Ladies and gentlemen of the media, good afternoon.
You are welcome to the fourth in our series of press conferences, meant to refocus attention on the issues that best define the leadership needs of Ghana and therefore may impact your leadership choices in the run-up to the electoral contest on 7th December 2020.
As the media, we expect that you remain steadfast independent arbiters in helping to redirect the debate to sifting the grain from the chaff and weighing the grain in the white light of fair inquiry. We hope that in this fast evolving media environment of competing claims, you use the versatile tools at your disposal to throw even more light on the real issues of poverty eradication and jerky growth hindering our forward march.
Your role as gatekeepers has become even more important as Covid-19 locks society down with the new normal. You have become our eyes and ears.
So today, we ask of you. Please use your tools to better help governance partners to focus and debate the kind of leadership Ghana needs. Politicians, thought leaders, civil society influencers, voters, captains of industry and investment, international partners and competing fellow nations are all governance partners.
Yes, the nations with which we share common indices of development compete in the same international markets for the scarce resources that we need to develop faster. Therefore, what our governance partners think and say of our leadership shapes the voter preferences of the people.
Ladies and gentlemen, leadership is at the heart of the 2020 elections. National development rises and falls on leadership. Since the advent of the 1992 Constitution, there have been two contrasting political leaderships, the NPP and NDC. Of the two, the NPP is convinced that they have offered and delivered better leadership than the NDC. The NPP consistently performs better. We are better mangers of the economy.
That contrast is on offer again. Eight years in which former President Kufuor lifted this country out of HIPC and onto the path of progress as against several arid years of IMF and World Bank direction that he inherited. Now, we have three and a half years in which President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has had to start all over again, taking back direction from the IMF and restoring the prospect of jobs and incomes.
In this election cycle, only two candidates have a viable opportunity of getting the mandate of the Ghanaian people on December 7, 2020. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the NPP and former President now candidate John Dramani Mahama of the NDC.
As H.E President Akufo-Addo has so succinctly reminded us, the choice will be made on the records of the two since both have had opportunity to demonstrate whether or not they can deliver on the leadership needs of this country. So, the choice before the Ghanaian people is clear- between President Akufo-Addo and candidate John Dramani Mahama, who has the vision, the commitment, the competence and the compassion to deliver a Ghana of consistent growth and prosperity? It is the NPP’s strong contention that candidate John Dramani Mahama does not have the focus and competence necessary to take this country in the right direction.
Candidate Mahama cannot do it. He had his chances and squandered them all. As a former Member of Parliament, Deputy Minister of State, Cabinet Minister, Vice President and President, candidate Mahama appears to be the luckiest politician in Ghana’s Fourth Republican history. Having experienced every political position of decision making significance in Ghana’s political structure, including six years as President, all we hear from him is that he be forgiven his mistakes so he can come back to continue experimenting with the future of our partners in governance.
Having had the most opportunity to affect Ghana’s fortunes positively, he blew it all, landing Ghana in the policy misery that saw him run to the IMF, barely 10 years after President Kufuor took us out of painful HIPC. Candidate Mahama’s omissions so impoverished Ghana that budgetary support to essential social services were cut, including the infamous cancellation of trainee allowances. Candidate Mahama’s omissions so impoverished Ghana that he refused the value of free SHS, blindly screaming that its implementation would collapse educational infrastructure and national finances. Candidate Mahama’s omissions so impoverished Ghana that we could not afford fuel oil to power our energy grid. Candidate Mahama’s omissions were so grave he supervised a caricature of financial Ponzi schemes and danced on the grave of the collapsed financial sector in Parliament, chastising Ghanaians for “looking for Alice in Wonderland” financial returns.
This is the man who wants you to entrust four years of your scarce governance resources to him. What he could not deliver and destroyed in six years as President he wants only four years to experiment with? Again? What are his thoughts, what is his vision, has his attitude to decision making changed?
Do not forget, he is a self-confessed doubter. One who is never able to make his mind about anything? He is convinced we have short memories, but we remember Candidate Mahama’s own confessions about himself in his book, My First Coup D’état, when he states that,
“All the decisions I have made in my life were REGULARLY PLAGUED WITH DOUBT. It can be challenging to sustain that feeling of hope or the belief that things will turn out for the best. Again, and again, I have felt like that boy Dramani, on the bicycle going downhill fast, without any brakes and NOT KNOWING WHICH WAY TO TURN.”
Former President now candidate Mahama’s record is one of riding the Presidency downhill, full of doubt and fear, without direction or brakes. His supreme political decision was to let the IMF decide for him.
Focus versus flip-flop
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, Candidate Mahama flip-flops. He follows the wind. As you can see, he is now converted by the forward looking policies of the current administration, the strong, focused wind generated in the wake of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s credible delivery. Policies aimed at building a functional enabling state that provides social inclusion, human resource development and steady economic growth in an atmosphere of international stability.
So,all the policies he rejected as impossible when in power, the good governance he could not deliver, he is now saying he will do. After Nana Addo-Addo has already delivered. Somehow, sitting on the side lines of governance for the past three and a half years, John Mahama is inviting governance partners-media, politicians, thought leaders, civil society influencers, voters, captains of industry and investment, international partners and competing fellow nations-to believe that he has made a magical jump from crass mismanagement, incompetence and corruption to a place where he will take over and successfully continue policies he never believed in.
He believes the very lack of logic in his desire to take Ghana back into his half-baked experiments will escape the notice of Ghanaians, because he sincerely believes we have short memories of his gargantuan gaffes. He wants the Ghanaian voter to take the ship of state away from the committed, competent and compassionate delivery of President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and entrust our future fortunes to his indecisiveness whilst he attempts to learn how to do what Nana is already doing.
Visionary leadership serves as the anchor for the uncertainties and the volatility of politics. Ever since Candidate Mahama has been in politics, he has not once articulated a vision for the transformation of anything. Indeed, it is precisely because of his lack of vision that he follows the wind. He follows the gravy train- wherever he perceives that there is a juicy opportunity to harvest votes, there he goes.
What does he stand for? It is important he tells the Ghanaian voter exactly what he stands for. We cannot have as President, one who merely obeys the wind. We need a leader who can sail the ship of state safely to shore. Flip-flopping, wishy-washy, indecisive leadership will wreck the ship of state.
President Mahama hated free SHS with a passion. His government paid for over forty advertisements against it from his assumption of the Presidency. He failed to deliver on his ill-conceived alternate of E-Blocks. Today, he says he should be voted into office to maintain free SHS. Well, Candidate Mahama, we are not looking for a “Maintenance Officer”. We are looking for a President. A Leader.
He said that he would rather lose his presidency than restore trainee allowances. Today, he says he wants your vote to pay higher trainee allowances.He agitated against a new register, allegedly funding demonstrations and supporting threats of violence. Then he mounted giant billboards asking people to “rise up and register.”
He instructed his party to ditch empowerment of district assemblies through the referendum. Today he says he will pay assembly men against the dictates of the Constitution. He cut the sod and contributed our scarce resources towards the fabled 10-billion-dollar Hope City. Today he talks about infrastructure, conveniently forgetting the eight bedroom 14-million-dollar official residence of the Vice President of the Republic that he supervised.
In 2015 he said that ‘it will be foolish not to collateralize our oil for credit.’ Today he says he is against collateralization of our long-suffering mineral resources. Significantly, he is also threatening to return bauxite concessions to his brother, saying “I shall return seized mining concessions to their owners”.
The bottom line is that Candidate Mahama does not stand for anything. You cannot continue to follow the wind. It is precisely for this reason that the saga of the missing NDC manifesto is important.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media. Months before Covid-19 changed the world, John Mahama’s NDC set out on a perilous journey of trying to find out what Ghanaians want. After sixteen years of NDC in the twenty-eight-year-old Forth Republic, six of those years as Government Official 1, the final decision maker in Ghana, he is still struggling to find out what Ghana’s governance priorities are.
On July 1st, 2020, the whole world was told that Candidate Mahama had received ‘the people’s manifesto’. He said he would launch it in August. When the NPP announced August 22nd, 2020 as its date for launching its manifesto, we were told theirs would follow on the 29th August 2020.
Then came the bomb. “Leadership of Service; Protecting Our Progress, Transforming Ghana for All” hit them so hard they hurriedly postponed to 31st August 2020. As we speak, we are not sure whether it will happen on 7th September 2020 as nobody seems ready to own up to another promise. The NPP was sure that they were not going to be able to launch it.
We knew they had to listen to the commentaries, criticisms and suggestions that have greeted our manifesto in order to try and re-write theirs, ostensibly to pander to the public debates on our manifesto. Candidate Mahama has no vision. He just follows the wind.
Four More to do More for You
The Nana Akufo-Addo led NPP Government is clear what it wants to achieve with the support of governance partners.
In transportation, infrastructure to support multi-modal movement is being invested in alongside modernization of the transportation market. Manufacturing of vehicles is being localized to create jobs and improve access to quality and safety. The Transport Sector Recapitalization Project (pages 179 to 180 of the manifesto) will create affordable access to new commercial vehicles, reduce accidents, increase jobs and incomes and create real employment opportunity. Mahama’s policy is to legalise Okada, years after he banned it in L.I 2180, without the benefit of scrutiny and analysis of the entire sector.
A major part of the intended National Equipment Leasing Policy (NELP) found on page 176 of the manifesto, will promote private sector participation in transport services to government, further opening the space for jobs and incomes.
In health, our aim is Universal Health Coverage (UHC). How we get there is set out on page 156 and 157 of the manifesto. The revolution includes equipment leasing under NELP and a Build, Lease, Operate and Transfer (BLOT) policy, which will integrate the large private health services on offer into a unique system of public infrastructure in partnership with private resources and expertise. Already, we have delivered the drone service, ambulances and agenda 111 is on course.
John Mahama says he will provide free primary health care. How he intends to from a background that resisted the passage of the NHIS law, failed to deliver on the major flagship promise of a one-time premium, imported empty cargo vans in the name of ambulances and left the NHIS under a mountain of debt, is left to conjecture. In any event, health care on the NHIS is already free to children and the elderly.
We seek to reduce the cost of energy to accelerate industrialisation for jobs and increased incomes. We have brought down the cost of a Kilowatt Hour from a high of 19 cents to the current average of 11 cents with strong indications of going further down to 6 cents. In the process, we have managed to keep the lights on and give out free power in the Covid-19 alleviation space.
Our energy ambitions, as set out on page 174 of the manifesto, will over time increase usage to absorb the excess capacity cost, enable competitive exports and drive the unfolding integrated bauxite and iron and stell industries. More jobs and incomes. Indeed, I will encourage you all to delve deeper into Part 5 of the manifesto, starting from page 169 to 183. There, you will find chapter 6, ‘building the private sector for accelerated growth’, where concrete measures have been set out to truly transform the private sector as the engine of growth.
Part 5 starts with Chapter 5, ‘digitisation and the transformation of the Ghanaian economy. The interlocking digital infrastructure being rolled out there is modernising the economy at an extremely fast pace, especially the celebrated Mobile Money Payments Interoperability System, which has literally made fifteen million bank accounts on the go, giving individuals the comfort of moving money round between banks and mobile money wallets from their telephones. John Mahama planned to attempt it for 1.2 billion dollars. President Nana Addo had it delivered for 4.5 million dollars. A mind boggling 22,666% differential, if my maths serves me right.
We have reduced CST (talk tax) and are moving towards reducing the cost of data whilst installing wifi across the country to boost education and commerce. Pages 17 to 21 of the manifesto sets out what digitisation is doing to improve Government business.
The Heart of the Manifesto
Ladies and gentlemen, effective economic management depends on effective management of Covid-19. So, the heartbeat of our Manifesto is Part 3 the sole chapter 3 of which sets out the “CARES” Programme. The Ghana Covid-Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises (Ghana CARES) Programme. Having seen our manifesto, we are told the NDC is desperately trying to come to grips with our chapter 3 of Part 3. How will the NDC leadership offer a solution without a vision?
We cannot afford to go back to the days of experimentation. The choice before the Ghanaian people is simple. We have a choice between decision and indecision. We have a choice between vision and a lack of vision. We have a choice between transparently leveraging our natural endowments in the international economic financial space for accelerated development or having it handed out to a brother. We invite governance partners, especially thought leaders and civil society influencers to objectively debate the potential outputs and outcomes of novel initiatives. We welcome input that improves our capacity and ability to turn Ghana into the go-to hub that it can become.
This thoughtful and decisive President we have,listens. He is sensitive to the needs of the Ghanaian people, providing education to an extra 100,000 Ghanaian children a year. Children John Mahama believes should be on the streets. This thoughtful decisive President takes risks for the future of your child, running a doubletrack system in the short term whilst preparing for the longer term with securitisation of the GETFund for massive educational infrastructure.
John Mahama tells us he will abolish the double-track system by completing E-blocks. How does the completion of E-blocks abolish doubletrack? Because the E-bocks are not in the doubletrack schools. So, tell us the correlation between the E-blocks and the doubletrack schools. In any event, many schools are already going off the doubletrack system, thanks to the massive infrastructure developments that are taking place across all the double-track schools. My friend Mustapha Abdul-Hamid tells me his former school, Bawku SHS has just received the all-clear to go off doubletrack from when the academic years resume. There is already a clear and systematic agenda to phase out the doubletrack system. Candidate Mahama you are late to the game. You just follow the wind.
We are transforming agriculture, exporting nineteen different products where you had us importing plantain (pages 41 to 49). We remember you building one expensive factory for which we are yet to produce a teaspoon of sugar. Pages 23 to 38 of the manifesto will tell you where we are with 1D1F, the programme set to revolutionise production for value addition. Jobs and incomes.
Candidate Mahama, you got your opportunity and you blew it. You have nothing to offer the Ghanaian people. As for your excuse that you have learnt your lessons and want an opportunity to correct them, it is important for you to realise that Ghana and Ghanaian lives cannot be used for experimentation. Happily, Candidate Mahama has been advised to tell us his mistakes and how he intends to correct them before making more promises he does not intend to keep.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, today, Ghana is the talk of the international community, thanks to the sterling leadership of President Akufo-Addo. We are on the move. It will be a tragedy, if we should put this country in reverse gear by entrusting it into the hands of a person who is a self-confessed doubter. One who is never able to make his mind about anything. One who was so incompetent and corrupt he run a “create, loot and share” economy.
Through you, ladies and gentlemen of the media, we are humbly asking Ghanaians to choose decisive, focused, courageous, committed, competent and compassionate leadership over wishy-washy, flip-flopping, indecisive and incoherent leadership. Akufo-Addo represents leadership of service that will transform Ghana for all. Vote for him to protect our progress.
Thank you for coming.