Ex-Agric Minister Confesses
The former Food and Agriculture minister, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has confessed that he is counting mostly on the beneficiaries of the government’s flagship programme, Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), to win the flagbearer race of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
According to Dr. Akoto, who is one of the about 11 presidential hopefuls of the governing party, majority of the party’s delegates who are farmers and will be taking part to elect the next NPP flagbearer, benefitted massively from the programme he superintended.
The resigned minister, whose campaign message is yet to resonate with the grassroots, is hopeful that when it matters most, this section of delegates will show him gratitude by voting for him to lead the NPP.
Speaking in a recent interview, Dr. Akoto, who will be turning 74 later this year, said, “Fortunately for me, the majority of the delegates are farmers and they have benefited from the policies of the Planting for Food and Jobs, so we are very confident.”
But his comments have raised eyebrows, as many wondered if the former minister deliberately targeted party delegates during the implementation of the programme, which was launched in 2017.
Many have questioned if these beneficiaries who were known to be delegates were deliberately offered the opportunity to take advantage of the initiative because the minister knew they could help him achieve his ambition to be flagbearer and subsequently president.
The former minister, who resigned earlier this year to focus on his much-cherished ambition, said the campaign was doing well and that he is confident of victory.
He said his team is in the know of all the delegates and they are targeting them with their message for a massive win.
Dr. Akoto told TV3 last Sunday, after campaigning for votes for the NPP parliamentary candidate in Kumawu ahead of the by-election, that “[My] campaign is going extremely well, we are very confident victory will be ours.”
“We know the delegates, the limited number of people who are voting, we are focusing on them and selling our message to them about the state of the party, the plans we have for the party, the changes we want to bring about in the party, the reforms we want to bring about, the message goes down extremely well,” he added.
When asked to rate himself regarding the implementation of the Planting for Food and Jobs, he said “I cannot rate myself, a teacher cannot rate himself.”
But, according to critics if the claim was true, then he is disadvantaging others, like the Vice President, Dr.Mahamudu Bawumia, the Assin Central Member of Parliament (MP), Ken Agyapong, energy expert Kojo Poku, Francis Addai Nimo, sacked General Secretary Kwabena Agyapong, and former Trade Minister under President John Kufuor, Konadu Apraku, among others.
The above-mentioned party bigwigs have all expressed their desire to compete in the presidential primaries.
Two out of the lot, namely Dr. Afriyie Akoto and Trade and Industry Minister, Alan Kojo Kyeremanten, who were the only ministers, both left the government to ostensibly chase their dream of becoming president.
They have since been crisscrossing the entire country to introduce themselves to the delegates and also sell their messages.
Dr.Bawumia, who many knew will be contesting and one of the frontrunners, recently also announced his intention to succeed his boss, the President. The presidential primaries are slated for November 2023.
Planting for Food and Jobs is a flagship agricultural campaign promise of the government, with five implementation modules. The first module, PFJ (Crops), aims to promote food security and immediate availability of selected food crops on the market and also provide jobs. This module was officially launched by President Akufo-Addo at Goaso on April 19, 2017, in the then Brong Ahafo Region.
Subsequently Planting for Export and Rural Development and Rearing for Food and Jobs were launched in Dunkwa-On-Ofin and Wa respectively.
The three other modules under the PFJ are Mechanization, Greenhouse and Villages modules. All five modules have been purposely designed and tailored for specific needs to facilitate the transformation of Ghana’s agriculture.
The policy rallied all citizens to grow grain crops and vegetables in open spaces, including backyards. In that regard, private and public institutions, like breweries, food processors, schools, colleges and prisons, were encouraged to set up their own farms to feed the nation, export the surpluses, reduce excessive food import bill and generate employment for Ghanaians.