Politics of 2014-08-21

NPP limping into 2016

It is clear to all political watchers that the dominant opposition political party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), is limping into Election 2016. Since the Paul Afoko-led executive took over the reigns of the party, they have had no space to operate as the entire party is grappling with suspicion upon suspicion.

The leadership of the party, especially the party’s National Chairman and General Secretary, Mr Afoko and Mr Kwabena Adjei Agyepong, respectively, are being vilified left, right and centre. Indeed, managing the NPP has become so difficult that a directive asking an acting Communications Director of the party to go on leave is tearing the party apart.

The First Vice Chairman of the party, Mr Freddie Blay, who is livid about developments within the NPP, as well as some executives of the party, including the National Youth Organiser, Sammy Awuku, the Third Vice-Chairman, F.F Antoh, C.K. Tedam, are all calling for an emergency Steering Committee meeting to discuss some of the pertinent issues that have cropped up over the week.

If managing the NPP has become such a big tussle, can the party really assure Ghanaians that they are ready to lead this country, united and prosperous?

Political pundits have said the crisis within the NPP is simply a result of a struggle for the soul and heart of the party. I sincerely thought that with the successful outcome of their Tamale National Delegates Congress, Ghanaians were going to see an NPP united in action towards Election 2016. Much to my surprise, the reverse is the case. Today, there is so much deep mistrust, animosity and hatred within the body politic of the NPP, to the extent that finding unity has eluded it.

The Ghanaian public last Tuesday were left in total shock and disbelief when a press briefing called by Mr Afoko and Mr Agyepong turned chaotic. The hearts of many lovers of democracy were broken when it became known that the headquarters of the NPP was the scene of mayhem. This was where some angry security guards (Invisible Forces) of the party stormed the premises, wielding machetes and beating up alleged security details of Mr Kwabena Agyepong. Their anger was fuelled by a directive given to Mr Perry Okudzeto, the party’s acting Communications Director, to proceed on leave.

Mr Agyepong was also accused by some angry youth of the party of having been bribed with $1 million by the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) to divide the party ahead of the 2016 general election and keep the NPP in opposition by deliberately taking unpopular decisions just to make the party lose the 2016 general election.

Some also believe the Paul Afoko-led administration is deliberately targeting party officials they suspect are loyal to the 2012 presidential candidate of the party, Nana Akufo-Addo.

The national chairman believes the recent furore is being engineered by opponents of his administration within the party. “I know people are deliberately doing this to cause mayhem in the party but believe me, I leave them to God and God will judge them all,” he said on an Accra FM.

What is happening within the NPP as the biggest and most vibrant opposition party in Ghana is sad, embarrassing and disappointing, to say the least. Looking at what is happening within the NPP, if this trend continues, one will be right in predicting that NPP is heading towards self-destruction.

Saddened by the protests and mayhem at the party headquarters, former President John Agyekum Kufuor appealed for calm, urging party members to exchange ideas, not blows.

In a press statement signed by the spokesperson to the former President last Tuesday, the ex-President described the mayhem as "a sad" event which is "alien" to the traditions of Ghana's largest opposition party.

He expressed disquiet and unhappiness at the disorder that disrupted the press conference by the Chairman and the General Secretary of the party at the party’s headquarters on Tuesday.

“ Thuggery is not part of our party’s tradition. It is alien to us. Those responsible for the disturbances cannot claim to be true members of the NPP; “I call for calm from all who feel aggrieved in one way or another and urge them to use laid-down rules in the party to seek redress for their complaints, while we accord the national executive the necessary freedom and space to operate,” he stated.

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo, in a statement, also appealed to all NPP supporters and officials to remain calm and focused, and desist from actions that might undermine the unity of the party and compromise the chances for success in 2016.

“We are all members of one family, and we should find a way to deal with our issues in a satisfactory manner,” Nana Akufo-Addo admonished.

He said it was a moment of deep regret the events that took place at the party's headquarters at the press conference addressed by the National Chairman of our party, Mr Afoko, which ended in unhappy and regretful incidents of violence.

“I urge all NPP members to promote the things that bring us together and eschew those that seek to divide us. We must always be guided and guarded by an uncompromising sense of unity, fellowship and greater purpose,” he concluded.

If the NPP is serious about winning the 2016 election, then I am afraid they need nothing less than a serious introspection. These are no interesting times for the NPP, and they must bear in mind that political power will not come to them on a silver platter.

With so much mistrust and suspicion, It calls for open-mindedness, tact, dicey and delicate balancing act to satisfy the majority of members of the party.

If Ghanaians can continue to have faith in the party, then it behoves the party to put their house in order. Such incidents will only go to scare Ghanaians away from the party because it gives an indication that the party is in trouble.

If peace is not allowed to reign in the NPP, then they should forget election 2016. Already, they are limping into the 2016 Election, and the party has no choice other than to heal itself to do things properly.

With barely 10 days to their special primaries to select five out of seven aspirants to contest the position of the flag bearer of the party, the NPP cannot afford to fester disagreements. Disagreements are bound to happen but when they do, there is the need for compromise and consensus building.

The NPP of old upholds values of freedom and development and the present generation of NPP members cannot do otherwise.

The NPP must return to its true tenets which encourage open and frank talks with tolerant and accommodating members ready to work in an atmosphere free from intimidation or fear.

NPP today is going through rough times. Discipline seems to have broken down completely, and the leadership of the party is looking on helplessly.

It is imperative for the party executives, who are exchanging insults and engaging in name calling in the media, to stop such acts. This is a recipe for indiscipline if culprits cannot be punished through party structures.

The perpetrators of Tuesday’s violence must quickly be identified, handed over to the police for interrogation and possible prosecution for courting bad public image for the party.

If the NPP is poised to govern this country again and work to help relieve Ghanaians of the socio-economic challenges, then it has no choice but to heal the wounds it has inflicted on itself. The party at this stage must close its ranks and resolve all grievances using the party’s laid-down mechanisms.

It is my contention that the desire to win political power in 2016 will be NPP’s over-arching consideration to bury the hatchet. It also calls for fairness in the process leading to their presidential primaries in October this year.