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Politics of Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Source: The Statesman

Apraku: Race is between Akufo-Addo

And I, but I'm winning 'one touch'

He was scheduled to be the second candidate to be vetted yesterday, but Kofi Konadu Apraku, a New Patriotic Party presidential aspirant, who received his notification late, was in the middle of his 10-day tour to Europe and North America. When The Statesman reached to apologise to him for a misleading information put out Monday, Dr Apraku was categorical: "The contest is between Akufo-Addo and I and I'm confident I'll beat him."

He said it would have been preposterous for him to have said anywhere that he would support Akufo-Addo or any other candidate in a run-off, if he failed to make it as one of the top two. "Akufo-Addo may also say he?s winning. On the ground it?s just the two of us and I know I?ll beat him." He criticized The Statesman for giving undue publicity to candidates who are not actually on the ground. "The story on the ground has not been truly reflected by your reports. We?ve done a lot of work on the ground." He believes publications and surveys which put Akufo-Addo, Alan Kyerematen and Aliu Mahama ahead of him as wishful.

The former Trade & Industry Minister, who also served as NEPAD Minister, Dr Apraku says he is the only candidate who has come up with a comprehensive vision for Ghana and that he is ready to debate other NPP presidential aspirants if the platform is created for them to tell the people why they want to be president. The 44-page booklet, 'My Vision for Ghana - Apraku for President? outlines his achievements, vision for ICT, tourism, education, agriculture, health, foreign relations, industrialization, etc.

Drawing extensive inspiration from Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan, especially, Dr Apraku says, "My vision is to build a new Ghana that honours individual achievement? a government that will no longer be able to grow faster than ordinary people?s ability to pay for it can grow."

He continues, "My vision is a new economic strategy that provides every person and every organization the means to be more productive."

In the telephone interview with The Statesman, the MP for Offinso North said he was highly disappointed with the Monday publication. "Nana and I have an excellent relationship and such stories are not healthy," he said in reference to the report that he was prepared to throw his conditional weight behind his colleague/competitor.

Before leaving Accra, Dr Apraku, has charged his colleague aspirants in the party?s flagbearership race to run their campaigns based on critical issues facing the nation rather than engaging in trivial matters which are not important to the country?s development. According to him, some of the campaign messages have become merely empty marketing tools, lacking substance on how such pledges may be met.

"This election is not about slogans, names, and money, it?s about issues," Dr Apraku declares. His message comes on the heels of a similar criticism from another aspirant, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, that some aspirants are promising jobs without saying how they intend to create jobs. Jake said this on Metro TV?s Good Evening Ghana last Thursday. Dr Apraku has also spoken strongly on the allegation that money is being dished out to potential delegates nationwide by some New Patriotic Party presidential hopefuls to woo their votes in December 22 at the national delegates congress. He has reminded his fellow aspirants and delegates that it has never been the case that the presidential slot goes to the richest bidder. He cited Adu Boahen in the 1992, John Agyekum Kufuor in the 1996 and 1998 congresses as examples. Dr Apraku came third in 1998.

"If you want to serve the people, you don?t pay them to vote for you. Giving out money, I believe is not the surest way to win," the aspirant stressed.

He drew a distinction between giving food, snacks or transport fares to constituency meeting attendants and the alleged dishing out of huge monies to the potential delegates. Talking about his chances in the crowded race, Dr Apraku, a proactive founding member of the NPP, said what the NPP delegates should look out for is a true party man who is loyal, dedicated, committed, and who stood by the party when the going was tough whilst in opposition. "I have assisted every constituency nationwide when it was not fashionable to do so, the people are not fools, they have their own practical commonsense. And I think I will win this race," Dr Apraku confidently declared.