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General News of Wednesday, 8 January 2003

Source: Chronicle/Times

Election2004: Bagbin to run; Mahama may Not

Minority leader to stand for elections in 2004

Kaleo (Upper West) - Alban Bagbin, Minority leader in Parliament on Monday declared his intention to seek the mandate of the people of Nadowli North to re-elect him as the Member of Parliament for the constituency.

Bagbin, who was addressing members of the Bagbin Fan Club at Kaleo in the Nadowli District said his decision emanated from the fact that all the communities within his constituency were appealing to him to extend his leadership in the next four years.

"If I say I will not stand for re-election, then I do not love my constituents and the party. Having been elevated to the post of minority leader; having propped up the NDC during the party's most difficult moments, I can't bar my ears to the numerous calls on me to keep contributing my mite to the development of Nadowli District" Bagbin stated.

According to the minority leader, he spent the first two years in office fighting to keep NDC alive and that with Professor John Atta Mills as well as the party executives now firmly in control of affairs, he would devote more time to the demands of Nadowli North constituency.

Bagbin said, the NDC in opposition is much stronger than when it was in power, adding, "Under the dynamic leadership of Prof. Mills, we are riding triumphantly back to the Castle and let me assure everyone that we shall harness adequate resources to run a tough campaign to recapture power".

He later visited Ombo and Kaaha communities within the Nadowli district where he disclosed that 150m cedis had been approved for the drilling of a bore-hole, while 264m cedis had been spent on the construction of a classroom block at Ombo.

Edward Mahama may not contest in 2004

The leadership of the People’s National Convention (PNC) who contested as its presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000 has stated that he is yet to decide whether to contest the flagbearership of the party for the next year’s election or not. The party is scheduled to go the congress in March to elect its flagbearer and party executives.

Dr Edward Mahama noted that he had been the flagbearer for the party on two occasions and had not succeeded and wants to play the fatherly role in the party. He said that as at now his main pre-occupation is to build the party into an institution with a character and system, of which anybody could come in as a leader and lead it to victory.

The PNC leader in an interview with “Chronicle” added that the poverty reduction strategy programme that sought to improve the living standard of Ghanaians will fail if the government continues playing politics with it.

According to him, in a situation whereby District Chief Executives and Ministers are given money to disburse, the money would not benefit the country as those in charge basically discriminate against people not in the government party.

He said that the former did that and the programme failed and that the current administration is also following the same trial. He declared: “Poverty alleviation is like putting water in a basket and we must have programmes which are non-partisan.”

The PNC leader explained that if the government is subsidizing the price of cutlasses and somebody comes to buy a cutlass, it does not matter whether he is PNC or NDC, he buys the cutlass at that price and so when the money is given to the DCE appointed by the President who is an NPP member and “if he is going to distribute the money what do you think will happen? “You did not vote for us, you won’t get it,” “is what he will say” Dr Mahama narrated.

He cited a situation where some supporters of PNC all over the country have been denied funds. He advised the government not to play politics with the lives of the people of Ghana. He noted that the PNC is encouraging the youth to join the party to capture power from the NPP in the next election as the PNC is meant for the youth.

The former flagbearer also revealed that they are working very hard behind the scenes to increase the number of parliamentarians they have by targeting the Western, Volta and the three Northern Regions although the other regions are equally important. He revealed that several members of other political parties have joined the party.

Dr Mahama emphasised that state funding of political parties is very important in democracy dispensation and that he still supports the idea. But he noted that the funding should be limited to only activities rather than campaigns as is done in America.

He went on to say that political parties if funded could help build democracy in the country. On the economy, he said that the government must not always listen to or rely on what the IMF says, as some of their conditionalities are very harsh especially those in the “Aide Memoire” to the country.

He accused the government of abandoning the outcome of the home coming summit. He suggested to the government to pursue the outcome of the home coming summit and help Ghanaians in the diaspora to come home to invest.

Dr Mahama further stated that for the economy to be on track the government should cut down its expenditure by reducing the number of ministers it has now.