Speech by Honourable Samia Nkrumah , MP Chairperson and Leader of the Convention People’s Party
On the Occasion of the Party’s Congress
on 12th May 2012 at Sekondi, Essipon Stadium.
First accept my appreciation and sincere thanks to you all on behalf of the national team for the steadfastness and unshakable loyalty that you loudly demonstrated to the whole world during the last few turbulent months, a period in which your party was severely tested and threatened from within. You stood firm by your leaders and confronted the threat to the admiration of all.
The challenge of our recent past was not the first of its kind: Our history is replete with bombings, coup d’états, conspiracies and betrayals and yet we are still standing. We have been banned, banished, exiled and incarcerated and yet they could not kill our spirit or determination. By now it should be clear to all those who wish us harm that no circumstance can destroy our dear Party.
Long Live the CPP!
Long live our party
Your determination to protect and defend your party is no surprising because you are descendents of a great tradition that refuses to die. We are the seed that is germinating, the rod that came out of the stem of freedom and self-determination, we are the branch that is growing out of the roots of Akosombo Dam, Tema city and harbour, free and compulsory education, hundreds of industries, the young pioneers, the workers brigades, all-embracing national unity, and every other good thing that ushered modern Ghana into being.
Our great mentor and leader, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the founder of our nation and the African of the Millennium said, “As far as I am concerned I am happy in the knowledge that death can never extinguish the torch which I have lit in Ghana: Long after I am dead and gone, it will continue to burn and be borne aloft, giving light and guidance to the people of Ghana.” Nothing could, and no circumstance, can kill our spirit. Long live all those keeping the flame burning, the CPP, the PNC, the GCPP, and all others in the wider Nkrumaists family.
The enthusiasm and electric atmosphere you have created today is a vivid illustration of the fact that your commitment to your party has not been in vain.
We meet today as a more cohesive, energised and focused party with all of us determined to take our place in the hearts and minds of Ghanaians as a party of sincerity and purpose. With your support we have embarked on a programme for renewing our party’s structures and systems beginning with a centralised databank of our membership. Our new strategy has already been shared with the National Executive Committee and will be shared with you through workshops with the membership at large. By the time we enter full campaign mode we would have upgraded our administration, communications, fundraising and overall strategy to become a modern dynamic party, the Party we were always meant to be, the Party that will change the direction of policy in Ghana, the Party of Freedom. This is why we are relevant, admired even by our political opponents and sometimes feared as a political force. We were born to put Ghana to work and make great.
Today marks a new phase in our progress. Our September Congress held in our great capital, Accra, set the tone for our 2012 campaign. Our direction is set with the clarity and certainty of our political thought. Today, we are inspired by being in this historic city of Sekondi, the capital of the Western Region, the region that has given us our only Parliamentarian should be the region that will give us ten more Parliamentarians.
Our main task on this occasion is to elect our party’s presidential candidate for the 2012 national elections. Our chosen theme for this Congress is “Ghana must work again, Yabre!”. This has been carefully crafted to give powerful philosophical meanings at several levels. When our election campaign takes off in earnest in a few days time, our campaign theme which is also the theme for this congress will resonate amongst our citizens and give meaning to their aspirations.
Our presidential contestants are both long standing members of the CPP and you all know them well. With our collective support, the winner will go on to lead our effort in presenting to the nation the policies and programmes we will govern with. Our overarching role is to lead and direct our nation to become a truly self-reliant and prosperous nation.
The State of Our Nation
a. The Economy
Our dissatisfaction with the state of affairs of the nation’s economy and the society as a whole is very deep indeed. After 53 years of independence, Ghanaians are yet to take control of their nation and it’s Economy. The very large spread between the national Budget Revenue and Expenditure, as well as that between our Export earnings and Imports gives a clear indication of how heavily the country depends on international financial and Technical assistance.
The domestic economy continues to evolve around subsistence agriculture. Agric production is still primitive, the use of simple implements such as cutlasses and hoe adversely affects productivity. Agro culture is almost totally rain fed and results are unpredictable. Poverty amongst farmers is prevalent and they contribute the highest number to the 31% of population under the poverty line. Coupled with an exploitative and tenuous land Tenure system the youth of the rural areas have become more and more disinterested in agriculture. Migration of able bodied youth to urban centres is of major concern as pressure on the limited urban infrastructure increases and crime becomes rampant.
Manufacturing has not faired any better. The Sector which should have provided employment opportunities for our trained manpower contributes just 3-4% of GDP. Dominated by foreign interests, the indigenous Ghanaian industrialist now has very little stake in manufacturing and has turned his/her attention to imports. Even in the light Industrial Sector where our citizens were visible and vibrant up to the late 70’s, the uncontrolled liberalization of import under the pressure of international financial institutions have driven the Ghanaian industrialist into less powerful and less lucrative sectors such as Distribution and Retail. On top of all these is the steady de-investment by successive governments in the industrial sector: the end result is the massive unemployment situation we are experiencing today. Yet we are all aware of the dangers of the acute unemployment situation poses to our society and our young democracy.
b. Our Society is under threat
In addition to our economic woes, our country today is a sad reflection of the vibrant, confident and prosperous nation under the leadership of the CPP during the first republic. Greed, corruption and selfishness of some politicians in successive governments have severely damaged trust and respect for political authority to the extent that the majority of ordinary citizens believe government is incapable of improving their already desperate economic conditions. Passion for the nation which in the first Republic was the main driver of public life has been replaced by money! As a result the nation is rapidly losing its compassionate nature. Citizens especially among the youth expect and often demand monetary reward for the smallest of favours or assistance extended to other citizens. The recent scandals involving Judgment Debts is a vivid yet painful illustration of the unwarranted but emerging character of our dear nation.
It is therefore obvious that this nation is not ‘working’. How can we say Ghana is working when the majority of our working population is unemployed?
How can we say Ghana is working when our national institutions cannot maintain discipline?
How can we say Ghana is working when almost all the major industries, be it, telecom, breweries, Banks and manufacturing are in the hands of non Ghanaians?
How can we say Ghana is working when the majority of our business community is more interested in becoming the local representatives of foreign companies rather than developing locally owned and developed multi- national companies?
How can we say Ghana is working when our children are being given “second-hand” education?
How can we say Ghana is working when the majority of our citizens cannot afford basic health care?
After steadily destroying the infrastructure and industrial base put in place by the first CPP government, we are back to the old situation when the country was totally dependent on three main commodities, cocoa, gold and timber.
What we need is a structural change of our economy, through adding value to our agricultural produce, increasing our manufacturing capabilities, skills development for improved labour productivity.
To achieve this, we must abandon the phrase ‘government has no business doing business” and rethink the role of the State in Ghana’s economic transformation. Our citizens are too poor to accumulate the level of wealth that is required for investment in industry and technology. It requires the state to lead in investing in the appropriate sectors for industrial development. None of the developed nations we continue to admire or the new economic giants such as the BRIC nations became rich without industrialising and no nation has succeeded in improving the standard of living of its citizens without the developmental state as the main drivers of their development.
As the first country south of the Sahara to gain independence in 1957, the CPP government led by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah put in place measures to gain economic independence. The launch of the Seven Year Development Plan (1963/64 to 1969/70) in March 1964 was expected to transform the structure of the Ghanaian economy into an industrial, prosperous society. That vision was truncated in 1966 and it is our task to revisit that Plan and contextualize it, adapting it to today’s changing circumstances. The industrialisation drive of 1960s remains valid for Ghana today.
c. Opportunity and Hope
But despite all these difficulties Ghanaians still love their nation. The dominance of Ghanaian music by our local artists on our air waves, the emergence and the gains of respectability by local restaurants serving local dishes, the strong show of nationalism during the FIFA World Cup tournaments and the overwhelming involvement of Ghanaians in the Ghana @ 50 independence celebrations all point to the citizens pride and love for their nation.
What the nation needs, therefore, is a political force and government that can be trusted, capable of harnessing the patriotism of Ghanaians and has the wherewithal to use such to battle indiscipline and corruption as well as a vehicle for national development. Should the right leadership emerge, the response from the masses would be spontaneous and positive and this nation will change beyond recognition. The Convention Peoples Party is the right leadership.
d. It is our Time
This is our time. The nation has come full circle. We have seen both the NPP and NDC in action as governments and both have failed the nation. Their neo-liberal policies have made paupers out of the majority of our citizens.
Now our citizens can see the difference. In the first republic we showed tremendous confidence in the ability of the Ghanaian. We gave our young technocrats and the budding business class an opportunity to serve their country and they responded with patriotism and skill. We set the stage to transform this country from a colonial economy into a vibrant industrialised nation. We were at par with South Korea and Countries like Malaysia, Singapore and even Japan found it useful to study our economic model. Since then we have allowed ourselves to be submerged into poverty, treated with contempt and made to accept mediocrity as gold standard.
Ya bre!!! The CPP will again light a new fire of change that cannot be quenched
We will make Ghana work again and
... Ghana Must Work Again.
...Ghana Must Work Again!
We are the second and third generation of Nkrumaists who cannot stand and do nothing when we have the key to freedom from dependency, freedom from indecision, freedom from fear.
The CPP is not satisfied with the direction of our socio-economic conditions.
We cannot subscribe to an economy that cannot deliver jobs and higher productivity.
We will not continue to give ear to political propagandists who continue to extol the virtues of single digit inflation when the means of achieving the single digit is to empty the pockets of our citizens and prevent them from purchasing their basic needs.
Clearly we need to plan our development differently. The CPP will do something different. We will do something new. The CPP will provide an alternative framework for socio-economic transformation and diversification.
We have a strategy of structural change anchored on adopting and adapting existing technologies, modernising agriculture, increasing industrialisation and enabling our businessmen and women to invest in manufacturing rather than importing goods we can produce. We will build a strong and proud country and a society that is fair for all.
A country that is heavily dependent on foreign aid to fund development budget cannot be a proud country. We will place the economic heights and our nation’s destiny in the hands of Ghanaians.
But all this will not be possible if our great Party does not give correct leadership to our people. As our founder said, “Africa needs a new type of citizen, a dedicated, modest, honest, informed man and woman. A man and woman who submerges self in service to the nation and humanity. One who abhors greed and detests vanity. A type of citizen whose humility is her strength, and whose integrity is his greatness.” This is what the CPP offers Ghana.
We have found the clarity and the courage to change the direction of our Party. Forward Ever, backward Never!