Today 4th December 2012, our brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, friends and relatives in the security services will be casting the first votes. The prayers of the NPP and its Presidential Candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, are with members of the services as they travel to their various polling stations countrywide to cast their vote.
Because of the modern biometric voting system, they have to endure the inconvenience of travelling to vote. But that is a minor inconvenience compared to the work they have to do on Friday 7th December 2012. On that day, all Ghana is voting for the leadership they believe can take them into the future with confidence and heads held high. And so on that day, all of Ghana’s expectation is that the security services assure us of their commitment and dedication to protect voters, protect electoral officers, protect election materials and equipment and impartially assist to ensure the integrity of the process.
This responsibility is not new to the security services. Especially during General Elections, the security services of Ghana deserve commendation for their hardwork, sacrifice, diligence and sense of patriotism. It is the firm and solemn pledge of Nana Addo and the NPP that he will uphold these values and help deepen the integrity and professionalism of the services.
Today, the security services accept their professional role as defenders of the state under civilian government control. That is one of the tenets of a democracy. Indeed, going into a sixth General Election since the 1992 Constitution, there is no doubt that this nation has won an enviable and deserved reputation for sound and strong democratic credentials.
Yet, perhaps no election in Ghana has seen such a collective cry for peace before, during and after the election. That we are united in the call for peace means that not everything is as well as it should be. It is in that context that the NPP wishes to state that our pledge to work effectively with all the security agencies to secure peaceful, violence-free elections is irrevocable.
We therefore call on all political parties participating in the election to make conscious efforts to restrain their supporters and cooperate with the legitimate security forces of Ghana and the Electoral Commission to observe and follow the electoral rules and security measures to ensure peaceful, free, transparent, and a violence-free election in December.
It is in that context that we equally call on the security services to build confidence about their readiness and impartiality within the population. At this sensitive time, information flow between the services and the voting population and participating parties must be swift to avoid rumours that have a tendency to foul the air. For example, persistent reports of new uniforms being imported to clothe the Election Task Force are very disturbing.
Uniforms have always been fearful in Ghana but happily, we are used to the traditional uniforms and are proud of them. So what is the value added in changing such uniforms at short notice against the background of rumoured intended infiltration. In any event, we believe the services will be meticulous and we beg of them that we expect nothing less.
The concern for peace and fairness stems from the fact that all the programs needed to transform Ghana can only work in the midst of a secure population and environment. Policies aimed at improving education, health, agriculture, industrialization and fighting corruption in order to project the Ghanaian personality and culture can only thrive in a secure, serene environment.
Hence in 2001, when the NPP came to office, the security services were provided with the necessary equipment, conditions and morale boosting support to enable them discharge their constitutional duties. Going forward, Nana Addo promises to ensure that the conditions of the services are consistently enhanced. Beyond the basic issues like accommodation, proper equipment, conditions of service, training and leadership, the NPP is prepared to sit down with the various service leaderships to ensure that peculiar problems are reviewed and constructive solutions found.
For example, there is awareness of issues about length of service and pensions in the Armed Forces, which comprises the Army, Navy and Air Force. Career progression to the very top is also an issue in the Immigration Services, whilst operational efficiency and effectiveness is a major issue with the Police Service. The Prisons Service will receive the recognition it deserves for its difficult responsibilities. The Fire Services and other quasi security services will receive their due as befits a responsible government. Moreover, recruitments, promotions and appointments across the services will be transparent, balanced and fair to all facets of Ghanaian society.
We are committed to ensuring every Ghanaian feels and believes that there is safety and security of life and property. Our economy and society flourish when people can act free from fear of crime. A key platform of a Nana Akufo-Addo Presidency will be the vigorous pursuit of a thoughtful, engaging, well-articulated and contemporary agenda for justice – both criminal and civil – for this country.
Our record so far speaks for itself. The Police force almost doubled to 25,000 officers and on offer were better training, better equipment and better paid policemen. By the Grace of Almighty God, an NPP Government under Nana Akufo-Addo will significantly increase the number of police officers on our streets to make our country much safer, reform our Criminal Justice System to focus on the victims of crime, provide sufficient, decent patrol vehicles, radios, computers and ICT facilities, enhance safety on the streets with better technology, protect the police with more bullet proof vests and basically continue to transform the face of policing in Ghana and ensure the highest standards with better training, better resources and better salaries.
We are determined to tackle crime and violence in our society head on. Contemporary threats like drug and human trafficking, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, armed and highway robberies, cyber-crime and activities of nomadic herdsmen are challenges to Ghana’s national security. These complex threats have been compounded with sea protection and territorial integrity issues. The NPP has no doubt that working together; these matters can be competently and adequately tackled.
It is in this light of cooperation that the NPP assures that the Single Spine Salary Structure enjoyed by the services will not be taken away. The NPP conceived and would better implement it. Moreover, all service men and women have families who are all part of the transformation agenda based on investing national resources in creating knowledge so that the next generation of Ghanaians would be even more equipped to solve even more complex problems.
To conclude, I want to wish the security services once again a productive period safeguarding the upcoming election and a fruitful period of constructive engagement for the future.