We'll not take the mandate of the people for granted"- Mahama promises in speech to EU chapters of the NDC.
John Mahama, Flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) over the weekend joined the European chapters of his party in Amsterdam for a three-day NDC Europe Conference. In a speech at a town hall meeting, Mr. Mahama charged the party and its functionaries to step harder on the pedal and work towards an emphatic victory in 2024.
According to him, victory will not come easy and there must be a deliberate effort to tackle the biases of the Electoral Commission and the actions of the ruling party.
Please read the full speech at the town hall meeting below:
Let me first thank you all, both the Chapter and Branch executives and members from our various EU countries, for making the sacrifice and time to gather here in Amsterdam for three days to discuss the future of our party, the NDC, and how we can contribute towards an emphatic victory in December 2024.
You have rescheduled this conference twice because of other competing events, including the just-ended May 13 Presidential Primaries. I appreciate your patience with me, especially because of your determination that I must be personally present with you.
We were close to rescheduling this session once more because of the impending Assin North by-election. But it is good we decided to come and push ahead with this event, as this is also a significant gathering for strategising towards victory in the polls of 2024.
Comrades, I bring you greetings from your compatriots in Ghana, whom I had the privilege, yet again, to visit and interact with across all 276 constituencies during the primaries.
That exercise has contributed to re-invigorating our executives and members at the grassroots. It allowed us to take our message to them and the people in their constituencies, reminding them that the National Democratic Congress remains the political party to trust when it comes to the total development and welfare of the citizens of Ghana.
It is, therefore, our duty to rededicate ourselves to work with absolute commitment in our branches to secure the maximum votes to guarantee an emphatic victory in 2024. I want to repeat that we must go to the polls on December 07, 2024, with our referee. That referee will be our DILIGENCE, PREPAREDNESS and WINNING the election EMPHATICALLY.
Our 2020 election comeback, raising the number of our seats from 106 to 137 and increasing our votes by almost 1.4 million, resulted from the dedication and hard work of all of us and the support of the people of Ghana.
Ghanaians have seen the difference and believe in our message, which in 2020 was conveyed in our People's Manifesto.
Comrades, we did not become the majority party in Parliament. We were also not declared winners of the 2020 presidential elections because we left some loose ends untied in a bizarre election amidst the COVID restrictions and the economic meltdown. That is why in 2024, our win must be emphatic.
As leader and flagbearer, I offer my firm PLEDGE and assurance. I will work with the party's leadership, represented here by the General Secretary, to build a formidable team and deploy strategies and mechanisms to ensure that we protect the votes of the teeming mass of Ghanaians. These Ghanaians are yearning to be freed from the shackles of poverty and hardship inflicted by the reckless Akufo Addo and Bawumia administrations. Most Ghanaians are ready to work with us to build the Ghana we all want together.
When I spoke at the commemoration of the 44th anniversary of the June 4th uprising in Hohoe on Sunday, I likened the 2024 elections to a peaceful and democratic revolution which will free our country and our people from the clutches of misrule from a mediocre, reckless, and incompetent government.
What we are gathered here to do is a declaration of intent by those of you in the diaspora to join the broad mass of Ghanaians in the collective push to dislodge this clueless administration through a peaceful, free, and fair election in 2024. This is an absolute national imperative, and we cannot and must not fail the people of Ghana.
It has been seven years of corruption, waste, arrogance, nepotism, abuse of office, human rights violations, and economic mismanagement. Seven years of reckless mismanagement of the economy has rendered our people broken and struggling to survive from one day to the next.
The Ghanaian economy is now classified among the worst managed in the world. We are currently in the same basket as the likes of Sri Lanka.
Ghana, our beloved country? Nkrumah's Ghana?
Inflation is at record highs – impacting the prices of essential goods and services and escalating an already severe cost of living crisis. Our currency, the Ghana Cedi, has suffered one of its steepest declines in decades. This has earned the Cedi the depressing accolade, at one point, as the worst-performing currency in the world.
Businesses are stressed and being pushed to the brink, with quite a number left with no choice but to fold up or relocate to neighbouring countries. The Bank of Ghana has exacerbated the problem. It has blatantly breached its financial threshold, printing over 40 billion Ghana cedis to finance the government's budget deficit.
In the last two years, we have suffered downgrade after downgrade to junk status by all the international credit rating agencies, and we have finally defaulted on our domestic and external debt repayment. The unilateral, insensitive debt restructuring programme has seen over GHS 80 billion lent by millions of Ghanaians to the government by purchasing bonds expropriated.
This has caused severe dislocation in the livelihoods of many pensioners and middle-class Ghanaian families. It has led to a depressing sight of aged pensioners picketing at the Ministry of Finance to demand their money. Local businesses, especially contractors and other government service providers are owed tens of billions of Ghana cedis, whose value continues to dwindle following the government's inability or unwillingness to pay.
Government can also not meet all statutory payments, and many of the earmarked funds are in arrears. Even the most fundamental obligations, such as providing textbooks to primary schools or ensuring proper and consistent feeding of basic and senior high school students, have become daunting. The net effect of all these harrowing developments has been that Ghanaians are enduring economic suffering on an unprecedented scale.
I am certain that you are all too familiar with the precise narrative I have just rendered for those of you in the diaspora on whom millions of your relatives and compatriots back home depend for sustenance through remittances. All this would have been entirely avoidable if this government had heeded sound counsel from us in the opposition and other notable voices in civil society and academia and acted timeously.
The deliberate concealment of the actual situation through creative accounting and under-declaration of figures has combined with excessive and wasteful expenditure to hasten the inevitable catastrophe we are witnessing today.
Ultimately, too little was done too late, as our economy had so deteriorated that an IMF programme could only be secured by accepting the harshest conditionalities. To obtain an IMF programme, Ghanaians have paid a disproportionate price. Domestic bondholders have been given severe and painful haircuts and will be deprived of substantial interest due to them in 2023.
The consequences of these haircuts are grave for the financial sector. The financial health of Ghanaian banks has eroded and will undermine the financial sector's performance with attendant job losses.
Insurance companies and pension funds invested in government bonds will also suffer, just as individuals who depend on pension payments for survival will suffer.
In addition to this already hostile economic environment, multiple taxes have been slapped on Ghanaians in the last two years alone. Over 23 other tax measures will make life even more unbearable for our people. Steep increases in the cost of utilities are increasing the burden on businesses and individuals.
Import duties and excise duties have shot through the roof. No wonder the Tema and Takoradi Ports have lost volumes while the Togo and Benin ports continue to be busy and receiving goods that should have come through our ports.
Ladies and gentlemen, one of the burning topics for discussion in Ghana today is the rate at which we are losing our (health) professionals, trained at great expense, to other countries.
I sympathise with the Ghanaian youth! Their feeling of despair and hopelessness is unprecedented in our history. They are now looking for the slightest opportunity to leave our shores in search of greener pastures.
The question we should ask ourselves is, how will we bring back HOPE in the Ghanaians in the face of their daily challenges? As the most viable alternative, we in the NDC have demonstrated the capacity to rise to the occasion by our record in government. In the past, we have reset our country's trajectory and returned it to an appreciable state of health. We have a duty to our country to lead the charge for change again and bring relief to the long-suffering people of Ghana.
Comrades, it would be presumptuous to think that this will come quickly or that the abysmal depths to which the NPP has sunk governance guarantees us automatic victory at the polls. We must first earn the trust of the Ghanaian people.
A significant section of voters has grown sceptical and are weary of our democracy and its benefits because of unmet expectations and the spectacular failure of this government.
I urge you all to remember, through our actions and the policy platforms to canvass, demonstrate the difference between our service in government and the nightmarish example the NPP has set.
We have been in power, and our record is there for all to see. We do not claim perfection, but we in the NDC can never be like the NPP. We simply cannot be and are not as reckless and contemptuous of the people of Ghana as the NPP has been. We have never been and will not be as wasteful, ostentatious, and as imprudent as the NPP has been.
We have committed to operating a lean government that avoids the NPP's extravagance and gets the job done more efficiently. Nothing in our historical record compares to the level of economic mismanagement that the NPP has superintended.
The NDC believes in substantive offerings, carefully considered, and curated to stand the test of time while comprehensively resolving some of our most complex problems.
We have no intention of taking the mandate of the people of Ghana for granted. We know we are going against an incumbent government that has proven that it is prepared to shed the blood of its citizens to hang on to power, as they amply showed at the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election and the 2020 elections. And then there is an Electoral Commission whose neutrality in this electoral contest is questionable.
Our work is therefore cut out for us. We must get off our marks immediately and convince Ghanaians that we are prepared to govern in addition to our superior record to that of the NPP.
The first step towards doing that is proving that we can manage our internal affairs, which is why this European Conference is significant. It offers a platform for sharing unique insights into better organisational strategies and innovative approaches to mobilising the people of Ghana for a resounding victory in 2024.
The NDC profoundly values your contributions towards the running of the party and the brilliant perspectives you bring to the table on essential governance matters. The party also acknowledges your concerns about participation in elections and governance.
Of particular concern to you have been the constitutional impediments to persons holding dual citizenship and their occupation of some government positions in Ghana. Only a few weeks ago, we suffered what we consider grave injustice when our Member of Parliament for Assin North was thrown out of Parliament by the Supreme Court on grounds we find entirely unsatisfactory.
I have previously indicated that one of the things I will do when elected President in 2024 would be to fast-track the clarification of the constitutional provision on allegiance that bars our dual citizens from holding some offices in Ghana. I call on Parliament to do the needful so that Ghana can benefit fully from the expertise that our citizens have garnered during their sojourn abroad.
Another matter which I know concerns you and on which I would like to offer some clarity concerning the NDC's position is ROPAA. We in the NDC have not been opposed to ROPAA in principle. We have kicked against the potential for selective and inequitable implementation that lends itself to exploitation by the incumbent party and to the unfair detriment of opposition parties.
We have said that if ROPAA is ever to be implemented, it should be implemented for every Ghanaian living everywhere. As far as we are concerned, a Ghanaian living in Europe should not have a greater right to vote than one living in Asia or Africa.
We in the NDC will not countenance an attempt or conspiracy between the NPP and the Electoral Commission to implement a lopsided ROPAA favouring the NPP. When we see that a level playing field will be created for all Ghanaians anywhere on earth to have the right to vote, we will be more than willing to support such a move.
We continue to value your contributions to the development of Ghana even as life's vicissitudes have ensured that you reside in far and distant lands to either ply your trade and earn a living or pursue some form of personal development.
I am confident that the deliberations, which started yesterday, will ultimately inure to the benefit of the NDC and provide further impetus to our preparations to salvage the fortunes of our country, which are presently in great peril. We back at home are doing our bit as well and strengthening the cooperation between the national and external branches of the party.
Comrades, our meeting today, June 10, coincides with the 33rd anniversary of the formation of our great party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Congratulations to the founding fathers and mothers of our party and to us all who continue to build and hold the party aloft across the almost 40,000 branches.
We acknowledge all our lost comrades in the struggle, and especially our Founder, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings (Rtd.), former President Professor John Evans Atta Mills and former Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur.
Later this month, the 29th, is the memorial of the late Amissah-Arthur, and we will be joining the family at an event to remember his work and contributions to building a Better Ghana.
On July 24th, we will celebrate the memory of the late Asomdwehene, as we always do, and I intend on that day as part of the commemoration to remind Ghanaians of his contribution to Ghana in various forms and how we can learn from him to step-up the development of the country, in the wake of the depths the NPP has sunk us.
Together with his family, the people of Keta and Anlo and the larger NDC family, we must, and I will host a gathering in November to celebrate the memory of our late Founder, Jerry Rawlings, in his native Keta.
I thank you for your kind attention.
I wish everyone a successful congress.
God bless the NDC, and God bless our homeland Ghana.
I thank you for your kind attention.