Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the 2016 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, says considering the economic hardships, rampant and widespread corruption, rising cost of living, and the high levels of unemployment, it comes as no surprise to him that Ghanaian youth are angry, hungry and have given up any hope of the country offering them a bright future.
This gloomy picture, according to Nana Akufo-Addo, has characterised the 7 year rule of the John Mahama/NDC government, adding that the NDC government “has created an unrelenting social crisis in Ghana”, especially in the area of youth unemployment.
The NPP flagbearer made this known on Wednesday, November 4, 2015, when he delivered a speech at the 15th anniversary celebration of the Tertiary Students Confederacy (TESCON), at the Mensah Sarbah Hall of the University of Ghana, Legon, on the theme “NPP Youth – Today, Tomorrow.”
Describing Ghana’s population, which has a median age of some 20 years, as a young one which is “disproportionately jobless”, Akufo-Addo stated that the NPP sees the crisis of youth unemployment as a development that could have ripple effects for decades to come — not only for young people’s demoralisation, but also for their weak contribution to the strength of the Ghanaian economy.
Instead of creating the conditions that would spur on private sector development, which will bring in its wake the much needed jobs, and income for the teeming masses of Ghanaian youth, Akufo-Addo noted that the John Mahama government has rather superintended over the country’s dwindling fortunes in every sector of the economy, adding that “at the rate at which Ghana is going, I shudder what Ghana would look like if we give the NDC another four years, on top of these eight years.”.
Touching on Ghana’s precarious debt situation, which has shot up from GH¢9.5 billion at the end of 2008 to GH¢94.5 billion as at August 2015, the NPP flagbearer remarked that soon the Mahama government “would have to sell everything that Ghana owns to pay off what we owe; debts that they cannot tell you and I what they spent the money on to build.”
These massive loans being incurred by the Mahama government, according to Akufo-Addo, are being used to refinance debt instead of being invested in areas that will create jobs for the youth, the downside, according to him, being that “these same young people will have to service the debt later.
The decision by the Mahama government to abandon teachings of the Public Procurement Act, and make sole sourcing of contracts the norm has seen a corresponding massive increase in corruption, he said.
“The nation would have benefitted so much more from such public infrastructure projects as the NDC has undertaken if the public finances of our country had been honestly managed. Instead, in a phrase that has found judicial approval, we have been subject to a system of ‘create, loot and share’”, he said.
He continued, “We have seen this in bodies like GYEEDA and SADA, which were ostensibly set up to stimulate growth and to provide jobs for young people. They became vehicles of corruption. So, too, it appears is the latest body, YES (Youth Enterprise Support), in which high ranking officials are already engulfed in allegations of corruption.”
I fear for Ghana
“With every cedi that is stolen under the Mahama government a child is being denied education, a farmer being denied fertilizer, a driver not getting good roads, and the sick being left to die,” Akufo-Addo explained.
“I fear for Ghana. I am frightened about the future the NDC is building for the young people of this country. It is a future of indebtedness; a future of hopelessness; it is a wretched future being needlessly created by a reckless government. The prospect of another four years of this scares me and so must it scare you, too. Twelve straight years of NDC would leave you, the young people of Ghana, with no future of note,” he said.
With Ghana being described as the poster boy of ‘Africa’s Rising’ narrative at the end of President Kufuor’s tenure, Nana Akufo-Addo asked “how come Bloomberg can, in an online publication, post a headline ‘Ghana’s success story goes dark?’”
The answer is, he said, is the NDC that went wrong and took Ghana down with it.
Don’t lose hope
“To you, the students of Ghana, I say, don’t lose hope. I have great news for you, though. There is something great coming. My message for you, our young people, is this: don’t see this tragedy as your destiny. There is a brighter future for you. You have the energy, you have the passion and you have the drive to make the change Ghana deserves happen.”
Mentioning a host of Ghanaian youth who are doing well in various fields of endeavour, ranging from business and entertainment, to sport, Nana Akufo-Addo stated that “I am encouraged in my thinking by the continuing creativity and sense of enterprise of several of Ghana’s young people. This reinforces my unshakeable belief in the prospects of our nation, the Black Star of Africa.”
To the packed auditorium at the Mensah Sarbah hall, Nana Akufo-Addo assured that the NPP is seeking change to ensure that Ghana works again.
“Our solution will be principally four-fold: first, we will stabilise the economy and bring back the confidence the private sector needs to thrive. Second, we will come down heavily on corruption, instil fiscal discipline and invest the savings made in areas that can create jobs or open up the economy for greater vibrancy.
“We will do so by developing and expanding rapidly our public infrastructure, with value for money at the heart of its financial arrangements and the active support and participation of the private sector,” he noted.