Accra — My dear friends and colleagues, these, indeed, are not normal times.
Here we are, at what should have been a crowded, happy, even riotous climax to our internal party elections, that would take us to the general elections in December. Instead of the loud, jam packed gatherings that we know, we have been reduced to the social distance correct roomful of one hundred (100) people.
Thanks to technology, I know that we have been joined by hundreds of thousands of our supporters, at home and abroad, who are able to follow the events as they happen.
First Lady, Vice President, Second Lady, President Kufuor, Mr Chairman, General Secretary, Chairman of the Council of Elders, Members of the National Council, officials of the New Patriotic Party, I must confess this is a rare experience for me in my long political career, and I am not talking of the acclamation by social distance. I refer to the fact that, any time I have run for any office, I have had to go through a long, often bruising battle, and this is only the second time that I have not been contested, once at the parliamentary level, and this, the second, at the presidential.
I am glad to add this to my portfolio of political experiences, but, most of all, I must express my heartfelt thanks to all members of our party across the length and breadth of the country and abroad, and to the party office holders, who are responsible for the process that leads to the election of the presidential candidate for our party.
Thank you for the belief and confidence you have showed in me, thank you for your trust in me to lead our party to an unquestionable and resounding victory at the elections in December, just as we did four (4) years ago in December 2016. I do not take your trust lightly. I come to this moment with great humility, and with deep gratitude to Almighty God, who has bestowed this exceptional honour on my modest self.
The leadership of the New Patriotic Party imposes a scared trust. Our forefathers, right from the beginning of formal politics in this country, made an unspoken pact with the people to treat them with respect, and, if given the opportunity to govern, to do so with honesty and dedication.
At a moment like this, my mind goes to our leaders throughout the ages, and I feel strongly the weight of responsibility that comes from continuing to step in the shoes of George ‘Pa’ Grant, Joseph Boakye Danquah, Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey, Edward Akufo-Addo, Simon Diedong Dombo, Kofi Abrefa Busia, Victor Owusu, William Ofori-Atta, Albert Adu Boahen, and others, like Baffuor Osei Akoto, men who showed exemplary leadership in defining moments of Ghana’s history.
And, of course, in every sense of the word, into the giant shoes of the 2nd President of the 4th Republic, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, whose outstanding tenure took Ghana to a whole new level. I have no choice, but to use the inspiration that comes from invoking their names to lead our party and the people of Ghana with dedication.
Today, there are some among us in this country who would take for granted the idea of a democratic Ghana, and would make light of the rights and obligations that come with living in a democracy. If you are a leader of the NPP, if you are a member or supporter of the NPP, you would know that every inch of democratic space was fought for, and, sometimes, died for in this country. Our Fourth Republican Constitution is crafted on multi-party democracy; we did not get there by chance, it took a long and difficult battle; today, some take it for granted.
The multiplicity of media outlets, and the freedom of the press; these did not become part of our governance landscape by happenstance, it took a long and difficult battle, waged, largely, by the political tradition to which we belong, to get our nation to where we are today.
Friends and colleagues, I recall some of our battles not as a boast, but because it bears reminding all of us where we came from, and, more importantly, to remind us in the NPP of the heavy responsibility we carry.
We know what we stand for: the rule of law, freedom of speech and of the press, individual freedoms, the determination to liberate the energies of the people for the growth of a property-owning democracy, to build an economy that will create wealth for all our people, and not just for the elite few.
I need to remind everybody that ours has been the only political tradition in this country that has espoused the development of the country and of the individual as part of our foundational beliefs. Hence our motto, ‘Development in Freedom’.
Whenever we have had the opportunity to govern, we have been guided by these long-held principles. That is who we are. We have been consistent. It is in our DNA, and we dare not, and would not stray from them.
In the three and a half years that it has been my abiding privilege to lead this party in government, we have kept our eyes firmly on these beliefs. All our flagship programmes are rooted in the effort to liberate the energies of the people to grow an economy of which all the people can be part.
In spite of the truly abysmal state in which we found the economy of Ghana in January 2017, we can be proud of what we have been able to achieve in the past three and a half years. We are not there yet; we are not where we want Ghana to be; and we are very much aware of the amount of work that remains to be done. We have demonstrated, though, beyond any shadow of doubt, our competence in the management of the national economy, since, without competence, we cannot improve on the welfare of the masses.
We have also certainly changed the outlook on education in this country. Free SHS has brought relief to many homes, and secondary education is no longer the preserve of children whose parents have the means to pay their way. Free TVET means that young people can learn, for free, technical and vocational skills that set them up for life.
The first cohort of the young people to have benefited from this brave and forward-looking policy graduate soon, and we only have to persist for a few more years, and we would see Ghana change before our very eyes.
We would have an educated workforce; we would have a better-informed population; and we would be better placed to compete in the world. We are investing in the future of Ghana, and it is to the benefit of every home in the country.
We have been busy in the delivery of physical infrastructure as well, and I am happy to report that, after just three and a half years in office, I can say, without any fear of contradiction, that every constituency in this country has seen the provision of some basic infrastructure to their communities. In other words, we have not limited the construction and building of infrastructure to the cities, but our towns and villages are seeing development as well, because we do not believe in leaving any community out of the development programme of Ghana.
The provision of water, toilets, warehouses to store agricultural produce are all helping to improve the look of the rural areas of our country. We have not stopped at “water for all”, and “toilet for all”, we are pursuing “infrastructure for all”. Our approach is different.
We owe it to Ghana to be different. The huge investments we are making in agriculture mean Ghana will soon be a self-sufficient nation in food production.
The need to be self-sufficient has been demonstrated dramatically in this most trying year for the whole world. The arrival of the novel Coronavirus has taught all of us that we have to be self-reliant, which has been my mantra since I took office, in advocating the objective of a Ghana Beyond Aid. The pandemic has emphasised the fact that living on edge, living on a day to day economy, is too precarious, and we all must have some buffer of protection in all aspects of our lives.
The pandemic also brought out some of the best in the Ghanaian, and I have been touched by the sense of community that many people have displayed in looking out for each other.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has also exposed some very unpleasant aspects of our lives. Some of these difficulties, like the lack of adequate health infrastructure, the government has determined to do something about as quickly as possible. We are embarking on a vigorous hospital building project aimed at making sure all parts of the country are adequately provided.
The pandemic has also showed all of us the important role of good leadership in the management of the affairs of human beings. There are no hiding places when a pandemic is abroad. I thank the Almighty that I have had a hardworking team to support me, as we have grappled with the management of the virus in our country since March. We did not plan for this unthinkable crisis, but we did prepare our economy well for tougher times, and we can build it stronger for you, the Ghanaian people, when this is all over.
My dear friends and colleagues, this past weekend, our party came to the end of the processes that we have to go through to prepare for the elections in December with the primaries in constituencies, where we have sitting MPs. Unfortunately, in our enthusiasm and sheer, unbridled joy, we broke some of the COVID-19 safety protocols. It should not happen again.
I congratulate all those who came out winners, and have got the opportunity to represent our party at the elections in December. As always happens during elections, there were losers. Many of these people are important personalities in our party, and are playing critical roles in Parliament, as are all the others.
But those of us in politics know that these things happen, we know that to use the famous words of our one-time General Secretary, we have to continue to fear delegates, but we remain firm in our belief that losing one election cannot and does not mean the end of your political life. I am a living example. I urge all of us to get over our disappointments quickly, and unite to go before the country. This was the message I gave to the forty-two (42) MPs who lost, when I invited them to meet with me at Jubilee House on Thursday. I believe that the message went down well, especially if we recollect the impressive words several of them uttered after their defeat.
We have a good story to tell, and we should go out to tell it. On every sector of our lives, we should show the difference between the NPP way of tackling problems, and the way our opponents do it.
We grow the economy, they shrink the economy. We create the properly regulated, enabling atmosphere for businesses to flourish, they allow chancers and speculators to lure citizens into putting their monies in dodgy enterprises. They bring our banks and financial services to near collapse, and we have to clean up, shore up and restore confidence. They plunge us into DUMSOR, we keep the lights on. They look on clueless, as hundreds of thousands of Ghana’s children exit school at JHS, we bring Free SHS and Free TVET to prepare our children better to face life. They resort to crude language when faced with difficult arguments, we raise the level of public discourse.
We owe it to ourselves and to Ghana to win the elections in December decisively, to make sure that we keep the economy on track, and not in the hands of people who will run it into the ground again. Demagogic pronouncements about your so-called “love” of the masses do not put food on the table; do not send the child to school; do not guarantee access to good healthcare; do not assure the pensioner the value of his pension. We do not believe in pitting the rich against the poor, or the poor against the rich. We believe in helping every Ghanaian to climb up the ladder of progress, and we have been consistent in this, not just in words, but in deeds.
We are told that those who were responsible for the worst economic performance of the last thirty (30) years have learnt their lessons, and seek another opportunity to correct their mistakes. Dare I ask – should the presidency be for experiments? Surely not! You, the Ghanaian people, deserve better, and you will get better on 7th December, with four (4) more years for Nana and the NPP to do more for you.
We have to win the election to see our many projects through to conclusion. We dare not leave the many factories coming up, under our 1D1F scheme, to be truncated. We dare not leave the Free SHS to be “reviewed”. We dare not leave our roads to go unattended again, only to become part of a ‘Green Book’ propaganda. We dare not jeopardise the digitization schedule on which we have embarked.
I urge you, therefore, my dear friends and colleagues, to go out with the confidence that comes from your government performing well, and running the affairs of the country competently. Tell our story to the Ghanaian people, and tell it often.
Last Thursday, the Supreme Court, presided over by the Chief Justice, by a unanimous decision of the seven-member panel, settled all the issues surrounding the voters’ register, and affirmed the right of the Electoral Commission to proceed with the compilation of a new register, in accordance with the provisions of C.I 126. The road has now been cleared for the Electoral Commission to proceed. I am calling on every member and sympathiser of the New Patriotic Party, and, indeed, on all eligible Ghanaians, no matter what party they belong to, if any, to go out and register, so that they can exercise their civic responsibilities on 7th December, 2020, to elect a government of their choice in a free, fair, peaceful and transparent election. The pandemic, notwithstanding, we have to strengthen Ghanaian democracy.
The December 2020 presidential race represents, probably, the clearest of choices ever for the Ghanaian people to make. And, why do I say so?
It is because 2020 is between the current President and the President who was voted out in the last contest.
It is about leadership.
It is about integrity.
It is about the performances of the two men when given the opportunity by the Ghanaian people to lead.
It is about measuring records against promises.
It is about which of the two leaders has shown in office that he knows how to manage the economy.
It is about which of the two leaders you, the voter, can trust to deliver.
It is about which of the two men you can trust with the future of your children.
It is about which of the two leaders you know you can depend on in times of crisis.
It is about which of the two leaders you believe can put in motion the necessary measures to revive and strengthen the economy, businesses, and social services, and build our country out of the CORONAVIRUS pandemic.
I am of the firm conviction that this nation, the Black Star of Africa, is on the brink of a decisive step into a brighter future, which will deliver progress and prosperity to all the peoples of our country. A united NPP, working under my leadership, in tandem with my brilliant, resourceful, four-time running mate, Vice President Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, who has just been resoundingly acclaimed by the National Council, the man who, consistently, sends alarm and shivers down the spine of our opponents, can, in all humility, lead Ghana and the Ghanaian people to take this giant step forward. Let us work hard together for a great victory on 7th December 2020, and embrace the future and our destiny.
Four more years for Nana and the NPP to do more for you!
Kukurudu!! Eshie, Eshie!!
The Battle is the Lord’s!
Good luck to us all, and may God bless the New Patriotic Party, and our nation, Ghana, and make her great and strong.
I thank you for your attention.