The 2016 Flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has urged the youth wing of the party to step up their game to enable the party to wrest power from the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
“Clearly, the battle for votes next year will be greater among the young people of this country, many of whom will be first time voters and disappointed NDC voters. So the youth wing of our party has a big responsibility to swing a decisive victory our way. Let us go to them, recruit them and empower them to be the drivers of change,” he said at an event to outline his vision for the youth in Ghana.
The event formed part of activities marking the 15th anniversary of the Tertiary Students Confederacy of the New Patriotic Party (TESCON).
Formed in 2000, the group played a vital role in the NPP winning that year’s elections and has since become an important organ of the party, with branches in 118 tertiary institutions across the country.
The Mensah Sarbah Hall of the University of Ghana, where the event was held, was wrapped in a carnival as a flag-waving crowd sang and danced to all the popular NPP tunes.
When the flag bearer arrived at 7:56 p.m., the hall exploded into a loud cheer as the crowd went agog, with students trying to outdo one another to catch a glimpse of their party leader.
Wearing a white and blue smock, the flag bearer arrived in the company of party stalwarts, including the Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu; the acting National Chairman of the NPP, Mr Freddy Blay; the Deputy Minority Leader, Mr Dominic Nitiwul; the wife of the running mate to the presidential candidate, Samira Bawumia; the parliamentary candidate for Ofoase-Ayirebi, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, and a former NPP National Chairman, Mr Peter Mac Manu.
To keep the podium warm, speakers before Nana Akufo-Addo, including Mr Abu Jinapor, an aide to the flag bearer; Sammy Awuku, National Youth Organiser; and Anthony Karbo, parliamentary candidate for Lawra, worked the crowd, accusing the government of incompetence and corruption.
When he finally took the podium, Nana Akufo-Addo attacked the performance of the NDC in government, saying the government had plunged the country into a crisis and that it would take the youth to bring back the NPP to power to salvage the economy.
According to him, the youth are severely affected by the problem confronting the country.
He stated that “whether you are Ga, Fante, Ewe, Gonja, Dagomba, Asante, Akyem, Christian, Moslem, educated, uneducated, skilled, unskilled, married, single, man or woman, you have not been spared the rod of bad leadership by President John Mahama and his government.”
He said the cost of education had become so high that the country risked “creating a large ghetto nation of ‘Not Educated or Employed or Trained’ (NEET) young citizens of Ghana”.
Apart from lack of education and skills, the flag bearer stated that the biggest challenge facing the youth was how to get jobs, adding “the crisis of youth unemployment could have ripple effects for decades to come — not only for young people but also for the Ghanaian economy.”
To reverse the trend, Nana Akufo Addo mentioned that an NPP administration would stabilise the economy and bring back the confidence the private sector needed to thrive, clamp down heavily on corruption, instil fiscal discipline and invest in areas that could create jobs or open up the economy for greater vibrancy.
An Akufo-Addo government, he said, would invest in institutions of learning and new technology to provide skills and education for young people, who have been left out of the job market, and prioritise high-quality vocational courses and apprenticeship linked with industry.
“We do not seek change just for the sake of changing the baton but to get Ghana working again and provide opportunities for our youth. No nation can afford to marginalise the youth, the very group that makes up the chunk of its labour force,” he stated.
The NPP flag bearer was expected to announce his vision for the youth but the delivery dwelt more on the ills of the current administration and the party’s rescue plan rather than the contents of the youth policy.