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SPEECH BY SIR DR KOFI PORTUPHY NATIONAL CHAIRMAN AND LEADER OF THE NDC AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE MEETING OF THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE HELD IN ACCRA ON WEDNESDAY 12TH APRIL 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,

On behalf of the National Executives of the NDC, on behalf of our former President His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, former Vice President, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur who are here with us today, and on my own behalf, I welcome and thank you all for coming. We are also lucky to have with us some very senior members and very strong sympathizers of our party. This is a sign of the unity we are forging as we work our way towards winning the 2020 election.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,
Over the years our great NDC party has enjoyed fruitful collaboration with the media and it is our hope that even in opposition we will continue to work together with you in the larger interest of Ghana. We will maintain a principled relationship with you to promote truth, honesty, fairness and objectivity in our body politic.

We have so much to talk about but so little time to do that today, so we will restrict ourselves to a few topics of urgent concern and attend to some other matters within the next few days. After my brief introduction therefore, I will touch on the issues of the reign of terror which has been unleashed on our peaceful country by goons of the NPP; the politics of deception; the politicization of the public services; the misuse of the Presidential (Transition) Act, 2012; the undermining of our decentralization agenda; the constitutional lawlessness being exhibited by the NPP government; and what has become known in international circles and has made Ghana the laughing stock of the international community as the “over-bloated” Government of President Akufo Addo.

Introduction

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since our 2016 electoral defeat, our party has encountered some internal challenges. One can attribute the situation largely to the disappointing electoral loss. The rank and file of the party and indeed all of us have been badly affected and this in a way has resulted in the outpouring of anger and frustration. All parties at a point meet challenges and ours is no exception.

Unfortunately, sometimes the show of anger and frustration has gone overboard. But we must try and overcome our anger and frustration. It is now time all of us pause to reflect on the consequences of some of our utterances on the future of the NDC.

I take this opportunity, once again, to urge all party faithful to co-operate with the Dr. Kwesi Botchwey fact-finding committee and await its report following which we will put in place a programme of activities towards reorganization. I understand the mood among our rank and file and assure all and sundry that the National Executive is approaching issues with a sense of urgency hence our meeting this morning and the many on-going interactions and behind the scenes consultations.

As leader of the party, I have had cause to appeal for cessation of the public bickering. Today, I wish to make a fresh appeal especially to those nursing leadership ambitions in the NDC. Do not let us put the cart before the horse. The task we face now is reorganization of the party and mobilization for victory. Those who aspire to leadership positions, including the flagbearership position, must understand that they will need a strong, united and formidable party to stand behind them in the quest to regain power in 2020.

We should therefore not act in ways that play into the hands of the ruling NPP which appears determined to use its Presidential power and Parliamentary majority to rule Ghanaians with impunity and arrogance. All of us from the rank and file to senior members must understand that we cannot fight the NPP with a divided front. And if we, by our actions create a void, our detractors will continue to fill the void with falsehoods and, to quote Donald Trump, “fake news”.

I wish to remind all party faithful that when the NDC lost the elections in the year 2000, it encountered challenges similar to what we are experiencing today. At that time, we managed to put aside our differences and worked together to recover from that electoral defeat, emerging victorious from opposition in 2008.

The NDC can do it again, not in 8 years but God willing in 4 years.

Why am I optimistic that the NDC can bounce back in 2020?

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Don’t we hear Ghanaians expressing regret that they have exchanged their colour TVs for black and white?

Don’t we hear the expressions of anger from trotro and taxi drivers over incessant increases in fuel prices contrary to what Nana Addo promised them during his campaign?

Don’t we hear the anger and disappointment of parents who are now being told by President Akuffo Addo that the free SHS is not free for all SHS students?

Don’t we hear the expression of anger from ordinary Ghanaians who now have to pay 15% higher in transport fares while the cost of airfare for the rich and well-to-do has been drastically slashed?

Don’t we hear Ghanaians asking the NPP government: where is the competence you promised the country?

Don’t we hear Ghanaians expressing regret for not taking seriously the warning about Nana Akuffo Addo and his all-die-be-die mantra?

Don’t we hear Ghanaians lamenting the state of abject lawlessness and wanton violence sponsored by surrogates of Nana Akuffo Addo’s NPP?

Yes indeed. The sweet-sounding promises and deceitful nature of Nana Akufo Addo and the NPP have caught up with them and they are daily being exposed for who they are and the selfish interests they represent.

The NDC will re-organize.
The NDC will unite.
We will emerge stronger having learnt our lessons.
The NDC will be back.

Reign of Terror

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Last Thursday 6th April 2017, a terrorist group formed by the ruling NPP took impunity to dizzying heights when it broke into the cells at the Kumasi Circuit Court and freed their members who had been remanded in custody by a judge.

This incident has attracted widespread condemnation by right-thinking Ghanaians. Our position was captured in the Press statement issued last week by our General Secretary Comrade Asiedu Nketiah. We stand by it.

Indeed Ladies and Gentlemen,
You will recall that about two months ago I addressed a Press Conference on the creeping lawlessness and violent conduct of pro-NPP vagabonds who had been let loose across the length and breadth of Ghana.

Despite the appeal I made to President Akufo Addo to call his terrorist goons to order, the so-called Invincible Forces, the armed wing of the NPP, have continued to subject innocent Ghanaians to a reign of terror including unlawful raids and attacks in their homes and offices. This development is an affront to our democracy and in particular to the principles of the rule of law. Indeed, since the NPP assumed office, the national mood has become one of fear and personal insecurity and there could be a backlash if President Akufo Addo refuses to act.

Today in Ghana, we have groups associated with the NPP openly calling themselves “Invincible Forces”, ”Kandahar Boys” and “Delta Force” dispensing terror in many parts of the country including Government facilities and installations.

On the 9th of January, 2017, the very first day that President Akufo Addo assumed office at the Flagstaff House, members of the notorious ‘Invincible Forces’ subjected a Senior Police Officer to violent assault and battery at no less a place than the seat of Government, the Flagstaff House itself!

On the 24th of March, 2017, another group of NPP thugs, this time calling themselves ‘Delta Force’, carried out a dastardly attack on the NPP-appointed Ashanti Regional Security Coordinator at the Regional Coordinating Council offices in Kumasi. The reason for this senseless act of thuggery was that the said Security Coordinator was not their preferred choice for that position.

It also emerged soon after the horrendous Kintampo Waterfalls disaster in which a significant number of teenagers sadly lost their precious lives due to the absence of professional guides that the notoriously violent ‘Invincible Forces’ had soon after the 2016 elections driven away the professional staff of the Ghana Tourist Authority in charge of the Waterfalls.

The impunity with which these violent NPP-sponsored gangs have behaved has cast a slur on our democracy. It is sowing the seeds of domestic terrorism in Ghana, seeds that will forever scar our democracy if those engaged in these acts of mindless hooliganism are not brought to book immediately. The real danger in not dealing swiftly and ruthlessly with incipient domestic political terrorism is that it can easily grow into uncontrollable armed terrorism of international proportions. The genesis of the Boko Haram menace in Nigeria should alert us to what awaits us as a country if we do not act now
Ladies and Gentlemen,
You will recall that for several days after the violent Kumasi incident which brought national disgrace- to borrow the words of Rev. Prof. Martey- Nana Akuffo Addo said practically nothing. Last Monday, for the first time , he publicly commented on the criminal incident. But the President shied away from expressing outrage or total condemnation and chose rather cynically to pontificate on the rule of law. When responsible World leaders express outrage at violence in their countries it is not because they do not believe in the rule of law . It is because violence should never be condoned under any circumstances.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As a Lawyer, President Akuffo Addo is an officer of the court. He should therefore be concerned when the court is physically attacked and presiding judge threatened. But President Nana Addo doesn’t seem to care. His public posture has rather sent wrong signals to the judiciary and law enforcement. How else do we interpret the decision of the Kumasi court to treat so lightly, violent elements who had escaped lawful custody? That ruling was shambolic and theatrical and only compounds the national disgrace that Prof. Martey has described. It will certainly have grave ramifications for law and order in this country. This latest manifestation of Nana Akuffo Addo’s all die be die mantra could plunge the nation into further lawlessness with grave consequences. Indeed, we now have every reason to believe that the Akuffo Addo Presidency is complicit in the violence being unleashed by Delta Force, Invisible Forces and the like.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
What is even more disturbing in all these developments is the loud silence of civil society groups and some among the clergy and academia who hitherto found it necessary to condemn every action of the previous NDC government from the position of being the public and moral conscience of our society. All of a sudden they have abandoned their neutral outlook. They have ceased being the “conscience of the nation”.

We don’t want to believe that today’s attitude of some clergy and civil society towards the disturbing developments in the political scene in Ghana is borne out of political or ethnic prejudice or is arising out of hypocrisy and double standards.

Yes, we have heard from the Ghana Bar Association, CODEO and the Peace Council and others but only in respect of the mayhem caused by the so-called Delta Force in Kumasi. But where was GBA, CODEO, Peace Council etc. when the NPP brought in mercenaries from South Africa to train these terrorist elements?

Where was the Peace Council when after the elections these NPP elements attacked, burnt down and in some cases took over operations of toll booths at Fiapre in the Brong Ahafo Region and the Tema end of the motorway?

Where was the Ghana Bar Association when those goons beat up police officers and chased them out of their offices?

Where was the Peace Council when the NPP-sponsored groups murdered 4 NDC activists in different parts of the Western and Central Regions?

Where was the so-called moral conscience of society when the NPP-sponsored terrorists invaded and attacked homes of former government officials on the pretext of searching for government property?

Where were they when these same NPP goons destroyed state property at the Kwame Nkrumah interchange, raided NADMO head office etc?

Where were they?

Anyway, we thank God that they have started awakening from their slumber.

As our dearly beloved late President Professor Atta Mills once noted, “what was wrong yesterday cannot be suddenly right today just because the perpetrators are different”. I also refer to the profound words of Pastor Mensah Otabil, who said “There is a sinister force on the prowl in our nation. It is a force of impunity. It is a force of treachery. To keep silent in such a situation is to allow evil to triumph.”

And for those of you familiar with the good old book, I refer you to Job 20:5 which reads “the triumphing of the wicked is short and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment”.

Politics of Deception

Ladies and Gentlemen,
During their campaign, the NPP promised to restore teacher training and nursing trainees allowance. What has happened to that promise?

During the campaigns, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia, now Vice President, accused the Mahama Administration of excessive borrowing and promised to put an end to it. Today, what do we see? In less than 3 months, the NPP has resorted to borrowing left, right and centre. Recently the NPP borrowed one billion five hundred million US dollars (US$1.5 billion), and told Ghanaians to clap for them because it is a sign of their competence and their acceptance by lenders. Indeed, the NPP are a bundle of contradictions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
During the campaigns, Nana Akufo Addo and the NPP were quite categorical in telling Ghanaians that they would abolish taxes on financial services. Consequently, the Finance Minister laid a Bill before Parliament to scrap it. What happened? They turned round to surreptitiously to amend the Bill effectively retaining most of the previous taxes on financial services.

Again, the NPP announced in its first budget that they had abolished duty on spare parts. What happened? They went back and published a list excluding several items hitherto classified as spare parts. The NPP announced the abolition of the 1% duty on spare parts only to realize later that that tax is an ECOWAS requirement and cannot be scrapped just like that. The know-it-all NPP did not even know about existing ECOWAS protocols. So much for competence.

Many more examples abound and in the coming days we will present a more detailed overview for Ghanaians to judge for themselves.

Politicization of the Public Service

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The speed with which public servants have been forced out of their offices is alarming. The survival of our democracy is dependent on nurturing a professional and efficient public service. Since the assumption of office, the Akufo Addo administration has forced several professional public servants out of their offices and replaced them with loyalist NPP members.

In 2009 after the NDC had won the elections, Professor Atta Mills insisted on making sure that the professional public service was not politicized. President John Mahama continued in that tradition. The NDC adopted this strategy to show the way, and to steer the country away from making the public service part of the partisan political system. It is therefore worrying that under the NPP, several professional career public servants have been forced out of office.

A typical example is the manner in which the Governor of the Bank of Ghana has been prevented from completing his term office, and forced to resign from office prematurely.

My question is:
Where are the civil society groups that spoke against the winner-take-all syndrome when the NDC was in power?

Misuse of the Presidential (Transition) Act, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Presidential (Transition) Act, 2012, Act 845, signed into law by the late President Professor Atta Mills, was designed to protect public officers from arbitrary removal from office upon the assumption of office of a new President after a Presidential election. But adopting a rather strange interpretation of its provisions, the NPP Government has rather used it to remove scores of committed and dedicated public officers from office, their only “offence” being that they were appointed by the NDC Government.

The situation is literally a throw-back to the “bad old days” of the 2001 transition during which the NPP under the guise of asking public officers to “proceed on leave”, proceeded to remove hundreds of public officers from office.

It is also reminiscent of the 1969 situation of the Second Republic during which the predecessors of the NPP, the Progress Party (PP) Government, under the Presidency of Nana Akufo-Addo’s father, Mr. Edward Akufo-Addo and the Premiership of Dr. K. A. Busia, unconstitutionally dismissed 568 public officers from office, an event which has become notoriously known in Ghana’s public administration system as “Apollo 568”. The leopard indeed, they say, can never change its spots.

What the NPP has done with its bizarre interpretation of the Presidential (Transition) Act means that on the coming into office of every new President after a Presidential election, every public officer holding office in a public Board or Corporation ceases to hold office and may be replaced by the new President.

Based on this bizarre interpretation, scores of public officers have been removed from office by President Akufo Addo and his Government since 7th January of this year in a surreptitious manner and without informing the public. There are so many of them that we have provided a list which is not exhaustive as an Appendix to this Statement which we will make available to the media after this encounter.

Using the same bizarre interpretation, the Government through a letter dated January 19, 2017 issued by the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE), dissolved the Governing Councils of all Public Universities, Public Technical Universities and Polytechnics, Colleges of Education, the Ghana Institute of Journalism, the Ghana Institute of Languages and the National Film and Television Institute and vested their powers in the NCTE. This is the first time in the history of the 4th Republic that Councils of Public Tertiary institutions in Ghana have been dissolved in this manner. We do not know under what legal authority the Government took this decision which clearly strikes at the heart of the autonomy and independence of tertiary institutions in Ghana.

Again, I ask:
Where are the civil society groups and opinion leadrers who spoke passionately against the winner-take-all syndrome when the NDC was in power?

Undermining Decentralization and Constitutional Lawlessness

Ladies and Gentlemen,
In another bizarre turn of events, the NPP Government has twisted the interpretation of the Local Governance Act of 2016 to remove from office the Head of the Local Government Service, a new office which is the equivalent of the Head of the Civil Service. Yet these are two offices whose holders are guaranteed security, tenure and protection by Article 195 of the Constitution.

Only last week Friday the Administrator of the District Assembly Common Fund has been notified to proceed on an indefinite leave and hand over on Monday April 10, 2017 to Madam Naa Torshie Addo former NPP MP for Tema West. Mean while this is a Constitutional position that requires consultation with the Council of State and prior approval of Parliament. Neither of these provisions have been respected.

The NPP Government also terminated the appointment of all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) within two weeks of assuming office. This was at a time when the signatory to the termination announcement had not even been approved by Parliament and had not been appointed as the Minister of Local Government. In 2009 when the NDC assumed office, the late President Atta Mills allowed MMDCEs to remain in office for four months before allowing them to hand over decently to the new MMDCEs who were at that time in the process of being approved by their respective MMDAs. Under President Akufo Addo, the MMDCEs had to hand over to the District Coordinating Directors (DCDs) who also happen to be the Secretaries to the MMDAs. In other words, for the period that they acted, the DCDs reported and are still reporting to themselves in the many districts whose MMDCEs are yet to be appointed.

In a clear slap in the face of decentralization and the effort to reduce central control of MMDAs, the NPP Government amended the Local Governance Act of 2016 and re-introduced the President’s power to unilaterally remove appointed members of MMDAs. This enabled President Akufo-Addo to remove all the appointed members of the MMDAs, who had been in office for just about two years, and appoint NPP loyalists in their places. The removed appointed members all had four year tenures of office.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,
Article 252 (2) of the Constitution mandates Parliament to annually make provision for the allocation of not less than 5% of the total revenues of Ghana to be paid in quarterly installments to the District Assemblies Common Fund for local development. This Constitutional provision was religiously adhered to by Presidents Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor, the late John Atta Mills and John Dramani Mahama. However under President Akuffo Addo, this constitutional provision has been violated with impunity in the current budget. The appropriation due to the District Assemblies Common Fund has been slashed and the difference diverted to be placed under direct control of President Akufo Addo at Flagstaff House.

Thus a Fund specifically created by the Constitution to enable local people have access to resources with which to finance their own determined developmental priorities has now been centralized to finace projects prioritized by Flagstaff House.

This is constitutional lawlessness by those who claim to be the apostles of the rule of law. As already indicated by the Minority in Parliament, we will proceed to the courts to defend the Constitution on this matter.

Once more I ask:
where are the civil society groups, Professors, religious leaders who spoke passionately against the winner-take-all syndrome when the NDC was in power?

An Over-Bloated Government

Ladies and Gentlemen,
One pledge that stood out in the heavily plagiarized inaugural speech of President Akuffo Addo was the protection of the public purse. Protecting the public purse implies among others avoiding a large and unwieldy Government that becomes a drain on state resources. It means installing a lean government that uses minimal resources to attain optimal output. That is what every competent Chief Executive does. Since taking office however, everything the NPP Government has done points to the exact opposite. Ghana is now burdened with an unprecedented 110 Ministers and Deputy Ministers. This “obolo” Government has now been turned into a job creation venture for prominent but unemployed members of the NPP.

President Akufo Addo says he needs 110 Ministers for the efficient performance of his government so has appointed Minister for National Security, Minister for Defence, Minister for Interior, National Security Adviser, Deputy Minister for Defence, Deputy Minister for Interior in addition to the IGP, National Security Co-ordinator yet with so many appointees in the security apparatus they could not contain a small group like Delta Force?

So will President Akufo Addo now appoint more Security, Defence and Interior Ministers or will he now look in the direction of competence?

Conclusion

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have listed but a few of the acts of impunity, deception and incompetence of the NPP Government after only 3 months in office. And as already stated, the NDC shall soon come out with a more comprehensive review of current affairs in Ghana.

The NPP may have a sizeable majority in Parliament. The President may have won by 54%. But Nana Akufo Addo should watch out. The majority they enjoy today is no licence for them to govern with impunity, unleash terror goons on fellow Ghanaians, act unconstitutionally or think they will not be held accountable. The NDC will not allow the Akuffo Addo government to behave as if they are the monarchs of all they survey. We will closely monitor the NPP government and fearlessly play our role as opposition.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The NDC has remained stoically silent in the face of all provocations and unconstitutional actions in the hope that through our silent protest, President Akufo-Addo and his Government will see the error of their ways and change their ways. But we can no longer remain silent because as former President JJ Rawlings warned us before the elections, the NPP cannot and will not change. We have already indicated our intention to embark on a series of actions, including court challenges to their unconstitutional actions. We intend to let the Government know that the beginning of democratic practice is compliance with democratic norms and constitutional stipulations.

We will resist any attempt by the NPP to govern with fear and coercion. And we will when appropriate adopt positive defiance. In this respect, we will join forces with all patriots and well-meaning Ghanaians committed to upholding sound democratic practice and good governance.

We thank you for your attention.

Written by Web Master

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