Nana Akufo- Addo with Ambassador Robert Porter Jackson
With some eight months to the holding of the November 7 elections, Nana Akufo-Addo, standard bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), has reiterated the need for the creation of a level playing field for all political parties in the country by the Electoral Commission.
“We continue to be concerned about the way the EC is handling issues ahead of the November 7 elections. The procedures and steps being taken for the elections appear to be still up in the air. There is an air of uncertainty about the whole preparatory process towards November 7. We in the NPP are not interested in a sham democracy,” he stressed.
Nana Addo made the call when Robert Porter Jackson, the new Ambassador of the United States of America to Ghana, called on him on Tuesday, at his Nima residence.
Accompanied by the Political Chief at the US Embassy, Robert Carlson, Nana Akufo-Addo told Ambassador Jackson of his concern about the November 7 elections.
On the need for a level playing field, the NPP leader said, “I am saying so because the conditions of living of our people at the moment are as bad as I have ever seen them. The impoverishment and the difficulties they are going through are placing a great deal of strain on them. Even the November 7, as I am hearing from our Members of Parliament, might even be missed. It is therefore, important that an air of confidence in the electoral process is felt by all. We need to assure our people that if it is change that they want, or if they want to maintain a government in office, they should be able to get it from our electoral process. This is how our democracy can be strengthened.”
Nana Akufo-Addo, reiterated the NPP’s commitment to peaceful elections in Ghana.
On the issue of the transfer of the two Guantanamo Bay detainees (Gitmo 2) to Ghana, which has generated a huge debate in the country, the US Ambassador explained to Nana Akufo-Addo that the transfer was done with the understanding that the United States would be responsible for the upkeep of the detainees for two years, stressing that there are similar agreements in 55 other countries.
Ambassador Jackson gave the assurance that the two detainees do not pose a threat to Ghana’s security, as they were vetted thoroughly before being transferred to Ghana.
He noted, “I understand Ghanaians are concerned, and this is largely because of misinformation and lack of information.”
Nana Akufo-Addo, in his response to the issue of Gitmo 2, noted that the issue was badly handled by the Mahama government, and had the potential of undermining the excellent relationship between Ghana and the United States of America.
The NPP flagbearer explained, “None of the institutions of state, not even parliament, were consulted on the issue. Political parties were not consulted before this decision was taken. Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians and civil society were strongly against this decision.”
When asked by Ambassador Jackson to name his three priority areas, should Ghanaians entrust the mandate of leadership into his care in the next elections, Nana Akufo-Addo stated that his first priority would be to revive Ghana’s ailing economy, and subsequently transform it from a raw material producing one to a value added economy. “The revival of the economy means the reintroduction of discipline in our fiscal management and in our monetary policy so that the right conditions for production can be created,” he maintained.
Expanding agricultural production, increase in export revenues and farmers’ incomes, through the introduction of other major cash crops in addition to cocoa, akin to the initiatives that have been undertaken in neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire, would be another major priority of an Akufo-Addo government.
“Tackling the issue of corruption in our country will be yet another major focus of my government. Now, the institutions of governance in our country are working at low levels. We need to assure our people that we are not coming into office to rip off the state, but to improve their well-being. In this regard, I plan to establish an office of an Independent Special Prosecutor to tackle corruption in a non-partisan manner. I also plan to ensure that my appointees and I are held to an acceptable standard of conduct,” Nana Addo pointed out.
Ayorkor Botchway, MP for Anyaa Sowutuom and former Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, urged the new Ambassador to take a special interest in Ghana, especially in this elections year, just as US officials took interest in the process leading to last year’s Nigerian elections.