2008 Elections: Can the CPP march on to Victory?

Fri, 11 May 2007 Source: Jeffrey, Peter

As Ghana’s energy crisis deepens and poverty alleviation measures crumbles, it is imperative that the fastest growing opposition party, the Convention Peoples Party, explicitly come out with their intended policies to resolve the economic meltdown, should they be given the mandate by the Ghanaian electorate in 2008.

The CPP are due to go to congress in August 2007 to elect their party executives. The party’s teeming members and in fact the whole nation will be waiting anxiously to see who the delegates elect to manage the affairs of this august party. Ghanaians have had the opportunity to compare the NDC regime (under ex President Rawlings) and the current administration of the New Patriotic Party. In 2008 Ghanaians will vote not on promises but rather based on their own informed choices. The Ghanaian people are now wiser and democratically matured and thus no amount of money from corrupt politicians can influence how they cast their vote. As was exhibited by the electorates in the Central and Western regions in 2004, the 2008 elections is going to spring lot of surprises that have never been witnessed in the country before.

The euphoria that welcome the NPP into government in 2000 has all but died down as the energy situation in the country continues to get worse and more people are drawn into the poverty trap.

Before the 2000 elections, the main opposition parties united under the umbrella of the New Patriotic Party to defeat the incumbent National Democratic Congress. The Nkrumahists parties were divided and thus were already seen as ineffectual but necessary partners of the NPP to unseat the previous government. True to their word, the incoming NPP administration under John Agyekum Kufuor honoured their promise by giving one ministerial position to the CPP based on their electoral strength. This offer should have been rejected by the CPP outright. The CPP should have fought that election not as partner of the NPP but on their strength as a mass and popular party.

With this in mind, the two main Nkrumahists parties, The PNC and the CPP agreed to merge after the 2004 election meltdown. Initially the parties were to unite under the original Convention Peoples Party’s colour and symbol, however the PNC, having more members of Parliament than the CPP and thus numerically stronger (though it must be emphasised that they are rather a northern based party and not a national party as they wish to be seen by the Ghanaian people) wanted the proposed enlarged group to adopt their (PNC) symbol. The issues around symbol have been the only bone of contention that continued to dodge the “proposed” merger talks. Events since then have dramatically altered the way CPP is seen by the Ghanaian people. The rise of the CPP is credited to the tremendous grassroots work being done by the Patriots.

The Patriots are not a party within a party (as is being speculated by some disgruntled individuals who profess to be CPP members but with a very cynical and dangerous agenda to tarnish the image of the party) but a pressure group within the party who are helping to re-position the party for government.

What make the emergence of the Patriots poignant are the sheer quality of their organisational skills and the level of support they enjoy nationwide among the youth and the rural poor. The Patriots wants to put “Ghana before self”. The Patriots wants to create the environment where any child irrespective of tribe, class or status can aim higher and higher. The Patriots wants to give young Alhassan in Tamale, Kuuku in Cape Coast, Osei in Kumasi, Ato Kwamena in Sekondi, Yao in Ho and other children right across the country the same opportunities to achieve their true potentials as one citizens of Ghana. To the Patriots these children and the marginalised youth “Deserve Better”. That is what makes the Patriots different from other “MOVEMENTS” by some irresponsible Nkrumahists. They should feel shame of themselves. To these traitors they can go and form their “MOVEMENT”, good luck to them.

Initially there were hostilities against the Patriots from certain sections of the CPP. These people wrongly misconstrued the Patriots’ restructuring of grass roots members as harbouring a “hidden agenda”. The overwhelming support enjoys countrywide by the Patriots, and their stated intention to work within the framework of the CPP constitution made the leadership to reconcile with the core leadership of the Patriots and support their efforts to rebuild the structures of the Party.

The intuition of the CPP Patriots is simple. The Patriots began initially to target districts where the CPP enjoys overwhelming support which is likely to change electoral outcomes and could make the difference in winning and losing a seat in the 2008 elections. But soon the support the Patriots generated countrywide, together with the combination of the discipline of the core leadership of the group, their attention to the issues that concerns the Ghanaian people, like the energy crisis, poverty, unemployment, crime and poor infrastructure, have made turn the spotlight once again on the CPP. As such the CPP has began to act, quite rightly so, as a party preparing for government by their formulating policies.

At heart of this policy document is the plan for radical reform of the national education system, drastic agricultural/land reform, and improvement to the national health service and comprehensive reform of the Police Service.

Land reform has dodged previous governments, with past leaders only paying a lip service to the issue. The CPP wants to take this head on and restructure its management; with agricultural land at the core of these reforms.

The notion of bringing law, crime and order into the developmental equation is to combat the recent disciplinary issues that are confronting the Police service and the high incidence of armed robberies in the country. To rescue the image of the country as major transit point for narcotics, the CPP review of internal security will look at the issue of identity cards and numbering of properties, including identification/ naming of streets. The whole Police service will be restructured to shift emphasis of combating crime to the regions with regional commanders having major jurisdictions in their area of policing, but coordinating activities including intelligence with neighbouring forces.

The review will also look at training, housing, equipment and salaries of officers.

Housing of Police Officers in barracks will be done with. Like the rest of the economy, the CPP would restructure the mortgage market so that workers can access low cost mortgage, including members of the Police Service. The policy document will look at the housing market. House builders would be encouraged to provide more low cost and affordable housing nationwide.

Fighting crime, intelligence gathering and keeping peace would be the main functions of the Police service. The nomination of Ghana’s senior cops would be taken away from the government of the day and assigned to an elected Police Authority independent of the government.

Ghana Fire Brigade and the Ghana Ambulance Service will also undergo the same comprehensive restructure. District Assemblies will take over the management of the Fire Brigades within their jurisdictions.

The health sector will undergo drastic reforms. Top of the agenda is to look at ways of encouraging pharmaceutical companies and research departments of medical schools/Veterinary Colleges in the country to form alliances. The sector-wide health reforms launched in 1997 will be revisited, including the Community-based Health Planning and Services. The rural 70% poor will benefit tremendously from this reform. More money would make available to the research departments of the nations universities.

Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, the immediate past head of the health sector has hinted of setting up a working party to look at salary structure of the health workers and health care delivery in the country. Professor Akosa, an eminent physician and a member of the CPP Patriots, has spoken candidly about the geographic inequality in access to health care. Under his watch as the health boss, Professor Akosa able to bridge the disparity, but lack of resources hindered his effort to do more. His one major achievement as the health boss was the successful implementation of the national health insurance scheme. It must be emphasised that as a civil servant, his hands were tied by his political paymasters and hence any political decision taken was outside his remit. This writer has made presentations to the CPP health policy team to consider stem cell and nano technology in their policy review. The advantages of stem cell research to the West African sub region are huge and this writer wants the incoming CPP government to invest more resources into stem cell research at School of Medical Sciences, University for Development Studies at Tamale.

The huge divide between the have and have not and the marginalisation of the poor is a great worry to the CPP. What is ironic about the current crop of the CPP Patriots leadership, unlike the old guard, is they will pursue prudent economic policies where people would be given the skills and knowledge to help themselves by working jointly with private and state enterprises. State enterprises would be given the autonomy free from governmental interference to pursue economic policies that will benefit the government, the people and institutional shareholders. The CPP Patriots believe that the government can operate in an economy where private finance, government investment and inflow from the Diaspora can work side by side to stimulate the economy. The Patriots wants to encourage rich Ghanaians to invest in the country and thus reduce the government over reliance on inflows from the Bretton Woods institutions.

The CPP believes in improving human and capital infrastructures as the country gears up for her push to become middle income country by 2015. The CPP are seen by the Ghanaian people as the only party capable of creating the environment where entrepreneurs and researchers would be encouraged, supported and given opportunities to access funds to create jobs as well as to strengthen the competitiveness of the country.

The economic agenda of the current CPP, compared to the CPP of the 1960s has changed markedly. The CPP see business and industry as partners in development and not as a threat. The CPP has set up high powered economic research policy team made up of academics, businessmen and technocrats to look at the areas that needs radical policy change. One of the areas that the economic policy team has been assigned to look at is the Indigenous/cottage industries and their role in Ghana’s economic development (under the environment, equity and security forum).

The CPP economic policy team mirrors the “Chicago Boys” who presided over the Chilean economic success under Pinochet in the 1980s. These are a group of Ghanaian born economists trained with a very enviable track record in business and academia.

The districts assemblies would be given greater autonomy of the running of their affairs and to foster stronger community involvement. Local chiefs would be encouraged to become partners of the district assemblies in development.

Another area that the policy teams have been task to look at is urbanisation and population growth. The case of the 3 Northern states forms a very part of the study plus the industrial slums such as the Magazines doted across the country. Goods and services produced by these industrial slums create employment for the marginalised. They need properly resourced and supported if the idea of cottage industrialisation is to take off. Their integration into the economy is crucial. The skills exhibited by the artisans of Kumasi Magazine and Kukunpe in Accra are phenomenal. The policy team have been task to look at honing the skills of these artisans by linking them to the local Polytechnics. The essence is to encourage them to access courses at the evening school. Due to the rapid urbanisation of cities like Tamale, Sunyani, Ho and Koforidua, industrial slums have come to form an integral part of these phenomena.

The growth of these cities, together with the big metropolises of Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi are already subject to several hardships, such as overcrowded transport systems, ill-used public latrines, inadequate water supply and poor sanitation, lack of adequate facilities for sewage disposals and overcrowded/under funded health centres and constant interruptions of power supply. The skills of our Magazine artisans can be use in these sectors as well.

The above problems are some of the policy issues that this writer wants to appeal to the Economic Policy Team set up by the CPP to examine. Slum dwellers form an integral part of our economic development and by providing adequate resources to enhance their living conditions that the country can move forward. Over 70% are marginalised as identified by Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa in an interview he gave in London.

In order to ensure a level playing field, this writer is calling for an open presidential flagbearership debate by the 3 main parties, The CPP, NPP and NDC to enable the candidates tell the Ghanaian people how they intend to solve the numerous developmental challenges facing Ghana. In the same vein this writer wants to appeal to the CPP leadership to offer a flag bearer ship debate to the aspiring candidates to tell the party delegates and the Ghanaian people of how they intend to pursue the policies being formulated. The chosen flag bearer of the CPP can be assured of massive support from the Ghanaian people.

The sudden rise of the CPP has once again shifted the attention of the Ghanaian people to the party and the brilliant work of the Patriots. The support the CPP Patriots enjoy among the youth, the university students, farmers and market women grows by the day. The CPP Patriots rebuilding of the party structures has brought to the fore the issue of leadership and the need for a leadership debate before congress.

For the first time since 1992 the CPP are in a unique position to elect a candidate who will be a unifying flag bearer for all the Nkrumahists. By electing the candidate with the right credentials to lead the country, the CPP would be assured of the presidency come 2008. The Ghanaian people are crying for the CPP to come and sort out the mess that this country is in now.

The next question to ask; “has anyone emerged within the CPP and its affiliates “Movements” (including the Patriots) to lead the party and the country?” This is the 60 million dollar question Ghanaians wants answer to. In the university campuses, market places, offices, workshops and on the streets, everyone is talking about the emergence of the CPP and the Patriots.

What make the CPP Patriots organisational skills so potent are their unity and discipline. Members act as specific spokesmen on a subject that they specialised in. Hence they have Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa , Dr Amoateng, Dr Osafo, Dr Antwi-Danso and others all speaking on issues pertaining to their areas of research/discipline.

This writer, other commentators and the Ghanaian people are eagerly waiting to see who will emerge as the CPP flag bearer. Emerging united and well disciplined, the CPP flag bearer will not only carry the hopes and aspirations of the CPP membership but the aspirations of the Ghanaian people. As yet no one has emerged as the possible flag bearer of the CPP until they go to congress in August. Unlike the NDC where accusations were levelled against some of the aspirants and the NPP where over 20 candidates wants to become their flag bearer ship, the discipline shown by the CPP and the Patriots in particular shows all the hallmark of the organisational skills of the CPP electioneering machinery.

The skills and discipline is unravelling the amateurism of the NPP and the NDC campaigns. The 2 so called big parties are suddenly looking behind their shoulders, they have got a fight on their hands. Suddenly the CPP has found their winning streak again in electioneering campaign. Bearing any hitches such as massive rigging, the CPP are sure to march on to victory. Are the CPP ready to form the next government come 2008? The election of their flag bearer will be the key to the CPP winning the 2008 elections.

This writer wants to directly appeal to the CPP delegates going to their August 2007 congress to bear in mind that they are not only going to elect a “CPP” Presidential candidate, but a potential President of the 4th Republic of Ghana. The CPP delegates must be guided by the immense suffering that their compatriots are going through. They must be guided by the selfless fight of Nkrumah “Ghana before Self, Ghana Deserves Better”. They must be guided by the plight of so many Ghanaian children “the street children” who are homeless and hungry, majority with no hope. These children “deserves better”. They must be guided by the plight of the jobless graduates from the nation’s universities and polytechnics who roam the streets of our cities and towns jobless and helpless. They were educated with the taxes of the working men and women and thus Ghanaians want a return on the investment made in these men and women, which is to create jobs for them. They must be guided by the hopelessness of our Northern compatriots who are crying for the CPP to come to power and help create employment opportunities for the 3 northern regions and the whole country. The 3 northern regions can become the bread basket of the country.

In an interview he gave to the Daily Graphic in December last year (2006), Dr Antwi-Danso, a CPP Patriot, said it is insane that Ghana has vast and productive land in the 3 northern regions, yet the region is deem as the poorest in the country. Dr Antwi-Danso was horrified that after the CPP were violently overthrown by gangsters parading as “saviours”, no tangible investments have gone to the 3 northern regions.

Dr Antwi-Danso said as a matter of urgency, the first task of the CPP administration is to declare the 3 northern regions as an “Economic Development Zone” with Tamale as the hub. Dr Danso said under the CPP 7 year development plan, massive investment will be made in the 3 northern regions.

Dr Antwi-Danso’s speech was echoed by Dr Osafo about how serious the CPP take the lack of investment in the 3 northern regions. Dr Osafo went further and stated that the CPP administration will look at alternative energy for Ghana and explained that all the options will be looked at. Dr Osafo promised that the current energy crisis facing the country will be tackled head on and resolve the problem as soon as practical.

Dr Amoateng on his part said the current transportation system in the country is a disgrace, considering that at independence the transport network that the CPP government, under Nkrumah, planned for the country is still gathering dust 47 years on. Dr Amoateng was emphatic on his pledge that the railroad network will be extended from the southern half to the whole country and the road network improved and extended. Dr Amoateng did not ruled out bringing in private capital to build the nation’s road network. Dr Amoateng said those who see the CPP as bunch of socialists must think twice. What he did not deny is the CPP also believe in social justice and said as more people become prosperous, those left behind must be supported and encouraged to lift themselves. This is what he said underpins the slogan of the Patriots, “Ghana before self, Ghana Deserves Better”.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter

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