Good Morning to you all and welcome to our Campaign Secretariat. On behalf of Team Bagbin, I thank you all for creating space to come to this press conference despite the one-day notice. We are extremely grateful to you.
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Ladies and Gentlemen, I am sure you all know why I have called this press conference. The reason is simple; to respond to the criticisms of social media and main stream media on some alleged statements I may have made during my campaign tour in the Volta Region in my bid to become Flagbearer of the great National Democratic Congress (NDC).
First of all I wish to apologize through you to all Ghanaians for my late response to the issues raised in the media. It is because I had travelled outside the country and not because I was insensitive to the feelings of those who were affected by the misconstruction of what I said and the deliberate misrepresentations by partisan activists for political gain.
I decided to cut short my trip and to come personally to address this press conference because of the importance I attach to the issues raised and to reassure all Ghanaians, especially the Ghana Federation of the Disabled, other Civil Society Organizations and the NDC family, who by one way or the other felt offended by my alleged comments, of my respect and support for persons with disability. I render my heartfelt apologies to you all.
I want to take full responsibility for the indiscretion in going public with issues that should otherwise be private to the NDC. I have learnt that such disclosure could raise emotions among some sections of the Ghanaian society.
That notwithstanding let me use this opportunity to clarify a few issues for the avoidance of doubt and to allay any fears of discrimination or non-inclusive governance, when I am elected Flagbearer and eventually President of the Republic of Ghana.
For the records I wish to state emphatically that I did not say persons with disabilities are not competent to be appointed to public offices or Ministerial positions. Never. I did not say that. What I said was that certain wrong decisions were made in placing or assigning some government appointees. This wrong placement cost the NDC some votes. I cited three Ministers to illustrate my point and stated that they were all very brilliant and capable persons but they were assigned to inappropriate Ministries.
I never questioned the competence of the appointees of the NDC government. To the contrary, I praised them. I only questioned the wisdom in placing three of them in some designated Ministries. For example, if an appointee of Government has a known standing conflict or problem with the people or institution he/she is appointed to oversee the ultimate results would be the displeasure of such an institution towards the government. If the stakeholders and followers of the institution are that displeased with the government they are likely not to vote for that government.
If I said a particular appointment into the Ministry of Chieftaincy would affect the electoral fortunes of our party, it is not to say that the person appointed is incompetent. It is because there is a standing tradition in our chieftaincy institution that disqualifies that person to oversee chieftaincy affairs and would incur the displeasure of the Traditional Leaders for the Party if the person is appointed to the Ministry. It does not and cannot mean that the person in question is not competent to be appointed to any other Ministry of State. It also does not and cannot indicate my preference of the custom or tradition that disqualifies the appointed person. What it does mean is that the competence of the appointed person however unparalleled, should not be the deciding factor in appointing him to the Chieftaincy Ministry. This is especially so when the chiefs openly aired their objection after the person had been appointed to that Ministry.
If I said the appointment of a particular person, as a Deputy Minister of Education responsible for Tertiary Education was politically inexpedient, it is not because the person is incompetent for all ministerial appointment. It is because there is a standing conflict between that person and some University lecturers that would make his appointment a source of lecturers’ displeasure. I am not by any stretch of imagination saying that the appointed person was incompetent to be a Minister of State. No! I am simply saying that the raging conflict will be the basis for incurring the displeasure of the University Lecturers, which could dwindle the electoral fortunes of the Party. It did happen in the 2016 general elections.
If I said the appointment of a person with special disability in speech to be a Minister of Communications, was politically inexpedient, it does not mean that such a person is incompetent to head any Ministry by reason of his special disability. Not, at all. As the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament and the longest serving Member of Parliament, a former Minority/Majority Leader and Minister of State, I have championed several bills and policies in Parliament further the interest of persons with disabilities (PWDs). I have also worked enormously with PWDs and I know their capabilities. Currently, I am a Patron of RICHOFF DISABILITY SPORTS AND EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION. I have also on countless occasions personally funded several programs and activities including the provision of scholarships to PWDs because of my endless affection for the marginalized and my desire to build a free and just society.
As a Leader, I take full responsibility for this situation and the impressions created. I have reflected deeply on all the comments coming from across a large section of the public and I have drawn relevant lessons from them. I want to assure the NDC and the good people of Ghana that my unflinching support for inclusive governance, a key part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), is never in doubt.
As a social democrat and also a proud Pan-Africanist, I further pledge that when I become President of this country, I will ensure that the needed reforms in our social and governance structure are carried out to provide limitless opportunities for persons with disabilities. These will include huge investments into public education and sensitization against economic and social discrimination. Tax incentives and reliefs to create employment in the private sector for PWDs.
Indeed, I have elaborate plans for ending all forms of discrimination and creating wealth to establish an equitable and just society in Ghana.
Together we can create a more inclusive culture of governance and respect for all.
I thank you all for the feedback. I want to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to participate in every objective national dialogue to improve the culture of governance in the country.
Once again I thank you all for your time, attention and sacrifice in attending and listening to this press conference.
God Bless You. God Bless Our Party, the Great NDC. God Bless Our Homeland Ghana. I thank you.
Hon. Alban S. K. Bagbin, MP
Second Deputy Speaker, Parliament of Ghana
Flag Bearer Aspirant, NDC
1) Ghana Federation for the Disabled
2) All Civil Society Organizations
3) The General Secretary
National Democratic Congress
NDC Headquarters, Accra.
4) The Clergy
5) All Media Houses