Alan Kyeremanten, What Are You Doing to Nana Akufo-Addo?

Fri, 28 May 2010 Source: Pryce, Daniel K.

Ambition and fortitude are stellar qualities that propel human beings to overcome greater-than-normal problems, but ambition and resilience must be amalgamated with sound judgment to reach goals that are far-reaching, beneficial and prudent. Alan Kyeremanten is an ambitious man, and Alan Kyeremanten wants to become the next president of Ghana. That is a noble goal by Mr. Kyeremanten, but I believe that his decision to seek the Ghanaian presidency in 2012 is impractical and imprudent. If history is our guide – and history ought to be, in most cases! – every true member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) would admit that Nana Akufo-Addo deserves another chance as the NPP’s flag-bearer in the 2012 presidential elections. Alan Kyeremanten ought to simply wait until the time is right for him to run – and I will explain such a scenario shortly.

John Fiifi Mills became president of Ghana after three attempts – in 2000, 2004 and 2008. While Mills’ defeats in 2000 and 2004 may have demoralized the candidate and deflated some of his staunchest followers, these distressing events did not shake the confidence of Jerry Rawlings in then-Candidate Mills. In fact, Jerry Rawlings’ avowed interest in Mills’ candidacy for president never waned. And what did we see in late 2008? The previously twice-defeated Candidate Mills finally triumphed against all odds, becoming Ghana’s third democratically elected leader in the Fourth Republic.

Nana Akufo-Addo, undoubtedly, has the largest following in the NPP. In fact, it has taken Nana Akufo-Addo many years – since the early 1990s – to establish the kind of large following and rapport required to win a national election. Kyeremanten may be just as smart as Akufo-Addo, or perhaps even smarter, but the fact remains that Kyeremanten does not have the same type of influence that Akufo-Addo now has in the NPP. Any person who understands the intricacies and complexities of party politics knows that it takes a long time to establish a following in a political party, which is why the NPP will be making a horrendous mistake if the party pushed out Nana Akufo-Addo for a different face in the 2012 presidential elections.

If the leaders of the NPP refuse to thoroughly analyze my admonition and argument and proceed to change course mid-stream, the party might as well not send out its followers to vote in December 2012, because it will be the easiest victory for the incumbent, John Atta Mills. 70% of voters reside in rural Ghana, and these people are not privy to the power tussles that tend to take place within the upper echelons of political parties. As such, these voters tend to inextricably associate familiar names with their own parties, so changing direction (of course, it may be necessary to switch candidates in the event of death, or some other major calamity) mid-stream could become a recipe for disaster.

Nana Akufo-Addo has served the NPP faithfully for many years. Nana Akufo-Addo stepped back in 1998 for John Kufuor to become president both in 2001 and 2005. Nana Akufo-Addo dependably served in the Kufuor administration as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice from 2001 to 2003, and as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2003 to 2007.

And when it was time for former president John Kufuor to publicly declare his support for then-candidate and loyal supporter Akufo-Addo, the “Gentle Giant” shockingly went in a different direction. That betrayal must rank as one of the most sordid in the history of party politics in Ghana. Look, I am not a Rawlings acolyte, but ex-president Rawlings does not usually leave people in the dark: he tells his followers exactly what is on his mind. Without a doubt, I prefer Jerry Rawlings’ caustic honesty, no matter how unpleasant, to affable displays of hypocrisy, tentativeness and betrayal.

Ronald Reagan was 69 when he became president, and the former U.S. president would lift the flagging spirits of Americans at a time when the U.S.A. faced many challenges at home and abroad. Interestingly, Ronald Reagan was re-elected for a second term, so no one should tell me that Akufo-Addo is too old to become president. After all, Akufo-Addo is sound in body and mind, so his health cannot be a question for tabloid fodder. Nana Akufo-Addo was born in March 1944, which makes him 66. Any worries and uncertainties about Akufo-Addo’s physical and mental attributes are eviscerated by his constant journeys across the length and breadth of the country to canvass for votes, even as the NPP Congress to elect the party’s flag-bearer for Election 2012 draws closer.

Alan Kyeremanten is approximately 12 years younger than Akufo-Addo and seems to be in sound health, too. If Kyeremanten declares his support for Akufo-Addo to become the NPP flag-bearer this year, and assuming that Akufo-Addo wins the next presidential elections, then Kyeremanten could look forward to either the 2016 or 2020 presidential elections. (Kyeremanten will be 60 in 2016.) If Akufo-Addo does not win the elections in 2012, he will graciously bow out of future contests – as Akufo-Addo would have known that, in 2016 and at age 72, he may just be a tad too old to seek the nation’s highest office. And here is another scenario: If Akufo-Addo is elected NPP flag-bearer this year, he could appoint Kyeremanten as his running mate for Election 2012!

A mark of magnanimity and selflessness is when a man does the right thing, and Kyeremanten will be doing the right thing if he supports Akufo-Addo’s candidacy when the party’s delegates meet on August 7, 2010, to elect a new flag-bearer. I have nothing against Alan Kyeremanten; I know he is a fine man. At the same time, I was quite disappointed when, in April 2008, Kyeremanten renounced his membership of the NPP, citing the harassment of his followers as the reason for his resignation. There is only one way to describe Kyeremanten’s resignation in 2008: self-emasculation! Most connoisseurs of multiparty democracy would argue that the game of politics is not for the fainthearted, so Kyeremanten did not particularly enhance his credentials as a tough strategist and politician when he quit his party, albeit temporarily, two years ago!

Nana Akufo-Addo deserves a second shot at the Ghanaian presidency, more so because he believes in multiparty democracy, human rights, free enterprise and freedom of expression, among a litany of other society-improving and egalitarian ideals. Of course, the other NPP candidates for Election 2012 believe in the aforementioned ideals as well, but Nana Akufo-Addo has an advantage: the largest following in his party: a requirement for winning a national election.

Arthur Kennedy, a former NPP presidential candidate, prefers to make money off of the NPP’s misery and loss in Election 2008, by writing a book, which he scornfully titled “Chasing the Elephant into the Bush” – his own elephant, I guess – but I will not waste my time “dissecting” such a poignant post-election disloyalty. Perhaps, Arthur Kennedy should focus on healing physical bodies and leave semantics to the masters of the English language.

Should Akufo-Addo get the nod to lead the NPP in the 2012 presidential elections, I hope he chooses his confidants very, very carefully. In a country where, for the most part, envy and greed outweigh the need for communality, any sagacious presidential candidate will be careful when it comes to choosing his closest friends and associates.

Ultimately, it is this writer’s yearning that Election 2012 will produce the better of two candidates – from either the National Democratic Congress (NDC) or the National Patriotic Party (NPP) – for we need to continue our march toward political freedom, self-determination and economic emancipation, and there is no better way to continue this beautiful experiment than to freely elect our political overseers.

The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, holds a master’s degree in public administration from George Mason University, U.S.A. He is a member of the national honor society for public affairs and administration in the U.S.A. He can be reached at dpryce@cox.net.

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.