Politics of Saturday, 11 June 2016
ADDRESS BY HE JOHN DRAMANI DRAMANI MAHAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES ON THE OCCASION OF THE 24TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS (NDC)
Party Founder, President Jerry John Rawlings
Our Founding Members- on whose sacrifice and sweat the party was born 24 years ago, we salute you and we honour you
Members of the Council of Elders of our Party
Members of the Hard-working National Executive Committee
Party members and supporters
Ladies and Gentlemen from the media
I want to thank you for the overwhelming welcome and warm response you have given me today. Your support assures me that our great party, the National Democratic Congress is on the cusp of another ‘one-touch victory’ in the upcoming elections.
This victory will usher us into the second term of my presidency.
Your enthusiastic reception evokes two feelings– one of Humility and the other Responsibility.
Humility in the sense that you have found me worthy to lead this Party and represent you as Flagbearer among the many, highly qualified men and women of our party.
It is an honour I very humbly accept and thank you very much. I am confident that we shall win once again, Insha Allah.
Responsibility in the sense that you have sent a clear signal through your never-ending support that you want the elections delivered, so that together with the broad masses of our people we can continue to lead our nation on a path of prosperity and progress, building on the unprecedented gains we have made as a country in virtually all sectors of our national life.
I have met the leadership and elders of our party on several occasions and we continue to deliberate on a wide range of issues regarding the general direction of our party.
Our meeting today, 10th June 2016, the 24th Anniversary of our great party the NDC, is dedicated to honouring our Founding Members. This decision is the result of one of such deliberations with the hierarchy of the party.
I am happy that this decision was taken because it is said that a nation that does not recognise its heroes is not worth dying for.
I congratulate our united Functional Executive Committee for the commendable organisation that has gone into executing this task to honour our founders.
To our Founding Members who have been honoured here today, I say ayekoo! We are eternally grateful to you for initiating the process that has elevated the NDC to emerge as a party that, on a standardised basis, has contributed the most to the development of our dear nation Ghana.
Some are old and weak, others have passed on to eternity, and others are here today and have been honoured. But to all of you, posthumously or in life, we salute you and we are eternally grateful to you.
We have presented you with plaques and after this the National Chairman will see you. There is a little token as a symbol of our appreciation to you to cover the effort and the expenses that you have made in coming here today.
To my predecessors- President Jerry John Rawlings and President John Evans Atta Mills of blessed memory, I also say ayekoo. We salute you. I, John Dramani Mahama have been fortunate to have cut my political teeth under your tutelage and supervision. And I will be forever grateful to you.
We stand on behalf of all the members of the NDC to express our appreciation for your sterling contributions and sacrifices that you have made to bring us where we are today.
The ideals that you espoused have matured to converge on the path of social democracy. We shall continue to follow that path and honour you by our discipline and dedication.
We believe in egalitarianism! We believe in equitable distribution of the national cake in a manner that is equitable and fair.
We believe in the equality of all our citizens. We believe every child, youth, man or woman deserves and must have a decent and equal shot at available opportunities this nation has to offer.
In Chinua Achebe’s essay on the “Education of a British-Protected Child” he wrote, “He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down.” This tells us we cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own humanity.
Mr. Chairman, Elders of our great party, this is our belief- social democracy, and that is why notwithstanding the challenges of a lower middle income economy in an era of global economic volatilities we have still striven to ensure massive infrastructural development, stabilised the economy, created many jobs and are still creating more through significant flagship projects such as the Komenda Sugar Factory, the Business Processing Outsourcing Centre near the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange among many others.
We have also endeavoured to connect with the people through transparent and accountable governance and above all we have remained committed to our first pillar of ‘Putting the People First’.
Talking about putting people first, the verdict is clear. All around us, we witness the significant work we have done in health, education and other social sectors. This is recognised not only nationally but globally.
As I move round the country inspecting and commissioning projects, the appreciation expressed by our chiefs and people is overwhelming.
Globally, government’s huge investment in the welfare of Ghanaians through programmes and social infrastructure and our ‘people centred’ development policies and interventions since 2009 has also been recognised.
The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP), Human Development Report last year, placed Ghana in the Medium Human Development category with a score (0.579) and this score is higher than most of our peers not only in our sub-region but on our African continent.
This feat, of 0.579, is the highest Ghana has ever attained. Ghana’s score in 2000 was 0.552 (55.2%), and in 2008 it was 0.553 (55.3%) representing a 0.1 percentage points only. According to the UNDP report, in six short years, between 2009 and 2014 we have increased our Human Development Index by 2.6 percentage points to 0.579 (57.9%).
These are statistics that bear true testimony to the fact that this country is going forward and she is not going back.
We are moving forward in the right direction!
We are the Changing Lives of our people and we are transforming our country Ghana!!
Our Founding Father, Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our party goes into an election this year in unity and with unflinching commitment to the cause of Ghana and our people.
Political parties going into an election can be assessed in two ways. The first criteria is the record of what they have been able to do when given the opportunity to govern. The next criteria relate to the policy platform that they offered for the future of our nation.
To be successful in the elections therefore, parties must show what they have done before and more of what they can do differently going forward because elections are about the future of our country.
I am pleased to report that on both counts the National Democratic Congress is light years ahead of the rest of the political parties.
We are the most successful political party in the history of Ghana having won more elections than any other party and been in government for a longer period than most other parties.
Ghanaians have reposed their trust in us. Our unity of purpose and determination to work together by respecting the mandate given to our National, Regional, Constituency and Branch Executives is admired by many. But above all the admiration emanates from our commitment to resolve the concrete challenges that Ghanaians face.
This is an indication that we must continue to maintain the trust. We have won their trust and confidence because whenever given the opportunity, we
have made the best effort to deliver on the mandate that they have given us.
We’ve gone about the task of nation building in a serious manner placing the wellbeing of the people on top of our list of priorities.
We have maintained an attitude of not being boastful and not engaging in flowery rhetoric that others have done. We have through a pragmatic approach to governance continued to deliver the most significant contribution to national development.
In the last four years that the NDC has had the opportunity and honour to continue to lead this country, we have implemented the most far-reaching and transformational policies perhaps in the country’s history.
In Education, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have ensured the highest access to education ever recorded, with over 90% of children of school-going age enrolled. We have done this by pulling down one after the other some of the most seemingly intractable barriers that have hindered progress of the nation in this particular sector.
In all, over 9.2 million pupils and students are currently enrolled in school in Ghana.
Today the average Ghanaian child stands a much greater chance of attending school than ever before and there is therefore every likelihood that s/he would do so in a more decent condition than ever before.
Being born a girl today under the NDC is no longer a reason why you would be denied education because we have achieved gender parity in school enrolment. As many girls are going to school as boys are.
Along the entire educational ladder, more opportunities exist for our young people to receive formal instruction in order to develop their God-given talents.
At both the Basic and Second cycle levels, we have made the largest contributions to access through first, the replacement of over one thousand six hundred schools which were being conducted under unacceptable conditions popularly called schools under trees. These have been replaced with modern infrastructure and teaching and learning materials.
The on-going Community Day SHS programme is also a major addition. I have had the privilege in Chinderi, Nkwanta, Abease, Otuam, Nyanoa among others to open new Community Day Schools and students are benefitting from these projects and there are many more of these schools nearing completion.
We expect that by November 7th we will be able to put at least 70 of these schools into operation. And as I have said we are currently working on a hundred and twenty-three of them.
This is what I mean when we say we are Changing Lives and Transforming Ghana.
We have also in the same period added to the stock of Public Universities and Tertiary institutions and made it possible for qualified students who would otherwise have been denied places in existing Tertiary institutions, to access that level of education.
We have transformed vocational, technical and polytechnic education and what used to be called polytechnics will soon also become Technical Universities with an expanded mandate and scope to improve the skills and talents of young people in the area of technical and vocational education so they can form the core of human resource with the technological skills to continue transforming our country.
I am pleased to note that the University of Health and Allied Sciences in July next month will graduate its first batch of graduates.
This month the University of Natural Resources in the Brong Ahafo Region is also going to graduate its first batch of students.
These are symbols of the far-sighted vision of the NDC party and government. Through other social interventions like the free exercise books, free textbooks, free uniforms and free school sandals; many more Ghanaian children have found education a more attractive activity.
Our Founding Fathers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Once again this has not gone unnoticed. Ghana‘s education system ranks amongst the best on the African Continent.
The Times Higher Education recently ranked the University of Ghana the 7th best University in Africa. Ghana’s mean years in school according to the UNDP is (7.0 years) higher and better than that of Kenya (6.3 years), Nigeria (5.9 years) Cote d’Ivoire (4.3 years) and Senegal (2.5 years).
We have also chalked impressive success in Youth Literacy. It more than doubled from 21.9% to 55.8% in 1999. It increased to 64.8% in 2006 and made a quantum jump to 80.5% in 2013.
We are changing more lives and transforming Ghana because education is power. This feat also underscores our efforts towards diversifying the economy and ensuring value addition to our raw materials to create more jobs for our youth.
In the area of health, we have invested about US$2 billion to bring quality healthcare to our people. We are creating more than 6,000 new hospital beds in this short period, which opens up employment for about 12,000 nurses and other health professionals.
Modern health facilities are springing up at a rapid rate in urban and hugely populated areas while very decent facilities are also being provided in the remote areas.
The lack of health facilities is being removed as a hindrance to good healthcare. Equal attention is being paid to the provision of equipment and the training of health professionals at all levels of the health delivery system.
In short, health care in Ghana has improved tremendously under NDC’s watch. This is fact borne out by impressive health statistics in health seeking-behaviour, maternal and neo-natal health, life expectancy and a host of other major health indicators.
Our work in the provision of such vital social services as water, electricity, transport, roads, housing, ICT and telecommunications, security among others is unrivalled and all these have led to a significant improvement in the living conditions of our people.
The continuation of and introduction of new social interventions has provided important safety nets for the vulnerable in our society and the work is by no means over. We are still faced with major challenges.
Just yesterday we were faced with floods almost a little over a year after the anniversary of the June 3rd flood and fire disaster. Flooding is a natural occurrence and it is being exacerbated by climate change. Rainfall has become erratic and sometimes falls in significant quantities in a very short period of time.
Yesterday, in parts of Accra, 184.2mm of rain fell within the period that we had the downpour. Much work still needs to be done.
We have removed 487,000 tons of silt from the drains in Accra and I believe that if we had not removed as much silt the flooding that happened yesterday would have been even worse than it was.
But we must continue to work to minimise the incidence of flooding and I wish to assure you that government has a commitment to do that.
Let me also point out that human attitude and human activities continue to exacerbate the phenomenon of flooding. So we must not give up on our determination and effort to continue to educate and increase the awareness of our people that the drains that exist are not meant for dumping garbage. They are meant, as storm drains so that when rain falls the water will be able to flow out of our communities.
Various suggestions have come as to how we can ease the pressure on Accra. Accra’s population is estimated to have exceeded the four million mark so we will continue to appraise these suggestions and see whether these are not alternatives that we can look at so that we ease the perennial flooding and congestion that Accra is subjected to.
On the economic front, the period that the NDC has been in power has seen some of the highest growth rates and the longest periods of stability in the macro-economic environment.
It is an immutable fact that the average GDP growth rate between 2001 and 2008 was about 5.8% and that between 2009 to 2015 has been around 6.8%.
We have faced serious challenges in government occasioned by some fiscal slippages, hard credit terms
even from our development partners as a result of our Lower Middle Income Status, and a dramatic drop in major commodity prices on the world market.
However, we have tackled these head-on and the evidence shows that significant stability has been restored to our economy and our economic indices are pointing in the right direction.
Available data points to a return to the path of high growth starting from next year and this is attributable to the corrective measures that we have implemented over the last three to four years.
The World Bank agrees with this position. On 12th April, 2016 the World Bank stated that, “Ghana’s real gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to rebound to 5.2% in 2016 from 3.4% in 2015 reflecting the positive impact of a more stable energy supply and increased contribution from the oil and gas and agriculture sectors.”
Energy supply is expected to improve following the emergency measures that we have instituted including the use of the new Karpower barge and the Ameri Gas Plant at Aboadze.
The country’s medium-term growth prospect is strong with 8.2% in 2017 and moderating to 7.8% in 2018 under the assumption that the current fiscal reforms that we are undertaking will remain on track with the support of our international development partners.
I know, as leader of this party and this country, that at some points along the journey difficult decisions have had to be taken in order to secure our collective future. I have taken these decisions with the best interest of our people at heart. The results of some of the measures we have taken have vindicated us while the results for some will become manifest in due course.
Recently there have been complaints about anomalies in electricity bills received by electricity consumers across the country. We have tasked the inter-sector task force to promptly resolve the problem.
They have analysed the complaints and it is my hope that starting from the new billing cycle in July, most of the public complaints that have been made by consumers of electricity will be largely resolved.
We have also launched major initiatives aimed at creating jobs and opportunities for our people especially our teeming youth. Ten days ago, I commissioned the much talked about Komenda Sugar Factory, which we expect to create over 7,000 jobs.
More is being done especially in the area of ICT to provide further jobs for our people. In a matter of weeks another major project, the BPO Centre, will be commissioned right here in Accra to create direct and indirect jobs for an estimated
Apart from these, our unprecedented investment in infrastructure across all sectors has created hundreds of thousands of jobs for artisans, engineers, surveyors and other skilled professionals who have worked on them and thereby enhancing their income and purchasing power.
Over the last four years we have put in place a security framework, which has ensured the most dramatic retooling of our security services. This has had the effect of positioning them to discharge their duties in a more professional and efficient manner in an era where security is a major challenge in many parts of our sub-region.
In the process we have kept Ghana safe from contemporary security challenges and made Ghana still the most stable and secure nation in West Africa.
Mr. Chairman, Our Founding Members, Fellow Akatamansonians, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The NDC has the most formidable, impressive and unassailable record, which stands us in good stead to win the mandate of the sovereign people of Ghana once again with the help of God.
And I want to give an assurance, not only to our founding father based on what he said but to the whole nation, that NDC shall not be responsible for any violence or any disruption of the election of November 2016.
If there will be any violence or disruption of the election it will not come from the NDC. It will come from some other political party. I hope that all parties in this country will make a commitment that we shall play by the rules to ensure that we have a free, fair and transparent election.
I am confident that if we have a free, fair and transparent election, by the grace of God, Insha Allah NDC will emerge victorious once again.
In terms of our policy platform, I am happy to confirm as the General Secretary said that, we have concluded work on our manifesto. Probably the first party to do so and in this manifesto we have outlined major policy programmes especially in the real sector with specific reference to Agriculture, Industry, manufacturing and job creation.
If the focus of my first term as President has been on laying the needed infrastructural and institutional foundation for economic growth and stability, then God-willing my second term will be largely targeted and geared towards investment the real sector to create more jobs and prosperity for our people.
Our manifesto, which contains a detailed blueprint on this, will soon be launched and we will take the opportunity to engage Ghanaians in a conversation around the manifesto to foster greater understanding and insight into exactly what we have to offer them.
We as a party are not going to say we won’t launch our manifesto because we are afraid somebody will copy it. Our ideas are original and we will launch our manifesto and if anybody wants they can copy the manifesto.
Our campaign will be based on the issues that matter most to the people. We will not threaten our way into power. Neither shall we make unwarranted attacks on critical state institutions like the Electoral Commission.
We will surrender completely to the will of the Ghanaian people in whom sovereignty resides and we shall not say anything or act in any way that jeopardises the security of this country.
Falsehood, malicious rumours, irresponsible use of the media including the social media and insulting rhetoric shall have no place in our campaign.
We will not make violence a part of our political activity. Decency and decorum shall be our watchword even as we make our case to the Ghanaian people for re-election.
We have come far as a party and today, our party remains the most organised, most peaceful, most united and most potent political force in Ghana.
We are united in our quest to continue with the visionary, life-changing and transformational policies that have improved the lives of many of our people in Ghana today. We are committed to following in the footsteps of our founders and my predecessor Presidents.
In unity we have consulted and considered what will be required to achieve a first-round victory at the polls.
The starting point of any campaign includes the selection of men and women with the right skills-set to form a campaign teams and its sub-committees. So this campaign team working closely with other structures of the party and its membership will be responsible for fashioning out all the strategies necessary for conducting the campaign of 2016.
As I said, our party is blessed with an abundance of talent in all fields of endeavour and we are certain that any of the highly-skilled members of our party who is selected would excel if given the responsibility to be part of the campaign team.
There is however a limit to the number of persons who can serve in this apex campaign body. We are currently in consultation for the selection of the national campaign team and its sub organs, and we expect to name the national campaign team and its sub-organs in the course of next week.
It is our unalloyed belief, that working in concert with the party, this team will add to the sterling successes we have chalked as a great party in the electoral history of Ghana.
The campaign team alone cannot prosecute the campaign and the effort required to pull it off.
In keeping with our grass-roots approach, all party members and supporters are automatically campaign team members and must get involved in selling our message to the generality
of our people.
In this campaign our solid record of achievement as a party should facilitate the process of campaigning for the 2016 election.
We invite the people of Ghana to examine us on the basis of our record and the viability of the proposals we are making to them for the future. We remain confident that our achievements in my first term will stand scrutiny of time.
So once again I wish on behalf of our great party and all our members to salute our Founding Father and our Founding Members and to thank you for the sacrifice and dedication that you have put into making this party the great party that it is today.
I wish those who are alive many more years of good health and happiness and to say that we shall never forget you. Even in this campaign of 2016 you will have a role to play.
I want to thank you and wish the NDC party a Happy 24th Anniversary.
I congratulate all our Founding Members.
On this day I salute all members of the NDC party.
God Bless NDC.
God Bless Ghana.
Thank you very much.