Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the 2016 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), has declared that the stakes are high in the 2016 elections if the government refused to address the issues of a new electoral register.
He has,therefore, called on the international community to keep its focus firmly locked on Ghana ahead of the conduct of the 2016 elections, despite the country being held up as an example for the rest of Africa to follow.
This was contained in a press release from the office of the flag bearer.
‘’With Ghanaians yearning for a change in their circumstances after being plagued by economic hardships and rampant corruption over the last seven years, coupled with President Mahama desperately looking for a second term in office, though his NDC government would have spent eight years in office by 2016, the stakes are certainly high”, Nana Akufo-Addo explained.
Delivering a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a leading Think Tank in Washington on Tuesday, October 20, the NPP flag bearer stated that one of the perplexing state stories in the last decade had been how things had gone spectacularly wrong for Ghana, vividly captured by an article in the Bloomberg titled ‘Ghana's Success Story Goes Dark’.
“Even we in opposition did not think our rivals could make things get this bad. What is frustrating for Ghanaians is that we believe it is all, in essence, avoidable.
“We believe we have what it takes to make Ghana work again. So my task is not to deepen the gloom but to give both Ghanaians and the investor community a reason to hope. That, yes, the story today may be bad but change is coming,” he gave an assurance.
Mismanagement of economy
The reasons informing the clarion call for change in Ghana, Akufo-Addo said, stem from the mismanagement of Ghana’s economy, rising cost of living, rising cost of doing business in Ghana, rising levels of unemployment, as well as rampant and widespread cases of corruption, among other such things, under the government of John Mahama.
Ghana’s public debt, he said, had shot up 1,000 per cent in less than seven years during which the NDC had been in office, with the country spending GH¢9.5 billion to service interest payments on loans alone, a figure representing Ghana’s entire debt stock in 2009 when President JA Kufuor and the NPP left office.
Additionally, Nana Akufo-Addo noted that over the last three years, social and economic lives of the people had been heavily disrupted by dumsor, the cost of which has been estimated to be $2.2 million a day, equivalent to seven per cent of Ghana’s GDP according to calculations made by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER).
“Corruption is perceived to be at an all-time high. Investor confidence is low. Unemployment is worsening as businesses are folding; cost of borrowing is at 35 per cent; inflation keeps rising at 17.5 per cent; cost of living is high; our cedi has been one of the world’s worst-performing currencies over the last couple of years. Depreciation and our inability to pay our bills forced Ghana to apply for an IMF bailout last year. This has put a 10 per cent cap in wage increases, way below the rate of inflation, making people poorer, and a cap on public sector hiring as well,” the NPP flag bearer said.
‘Crooked election’ in 2016 if
Ghana’s democracy, Akufo-Addo added is under threat, with “our fraudulent voter register” constituting the biggest issue facing the country’s young democracy.
The voters register, he said, was bloated as it contained millions of extra names, adding that “it is estimated that upwards of 10 per cent of the registered voters are bogus. It is packed with ineligible underage voters, and foreign and fake identities.”
This situation, according to him, was unacceptable for a country where a margin of 40,000 votes can determine who wins an election.
“This is a real problem, the kind that cannot be brushed under the carpet,” he stressed.
Recapping issues surrounding the compilation of the 2012 biometric voters’ register, Nana Akufo-Addo stated that after the registration exercise was complete, the Electoral Commission told Ghanaians that it had captured details of some 13 million Ghanaians, and would embark on the process of cleaning up the register. Strangely, after the ‘cleaning exercise’, the figure shot up to some 14 million people.
Additionally, with Ghana’s median age being 20 years and 8 months, and with over two million of population being foreigners, it is shocking that the country has over 55 per cent of the population registered to vote, explaining that “this is by far the highest in the whole of Africa and its young population.”
The NPP, Nana Akufo-Addo said to the audience,has presented evidence of tens of thousands of cross-border registration of non-nationals on the register to the EC, with its case further strengthened by three of the big five political parties, who have also called for a new register.
“Our two living former heads of state, religious leaders, Imams, Christian Council, Catholic Bishop Conference, etc, also want a changed register,” he added.
He continued, “Ghana has worked incredibly hard to preserve her democratic character, one administration shouldn't be allowed to undermine it. The hope is that the global community takes notice and urges change before the election. Rather than looking back at the 2016 election, shaking their heads saying ‘how did this happen’? We're telling you exactly how it's going to happen. All the pieces are in place for a crooked election.”
To the gathering, comprising former senior White House officials, US ambassadors, CEOs of major corporations and Steve Forbes of Forbes publications, Nana Akufo-Addo concluded by stressing that “as Africans, we have witnessed election-related violence tear countries apart. We know what we risk should the government refuse to address these problems.”