Full text: Mahama’s speech at outdooring of Naana Opoku-Agyemang
Members of the Council of Elders of our great party,
The National Chairman, General Secretary and all members of the National Executive Committee
The Campaign Manager and Members of the National Campaign Team
Professor Naana Jane Opoku- Agyemang,
The good people of Ghana
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you very much for making the time to join us, from all over our beautiful country, and across the world.
Today, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is taking our country, Ghana, on yet another positive and progressive journey.
Two weeks ago, in compliance with the constitution of the NDC, I announced to the Council of Elders and the National Executive Committee, my choice of Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as Running Mate for the December 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.
With Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, I can say confidently that we have made the best choice for Ghana.
I have – partnering with me, by the Grace of God, a Vice Presidential aspirant who complements and will ensure that we present to the people of Ghana, a winning, credible and an experienced ticket.
Today’s momentous occasion is not only for our great party, the NDC. It is also for every single Ghanaian who cares about Ghana and is interested in seeing our nation reach the optimal level of progress, shared opportunities and prosperity that we are capable of attaining.
Professor Opoku-Agyemang is the first female to be selected by one of the two major political parties that have won all elections in our country since the start of the 4th Republic in 1992.
Indeed, the NDC remains the most successful political party in the history of Ghana. We have won four out of the seven Presidential elections since the days of President Jerry John Rawlings in 1992.
With the support of the Ghanaian people and by the grace of God, we will win our 5th election in December 2020 to bring development to all our citizens in every corner of Ghana to advance social justice.
The choice of Professor Opoku-Agyemang is over and above affirmative action because she is more than qualified to serve as Vice President.
She is a woman who has contributed to shattering the many glass ceilings that have held women down for generations, by becoming the first female to lead and manage a public university in Ghana.
As I described her in my statement following the announcement, she is “God-fearing, a distinguished scholar, a conscientious public servant and a role model.”
The NDC has a lot to show when it comes to putting women at the forefront of leadership. Femalesconstitute about 50% of Ghana’s population andwomen form the majority of Ghana’s human resource. They must lead to advance our nation’s progress.
And we have been vindicated at every turn by the sterling output of these highfliers.
It was the NDC that presented Ghana’s first female Speaker of Parliament, the first female Foreign Minister, the first female Attorney General, the first female Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, the first female Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education and the first female Chairperson of the Council of State.
There are a host of other key positions where our women distinguished themselves and elevated the name and image of Ghana with their first-rate performance.
Unlike the NPP, we in the NDC, recognise and appreciate the knowledge, industry, passion, creativity and problem-solving skills of our women.
With Professor Opoku-Agyemang, the NDC has once again stayed with our true course, and advanced a step further in our established philosophy of inclusivity by boldly presenting one of our best in intellect and character, as our party’s Running Mate.
Together with Naana Jane, we will work with you, each and every Ghanaian, to place our country back on the track of progress, opportunities for all and shared prosperity.
This, we will build on the foundation of social justice, self-belief, unity, integrity, transparency and accountability.
Working together with Naana Jane, a brilliant and accomplished woman, I have no doubt that God’s grace will shine on us in the elections of December 2020.
I am convinced that with her zeal for service and her unquestionable integrity, she will greatly impact the developmental focus of our activities as a Party and Government.
She has already begun her policy briefing sessions as incoming Vice President, ready and willing to work hard for Ghanaians.
Naana’s impeccable record is endless and her reach across various sectors is overwhelmingly impressive.
For example, I was glad when one of her sterling contributions to academia and health care as my Minister for Education sequenced the genome of the virus, which causes Coronavirus disease. I am referring to the establishment of the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens.
Leading the transformation of the educational sector as our Minister for Education, our Running Mate supervised the achievement of many great feats that make me proud to be working with her.
She converted Polytechnics into fully-fledged Technical Universities, supervised the upgrading of the Colleges of Education into tertiary institutions and led the negotiations that secured the World Bank funding for the flagship Secondary Education Improvement Project (SEIP) that saw the major upgrading of facilities in Senior High Schools and the construction of 23 Community Day Senior High Schools.
Furthermore, facilities in 50 less endowed Senior High Schools and 75 under-performing Senior High Schoolswere upgraded.
Working with the educational unions and traditional authorities, teacher absenteeism was reduced during her tenure from 27% to 7%. Naana Jane also improved the quality of basic education which resulted in Ghana’s all-time best BECE performance, introduced the private BECE, and recruited 2,400 mathematics and science teachers as a special intervention to improve teaching and learning at the Senior Secondary level.
She also achieved Ghana’s overall best performing WASSCE nation award by WAEC for four consecutive years when she served as Minister.
During the period of her tenure, the Ministry of Education engaged more than 40,000 newly recruited teachers.
As you will all recall, we abolished the quota system at the Colleges of Education, leading to an increase in enrolment from 9,000 to 15,400, creating more teaching opportunities for our youth.
It was under Professor Opoku-Agyemang that teachers were automatically posted without National Service and Licensure Examinations.
My brothers and sisters, having worked closely with Naana, what I salute about her, and the world acknowledges and equally celebrates as true, is the fact that she is an achiever of unquestionable integrity, a resourceful and results-driven leader.
It is regrettable that following my announcement of her as my running mate, several key leaders of the NPP Administration and party launched a barrage of misogynistic attacks at her just on the basis of her gender. These attacks are unacceptable and most unfortunate. This is not what the severely distressed people of Ghana deserve at this time.
We surely can do better.
Our politics has devolved into one of insults, intimidation and unfortunately in many cases has become increasingly violent.
This is an anathema to the sustainability of the health and wealth of our Republic, fought for and won through the blood and toils of our forebears.
As servant-leaders, we pledge to abide by the ethics of a clean campaign devoid of insults. We shall present our message to the people of Ghana in a clear and succinct manner.
We also pledge that our promises would be a sacred social contract that will be honoured and not betrayed.This pledge is to all, including our compatriots, who have lost interest, faith and hope in our politics.
We will change the face of our politics so that no one will be considered less Ghanaian or more Ghanaian than the other on the basis of ownership of a political party card.
Let’s face it! There are many Ghanaians who do not belong to the NPP, the NDC or any recognisable political party. They detest the persistent acrimony associated with our politics. They do not have a party card and yet they contribute significantly to build our country.
Today, we are witnessing a course of action never before seen in our history. So there is hope for them.
Indeed, the selection of Professor Opoku-Agyemang as our Running Mate is a demonstration of the many bold and progressive changes the next NDC Administration,that I will lead, will embark upon.
The involvement of women in the decision-making process will not end at the level of Vice President. We will work towards the attainment of a minimum of 30% of all appointments going to women.
We have an opportunity in this election, as Ghanaians, to fully give meaning to gender equality and also to have a highly educated and disciplined woman placed in a critical position to influence policy and shape the nation’s destiny.
We will implement a set of robust health policies and plans aimed at aggressively tackling and reducing maternal mortality by half from the current 319 per 100,000 live births.
We shall ensure female socio-economic empowerment, enact the Spousal Rights Law, establish exclusive and secured shelters for abused women and children, and provide opportunities for all.
Ladies and gentlemen, as a Social Democratic Party, we seek to harness the best qualities in all our people to transform the destiny of our nation.
In that direction, and as the fulcrum around which our Health Policy will evolve, we will before the end of 2021, introduce and begin the implementation of a Free Primary Health Care Plan.
This will make the provision of primary health care to all Ghanaians, young and elderly, FREE. Our free health care plan will guarantee a healthy people and provide the healthy workforce needed to accelerate our development.
My brothers and sisters, the 2020 election will be a referendum on the four years of Nana Akufo-Addo’s presidency – four years of nepotism, corruption, stagnation, deliberate abandoning of badly needed social infrastructure, dehumanisation, disenfranchising Ghanaians, stripping Ghanaians of their citizenship, deliberate collapse of indigenous Ghanaian businesses, massive job losses and the attendant socio-economic hardship.
This will be a referendum on the term of a president who has no real solutions for Ghana, a president, hell-bent on doing whatever it takes to stay in power – including, against sound advice, replacing the very voters register, which brought him into office.
My heart goes out to the many who have been affected by this Government’s unjustifiable collapse of Ghanaian-owned financial institutions.
It is heart-wrenching to hear Government officials justify the huge amounts it is spending to manage the impact of the collapse, now put at 21 billion Ghana Cedis.
I weep for the many who have lost their jobs, the many who have lost their businesses, the many who have lost their livelihood among others.
I pledge on behalf of the NDC that we shall pay within one year all who have funds locked up with the collapsed financial institutions. Within one year. I promise!
We shall not put up any long-term payment plans that will further worsen the living conditions of the victims.
As has been introduced in other economies, the next NDC Administration will establish a Financial Services Authority that will be responsible for ensuring that consumer financial markets work for consumers, providers and the economy as a whole.”
The Authority will oversee all financial products and services that are offered to consumers, and will effectively and efficiently prevent and stop the challenges that have confronted customers of Menzgold, DKM among others.
We will restore Ghanaian indigenous investment in the banking and financial sector through a tiered banking structure in order to restore viable credit sources for Ghanaian SMEs. We will make amends for those whose businesses were collapsed due to political victimization.
We will send all contractors with valid contracts who have been sitting at home for 4 years without being paid for legitimate work done for government back to site.
We will make immediate arrangements to pay them their hard-earned monies deliberately with held by the Nana Addo administration due to politics.
Ladies and gentlemen, weak infrastructure does not propel growth and improvements in the quality of lives of a people.
This is precisely why, during my Presidency, I took aggressive steps to develop and consolidate our healthcare infrastructure, our educational infrastructure, our transport infrastructure and our digital infrastructure.
This is how to build a resilient nation.
Without creating and consolidating a developed infrastructure, no nation can resist global shocks. Just imagine for a second, how Ghana would have been without the University of Ghana Medical Centre and the Ga East District Hospital as the number of COVID-19 cases keep rising.
The speed of building and consolidating our infrastructure has slowed down because the current government is largely ignoring the infrastructural buffers that build resilience in the face of misfortune.
The NDC believes in Ghana’s future and will addressthe issues that affect you, each and every one of us.
We will build a peaceful, secure and strong economythat provides sustainable jobs through a transformed, industrialised and digital economy.
We will reinforce the independence of state institutions such as the Electoral Commission, Auditor General’s Department, EOCO and CHRAJ.
Single sourced procurement – sole sourcing – will be an exception not the rule.
In pursuance of social justice, I will vigorously push through a constitutional review that creates a fairer and just emoluments system and removes the distortions between Article 71 Office-holders and other public sector employees.
We will as part of an Integrity for Development action plan, launch “Operation Sting.” Operation Sting is an anti-corruption crusade, which under my watch will involve massive, far reaching and practical governmental reforms. It will be ruthless against all corrupt political appointees and public sector workers.
It will be a requirement for all who serve in my Government to publish their assets declaration and have same audited by the Auditor General.
Of course, the elephantine-size government of 125 ministers we have been burdened with for four years will be reduced drastically. The savings made from emoluments of reduced number of ministers and the privileges they enjoy will be channelled towards paying Assembly Members to perform the function of collecting accurate births and deaths information in their various electoral areas.
My brothers and sisters, tonight is for my Running Mate. I will leave the rest for my Policy Dialogue Sessions, and the launch of our Manifesto in August, during which we will discuss and debate the NDC’s solutions and plans for our country.
Our plans include an aggressive job and entrepreneurial programme in the public and private sector; that will deliver a minimum 250,000 jobs everyyear. A total of 1,000,000 jobs across the country by the end of my term in office in 2024. We will put Ghanaians to work to earn a decent living.
Congratulations Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang – the first female Vice Chancellor of a Public University in Ghana – on your selection and acceptance as our party’s Running Mate. Together, we have made the best choice for Ghana!
You have my fullest support, the support of the NDC and the support of millions of Ghanaians, including young people whom you have either directly trained in your long career as an educationist of repute or those you have inspired by your stellar achievements.
We cannot fail them!
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang. By the Grace of God, and the will of the Ghanaian people, the next Vice President of the Republic of Ghana.