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Opinions Thu, 7 May 2015

Ghana needs NPP to reconcile for victory in 2016

Irmo, SC

6TH May, 2015

The simmering divisions in Ghana’s largest opposition party, the NPP has been laid bare by the events surrounding the recent emergency Steering Committee meeting convened by First Vice-Chair Freddie Blay and attended by the 2016 flag-bearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, in the absence of the National Chairman and General Secretary, Afoko and Agyapong respectively.

I have weighed long and hard, whether to let the party I love spiral downwards to defeat or to intervene despite the risk of insults. I have decided, perhaps, for the last time, to intervene as a patriot, not just for the sake of the party but for Ghana.

Predictably, the usual voices have come out to state that nothing untoward has happened. Communication Director, Nana Akomea says the divisions are exaggerated. Freddie Blay says he was perfectly within his rights to call the said meeting.

But Gabby has chimed in, stating that the NPP has a “huge problem and the earlier you find a way to confront it, the better. 18 months or so to the next election and MISTRUST, SCHEMES and INACTION are what I see.” He went on to predict that the 2016 Presidential “Campaign CAN be run perfectly without the Party Headquarters.” Given his vantage point beside the flag-bearer, I am inclined to side with Gabby that there is a problem.

Putting all the pieces together, it appears that the flag-bearer and those around him believe that he does not need a united party to win 2016 elections.

While I respect the very talented men around Nana Addo--- including Gabby, Bediatuo, and Ken Ofori-Atta, I doubt seriously the wisdom of that approach. Even if, for the sake of argument, we grant that such an approach can win the 2016 Presidential elections, it begs the question of how a President Akufo-Addo, who is campaigning on bringing transformational change to Ghana, can govern with what would most certainly be an NDC majority. He cannot.

If there was any lesson learned from the Nigerian experience and Buhari’s victory, it should be that unity is fundamental to victory. The General, who had been brought up on the argument of force rather than the force of arguments, learned that persuasion works better in politics than force. Therefore, he broadened his platform by UNITING THE OPPOSITION and raiding the governing party. That is how Buhari won. While Nigeria is not Ghana, we cannot win by dividing our ranks. Even when united, we need to attract FLOATING VOTERS TO WIN and attacking one another makes us unattractive to the floating voters we need!!!!. As my late mother used to say and sing, “Etan wonua na edo Christ a na otoro ye wo” (If you hate your brother and profess to love Christ, you are a liar). We cannot claim to love floating voters when we hate one another so passionately.

Therefore, it appears to me, respectfully that the best course is to change course.

Here is the roadmap to Victory in 2016:

• First, we must respect all ELECTORAL MANDATES, from polling station executives to the flag-bearer. Regardless of which side we were on during the internal elections, the NPP voters have spoken and as democrats, we must accept, respect and work with their verdict. We must know that a mandate won with 51% or even less, when the elections are “first past the post”, are as valid as mandates won with 100% of the votes. As far as I am concerned, Afoko, Agyapong and Nana Addo are our leaders till the next internal elections, without qualifications.

• Second, we must start trusting one another just as we want to be trusted. I believe, until I see evidence to the contrary that all our leaders want to do the best for our party. Kwabena Agyapong and Paul Afoko care about the NPP and its fate just as much as Nana Addo and Amoako-Tuffour do. Therefore, we must stop spreading rumours about others not wishing the party well.

• Third, we must start a process of genuine reconciliation, led by the flag-bearer, who is the leader. He must reach out to the other leaders out of love and necessity. And when he does, they must respond in kind, with generosity and love. If the man who expects to unify a divided country cannot unite his own team, including a person like Kwabena Agyapong who has been like a son to him in the past, Ghanaians are entitled to question whether he has the temperament and largeness of heart to be President. I believe he does and will show all Ghanaians in the next few months that he does.

• Fourth, we must respect earnestly, not just the letter of our constitution and our traditions but also, the spirit behind them. While Mr. Blay may have had the right to call an emergency meeting of the steering committee in the absence of the National Chairman, was it prudent and helpful to do so? While the General Secretary was truthful that he was in Kumasi eating fufu, would it have been more helpful to decline comment?

• Fifth, we must pray, fervently to God, for Grace, for our leaders and our party. There appears to be an evil spirit or “Gbesi” at the heart of our party, pushing our leaders apart and pushing us inexorably to defeat. We need deliverance, and love and commonsense and courtesy, going into the future.

• Finally, we need our elders to be elders. In every house, there are elders, who can speak truth and commonsense, even to the most powerful. Those people—those sentiments and those attitudes have been missing from our ranks for some time. Let them return before we destroy the party that Danquah, Busia, Dombo, Da Rocha and many others have done so much to build.

My brethren, in the words of Isaiah 1:18, I say

“COME LET US REASON TOGETHER”

May God bless the NPP and Ghana.

Arthur Kobina Kennedy

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina