Politics of 2014-05-27

Afoko calls for cool heads as he pledges to serve interest of NPP

National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Paul Awentami Afoko, has reiterated his commitment to serve the interest of the party and not a section.

“I will not serve any sectional interest except that of the party,” he declared.

Making this declaration in his first key interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, since assuming office as national chairman, Mr Afoko pledged

“I will work to bring every member of the party to the centre of activities so as to ensure a focused plan towards winning the 2016 general election.”

In his view, cool heads, unity of purpose, adhering strictly to party’s constitutional dictates, respect for one another and decency in political discourse and campaign were the key ingredients needed in the party’s quest to win the 2016 polls.

Mr Afoko was elected National Chairman of the NPP at their recent national delegates’ conference at the Tamale Sports Stadium on April 12, 2014. He and his 10-member elected national executive now lead the party into the 2016 election; but the party is currently witnessing tense and heated moments leading to its presidential primaries slated for December 6, 2014.

Since his election, political pundits are keenly watching how Mr Afoko and his executive will roll out his main agenda of attaining his “New Plan for Power” which is to rejuvenate, reinvigorate,rebrand and reunite the NPP to win the 2016 general election.

Flag-bearer election

The national chairman cautioned all presidential aspirants and their supporters to refrain from utterances that will arm their political opponents with negative information for use after the contest in December this year.

Internally, he advised party members to eschew actions that are vitriolic and rather endeavour to have respect for the truth and for one another.

Inasmuch as the presidential primaries are crucial, Mr Afoko underscored how difficult it will be for any political party to win an election without unity, reiterating that “no matter how popular or strong a candidate is, he cannot win political power with a divided house.”

He maintained that irrespective of whoever was elected flag bearer, the party would be able to achieve its objective of winning power if its members were united.

June 6 nominations

The National Council (NC) of the NPP is expected to affirm the June 6 opening of nominations for candidates to pick forms for the December 6 presidential primaries as the party’s constitution stipulates. The party’s constitution states that when the party is in opposition, presidential primaries will be organised six months from the day nominations are opened and 24 months to general elections.

Mr Afoko confirmed that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the NPP took the June 6, 2014 proposal from the steering committee of the party last Thursday for final endorsement by the NC which is yet to be constituted as mandated by the party’s constitution. Outside of congress, the highest decision-making body of the NPP is the NC.

Currently, the party is almost through with constituting its NC, Mr Afoko disclosed, explaining that “the June 6, 2014 proposal is the expected date we are working towards,” but added, “if the National Council is not in place to give the go ahead, then whatever we do can actually be challenged.”

He appealed to party members who had already petitioned him on the composition of the NC to exercise patience since the composition of the council will be done in accordance with the dictates of the NPP Constitution.

In the opinion of Mr Afoko, the party needs to take very deliberate steps to ensure that “whatever we do we are on the right side of the law.”

Party is broke?

On reports that Ghana’s dominant opposition party, the NPP, is broke, Mr Afoko explained that the newly-elected executive were in the process of taking a detailed inventory of its assets and liabilities and would report back to the party when all the processes were complete.

Some media reports say the NPP turned broke soon after the Tamale national delegates’ conference and it is difficult to tell whether the Jake Otanka Obetsebi Lamptey-led administration fully accounted for party resources meant for the 2012 general election.

Mr Afoko, however, admitted that his administration had inherited some debts which needed to be paid immediately as debtors kept knocking at their doors, but refused to mention the amount.

He said his administration was working around the clock to ensure that the executive at the grass roots and the party’s machinery at all levels were vibrant

Challenges

According to Mr Afoko, his challenges included getting the rank and file of his party to also get focused on the pending June 20, 2014 limited voters registration by the Electoral Commission (EC).

He said it appeared flag-bearer aspirants and their party supporters were more interested in their campaigns at the expense of ensuring that the EC came out with a clean voters’ register that was acceptable to all stakeholders, saying “it is the voters’ register which will decide everything.”

In this regard, he enjoined all members and supporters of the party, from the polling stations, constituencies, regional and national levels to educate members of the public, particularly the Ghanaian electorate and those who are qualified to register on the pending EC exercise.

According to Mr Afoko, the NPP cannot make a monumental mistake by not taking the voters’ registration exercise much more seriously, adding that “already, the party has some issues with the existing register, which needs to be cleaned and cannot look on unconcerned while a new registration exercise is yet to commence.’

He said if the NPP was to win the 2016 elections, then what would happen in between elections such as voters’ registration exercises, must be the concern of all party members.

“NPP needs to understand how to go for an election and win it,” he told the Daily Graphic and that “as national chairman, I will continue to serve the interest of the party by injecting the winning mentality in our members.”

Campaign teams

Meanwhile, campaign teams of flag-bearer hopefuls are already in the field, marketing their candidates.

One of the flag-bearer hopefuls, Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, was spotted in the north of the country meeting delegates recently.

Nana Akufo-Addo’s camp is also re-strategising and has decided to ignore any media warfare by the opposing camps within the NPP.

Mr Alan Kwadjo Kyeremanten’s recent call in far-away New York, for a change of flag bearer for 2016, has also sent shock waves across the party.

According to Students Network for Nana Akufo-Addo (STUNNAD), the party should forget winning the election if Mr Kyerematen is presented as its flag bearer because the party’s core voters will desert them on the election day.

Raising the red flag, the students declared, “With this, we like to say to Mr Cash that with him as our presidential candidate, then we wouldn’t even have 'our core voters'. Our so-called core voters will not even go to the polling stations and vote. We wouldn’t like to believe that he himself has been a floating voter in the last two elections.”