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Opinions of Sunday, 17 July 2011

Columnist: Hayford, Kwesi Atta-Krufi

London still confuses NDC

Ever since Nana Akufo-Addo travelled abroad to address the NPP External Branches International Conference in Hamburg and followed it up with a Town-Hall meeting with Ghanaians in London, the entire NDC communication machinery have been thrown into disarray as a result of the success of these trips and the response that Nana received from Ghanaians living abroad. The entire NDC machinery have gone into a propaganda overdrive trying to dampen the enthusiasm in the speeches that Nana Akufo-Addo made and hope that they have given to Ghanaians. They have used the entire government machinery, in the office of the Information Minister to package a catalogue of lies reminiscent of their 2008 campaign to deny the truths that were made bare in Nana Akufo-Addo’s speeches.
Part of the decision by the NDC delegates to sign a ‘97% suicide pact’ at Sunyani was because they dared not give an impression to Ghanaians that their Better Ghana Agenda has failed and that Nana Akufo-Addo offers the best alternative to lead Ghana from 2012.
In as much as the speeches that Nana Akufo-Addo gave have hit some home truths to the NDC, it is the enthusiasm of the listening public that they should worry about. The crowd of people who thronged to listen to Nana Akufo-Addo the Dominion Centre was unprecedented in the history of Ghanaian visitors to the UK. With only three days at the disposal of NPP UK & Ireland to put the meeting together and without any paid advert but word of mouth and acts of goodwill by the Ghanaian media in London, the 2,500 capacity Dominion Centre had both decks of the hall filled to capacity with many others who could not get in standing in the foyer of the centre.
In a Mills –Mahama’s Ghana where lies, insults, homosexuality and sakawa are the order of the day and headline news determined by scandals rather than policies, programmes and developments, the people of Ghana turned up to hear refreshing messages- messages of hope and prosperity, and they were not disappointed. From Hon Joe Ghartey’s message about Professor Mills supervising and perpetuating an umbrella of impunity and lawlessness in Ghana through Osafo Maafo’s message of Nana Akufo-Addo’s programmes and not promises to admonishing from Ms Ursula Owusu to our women to support the cause for real change, the Ghanaian people of UK nodded to every word that was uttered. When more people started streaming in the course of the night, it became clear that the 2500 capacity hall was going to exceed the health and safety limits. There were appeal for people to use the top deck but they could not be moved. When Nana started to deliver his message the decibel scale hit over 85db. (Decibel, not Jezebel please).
We are not surprised that the force of Nana Akufo-Addo’s popularity from Ghanaians both home and living abroad is sending shivers down the spine of the NDC. The NDC have in the last couple of years organised events in UK for both the President and the Vice President under the auspices of the High Commission, but the combined force of the crowd they pulled could not even match the lower tier of the crowd at Dominion Centre. With only three days to organise this town hall meeting, the unprecedented attendance can only be attributed to the measure, popularity and marketability of Nana Akufo –Addo and the yawning gap in leadership and ineptitude of the Mills-Mahama government. The simple motivation for the people coming to Wood Green therefore was to interact with Nana Akufo-Addo and to tell him their message that Ghana needs his leadership of conviction, commitment, courage, confidence and compassion. According to Nana Kusi Appiah, one of the attendees, “Ghanaians wanted a change in 2008 but in 2012 Ghanaians need a change, there is a difference between need and want and now we need a change”.
Nana paid tribute to the contribution that Ghanaians living abroad make towards Ghana’s development, especially in the $1.5 billion remittances sent home on average every year. Nana made a simple plea to Ghanaians, especially the second generation Ghanaians, to think about resettling back home and he said “it is for this reason that whenever I come over here I try to engage the community”. As a true democrat, Nana Akufo-Addo made a call for unity by acknowledging the presence of non-NPP Ghanaians in the hall, and reminded them “that is the way we want our county to move forward. We are competing with ideas to develop our nation and that means therefore all of us have to accept that we cannot think in the same way”.
As a true patriot Nana Akufo-Addo made a statement which had a profound effect on the crowd from the decibel of the applause. He said “There are bound to be difference of opinions among us but these differences of opinions should not shake our allegiance to Ghana.” “Ghana first, Ghana first”, he chorused. “The peace and stability and freedom in Ghana are more important than my own ambition” he emphasised.
Nana Akufo-Addo paid tribute to Britain’s form of democracy which is borne from unity in diversity. “The diversity, the different points of view enabled the society in any one stage to draw ideas for its governance, but it means also that at the end of the day, the oneness of the British people furthered by democracy, we want that to be the case for Ghanaian democracy as well”.
He dismissed the politics of insults by saying that we want a competition of ideas and not that of insults. “Ideas”, he said “are what will take us a long way”, much to the delight of the crowd, a speech which left some in tears with its passion and delivery.
Furthermore, Nana Akufo-Addo took the opportunity to give the attendees a taste of the key matters that the NPP intends to confront when voted back to power in 2012. He mentioned three key issues in education- redefining basic education, committing percentage of GDP to education and the Teacher First agenda. Ghana’s education, he said, was in crisis, with 150,000 boys and girls leaving the educational system at JHS level without any certificate or employable skills. At the SHS level, a further 100,000 pupils drop out bring the total of dropouts to 250,000. This is aside of the fact that 64% of pupils at JHS level cannot read or write. “How are we going to build a modern society with this sort of human resource?” he questioned. He therefore assured the crowd that there are two fundamental things that the NPP intends to do in government. “First we must redefine basic education in Ghana and we will do it by insisting that basic education should end at SHS level that is basic education... this fundamental shift is what we propose for the Ghanaian nation”. We have to expand the infrastructure and the number of teachers. He paid his respect and admiration for the teaching profession and the men and women who are in it. He said teachers are the ones who carry the task of developing young people, giving them the skills to develop our society and transform our economy. He said that teachers help to create a tolerant and socially minded people needed to create a temperate society and that is why we have to value them and reward adequately for the services they perform. He said the NPP Teacher First agenda therefore means we have to support the cause of teaching, keep them motivated through incentives, better training so that they will stay the course of our social and economic transformation.
He went on to say, “In all of this to make sure that every single Ghanaian child, born rich, born poor, born in urban areas, born in the rural areas has access to education we are going to make education in the public sector free up to SHS level. It is for me the most fundamental problem facing the nation. If we do not have an educated labour force, there is no way we can modernise our society and our economy”. He also assured the crowd that in order to have the necessary resources to enhance education, an NPP government under Nana Akufo-Addo would ensure that a law to pass to commit a certain percentage of our GDP towards education.
On the economy, he said the structure of our present day one, cannot create enough jobs. The only way forward, he suggested, was to build in structures for industrial transformation. He linked education to this industrial transformation by saying that the educational system the NPP is going to craft will aim to support this industrial transformation. Curriculum transformation, he said, is necessary if we are to craft this new educational system. More emphasis should be placed on development of science and technology.
In conclusion, Nana Akufo-Addo reiterated to wild applause his biggest conviction that “the entire world is waiting for an African success story – in democracy, progressive issues and which is also developing its economy to the satisfaction of its people- I have no doubt in my mind that under the right leadership that African success story will be the Ghanaian success story of the 21st Century”.
There was an interactive question and answer session which focussed on Ghana’s foreign policy, economy and bridging the gap between the North and South in Ghana. The panel took questions from a cross-section of the Ghanaian public present at the event.
Nana Akufo-Addo asserted his authority as a leader with a speech which thrilled the discerning Ghanaian public and gave Ghanaians hope for the future. His speech may have prompted a melodramatic response from the NDC, but among people present at the event, Nana Akufo-Addo’s speech was listened to with rapt attention and was hailed as a triumph. The praise heaped upon Nana Akufo-Addo after his lengthy standing ovation was the sort of adulation for a leader which, according to old hands, had not been heard for decades. As a gentleman pointed out to me, the event and in fact Nana Akufo-Addo’s speech was historic because it had changed Ghanaian politics forever.
Nana Akufo-Addo had ignored today's cheap political diatribe of insults, which appears to be the trademark of NDC pundits, with no fibre of malice, insults or confrontation of the NDC and chose to concentrate on the need for NPP to win the next election by appealing to power of ideas, vision, purpose and programmes, programmes that will appeal and resonate across Ghana and the world and bring prosperity to our dear motherland.

Source: Kwesi Atta-Krufi Hayford
NPP UK & Ireland