a very large extend in doing just that. The lectures began with Archbishop Emeritus Peter Akwasi Sarpong of the Catholic Church who dealt with the topic: "TRUTH, INTEGRITY AND DEMOCRATIC DEVELOPMENT- HOW GHANA IS FARING".
This was followed by Mr. Akenten Appiah Menkah, a Politician and a Businessman who examined "POLITICAL PATRONAGE OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR IN GHANA: REALITIES AND ILLUSIONS" We also had Dr. Charles Wereko Brobby, an energy consultant and a politician, who gave us some insightful thoughts about the performance of the Ghanaian Media in a paper he titled "TAKING LIBERTIES WITH OUR FREEDOMS".
Mr. Franklin Cudjoe, Executive Director of IMANI took his turn on the Freedom Power Platform with the topic "ASSESSING GHANA'S DEMOCRACY, WHAT'S RIGHT, WHAT'S WRONG AND THE FUTURE". Last but not the least was Former President Jerry John Rawlings who dealt with the subject "CORRUPTION: A THREAT TO OUR DEMOCRACY AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT".
HOW GHANA IS FARING
During these lectures we received tremendous support from our Media Partners namely Joy FM, The Finder Newspaper, Daily Guide, Crusading Guide, The Daily Dispatch, The Chronicle, Metro TV and Net 2 TV. These media outlets and many others made sure that the issues raised at these lectures remained in the public domain for as long as was possible and necessary. We achieved our objective
In all these lectures it became clear that while Ghana has earned the reputation of a peaceful democratic nation, having held five general elections and changed governments twice, there are many outstanding matters that need to be taken care off.
There is the matter of the lack of integrity and or the declining integrity in our politics and political leadership. It was the view of our speakers, which view we as a Centre also share, that our so-called democracy has in a large part degenerated into corruption. It has turned into a rule of terror and very much inward looking. Our Multi Party democracy carries with it the danger of parties thinking more about how to win the next election than about what is morally permissible or responsible or even about the good of the nation.
There is also the case of the lack of political will and commitment to a home grown economy. For some of our politicians, growing their own business empires is more important even if it means sacrificing the national interest and the indigenous private sector.
Some sections of the Media which is supposed to be the gatekeeper have become surrogate pugilists for the political class. The Politicians don't need to be careful about what they do, all they need is to have the right media friends and they will be protected. These sections Media have descended or is it ascended into the realm of uncontrollable and arrogant collaborators of the rulers against the personal and collective interests of the people.
State policies and programs that are usually launched or commissioned with all the fanfare and promise simply remain aground never to take off and even if the do, they are done so lackadaisically that the intended results are simply not achievable. We can talk about the National Identification Exercise, the New Pension Scheme, The Single Spine Salary Structure and now we may add the National Health Insurance Scheme.
A DISTURBING NEW CULTURE
Ladies and Gentlemen, as we ahead for the general elections in two weeks the signs on the wall are not good. We are not talking about peace. We believe Ghana will emerge from these elections peacefully no matter how rough they may become. Our concern is an emerging dangerous culture which all of us are inadvertently contributing to build.
Like in many other jurisdictions, the phenomena of corruption, falsehood, evil craftiness, propaganda and impunity have always being here with us. But Ghanaians have always frowned at these. The new culture however is that these evil forces are being exalted in our society today. Somehow we are beginning to accept these things as normal. We no longer frown at them we embrace them and that is dangerous.
When former President Rawlings took his turn at the Freedom Power Lectures last month, he spoke about the monetization of our democracy and said the phenomenon has the potential of compromising competence and the leadership of integrity. As he predicted, today there is a massive vote buying exercise going on across the length and breadth of our country. Our traditional, cultural and religious institutions across the country are under siege by money bags. Our universities and polytechnic campuses have being invaded by volunteers of political parties carrying all kinds of inducements. Even our young Senior Secondary School lads have not been spared. They too have been deliberately targeted with seeds of corruption. The future of our country is in danger.
We call on the elders of the nation and all well meaning Ghanaians reflect deeply on what is going on and ask themselves these questions; What country are we building? What reputation do we want to build for our country? What country do we want to bequeath to the generations yet unborn?
ADDRESS THESE QUESTIONS NOW
Finally I will like to put some questions to nation's political leaders directly. We believe that they more than any one else have the responsibility to set good examples for all of us. As we head for the elections on December 7, we of the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy think that there still many matters of substance that have remained unattended to. It seems to us that there are many questions that urgently need answers. The Integrity of some of these aspiring political leaders has come under serious questioning and without a word to the public on these matters; these politicians are going about with their political campaigns as if integrity has nothing to do with winning an election or leading a country.
The deafening silence at these questions appears to endorse the new ascending phenomenon of impunity we talked about earlier.
This attitude in our view smacks of contempt for the voting public and gives the impression that some of our political leaders are getting to that place where they think that it does not matter what they do or what people think, they can still get our largely uninformed population to vote for them through fair or foul means.
In the last month of two, there have been serious allegations of impropriety in the acquisition of military equipment including aircraft. The allegers claim that the late President Mills commissioned an investigation into the procurement. Members of the Commission were named. The investigation never happened. That is the allegation. And yet to this very day, there has not been any official response to this allegation. Similarly, an allegation about a Ten Million Pounds loan for the development of the Ghana Oil Palm that never arrived in the country remains unanswered. According to those who made the allegation, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Police Service investigated the disappearance of the loan and dockets were prepared for prosecution. Again, there has not been any official response to this one also. There was also the allegation of impropriety in the procurement of Fire equipment for the Ghana Fire Service. As was alleged, police investigations were conducted into this matter also and a docket was built for prosecution but no prosecution took place. There is also the allegation of 'stolen' diplomatic passports and complicity in a bribery case in relation to some judgment debt. All these allegations are in the media and on the worldwide Web. The world has read them and awaits official responses and yet none has come.
Ladies and Gentlemen by raising these issues here, we are not in any way saying that these allegations are true. We do not know what the truth is and the general public does not know either. But the individuals these allegations have been made against know the truth. They have a responsibility to help clear any doubts in the minds of the voting public. The integrity of these political leaders have been impugned and voters need to be clear in their minds that they are not dealing with leaders who could make away with the country's money or allow others to dip their hands in the national kitty.
Discounting or ignoring these allegations and moving on to canvass for votes to lead the country will be like saying that you can still win an election in this country even if you were a bad man or woman. The Ghanaian public has the right to truthful information including what happened in the cases mentioned.
And now let use this opportunity to announce the close of the Freedom Power Lectures-2012. We thank all our Guest Speakers, Special Guests and the all the distinguished and ordinary people who attended all these lectures or followed them on radio or television. We thank our Media Partners for a job well done. In everything we did and continue to do we have only one thing in mind-GHANA.
GOD BLESS OUR HOMELAND GHANA.