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Does the NPP need a compromise candidate?

Fri, 6 Mar 2009 Source: Haruna, Mahama

As they say say,"a house divided against itself cannot stand". Victory will come to the way of NPP only in Unity. The 2008 elections has come and gone and whether we like not or yes, an anatomy of the NPP's fall will continue to rage on.

All is not well with the NPP and as a senior Ghanaian Journalist put it "it is only members who do not want to deal with the truth that will deny all is well with the party". The polarization of Nana Akufo- Addo and John Agyekum Kufour/Alan kyerementeng camps never helped the NPP's cause. These two groups were so entrenched that the problems created affected the party in the last election.

It is a truism that the response of some Kufour/Alan's supporters to the 2008 campaign was rather lukewarm. In fact some simply worked against then candidate Akufo Addo and blamed this on pro-Akufo-Addo supporters stance against then. They believe certain members of Akufo Addo's campaign team pursued an agenda of harassing leading members who supported Alan Kyeramanteng.

The NPP is at the moment split between those who want Akufo-Addo elected at the next congress at all cost and those who fear his selection as NPP flag bearer may further divide the NPP and therefore damage the party's electoral prospects. Already hard line Akufo-Addo supporters have long been suspicious that Alan is maneuvering to outfox Akufo- Addo and are therefore rolling up the sleeves of their shirts for a fight notwithstanding the repercussions this could have on the party. There could be an internal explosion within the party if Alan Kyeramanteng is elected because most of Akufo- Addo's supporters would not be prepared to work with him and vice versa if there is no immediate solution to this problem no matter how complex it is.

How the division came about ----------------------------------------------- It all started at the 1998 National Executive elections of NPP. Then aspiring Presidential candidate J.A kufour allegedly fielded his people for the elections. Odoi Sykes for Chairman, Agyenim Boateng for General secretary Alhaji Inusah for Organizer etc. Akufo- Addo who had also declared his intention to lead the party counter fielded Proffessor F.T. Sai for Chairman, Kakra Essamuah for General Secretary, Courage Quashigah for Organizer etc. and at the end of the election most of Kufour's candidates won putting him in a pole position for the flagbearership.

A debate however began as to the suitability of retaining Kufour as flag bearer. While some argued for him others clamored for a change of candidate. At the congress grounds in Sunyani, there were some skirmishes (similar to what what happened at the 2008 congress at Legon) between Kufour's supporters and those of Akufo-Addo. Muktar Musa Bamba then a close aide of Kufour was allegedly beaten by pro- Akufo-Addo supporters but at the end Kufour prevailed and subsequently won the general elections of the year 2000.

After the general elections the division re-surfaced as prominent party members who supported Akufo-Addo were sidelined in terms of appointments to Kufour's government. Some were Brigadier Nunoo Mensah, Victor Newman, Adjiri Blankson, Kwabena Agyepong Proffessor F.T. Sai, Proffessor Mike Ocqyaye, Kwabena Agyepong etc and those who got appointed like Christine Churcher were not so happy with the positions they were given . It was believed Akufo Addo himself was not left out because that would have incur the wrath of the Okyehene and the Akyems since he (Akufo Addo) was the most prominent politician from Akyem Abuakwa,NPP stronghold.

In the 2001 National Executive elections the division once again showed its ugly head but on a milder scale. Some of the aspirants were branded pro-Kufour and others pro-Akufo Addo. In fact Kufour's people harbourd a feeling that Akufo Addo would once again contest him and therefore guided against that. Professor Mike Ocquaye-an Akufo- Addo man, who was the preferred choice for National chairman was conveniently appointed Ambassador to India, paving the way for Haruna Esseku a then Kufour protege to become National Chairman. The likes of Lord Commey never had it easy although he faced a light weight in the person of Alhaji Yirimea. At the end Akufo- Addo declined to contest against Kufour for the flagbearership and I believe this move should have ended all divisions whether percieved or real.

However this division was re-awakened at the National Executive election of 2005 an a more serious scale. The party was split into the pro-Kufour and anti-Kufour factions.Nana Akufo Addo's supporters were in the forefront of the chants of 'Yeegye Ye Party' literally meaning 'we are taking back our party'. Stephen Ntim who was percieved to be the President's candidate lost. The pro-Kufour and pro Akufo- Addo division continued to manifest itself as the NPP headed towards its congress to elect its 2008 presidential Candidate.

One of the 17 leading candidates Alan Kyeremanteng was perceived as the President's candidate. A turning moment was the allegation that a member of the Alan campaign team was sharing US dollars on the congress grounds to influence delegates. The inability of the party to investigate this allegation led to number of rumours, one being that, that particular allegation was meant to incite delegates against kyeremanteng. Another rumour was that as the aspirants were returning from the meeting (called after the allegation was made) word was sent round that the aspirants had agreed that all delegates vote for Nana Akuffo-Addo to avoid a break-up of the party.

This narration is meant to give an insight to the factionalism in NPP.

At this juncture let us have a peep into the Kufour/Alan and Akufo-Addo factions and how they contributed to the defeat of the NPP in the last election.

Kufour/Alan or 'Jamasi/Sekyere mafia' faction ---------------------------------------------------------------- This faction is made up Kufour, Alan Kyeremanteng and most of the top-notches of NPP from the Ashanti region-Kwadjo Mpianim , Richard Anane, Addo- Kuffour, Kan Dapaah, Isaac Osei, S.K Boafo etc are inner core members. Those from other regions are Paapa Owusu Ankomah, Felix Owusu Agyepong, Asamoah Boateng, Stephen Ntim, Paul Afoko, Mohammed Amin Anta Oboshie Sai Coffie and others. What made this faction more powerful was the fact that, the NPP was in government for eight years. Kufour ensured that most juicy government appointments remained within this group. They were able to annex the three northern regions with the politics of Metropolitan/Municipal and District Chief Executive appointments.

It is believed a chunk of the Popular Front Party (PFP) membership of 1979 fall within this group. This group has been a force to reckon with because of the Ashanti votes. Some analyst say apathy in this group cost NPP. In the Ashanti region Nana-Addo had 1,214, 350 valid votes in the December 7th vote but in the run-off he had 1,438,820 votes making the difference 224,470 votes. He needed only 73,500 votes to win in the first round.

Some people believe the lack of support from the group did Nana Akufo-Addo a great harm.Many had for instance expected to see Kufour on the campaign trail. At a time the party needed him to campaign from constituency to constituency he rather chose to commission projects and to gambol round the world receiving awards including one at Liberia. Certain policies of his government in the final year did not help the NPP.

Political pundits have claimed that Kufour's lukewarn attitude was partly due to the fact that he did not get his man, Alan Kyeramanteng as NPP candidate at the drama-packed NPP congress in December 2007 and the accusation that the campaign team was made up of Kufours 'enemies'.

Nana Akufo Addo/'Akyem mafia' faction ----------------------------------------------------------- Although Nana Akufo-Addo hails from the Eastern Region some people believe this group is more broad based as its membership cuts across the whole country including the Ashanti Region where the likes of Konadu Apraku,Kwabena Agypong and Maxwell Kofi Jumah come from. The likes of Proffessor Mike Ocquaye, Atta Kennedy, Kennedy Ohene Agyepong, Hackman Owusu Agyeman, Christine Churcher, Nyaho Tamakloe, Ambrose Dery and most of the current national Executive of NPP falls within this group.

Except in some few instances it is said this faction is along the lines of the United National Convention (UNC) of 1979, passed through the hands of the late Professor Albert Adu Boahen and Peter Ala Adjetey and now Akufo-Addo.

There have been accusations that Akufo-Addo's people displayed cockiness forgetting that politics is about numbers. They have been accused of operating a closed door policy that seemed to regard kufour/Alan's people as strangers and worse opponents than even NDC members. They were said to have 'shared' cabinet and all government positions to themselves even when the party had not won. Terms such 'First Respondent' and 'Second Respondent' were coined to differentiate between those who supported Akufo-Addo before the primaries and those who supported him after the primaries, the critics say.

It is also said Akufo-Addo surrounded himself with the 'Akyem Mafia' whose membership although could not be determined might be Akufo-Addo's immediate relations or personalities who hail from Akyem Abuakwa like Bumpty Akufo-Addo, Ken Ofori-Atta, Yaw Kwakye, Gabby Asare Otchere Darko, Nana Fredua Agyeman, Nana Asante Bediatuo, Nana Yaa-Ofori Atta and others.

Some believe thre were serious mistakes that if Nana Akufo-Addo and his campaign team had avoided, he would have been sworn in as President. They contend that granted certain policies of the Kufour government- the construction of the Jubilee House, and the purchase of the the two jets as well as giving Atta Mills the highest National Award (which he rejected) were unpopular, did Akufo-Addo help himself.

For instance as one said, in the choice of a running mate, one picks someone who would add more votes to ticket as is done all over the world. They believe Alhaji Boniface Sadique would have added some potential NDC votes from the Zongos, but the reason for Akufo-Addo not selecting him was that he belonged to the Kufour/Alan camp.

Some however blame the 'Akyem Mafia' who wanted Dr Muhamadu Bawumia out of the Bank of Ghana to pave way for Ken Ofori-Atta in the event of an NPP victory.

A Compromise Candidate

A question has been going through my mind. Will Nana Akufo-Addo and Alan Kyeremanteng support a compromise candidate to lead NPP in 2012? I have realised that the Kufour/Alan and Akufo-Addo factions have entrenched their positions more than ever, that their preffered candidate should lead the NPP in the 2012 Presidential election or what ever that would happen should happen. In view of this, would it not be better to go for a neutral person who would hold the party together so as to win the 20012 election?

Some NPP members are already calling for such a move because they are of the opinion that the divisions within the party could only be halted if both Akufo-Addo and Alan Kyeremanteng withdraw fron the NPP Presidential flagbearership race for the sake of Unity, Peace and Tranquility and allow a compromise candidate.

Such a candidate according to an some pundits should not be someone who has ever contested the flagbearership because those who previously contested all have their baggage. In this case who. Papa owusu Ankomah, Isaac Osei or Boniface Abubakari Sadique?

Again the question that arises here is whether these personalities were not or are not also part of the factionalism.

God save my Party the NPP!

By Mahama Haruna. email-maharun1@yahoo.com Tel- 0243313113

The writer is a former General Secretary of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS). He was also a Contituency Secretary of NPP for Bole-Bamboi.

Columnist: Haruna, Mahama