Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is an honour to join you here in Ho to celebrate the 36th anniversary of the 31st December Revolution.
It is also heartwarming to note that sympathisers of the ideals of June 4, 1979 and 31st December 1981 have travelled from across the country to commemorate the revolution and give meaning to the theme “Uniting Around the Principles of Probity, Accountability and Social Justice.”
Togbui oo, Mama oo, ladies and gentlemen, events such as today’s are meant to remember and affirm our deep-rooted association with a momentous period in Ghana’s history when patriotic men and women of this country took a bold step to confront a state of decline that had led the international community to write Ghana off as a failed state.
Ghana’s position as a pacesetter on the African continent and a global beacon of hope had evaporated following a series of political misadventures that had crippled our economy and left the people in a state of hopelessness.
The records are there for our young ones to study and appreciate but the history writers have always thought it convenient to distort the facts to suit their elitist and so-called highly educated leanings. So the June 4 uprising and the 31st December revolution which were borne out of a state of uncontrolled corruption, wretchedness and gloom has oft been described as a coup d’état by a group of characters who ought to know better. – a great affront to the millions of Ghanaians who rose in unison to denounce the monopoly of a select few who thought the right to rule was their birthright.
The same group of people and their puppets oversaw an economy that retrogressively provided limited opportunities for an increasing population. The price of goods and services were escalating in an unprecedented manner by 1981. The economic indicators were all negative at the time.
For those who have forgotten and have a veneer obscuring their view, corruption had its own local terminology, Kalabule. In 1982 at the advent of the revolution, Ghanaians had to queue for essential commodities such as bread and maize in order to make ends meet. This did not break down the resolve of the people. The young and able-bodied ones, mostly drawn from the universities travelled to the hinterlands to help cart cocoa onto trucks and trains to the ports for export. The desire to die for mother Ghana was the driving force behind the revolution. It was a re-birth of the spirit of patriotism – the love of one’s country.
The economy recovered significantly over the ten-year period from 1982 to 1992 when we established constitutional rule after a decade of grassroots democracy never before experienced in the country. The Economic Recovery Programme, the Structural Adjustment Programme, the Financial Adjustment Programme and the introduction of the Value Added Tax were tough but bold decisions taken to tighten our belts while offering the country the much-needed turnaround in economic and infrastructural development.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is important that we do not forget and indeed we cannot forget the progress this country made under the PNDC and subsequently the first NDC government that offered Ghana a great new lift off for economic development. For those who have today turned the clock of progress around and allowed kalabule to confidently walk back into the soul of the country, history has to be re-told because their arrogance and indifference has almost brought the country to its knees. Under the guise of a capitalist property-owning democracy we have gradually re-institutionalized corruption and allowed a select few to monopolise resources and by virtue of that become political kingmakers who dictate even the choice of constituency party executives.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have sunk so low as a country and we have betrayed the blood of all those who laid down their lives to stem the stinking tide of corruption that had engulfed Ghana over 30 years ago. The sacrifices many dedicated men and women endured to give our party life and succour has been abused and trampled upon by some in a manner even the elephant will be envious of.
Today many perceive politics as being synonymous with acquiring wealth at a fraudulently rapid pace and has nothing to do with service to country. Politics to some is no longer about the right of every individual to have a say in national decision-making through the District Assemblies and other grassroots political structures that were created to enhance equity and create a national wealth of ideas and sense of belonging. Today our politics is one of patronage and dependence on cash cows. Some people have used the leadership opportunities offered them to acquire ill-gotten wealth, which they now use to manipulate us.
Ladies and gentlemen, I did indicate a year ago that the loss at the 2016 elections was self-inflicted. The ideals of probity, accountability, integrity and social justice did not manifest itself in our policies and conduct at all times. Some of our own comrades chose to be impervious to reality and we experienced a crushing defeat that haunts many till today.
The grassroots of our party has been paralysed by the complete dearth of principles to drive the party. Our youth are being motivated by monetary influence rather than principles. Many have no clue about the ideals of the party and only see political association as an economic association, further emboldening the so-called kingmakers.
The time has come for the rhetoric to stop. The time has come for the men and women who believe in the ideals of June 4, 31st December and the NDC to rise up. The time has come for a new revolution. This is not about Jerry Rawlings. This is about you and generations to come. Rawlings is not a faction and will never be. The ideals you believe in and for which I stand for and represent, are ideals that will stand the test of time no matter how long some choose to distort it with transient economic might. You have to be strong, steadfast and politically robust. You have to rise up to be counted just as our dynamic women, selfless youth, workers, farmers, petty traders, comrades did for us three decades ago. Sadly we ended up disrespecting and denigrating these people who knew nothing but to offer themselves to the party and country.
The NDC needs men and women at its various Executive positions who have the strength of character to boldly lead the party and ensure that they have the ability to rein in members of their own government when in power. Our party structure was weak, abused and ignored in the immediate past and when change comes that change must be one that carries with it the power and will of the people. If we do not allow that revolutionary change but allow materialism and money politics to dictate our choices, then we will stay in the political abyss for a considerable period.
Some latter-day party officials have now made it their chore to denigrate me for speaking loudly and forcefully about the wrongs in the NDC when the party was in power. Many of these political novices, eager to please their paymasters may be oblivious to the countless times my counsel was treated with contempt. I cannot lay claim to the position of party founder and spend time criticizing another party or institution when my house is burning. Removing the log in my eye is the only way to legitimize any right to expose the speck in another’s.
I have on a number of occasions made remarks about the current president. That not withstanding, I have to caution that the rise of reckless vigilantism, which is breeding a new standard in lawlessness, has to be brought to book. Vigilantism perceived to be protected by political authority is a one-way road to a break down of law and order. The attacks on the High Court in Kumasi, the recent attacks on a Member of Parliament in Brong Ahafo and other reported incidents of highhandedness by perceived political agents have to be denounced forcefully and dealt with in a firm and swift manner that will inspire public confidence.
One cannot also overlook reports of official indiscretion in the cash for dinner seats affair. I expect the executive to similarly respond appropriately to the reported inflated budgetary allocations by a particular ministry, which has elicited some negative responses from the general public. Left unattended to these acts can lead to the escalation of corruption in our country.
Togbui oo, Mama oo, Ladies and Gentlemen, the NDC faces serious shortcomings irrespective of the challenges of the new government.
As we cross over into a new year we must resolve to show keen interest in the future of the ideals that gave birth to our party. Let us commit ourselves to the membership registration exercise in January and February and actively participate in party activities in our branches, communities and wards.
Let us also commend all those who have stoutly defended and protected the revolution and the party’s ideals from the beginning. Those ideals are the guiding force that will strengthen and unify the party. Let us rebuild the party around these principles and values. Thereafter those who emerge at all levels of leadership will get the collective support of all. Our grassroot democratic model should prevail and that will happen if the ordinary people of the party choose the path of sacrifice in order to save our party. Many laid down their lives to give birth to this movement. With strength of character, integrity and patriotism, we can make those martyrs proud once again.
A Happy New Year to all Ghanaians and God bless us all.