Early or late Congress for NPP?- Ntim's view versus Jake's view.
An issue that is being debated now by NPP faithful is whether to have an early or late Congress to elect the party's flagbearer for the 2012 election. At least two of those vying for the position of National Chairman have given their views on this issue.
The politics page of the Daily Graphic of Friday, January 22, 2010 reported that Stephen Ntim said it was important for members of the NPP to place premium on building functional party structures instead of who became the flagbearer. According to Mr Ntim spending scarce resources, energy and time on who became the flagbearer of the party without necessarily laying adequate and functional party structures would not help the party.
Mr Ntim described the NPP as a vehicle involved in an accident and "we need to fix the vehicle before looking for a driver"
Jake Obetsebi Lamptey on the other hand has been telling NPP delegates and stakeholders that if he is elected as the Chairman of the party, he will push for an early congress to elect a flagbearer, get orphaned Constituencies to elect Parliamentary candidates by the end of this year and where there is consensus, constituencies with sitting MP's will have their primaries early next year.
As a keen observer of the impending National Executive Elections, I will try to analyse these positions.
The reality is that factions cut across every level of the party. It is theoretically sound to say let us forget about factionalism and concentrate on building functional structures.To me Ntim does not recognise that party structures cannot be built if the party is divided. In fact anybody who feels he can build the party's structures by ignoring the very thing that is frustrating to party unity must be politically naive.
The NPP is not a broken party. It is virtually the biggest party in the country now. The polling station and other grassroots elections indicates the party is stronger and more vibrant. The only thing that is worrying and also disturbing party unity are the sectional interest driven by competition for positions at all levels of the party.
But of course Ntim can be excused because after moving to Ghana, he contested and won as First National Vice-Chairman when the party was already in office and he also worked for the party at a time nobody contested against then President J.A Kufour fot the fl;agbeareship. The issue then was how wide the NPP will stretch the NDC in the election rather than Presidential aspirants contesting and winning or losing. Really Ntim has not had a leadership view.
But on the other hand Jake is saying there are three things worrying the party. First and foremost is unity; then getting the various elections out of our way and lastly raising funds to prosecute party work from the polling station level to the National level.
I believe Jake's message clearly distinguishes him from the others so far as the future of this party is concerned.
First of all there have been various elections and in the elections there has always been the involvement to some extent, indirect or direct of potential candidates for the flagbearership..This is natural. We have people who may be contesting the flagbearership sometimes supporting the bid of people they know will be sympathetic to their course. We have seen this at the Polling Station, Constituency, Regional and now National Executive positions. It is therefore important that all the series of elections are out of the parties way.
Secondly in 2008 the NPP Presidential candidate had twelve months to campaign after contesting with sixteen others. At least three months of that campaign was used to get everybody on board and even as that was being done the Parliamentary primaries brought its own problems which resulted in a leading member resigning from the party. What the lessons of 2008 tells us is that the only way you can overcome the issue is when the competitions at all levels of the party are over.
Without unity the NPP will continue to spend more energy, passion and time in fighting itself than fighting the NDC. After being on the campaign trail with one of the aspirants of the National Chairman, I have come to the conclusion that the issue of the flagbearer and the support for potential flagbearers permeates all levels of the party.
It is neither possible or desirable to think as Ntim is speaking that you can suspend the flagbearership contest for as long as possible and focus on building the structures of the party. The Ntim vision or prescription will only deepen the disunity in the party and give Professor Mills and his team of incompetent people the leeway to continue to mismanage this country.
To build structures you need people and this whole process of elections are crucial to building the structures of the party. The NPP need people, unity of purpose and logistics. History has shown that from 1992, the party is only able to raise serious money when it has a flagbearer so anybody who wants and who understands what is required to bring unity to the party will wish for all these series of elections to be out of the way as soon as soon as it is constitutionally possible so we can all come together, organise ourselves, find the money, craft the messages to build the team and team spirit and then unleash the programme for victory 2012.
Unless there is a hidden agenda or Ntim is making me believe he is one of the peolple who support those who at the moment know they do not have the support to win the flagbearer and so for their selfish interest rather than the collective interest, unity now for the party must be shelved for them to hope that given time their fortunes may change. This is the danger of prolonging the flagbearership because people may continue saying things may cause irreparable damage.
This is what differentiate Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey from Stephen Ntim. Jake can see through and think through the very causes of the NPP's problems and how they can be tackled. He is guided by experience.
In 1998 Jake called a meeting of J.A. Kufour and Nana Akufo-Addo of the two main camps in the party for the flagbearerhip and managed to convince both of them to agree to an early Congress in 1998 unlike 1996. It will be recalled that the Congress in 1998 was held two months after the National Executive Elections was held. Jake as Greater Accra Regional Chairman was witnessing at first hand how the factions were creating disunity and affecting his strategy to build the party's structures in the Region and Constituencies in the Region in terms of re-organisation of the party for victory in 2000..
He persuaded the two main characters to his argument but the Chairman at the time Peter Ala Adjetey believed in building structures. But with Ala Adjetey out of the way and Odoi Sykes in, he bought the argument and two months after his election the primaries were conducted.
Ntim has shown clearly that he does not have the pulse of the party. Even if a vehicle has broken down, you can not fix it if you diagnose wrongly what has caused the breakdown. NPP is not broken, the vehicle is ready and revering and all it needs is for the passengers to agree that this is the vehicle they want to travel with for them to come on board and take it to the 2012 destination.
By Mahama Haruna.
The writer is the Media Co-ordinator for Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey's Campaign..