The last annual Party Congress took place in 1958 at Koforidua and under very different circumstances. Ghana was then a Dominion. Today, we meet as citizens of the Republic of Ghana, exercising our sovereign rights in the best interests of ourselves.
Our great party, in the meantime, has undergone serious changes in its structure and organisation, and what is more, it has set the country on the road to socialist reconstruction. In this exercise, some of us have fallen by the wayside by the weight of our own conduct. We who have gathered here today must have cause to rejoice that we have withstood the tempest of these trials and changes and have survived.
Our party’s aim is all-embracing, inspired and dedicated to the people and Nation. We have stated often and made it clear that our objective is a one party state, which give equal opportunity to all the people and distinguishes citizens for merit and achievement, but not privilege.
This eleventh Congress of our great party being held in. this historic city of Kumasi, is unique in many ways. In a sense, it is the party dividing line between the past and the future, between what we have achieved and what we plan to achieve. We must therefore mark the importance of this occasion by positive decisions.
When we met in 1958 at Koforidua, the National Headquarters of the party secretariat was accommodated in a small office in Kimberly Avenue in Accra. The general staff numbered less than thirty. The office was poorly equipped and the administration was a sort of stop gap arrangement. We launched a building appeal fund. Party members and friends generously subscribed. The result is the magnificent headquarters building of the National Secretariat which now imposes its gorgeous personality on the scene around Georg Padmore Road in Accra.
The Party Administration was re-organised and streamlined, both at the centre and in the Regions. Sixteen departments were set up to cater for various aspects of Party activity. The Party now have employees over two hundred full-time officials at National Headquarters and in the Regions. No one who visits our National Secretariat can fail to be impressed by the effective and efficient arrangements for serving not only our Party members, but also, the general public.
One of the most successful exercises carried out by the Party during this period was the change of membership cards. The Central Committee decreed a change in membership cards and directed that new cards of a simple design be issued. The cards were distributed on a basis whereby every member had to obtain his membership card from his branch Party. By this method, floating membership is eliminated. Today, every single party member belongs to one branch or another.
Our membership, not taking account of supporters and sympathizers, stand at two and half million. In 1961, major change took place in administration. I assumed office as General Secretary of the Party and Chairman of the Central Committee. I did so in response to the invitation of the Central Committee to in order to give personal direction to Party administration.
Our young men, imbued with a spirit of dedication and service, are thronging by the thousand to the colours of the Party. Looking at them, I am sure that Ghana has a bright future in human material. Our young generations, led by the Young Pioneers, will grow up with the slogan "Ghana First" on their lips and give of their best to Ghana in honest work and honest living.
The Party organisation is effective in all its sections and the Party integral bodies — the Trades Union Congress, the United Ghana Farmers’ Council, the Co-operative Movement and the National Council of Ghana Women — are all active and doing good work.
I am aware that hard work still lies ahead of this Party and that we must try not to allow our continued success to make us over optimistic. It is only human and right, however, that we should congratulate ourselves on our achievements so far. The danger lies in complacency. As long as we do not rest on our oars, as long as each Comrade realizes the importance of "carrying on," the Party will keep on its path of success.
I have frequently pointed out that here in Ghana, and for that matter in other parts of Africa, political action must be taken all along the line for as long as possible. The ravages of colonialism and imperialism are such that only political action based on proper political considerations and direction can effectively repair the damage. That is why it is most important that the party should be in a position to give essential leadership to all national action, at all times.
This demands that the Party leadership must be well-informed and its actions well considered. The party has therefore built at a great cost, the Kwame Nkrumah Institute of Ideological Studies at Winneba. Its object is to give party ideological education. Deserving activities, as well as those comrades who are interested, are given opportunity to gain ideological training in theory and practice and to advance their knowledge in other aspects of Party education.
Many successful seminars have recently taken place at the Institute and more and more Comrades are becoming interested in the work of the Institute. The Party must keep faith with the nation and work hard to provide full employment, good housing and equal opportunity up to the highest level for educational, spiritual and cultural advancement for all the people. Our task therefore is to build a socialist state, an equitable and progressive social order in which the condition for the development of one is the condition for the development of all.
This means a reconstruction crusade led by the Party. The National Executive and the Central Committee have therefore given the most careful consideration to the agenda for this Congress and decided that our main work should be the consideration and adoption of the Party Programme for Work and Happiness and the approval of the Party revised Constitution.
The Programme has been widely circulated throughout the country. It has been discussed and explained at Party rallies and meetings and by the newspapers and the radio. Opportunity was given not only to Party members, but also to everybody to study and criticize, thus fulfilling our promise to the masses that no action would be taken on the Programme until the people had fully expressed their views on it, thus giving effect to the general policy of the Party that the masses should be consulted in all our actions.
I must report that we have received criticisms and suggestions in this regard, but that by the large, the nation overwhelmingly support the programme and by resolutions, telegrams, letters and other means, demonstrated its will for Congress to adopt it for implementation. I do not find it necessary to comment here on the content of the Programme. Surely delegates must have studied its provisions before now since the Programme has been in the hands of the public for several months. It deals with varied subjects covering the whole of our national life including Tax Reform, National Planning, Banking and Insurance, Forest Husbandry, Animal Husbandry and Poultry Production, fish Production and Marketing, Industrialisation, Agriculture, Education, Culture and Leisure, Transport etc.
The Central Committee put considerable work and thought into the draft programme. It is prudent therefore, not to dismiss any provisions lightly. The amendments to the Constitution are straightforward and not complicated. One major amendment deals with the establishment of Party Special Branches.
It provides that special branches of the party shall be established in working places. The purpose of these special branches is to study and propagate the principles of Nkrumaism. Party decision, policies and programmes. Already, most of these special branches which are not chartered branches have actually been established and are doing very useful work.
It is important for Party members to realise that the Party Constitution is the fundamental law of the Party and therefore the protector of all Party members.
Party Comrades, for their own sake, should endeavour to acquire a good working knowledge of the Constitution. In this way, their rights and duties will be clear to them and their conduct will be properly guided by it at all times. Apart from the protection that the Party Constitution gives, Party members can also protect themselves by their own integrity and honesty. I have in recent times spoken so much on this subject and I have emphasized this point very clearly both in the Dawn Broadcast and in my Address to the National Executive at the Ideological Institute at Winneba, the subject matter of which has been printed and forms the Guide to Party Action. Delegates who have not had copies of the Guide to Party Action can obtain these at the Congress Secretariat. This great Party is deeply rooted in the people. The masses swear by it. Its prestige is reflected in the confidence reposed in it not only by Ghanaians, but also by Africans elsewhere. The Party therefore has a duty and an obligation to stand by the people. Our performance must be first-class. Our sincerity must be above suspicion and we must always have the courage of our convictions. To achieve this, we have periodically to examine ourselves critically and to establish a firm discipline. In future, we shall even be more critical of our conduct and actions.
As Comrade Delegates know, we are embarking upon a period of intensive industrialisation and the mechanization and diversification of agriculture. This is the time, therefore, when we shall need every available hand. The intelligentsia, the workers, the farmers and peasants, all the people must pull together in one great effort to liquidate and abolish all the remnants of evils of colonialism — illiteracy, disease, poverty, hunger, mal-nutrition and squalor. All the people must work together, for our interests are one and inseparable and our destiny is one and single.
It is good to note, in this connection, that more and more of our intelligentsia are finding their way into the Party and identifying themselves with it. It is time they identified themselves with the masses. Ghana is blessed with some of the greatest assets and attractions any country can offer. Ours is a secular democratic State. We have no knowledge of inter-race tensions. We accept all colours, creeds and religions. Our mineral and agricultural potential is great. Our per capita income is comfortably high and our economy is buoyant.
We can make Ghana a showpiece of African success, if this Party gives correct leadership to our people. Hitherto, development action has been taken on the surface. The places at the base have been little affected by the extensive changes taking place. The Party has therefore decided to re-organise local government in order to get action down to affect the life of the people at the base in their homes and villages. New districts have been created bringing up the number of districts from seventy to about hundred and fifty. It is intended that a district shall not only constitute a local council area administered by a District Commissioner, but shall also constitute an electoral constituency. In addition, there have been created town and village committees so that the internal life of villages can be substantially administered by the villagers themselves. The ordinary worker, farmer and peasant thereby becomes an active participant in the government of the country and the life of the community generally becomes organised right at its base.
All this work needs a steady party machine and administration which in turn need money for upkeep. Comrade delegates will realise that our party has no sources of income. It does not engage in trade or business. It depends solely on its membership that is to say on dues paid by Party members and donations. We must therefore find more effective ways and means for collecting membership dues and donations. Expenditure on the National and Regional Secretariats per month amounts to almost twenty thousand pounds. We need a steady income of approximately two hundred and fifty thousand pounds annually, therefore, for running the Party’s Administration and maintaining an effective political machine. This amount can be raised without much difficulty if every member pays regularly his dues of only three shillings a year. The Central Committee will request Finance Committee to work out new methods of collection to ensure that all members pay their dues as a duty to the Party.
The Party and Government have, during these years, worked tirelessly for a rapid economic transformation to catch up with our political advance. We have achieved much in the field of actual development and this is dealt with in outline by the Party. Ghana has maintained a steady progress since independence. Considering that these are our formative years of nationhood, we can afford to look at the future with confidence.
I have often pondered on the plight of most of our people in regard to social security. Surely citizens of Ghana must have the right to maintenance in case of sickness, disability, old age or some other handicap. Now only a few people in the service of the nation enjoy such rights. We must look at this matter with new eyes and plan an elaborate scheme of national insurance and pensions which would cover all the people. For example, imagine the lot of Party officials now, were some to suffer severe and protracted illness or some disability which prevented them from being able to work any longer — it could be a very sad and hard lot, for, the Party would not be in a position to give such officials the adequate provision which would be necessary for their upkeep. This illustration is also true of many public workers. Such a state of affairs is rather undesirable and can work considerable hardship and misery on our people. I invite Congress to pay particular attention to this matter and urge the introduction of social security and national insurance schemes for all our people as quickly as possible.
It is incumbent upon this great Party to plan comfort and happiness for our old people. Old age could be a blessing, if the aged can have succour necessary to keep themselves and their peace of mind. Unfortunately, most old people are often poor and since they get no income from any source whatsoever, their days end in sorrow and misery. We must correct this at all costs. Many of the aged must have rendered useful service of one type or the other to the state at some time and they must not be forsaken in their last days. Social Security should also provide for loss of bread-winner pensions, vocational training for disabled persons and maintain institutions of health, rest and leisure.
As you all know, this Party cannot achieve all that it has achieved without efficient organisation. Right from the start, the Convention People’s Party has always placed a premium on organisation, for, organisation decides everything.
We have passed through trials and tribulations. We have weathered fierce storms and upheavals in the young life of the Convention People’s Party. Comrades, a serious development is beginning to take place on our national scene. You all remember the cocoa politicians and the considerable havoc they caused with their seasonal activity. Every cocoa season they went about fabricating stories about offer of high prices of cocoa. They spread incredible and fantastic stories so as to deceive and confuse our common folk. Every cocoa season, the Party and government fought hard to counter these treacherous activities until the truth was established and the cocoa politicians disappeared with their inevitable doom.
Now a new traitor of the Nation has appeared. He is even worse than the cocoa politician. He is what I call the Budget politician. This vicious person goes about when budget time approaches, spreading all sort of fabrications about cost of commodities telling lies about the Party and Government and thus causing alarm and despondency among the people.
We must declare war upon these rascals and if they are in the Party, weed them out ruthlessly. If they are without, we must mercilessly and ruthlessly crush their activity and render them harmless, and like the cocoa politicians, send them to their inevitable doom. l charge all Party members to report to the authorities of any person or persons found indulging in this shameful and unpatriotic practice.
The Party and Government will launch a ten-year electrification scheme. Since we have placed our national emphasis on rapid industrialisation, it is essential that we should build electric power to the point where the smallest nook and cranny of Ghana can obtain electric supply readily and cheap to facilitate activity.
The Government will also launch a seven-year development plan on a scale unprecedented in this country. From the North to the South, from the East to the West, Ghana will buzz with life and activity. Prosperity, progress and happiness shall stretch out before our people.
It seems clear from all this that our duty is to exert eternal vigilance, organise the Party more effectively in all its sections and ramifications and place it on a pedestal of achievement and supremacy. I know that in this matter, we have a unanimous voice and a united will.
Comrade delegates, on behalf of Central Committee and the National Executive, I now have every great Congress of our great Party, and placing before you, the revised Constitution and the new Programme of the Convention People’s Party.