After an hour of introductory comments from NPP organizers based in the USA, Mr. Akufo-Addo took the stage for a brief speech, in which he immediately addressed the Afoko crisis.
“I know many of you have today heard the dramatic events that have taken place at home involving our National Chairman,” he said. “I have not received a sufficient brief to be able to comment on it, but I want to assure you that the party will apply the procedure and provisions of its constitution to make sure that this matter is resolved in a satisfactory way.”
The NPP Disciplinary Committee decided last week to indefinitely suspend the chairman following a petition from the Council of Elders, which accused Mr. Afoko of conducting himself in a manner deleterious to the NPP’s image in the 2016 presidential election.
As he transitioned into his key political themes, the 71-year-old Akufo-Addo focused repeatedly on Ghana’s worsening economic situation.
“Our country is being driven into the ground by the present management,” he said in reference to the Mahama administration’s economic performance. He alleged that when John Kufuor left office in 2009, the total indebtedness of the country stood 9.5 billion cedis. In the six years since Kufuor left office, he alleged, the national debt has swelled to 94 billion cedis.
Akufo-Addo’s praise to the Kufuor administration belied his complex history with the former head of state and his associates. In 1998, he lost to John Kufuor in his bid to become the NPP presidential candidate, and in 2007 resigned his post as Attorney General in the Kufuor government to contest the presidency, which he ultimately lost to John Atta Mills.
“At the rate it is going, it will be 110 billion [cedis] by the time Mahama leaves office,” he stressed.
However, Mr. Akufo-Addo’s rhetoric was soaring on the topics of Ghana’s economic prospects, as well as his own political prospects. “We have a tremendous future awaiting us in Ghana. When you see what is going on next door in Cote d’Ivoire—and we have much more potential than them—you know that the sky is the limit for Ghana if we get it right.”
While his 2008 defeat to John Mahama remains fresh in Mr. Akufo-Addo’s memory, he was quick to cite the electoral record of Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari as the model for his ultimate success in 2016.
“We have a first-class example ahead of us. Buhari tried three times and then he won. Akufo-Addo will win on the third time as well. We will win to build the bright new Ghana that is awaiting us.”