Hassan Ayariga is the presidential candidate of the All Peoples Congress (APC) in the December 7 Ghanaian general elections. Mr Ayariga founded the APC after leaving the Peoples National Convention (PNC). He had left the PNC after losing the 2016 presidential primaries of the party to Edward Mahama.
In this interview with PREMIUM TIMES‘ Editor-in-Chief, Musikilu Mojeed, Managing Editor Idris Akinbajo, and political reporter QueenEsther Iroanusi, Mr Ayariga says the current administration in Ghana has failed due to its lack of proper planning. He explains what he would do differently if elected president. He also explains why his party chose a name and logo similar to that of the Nigerian ruling party.
Mr Ayariga’s interview is the first in a series of interviews with Ghana’s presidential candidates ahead of next month’s election.
For us from Nigeria, your party looks very familiar. The ruling party in Nigeria now is APC. Yours is All Peoples Congress. Were you inspired by what happened in Nigeria in 2015 to form this party?
When I was forming this party, I actually did not consider what happened in Nigeria; I considered what was going to happen in Ghana. If you look at the Ghanaian political terrain, we have two political parties that have won power for some time now, interchanging from one party to another and both parties have different ideologies. One is a socialist political forum and the other one is a capitalist democratic forum.
So, because I was coming from a socialist forum, I looked at our economy and realised that we have people who believe in socialism and at the same time, believe in capitalism. Where do they stand? So I decided to form a congress that we believe that people who come from the socialist and capitalist forums will have a platform in my party.
We had the congress already. So I began looking for the words; I thought of “All” – which puts everyone in one place. It’s supposed to be an inclusive governance because we believe that everybody must get equal opportunity to serve the country.
I realised the people make all the society. I then decided it is better to use All Peoples Congress, where everybody gets the opportunity to be part of the congress. So, I came up with the abbreviation, APC.
The APC comes with a broom as its symbol. The purpose of the broom is that we should be united. Besides being a symbol of unity, it’s also supposed to be a symbol of sweeping away corruption in our governance system. Because one thing that has always drawn African communities back is corruption. So we need something that can do away with corruption and at the same time uniting the people and giving them the opportunity to perform and that was what we did.
I also decided that I do not need a military regime in Ghana because that is what we are practicing in Ghana; one political party is in power and all they know is about “a winner takes it all” kind of syndrome.
So, a section of Ghanaians works when certain political parties are in power and we have us dividing our fronts and the moment we divide our fronts, we lose the strength. That is a military regime in disguise.
I am not looking for that. I’m looking for what will bring the best brains together, a front that people can boast of and work towards success – an all-inclusive governance.
The green stands for our national vegetation, white stands for unity, peace love for one another and the yellow stands for mineral and natural resources.
The broom, do you want to use it to sweep away the current government?
That’s part of the plan.
How prepared are you to do that?
I am very prepared. I’m sure by now, you know I’m a man who means business, a man who thinks about a country that he wants to salvage. It is very easy for me this time because of the failure of both political parties. It has given me 50 per cent of victory and the rest of the 50 per cent is how I get to the grassroots to send my message to the people.
What exactly are those things that are not working that you want to change?
What exactly is working? Nothing.
The SHS is free now…
That is your perception; that is what they want you to believe. The Senior High School is a subsidy. If you want to educate people, there is a difference between free education and free Senior High School.
Free education means that people should start getting free enrolment right from the primary level because that is where you increase enrolment of students and give opportunities to people who do not have access to education. But Senior High School, all the people who are already there are students who are already in school so it doesn’t even increase enrollment of education, it only gives them an opportunity to be able to get a subsidy – which is free Senior High School.
But what kind of education will you have if you get free education only from Senior High School, not primary or tertiary? It must be systematic; it must start from primary and end in tertiary. So, I am going to start from primary level. And that’s with money – there’s money in Ghana.
So you are saying basically nothing is working? You can’t even give credit?
I give credit, of course. People in Ghana and in Africa are only interested in winning elections. They put up policies that will make them win elections for the sake of the elections.
Now, the free Senior High School was targeting a number of students who will turn 18 and become of voting age. So, the purpose of the FSHS was not just to give them subsidy, it was to get their votes – those who fall in between the range of the voting age, they are the people given the power so they can vote. That was the purpose of the FSHS.
What of the NHIS. It is getting better and almost 60 per cent of Ghanaians are now enrolled on the NHIS. What will you do differently?
Enrolment does not mean enhancement. It does not also mean efficiency.
The institutions must work. Devoid of partisan colours, devoid of making promises. We need to make policies. As a nation, when you put proper policies in place, the economy becomes strong and sustainable, businesses will thrive and everybody will benefit. Once the institutions are strong and effective, no one will care whether or not there is a government in power.
You said you want to sweep away corruption. What specifically are you going to do to achieve that?
First of all, I need a national data system that will capture the details of everyone – facial recognition, fingerprint, data, information, income, salary, blood group, everything. When you have a detailed summary of everybody living in Ghana whether foreigner or not, you have a picture of everybody.
If you, for instance, have a house of $150 million and your salary is $10,000, how did you get that? You will come and answer. Because we will crosscheck and weigh your salaries against your properties and we are going to have an asset declaration of everybody.
We will cross check how much you earn, how much is in your bank account, what you do with your life. We will get vivid information of everybody, including your bank statement.
So even if it means probing the present government…
Of course, even the president. We are going to probe everybody, even myself – leadership by example.
Technology has taken over the world but we seem to have left it behind and we want to have data and information of everybody. We want things to work and it won’t work without a data system. With that, there is no way one can be corrupt in this country. You can’t transfer money anyhow.
Even crime will be solved with this national data system because data like fingerprints will reveal when a person was present at a crime scene. Same with car number plate in cases of hit-and-run.
Ghana and Nigeria, the brotherliness is age-long. How will you enhance that, especially given the recent tension between the two countries?
Both countries have been good friends. My only problem is that we as Africans do not understand the African continent and the good resources we have so we allow foreigners to divide our funds and rule us and give us peanuts and make us fight each other.
They come with things like “donors” and then look for us and we become beggars in the 21st century when our continent actually feeds others but we don’t know. So we become dogs that they throw a bone at and we fight each other.
We became beggars that African countries line up before the president of China just to beg, to borrow money and if care is not taken, we will be colonised by the Chinese in 10, 50 years to come.
We need to get back to the drawing board as Africans, begin to have trade among ourselves and diversify our production level and change our consumption pattern to make sure that certain countries in Africa produce certain things for our consumption.
Nigeria, for instance, can produce oil for other African countries, Ghana can produce cocoa and trade among ourselves and our resources will stay in Africa and our currency will be valuable and strong.
You talked about a comprehensive database. Are you trying to set up a police state where the state will monitor everybody’s lives?
Is it not better to have a system that monitors and guides everybody than to have a banana state?
So you want a police state?
I’m not having a police state. I’m having an IT state.
Will you be willing to publicly declare your assets?
I don’t have a problem with that. What am I afraid of? It is only when you are corrupt that you become afraid of declaring your asset.
I built this house at age 22. This is my first house. I moved to the mansion down the road and yet to another mansion.
For people who want to be conspiracy theorists, they will say, perhaps the ruling party in Nigeria is discussing with you to dislodge the ruling party here because the similarities with the party name and logo is striking. Also, the way they formed the party and dislodged the other party. What do you say to that?
Yes, that means that I am also coming to remove the main party here. For that, I am 100 per cent sure there will be a change in 2020.
I am building a force that is going to take over Ghana and Africa. That is my vision. I want the African man to know we have the best brains in this country, we have just been wasting them for no reason.
The Nigerian and Ghanaian Sakawa (yahoo) boys, what do you think they are? Very brilliant and intelligent chaps. We have put them to waste. These are people who can build special ICT for us. Now, we see them as fraudsters. A stupid person cannot be a fraudster.
We need to care for our people and transform our labour force and work to benefit our people and not to desert them in the name of politics. We starve, kill, fight, that is all we do; we use the weapons instead of using the brains.
The African continent needs proper overhauling to restore hope to the young ones coming up and let them know they have a future.
You formed this party a few months ago. Do you sincerely think you can win this election?
To be very honest, I sincerely think I’m the next president. Jokes aside, the Ghanaian people are tired of the NDC and the NPP, they are looking for a way out not a way in. They want a serious candidate.
You see, our problem is vote buying. Somebody must come up with something that is bigger than money, something that will give them hope and restore confidence; that is what I am doing.
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