Your Excellencies, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Chairman and executives of the Progressive People’s Party, representatives of the Electoral Commission, members of the press invited guests and our friends from the CSOs, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the International Press Centre and thank you for being here to witness another special occasion in Ghana’s political history – the first time a woman has taken up the Flagbearer position of the Progressive Peoples’ Party.
I am grateful for God’s grace and blessings of strength and health and thankful for His bountiful mercies and faithfulness each day. I continue to pray to Him for strength and wisdom for this journey.
I am grateful to the executives and delegates of the Progressive Peoples’ Party and I am truly honoured to know that following my role in August 2016 as Running Mate to our Founder, and then Flagbearer, Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, you have entrusted me with this huge role to fill his shoes and lead the party, as a formidable alternative to the NDC and NPP, to victory in the 2020 elections. I am particularly grateful to Mr. William Doworkpor who so graciously stepped down for me to take up the position, without contest and in the best interest of the party.
I do not take it for granted; I recognize the enormity of the task ahead of us, and with God’s help, I am ready to take the bull by the horns and forge boldly ahead.
You may ask what Brigitte Dzogbenuku, as Flagbearer of the Progressive People’s Party is offering to Ghanaian voters in the 2020 elections and as President of Ghana?
Let me turn that around and ask you, the Ghanaian voter: What do you want most from these elections? What kind of Ghana do you want to live in by 2024? What do you want for yourself from your President?
Often we think we don’t deserve what we want or do not believe that what we want is attainable, because we do not believe that we are capable of creating what we really want or that we can indeed change things as they are now. We have been so disappointed and disempowered repeatedly with each subsequent election that we have lost hope and trust, even in our own capabilities, and in our own power to change things. I, as Flagbearer of the PPP, am here to restore that hope and give you trust again.
In 2016, on my announcement as the Running Mate for the party, I emphasized the fact that I AM A GHANAIAN. Let me tell you how Ghanaian I am, and through that tell you what I have experienced throughout my life growing up, living, learning and working in Ghana.
I grew up in the barracks – my entire childhood was spent in one camp or another barracks where I learnt discipline and respect; justice and responsibility.
It was in Myohaung Barracks in 1978, that I first learnt of politics and campaigning – when Ghanaians were required to vote YES or NO in a referendum for Union Government – and where I learnt that our politics could be violent – when on March 30 1978, all children would be asked to stay indoors and be quiet. My lesson on political campaigning was when my father, then Col. R.K. Dzogbenuku, Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion of Infantry, while travelling with General Acheampong on his “campaign” in the Western/Central region, was involved in a fatal accident at Apam Junction, in which two people lost their lives. Thankfully, God spared his, after several months of hospitalization. It was soon after this that we learnt of a “palace coup” where Gen. Akuffo took over. It was a quiet one.
Agai, it was in Myohaung Barracks in 1979 that I was left traumatized by the June 4 coup d’etat and from which I learnt that people who worked to attain heights in their work, business or career were not always appreciated; and that by sheer envy or dislike, these high achievers could be brought down by others who did not believe in meritocracy and diligence. In 1979, I learnt that, rather than stand up and be counted, some would rather sit down and drag others down with us.
While the call was “We no go sit down”, it was not “We go stand up” either. Instead, the part about “…make then cheat we everyday” was loudest. So, we stopped the cheating, not by lifting ourselves up but by dragging down those ahead of us, who opposed us, by beating, incarcerating, or killing them. Those who led us to cry “We no go sit down”, we were to find out, were not interested in making us stand up either.
Again, it was in 1979, that I learnt of party politics, where our parents had a choice to vote for “the fish”, “the coconut” or “eye clean”, among others.
By age 10, I had learnt and experienced Ghana’s political volatility in many ways.
I went to Wesley Girls High School from 1981- 1988. This is where I was taught to “Live Pure, Speak True, Right Wrong and Follow the King.” I learnt to respect teachers, sisters (seniors) and peers alike; I was taught decorum and polite speech. I learnt boldness, discipline, responsibility, dignity and pride. I got an education, not only to pass examinations: I was taught VALUES.
In December 1981, living in the Military Academy and Training Schools Camp and as a first year student in Wesley Girls’ High School, on Christmas holidays, once again, gunshots forced us to flee our home on the dawn of 31st December. My late father who remained behind, we were told, almost got himself killed that week, as he stood for discipline and he stood faithful and loyal to Ghana. Once again, Ghana had been reversed; our lives were disrupted yet again.
For the next 12 years or so, as a teenager living in MATS barracks, our country was under Military rule, where discipline as we knew it, was instilled by fear, by corporal or capital punishment. However, for the first time, for several years, we experienced some political stability and some economic growth but with fear, under restrictions, without freedom of speech or political association. Our leaders were PDCs, CDRs and cadres hand-picked by our Military government – many of whom had shouted “we no go sit down” in 1979 – and we were tried by tribunals. There seemed a semblance of calm – life was coming back to normal; while the soldiers were still feared, the military was starting to heal again, but not without scar tissue. There were programs such as SAP and PAMSCADS to help our nation develop and make life better; there was a famine too. We learnt to accept it and be quiet.
In 1992, as a student in University of Ghana, we were grateful for opportunity to CHANGE from military to civil rule under a constitution – a constitution drawn up by those who instilled fear against those who dared challenge them – a constitution that gave the winner of the elections all the powers to appoint only those on his side to parliament and as ministers – not considering that one day they also might be in opposition. It was a constitution drawn up in FEAR – fear of opposition, and with the view of putting fear in the opposition.
We voted, if only for that CHANGE to democratic rule. It was a departure, but certainly far from an arrival.
In 2000, Ghanaians/WE were well and truly ready for real change! As an adult who had been working for seven years, I wanted CHANGE – I was ready for something different and I made it happen by voting for that change. I made my vote count! The feeling of achievement, euphoria and hope was palpable among us – we had done it! We had changed Ghana onto something new after about 20 years of the same leadership.
We, however, voted a new party into an old constitution – a constitution drawn up in fear, encouraging division and corruption.
Successive elections since 2000 have only offered us a “variation of the same change”. We have had slow growth and development with either party overturning, reversing, abolishing or stagnating the little strides made by the other; our governance has been visionless, fraught with corruption and greed, and our leaders have only governed to their personal or party’s benefit but to the detriment of we the people. Policy after policy has only been implemented for the politics (to win votes and remain in power) rather than for the long-lasting impact in the lives of the people of Ghana.
As you can tell from my story, I am entirely “made in Ghana” as are many of you are. I have lived here as a child, student, employee, employer and mother. So, I understand you – being Ghanaian at every level is tough, particularly when you want to do things right! Why must it be so?
Indeed, we have had a instances of near brilliance and have been praised by some international institutions as doing well – on the path to success, but I, along with many of you, know that for the past 28 years in the period of our 4th Republic, it would seem all we have done is stopped and started many times –retrogressed on many fronts and stagnated in some.
We have been promised “a better Ghana” and “real change” over the years, but all we have seen is two sides of the same coin, and a continuous widening gap in between the rich and poor, and our human capital development index is just a notch above the average in our region.
We have governed in an “us-against-them” manner, a competition in mediocrity rather than in excellence, that has deeply divided the country and has led to an inequality that characterizes almost every sector – jobs, education, health and the economy. This has resulted in many Ghanaians businesses’ inability to excel, and a youth without hope.
But we need not remain there. We in the PPP believe we can do so much better, and many Ghanaians believe so too, particularly at this time of our democracy. We have all cried for a third force that will bring real change. The Progressive People’s Party under the leadership of Brigitte Dzogbenuku is that third force.
We, in the Progressive People’s Party say, that after 28 years of doing the same thing, voting for the NDC or the NPP, and seeing the slow progress, sometimes retrogression and near-stagnation in our development, a bit like the Israelites in the wilderness going around in circles, we need a new kind of leadership – a leadership with values as its core – that will lead us to the Promised Land.
What kind of leadership will that be?
A new kind of leadership believes in hard work, honesty, integrity, respect and discipline, loyalty, dignity and pride. We speak of the good old days when people worked with joy and pride; there was respect and love for one another; there was discipline, there was love for our country and there was development and growth. We had hope. We had VALUES and money was not the only VALUE we respected.
Brigitte Dzogbenuku will restore these to Ghanaians with a new kind of leadership.
I bring bold ideas and take bold action for growth and development. Bold ideas and bold action to challenge the status quo; bold ideas and bold actions to make you vote differently, being aware that without revisiting the fundamentals of our democracy and addressing the issues, we grow but only haltingly.
I bring a new kind of leadership that EMPOWERS OTHERS FOR THE BENEFIT OF THEIR COMMUNITIES, willing and bold enough to cede power into the hands of the people without fear – being aware that an empowered people must demand their own accountable governance and development. “Power to the People” is not to bring or keep others down as we have known, but rather to build us all up to grow towards a common vision.
I bring DISCIPLINE and RESTORATION – we can once again live in a just and disciplined society, with hard work and a passion for excellence and growth at all levels.
I bring INCLUSIVE LEADERSHIP: We must pick ourselves from where we are today and move forward towards being that exemplary sub-Saharan African country, Ghana, which was the vision and dream of Nkrumah and all others who fought for our independence – a Ghana with a people full of pride and dignity; a country with its people at its heart. The Ghana we dream of is one with in an inclusive government acknowledging and using the knowledge and expertise of all Ghanaians, locally and in the diaspora, regardless of political party, ethnicity, creed, or gender all working together for the love of the nation.
I bring on the STRENGTH of a WOMAN, which lies in her compassion for and nurturing of others, to see them grow and prosper; and her enterprising spirit to provide for all – which has contributed immensely to the development of our country thus far. I can testify to the strength of the Ghanaian woman and her relentless effort, hard work and ability to care for her family, to feed, clothe, educate and provide health care for her children – constantly feeling like she is swimming against the tide. For each day that she is able do this she counts it as a success. She wants a new kind of leadership too – a leadership that empathizes with her and answers to her needs to help her attain her vision for her children, and sees in her a leader for her community.
I bring on board my STRONG ROOTS, NETWORKS and RELATIONSHIPS in my various communities – Ghana Army, Wesley Girls High School, University of Ghana, Accra Ridge Church, Accra Lawn Tennis Club, all the young ladies who have participated in our Mentoring Programs for the last 12 years, Aviation Social Centre staff and members and the women who work to produce Ve Flavour Dzomi – they all represent the values we want in Ghana – hard work, discipline, integrity and honesty, and compassion.
I represent VISION for the youth. While I am not exactly youthful, you will agree, I am a good bridge between the old kind of leadership and the youth. So BRIDGE-IT to the new kind of leadership. A new voter of 18 years was born in 2002. Indeed, those who were born even in 1992, in the fourth republic are 28 years old today and will be voting for the third time in December. You have dreams, visions and aspirations of a Ghana that we all want in the future, not to remain hurts and pains of what transpired in 1972 or ’79.
We understand that you also have wished for a new kind of leadership that answers your questions and addresses your needs; a leadership that helps you attain your vision. The PPP will give you that kind of leadership, with a younger President who shares in your dreams and aspirations, because, as a mother, she also has a growing son, and young nieces and nephews and wants the best for them and their peers, just as your parents want for you. The youth want jobs to work, to earn money, to grow, get married, start families, build or rent homes and live happily. This will be possible in Ghana with Brigitte Dzogbenuku as President.
We understand the desire for free things – things that will not cost us money that we do not have. But let me warn you about free things:- you have no control over the quality you are given; free things are disempowering – not working to earn it and always having to beg for it; and you are stripped of all dignity and pride of achievement; it is unsustainable and short lived. Free is often instant gratification, for long term regret.
So, I bring you DIGNITY and PRIDE. We are not lazy – we are willing and have the ability to work hard, to earn and take pride in acquiring what we want in honesty and with integrity.
Lastly, I bring you COURAGE – it takes courage to do things differently for the change that you want. As I read recently: “As humans, we possess an innate desire to feel accepted by our peers. It is always easier to side with the majority – to avoid standing out…but change doesn’t happen while we’re sticking to the ‘usual’. It happens when we act on our inner voice, despite the roars shouting us down. Change occurs when we speak up and dare to disrupt.” I have dared to disrupt because I want change. Follow my lead. Have courage!
So, what can we do to have this new kind of leadership? Vote for Brigitte Dzogbenuku and the Progressive People’s Party on December 7th 2020. Follow us on the campaign trail, in person and online. Like and share our videos online, support our candidates in the constituencies and come December 7th 2020, go out in confidence, knowing that you along with many others will be creating the real change we want – the fundamental change that ensures that every Ghanaian’s dream of a just, disciplined and prosperous country for all is possible with BRIGITTE DZOGBENUKU as President.
Go out and vote with the same excitement and in hope we had for change in 2000, but this time vote for BRIGITTE DZOGBENUKU, believing that your vote will bring you real hope again – that the status quo will change – the constitution will be reviewed to ensure an incorruptible government, that we will have the power to vote our own local leaders at the district and municipal level, that our children will remain in school from the basic level through to the senior secondary with quality education, that our youth will get jobs with dignity and pride; there will be peace in our country; there will be progress, continuity and inclusiveness for every Ghanaian, regardless of party, religion, ethnicity or gender. Ghana will know its VALUE again.
Vote for the Progressive People’s Party! Vote Brigitte Dzogbenuku!