The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has thrown a challenge to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) for an alternative and live debate between their two Presidential candidates, Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom and Nana Akufo-Addo.
In a statement issued by the party’s National Secretary, Kofi Asamoah-Siaw, Nana Addo comes nowhere near the experience of their candidate, Dr Nduom, who has more private sector and direct job creation experience that benefits Ghanaians than any of the other candidates vying for the country?s topmost position.
PPP Statement follows:
PPP RESPONDS TO AKUFO-ADDO AT THE IEA
The Progressive People’s Party, (PPP), is unable to participate in the IEA Presidential Encounters due to the IEA’s refusal to use the Electoral Commission’s criteria for what qualifies a party to be a legitimate political party in Ghana (principally that a party must be national in character, have branches in all the regions, have officers elected at all levels and have offices in not less than two-thirds of the districts in each region).
We believe that civil society organizations should follow the rules and regulations of the land as opposed to their own ideas about representation in Parliament. Nevertheless we appreciate their efforts at improving the public debate about governance in Ghana.
Since we have been prohibited from participation, we would like to offer our response to performance of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at this evening IEA Encounter.
REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE
Nana Akufo-Addo explained his limited experience in the private sector. Technology is incredibly important to Ghana’s future, so we welcome his statement that he played a role in bringing Mobitel in Ghana 20 years ago. Furthermore, his statement that he has mentored many Lawyers over the years is laudable, for we believe in educating and supporting strong, world class professionals in Ghana.
The PPP, however, would like to bring to the electorate’s attention, the fact that on the issue of private sector experience and direct job creation our Presidential Candidate, Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, stands tall amongst all competitors.
As opposed to helping a foreign company like Mobitel come to Ghana, Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom has built Ghanaian enterprises that provide a livelihood to over 25,000 Ghanaians. His enterprises directly employ over 2,000 individuals. Just one of them provides access to finance and savings to over 250,000 customers. It is important to note that Dr. Nduom has made sure that he has provided opportunity to Ghanaians to be employed and supported many more to become entrepreneurs in all ten regions of the country.
As Nana Akufo-Addo himself said in reference to the NDC’s alleged theft of the NPP’s “People Matter, You Matter” slogan, imitation is the best form of flattery. As such we are very flattered that he has chosen to borrow the themes of Competence and Incorruptible Leadership from the PPP. We are indeed highly flattered but we would appreciate it if the NPP developed its own themes on the topic of corruption.
It is a small first step for Mr. Akufo-Addo to say that he does not have anything against publicly declaring his assets. However we must refer to Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom’s speech at our press conference this morning, where Dr. Nduom challenged Mr. Akfuo-Addo and the other flagbearers to make the following commitments to fight corruption:
-To introduce amendments to the 1992 Constitution that will make three critical changes for progress in Ghana. 1) prohibit Members of Parliament from being appointed as Minsters of State, 2) return the power for all Ghanaians to directly elect their district, municipal and metropolitan chief executives without any interference from the President and 3) strengthen the office of District Attorney by separating it from the Ministry of Justice;
-Commit to make public assets, income tax returns, health records and sources of campaign funding before the December 7th elections; and
-Commit to a campaign to prove competence and ability to offer solutions to the nation?s numerous problems.
So while Mr. Akufo-Addo has stated that he is “determined to fight corruption aggressively,” we hope that he will provide concrete examples of what he will do as opposed to simply stating that “I am not corrupt, I have never been corrupt and I will demand the same from my team.” Once again, we must issue the challenge to Mr. Akufo-Addo to follow Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom and make the commitments against corruption outlined above. We must reiterate that Ghanaians must not vote for any political party’s candidate if the party does not disclose its source of funds.
This evening, Mr. Akufo-Addo said that “Accountability and Transparency are the hallmarks of Good Governance. I (Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo) pledge to deliver this to the good people of Ghana.” We agree with his statement but we must insist that it is just political talk if he refuses to step up to our challenge for Incorruptible Leadership.
Separating the Attorney General’s office from the Ministry of Justice: Akufo-Addo should know better:
We appreciate this question asked by Vitus Azeem of the Ghana Integrity Initiative: “How will you fight corruption.” Will you give us three legal reforms and three institutional reforms that you intend to put in place to help you in your commitment in fighting corruption?
Unfortunately, Mr. Akufo-Addo’s response to this direct question was uninspiring, particularly with regard to the Ministry of Justice. He said that he does not find the argument for separating the Attorney General’s office from the Ministry of Justice very compelling. His argument against separation, however, actually proves the point as to why this separation is essential.
Mr. Akufo-Addo cites his prosecution of Mallam Issa, who was a member of the NPP Government at the time, as proof that the Attorney-General’s office does not need to be independent – all you need is a dedicated team that is not corrupt and they will do the right thing. First of all, Mallam Issa?s case proves the point that the system today is more enthusiastic about prosecuting you if you are not a member of the ruling party. Mallam Issa was a member of the PNC and not the NPP. Subsequent allegations made against NPP ministers were not aggressively pursued leading to the shelving of the ?Zero Tolerance Against Corruption? standard. Again, with the Issa case, Mr. Akufo-Addo himself stated that the police brought the issue to his attention. The Attorney-General’s office did not independently find the wrong doing and this is one of our major problems. The Attorney-General?s office needs to be independent so they can aggressively investigate the activities of all government officials. If Akufo-Addo was correct that the Attorney-General?s office was independent enough to do the job, why did they not expose the rot within their own administration?
More importantly, Akufo-Addo himself stated that the evidence provided a simple, prima facie case. Prima facie is legal jargon which basically means ?self-evident? or ?obvious.? An obvious case is easy! An obvious case forces the Attorney-General to prosecute someone in his or her own party. We do not dispute the fact that that happens now. We need separation of the Attorney-General?s office from the Ministry of Justice so that we have independent judgment when cases are NOT OBVIOUS. Where there are complex schemes to defraud the state, for example. The police did not expose Woyome. A whistleblower did! The Attorney-General?s office must be separated from the Ministry of Justice because that office should become Ghana?s whistleblower, investigator and prosecutor of corrupt acts against the state! Until we have independence, there will be more and more Woyomes looting the state coffers.
Lastly, on this point, the existence of the Woyome and Judgment debt scandals are prima facie evidence of the fact that the system is broken. Even if Mr. Akufo-Addo is an angel while at the Ministry of Justice, what happens when a bad minded person is put there from another government? If Mr. Akufo-Addo was right that no separation was needed, there would be no Woyome scandal.
Given his legal background, we are shocked at the low level of insight provided by Akufo-Addo on this issue. These are basic concepts a learned legal mentor should have attacked with skill and nuance. Instead we heard a response that ignored the big problems by pretending that they don?t exist and presented no solutions to anything. Once again, we refer to Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom?s speech from earlier today where he challenged all Presidential Candidates to commit to Constitutional Reform, including separating the Attorney-General?s office from the Ministry of Justice. The PPP believes that this is a crucial step towards fighting corruption in Ghana and we hope that Akufo-Addo and all other Presidential Candidates learn to see the light on this issue.
FREE SHS ? THE CORNERSTONE OF THE NPP 2012 CAMPAIGN
Akufo-Addo spent a good deal of time saying very little about Education. The PPP has stated repeatedly that Education is a critical priority for Ghana. Indeed our agenda is based on four critical pillars: Incorruptible Leadership, Education, Healthcare and Jobs. The NPP approach to education seriously falls short because it omits the key elements that must be included as directed by the Ghanaian constitution.
The PPP will repeat this again and again and again: Ghana needs Free and Compulsory Education from Kindergarten all the way through SHS! This is not just a wish. This is a principle that is enshrined in the Ghanaian constitution in Chapter 5, Section 25(1)(a) the Constitution provides that ?basic education shall be free, COMPULSORY and available to all:? and in Chapter 6, Section 38(2) provides that the Government shall ?draw a programme for the implementation of ?free compulsory and universal basic education.?
This relentless demand of the PPP is not just a hopeful idea dreamed up by our campaign team. It is something that must be a fundamental part of what it means to be Ghanaian ? it is an objective that we have been instructed to pursue by the highest laws of our land. If any political party wants to be serious in Ghana, they must have free and compulsory education as the cornerstone of their educational policy.
Furthermore, the examples that Nana Akufo-Addo gave for education expenditure were Japan in 1960 and Malaysia in 1995. In Japan in 1960, Public education had been COMPULSORY for 13 years! In Malaysia, primary education is also COMPULSORY!
So while we recognise the NPP for crusading on the issue of education, we must remind the electorate that the only party in Ghana that is calling for the only medicine that can cure Ghana’s educational sickness: FREE AND CUMPULSORY EDUCATION.
This means that if a child, who will be registered under the National Identification System, does not show up for school, local police will find this young boy or girl and bring him or her to school!
If you care about education, your vote must be for PPP, the only party in support of Free and Compulsory Education, the tool that Japan, the United States, the UK and countless other nations used to develop their people. We simply cannot become a first class country with second rate tools such as incomplete, optional education even if SHS is Free. Over the past ten years, more than 1.5 million of our children have failed the BECE examination. This means that we must focus attention to improve the quality of teaching, facilities and teaching materials from kindergarten through junior high school to senior high school. Free, compulsory and continuous education for all our children is what Ghana needs in the 21st Century and not the concentration of a lucky few at the SHS level.
Lastly, we wish to remind the public that our educational system can be a tool for national development. The PPP and only the PPP is dedicated to ensuring that only healthy, whole Ghanaian produced food products are served to our children in our schools. If you want to talk about Self-Reliance, this is one of the easiest ways to improve our health and wealth with one single blow. Use the state?s purchasing power to buy local for all of our schools! Our children will be better nourished, our businesses will flourish and we will shake off the yoke of dependence on foreign imports to meet our basic needs for daily sustenance.
Akufo-Addo believes in Self Reliance?
During the 2008 IEA Presidential Debates, Nana Akufo-Addo?s number 1 theme on the economy was that ?the private sector is the Engine of the Economy.?
During that debate, Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom introduced the idea of bringing a petrochemicals industry to the Western Region. This means that Ghana would produce plastics, pesticides and alternative fuels from Ghana?s oil and Gas find. He repeated over and over that he would use the State?s purchasing power to build Ghanaian businesses, jump start our economy and put us on the path towards Self-Reliance.
Now in the 2012 elections, Mr. Akufo-Addo has changed his tune and taken ideas directly from the mouth of our Presidential Candidate. We would be flattered but we would like to point out that the NPP totes itself as a conservative party. They are akin to the Republicans in the United States and the Tories in the UK. These ideas, developed by the PPP flagbearer, are not NPP Ideas. What kind of game is the NPP flagbearer playing?
So the PPP would like to ask Akufo-Addo: ?Why the change of heart on your approach to the economy??. Why have you taken so many ideas from the PPP? Does your party agree with the approach that you are describing?
One of the key points that Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom has made repeatedly is that he would use the State?s purchasing power to build local Ghanaian businesses. He even used the example of fruit juice, which Akufo-Addo swiped again for his comment that ?we leave our food to rot while we import fruit juice.? Will he go further to explain to Ghanaians how he will support local contractors to gain needed experience to build our houses, roads, bridges, schools, etc?
We would like to give Akufo-Addo credit for seeing the light on the Ghanaian economy. However, he must explain why he has taken these ideas from our party and whether he is willing to concede that these ideas are contrary to the principles of the party he is leading into the 2012 elections.
Let us be clear that you cannot have self-reliance if you do not use the purchasing power of the state to support Ghanaian businesses! Without putting this firm commitment behind the idea of self-reliance, saying it is just political talk from a conservative wolf in sheep?s clothing!
An invitation for a truly exciting debate.
Lastly, we would like to schedule an alternative live debate between Nana Akufo-Addo and Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom. If Mr. Akufo-Addo is committed to openness and transparency as he says, he will not refuse this offer. We look forward to a formal response from the NPP.
In closing we would like to remind the electorate that the PPP is the only party in Ghana offering TRUE INCORRUPTIBLE LEADERSHIP, and a focus on Education, Health care and JOBS! We have backed this statement up with the firm commitments to free, compulsory and continuous education, constitutional reform, presidential disclosures and transparency and so on and so forth. If the other parties do not step up to the plate and do the same, you cannot vote for them in good conscience.
WE ARE AWAKE!