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Politics of Sunday, 29 July 2007

Source: Statesman

Time to put Ghana on war footing -Kwabena Agyepong

NPP aspiring presidential candidate, Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, Thursday declared that Ghana's development has reached a stage that calls for an urgent need "to put the nation on a war footing” to ensure that the pace of development is accelerated to help achieve the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals, and to attain a middle-income status by 2015 as anticipated.

According to Mr Agyepong, for this to be possible the nation needs to get a new generation of leadership that can restore the culture of hard work into the body politic and the national fabric, and put people into productive work, stressing “I am ready to provide that kind of leadership.”

“It is time for us to work hard; 24 hours a day; seven days in a week and change our attitude to work and time,” he insisted.

The former Press Secretary to President Kufuor is convinced that his former boss has done marvelously well in taking the nation to its current level of development.

“Kufuor has done so well as evidenced in the monumental achievements of his administration, but I believe there is the need to raise the nation's development to a new level by injecting a lot more vitality, passion and pace into the governance of the nation”, he told The Saturday Statesman. In an exclusive interview with our reporter at his campaign office, the presidential hopeful contended that his five-year association with President Kufuor as a Press Secretary had enabled him to identify the developmental aspirations of the people. This, he added, is what has particularly “inspired me to seek the presidency to continue from where the President will end.”

The presidential hopeful, who has just completed a campaign tour of seven regions as part of the second phase of his nation-wide campaign activities told The Saturday Statesman that he had been encouraged by what he had seen and been told by the people not to relent in his effort to lead the NPP as a flag bearer, and move ahead to lead the nation as the President in 2009.

"My visit has ignited a certain kind of desire in the rank and file of the NPP, as well as the broad masses of Ghanaians, for a new generation of leadership to emerge in the party, and to lead the nation’s development agenda," he stated.

On his chances of being elected as the NPP presidential candidate, Mr Agyepong said he was confident that "the party is ready to change the face of leadership, and usher in a new breed of leadership. And I believe in that regard, the party will not forget my long, dedicated service and sacrifice and turn its back on me."

He added: "I trust the judgment of the probable delegates; no one can unduly influence them to make decisions against their conscience. Our party people know who should lead them at any point in time. They did not elect a middle-aged National Chairman for nothing. That should tell you they are resolved and prepared for a new generation of leadership that I am poised to provide for them."

The aspiring presidential candidate believes his message of hope and inspiration has gone down so well with the party activists that "I am now the one to beat in our flagbearership contest."

The aspiring presidential hopeful is so far satisfied with the campaign activities of the other candidates. He describes the campaign as "so far, so good," adding "so far no one has descended into the gutters, and I hope it will continue in that decent manner till the December congress to select one of us, which , of course, will be Kwabena Agyepong."

Mr Agyepong reminded his colleague-aspirants about the fact that they all have a collective responsibility to help "elevate the political discourse to a high pedestal, by discussing issues and ideas, and not to 'slash and burn’. When we do that it will be difficult to patch up after the congress." He appealed to all activists of the NPP to be guided by past experiences and history of the party, "and learn good lessons from them so that some of the expensive mistakes our tradition made in the past, that brought disastrous consequences, are not repeated." Recalling the difficulties the party had to go through in the past, with particular reference to its current domination of the political scene in the country, the aspiring presidential candidate was optimistic that "nothing could cause the split of our tradition again, as it did happen in the past. Those who claim our party would break up are the doomsday Sayers, who are praying for a split to achieve their political agenda." In his view, there has not been any sign of serious internal conflict in the NPP that should give people cause to predict a split up, adding: "It is just a section of the media that are seeking to inflame passions and blow things out of proportion."

On measures to ensure the unity and cohesiveness required to win the 2008 general elections, the aspiring presidential candidate called on all party activists at all levels to collectively ensure a level playing field for all the aspirants. This, to him, is so much needed "so that when the winner, which of course will be myself, is declared at the congress, the rest will receive the outcome in good faith , and be prepared to work with the winner to eventually ascend the presidency, which is the ultimate."

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