Friday, June 13, 2008

Akufo-Addo on National Awards, Drugs & Corruption

The 2008 Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party has finally broken his silence on an issue that has caused some controversy in the nation over the past few weeks – the nomination of Prof John Evans Atta Mills to receive the highest honour of the land from President John Agyekum Kufuor.

Speaking to top African and black media personnel in London yesterday, including Cameron Duodo and Komla Dumor, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was asked if choosing to honour Prof Mills this election year was improper.

He said he had no problem with that and in fact welcomes signals from government that there is a determination to deepen Ghana's democratic culture.

He was, nevertheless, acutely aware of the propaganda value of the award's timing to an opposition party that had very little of substantial value to offer to Ghanaians.

"The opposition has stretched every sinew of propaganda to suggest that this award is an endorsement. That's just politics and I have no problem with that. There's nothing particularly clever about that," he said.

"But, I don't believe this award, if given, would distort the issues" or shift focus from the pertinent things that are occupying the minds of the electorate. "They are looking for the kind of leadership that they can trust to deliver and enhance the quality of their lives."

Nana Akufo-Addo said, Ghanaians should see the award system and the non-partisan way that President Kufuor has moved it to as another example of efforts by the NPP to enhance confidence in the democratic governance of Ghana and not worry too much over how the NDC would exploit it.

However, no award could shield the leadership of the NDC from having the substance of their record in office properly scrutinised and duly compared to that of the NPP, he stated.

He also said that no award would stop Ghanaians from demanding to know the details of programmes the competing political parties have to offer for the future.

Preferred Candidate

Taking questions here from the UK black media personnel at the Novotel Hotel, Lambeth Road, London, Nana Akufo-Addo was asked what would make him the preferred candidate.

His response was that Ghanaians were not prepared to see the gains within the last decade being rolled back after December 2008. They want a leader who has the record and programmes that could inspire confidence for the big task ahead, which included fighting poverty and expanding the fields of prosperity.

He said Ghanaians were looking for a strong leadership that could be trusted to fight vigorously against crime, corruption, inefficiency and demand a greater quality of service from the public sector.

Ghanaians would vote for the kind of leadership that the private sector could trust to protect and promote it.

Ghanaians would vote for the kind of leadership that would protect the vulnerable, and expand access to free education and free healthcare, Nana Akufo-Addo said.

He argued that President Kufuor had built a solid foundation but it required a solid, confident, incorruptible, responsible, compassionate, trustworthy and bold leadership to translate the macro-economic gains into transforming the economy, ensuring that the laws of the land worked and that a modern society could be built where every Ghanaian felt free to participate and excel.

"It is important to make sure that Ghana is irreversibly a democracy," where the government can trust the people to freely engage in activities that enhance their lives and benefit society in general, the 2008 NPP Presidential Candidate stated.


Nana Akufo-Addo also tackled growing concerns over Ghana's reputation as a lucrative transit hub for narcotics trafficking.

"The whole of our region is under siege," he said, referring to the West African coast becoming increasingly the preferred choice for the drug smugglers.

Nana Akufo-Addo therefore called for collective regional efforts in fighting the drug menace.

He also called for more to be done in strengthening the institutions mandated to fight crime, especially the drug trade.

He, however, cautioned against seeing the rising number of arrests as indication of growth in the trade in Ghana.

"It does not mean that suddenly Ghana has become a major transit point for hard drugs. I believe a lot more is being done in apprehending the culprits today than it was the case in the past. But, like many things in Ghana, we have a long way to go in fighting off the criminals. The task ahead is to build up the capacity of the Ghanaian state to serve the nation and the people far better than we have so far done," he underlined.

Nana Akufo-Addo said rather than cutting down the size of government, he would focus on strengthening the institutions of state. He said it was difficult to apprehend and punish criminals when the Attorney General Department has only one lawyer in some regions.

He called against the kind of cynicism that presupposes that corruption, for instance, was a well-entrenched culture that could not be defeated, as suggested by one journalist.

He said it was the responsible of both the state and citizens to ensure that laws were enforced. Once crimes are detected, the laws of the land must also be allowed to work and deal with the culprits without fear or favour.

He said, under his leadership, he would fight corruption with vigour and also help the cause of strengthening the integrity of the system "by leading by example."

He said the difficulties in the economy, being instigated by rising cost of crude oil and food, was a global phenomenon.

Hopefully, Ghanaians can today look ahead with growing confidence that there is a very bright future ahead. The task is to keep the nation on track.


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