Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the 2016 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), has called on the international community to keep its focus firmly on Ghana ahead of the conduct of the 2016 elections.
With Ghanaians yearning for a change in their circumstances, after being plagued by economic hardships and rampant corruption over the last seven years, coupled with President John Mahama desperately looking for a second term in office – though his National Democratic Congress (NDC) government would have spent eight years in office by 2016 – “the stakes are certainly high,” according to Nana Akufo-Addo.
Delivering a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a leading Think-tank in Washington, USA yesterday, the NPP flagbearer stated that one of the perplexing state stories in the last decade had been how things had gone spectacularly wrong for Ghana, vividly captured by an article in the Bloomberg titled, ‘Ghana’s Success Story Goes Dark.’
Change Is Coming
“Even we in opposition did not think our rivals could make things get this bad. What is frustrating for the Ghanaian people is that we believe it is all, in essence, avoidable. We believe we have what it takes to make Ghana work again. So my task is not to deepen the gloom but to give both Ghanaians and the investor community a reason to hope. That, yes, the story today may be bad but change is coming,” he said.
The reasons informing the clarion call for change in Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo said, stem from the mismanagement of Ghana’s economy, rising cost of living, rising cost of doing business in Ghana, rising levels of unemployment, as well as rampant and widespread cases of corruption, amongst others, under the government of John Mahama.
Ghana’s public debt, he said, had shot up 1,000% in less than seven years the NDC has been in office, with the country spending GH¢9.5 billion to service interest payments on loans alone – a figure representing Ghana’s entire debt stock in 2009, when President Kufuor and the NPP left office.
Additionally, Nana Akufo-Addo noted that over the last three years, social and economic lives of the people have been heavily disrupted by ‘dumsor’, the cost of which has been estimated to be $2.2 million a day, equivalent to 7% of Ghana’s GDP, according to calculations made by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER).
“Corruption is perceived to be at an all-time high. Investor confidence is low. Unemployment is worsening as businesses are folding; cost of borrowing is at 35%; inflation kept rising at 17.5% last month; cost of living is high; our cedi has been one of the world’s worst performing currencies over the last couple of years. Depreciation and our inability to pay our bills forced Ghana, oil rich Ghana, to apply for an IMF bailout last year. This has put a 10% cap in wage increases, way below the rate of inflation, making people poorer, and a cap on public sector hiring as well,” the NPP flagbearer bemoaned.
‘Crooked Election’ In 2016 If ……
Ghana’s democracy, Akufo-Addo added, is under threat, with “our fraudulent voter register” constituting the biggest issue facing the country’s young democracy.
The electoral roll, he said, is bloated, as it contains millions of extra names, adding that “it is estimated that upwards of 10% of the registered voters are bogus. It is packed with ineligible underage voters, and foreign and fake identities.”
This situation, according to him, is unacceptable for a country where a margin of 40,000 votes can determine who wins an election.
“This is a real problem, the kind that cannot be brushed under the carpet,” he stressed.
Recapping issues surrounding the compilation of the 2012 biometric voter register, Nana Akufo-Addo stated that after the registration exercise was completed, the Electoral Commission told Ghanaians that it had captured details of some 13 million Ghanaians, and would embark on the process of cleaning up the register. Strangely, after the ‘cleaning exercise’, the figure shot up to some 14 million people.
Additionally, with Ghana’s median age being 20 years and eight months, and with over two million of the population being foreigners, it is shocking that the country has over 55% of the population registered to vote, explaining that “this is by far the highest in the whole of Africa and its young population.”
The NPP, Nana Akufo-Addo said to the audience, had presented evidence of tens of thousands of cross-border registration of non-nationals on the register to the EC, with its case further strengthened by three of the big five political parties also calling for a new register.
“Our two living former heads of state, religious leaders, Imams, Christian Council of Ghana, Catholic Bishops’ Conference, among others, also want a changed register,” he added.
He continued, “Ghana has worked incredibly hard to preserve her democratic character; one administration shouldn’t be allowed to undermine it. The hope is that the global community takes notice and urges change before the election. We’re telling you exactly how it’s going to happen. All the pieces are in place for a crooked election.”
To the gathering, comprising former senior White House officials, US ambassadors, CEOs of major corporations, and Steve Forbes of Forbes Publications, Nana Addo concluded by stressing that “As Africans, we have witnessed election-related violence tear countries apart. We know what we risk should the government refuse to address these problems.”
A DAILY GUIDE Report