Is Akufo-Addo now destroying the NPP?

Fri, 6 Sep 2013 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013

The decision by Akufo-Addo to accept (if even grudgingly) the verdict of the Supreme Court slamming shut the door on his ambition to become Ghana’s President is having an unfortunate sequel in his own NPP ranks. Ironic that he who has fought so hard but couldn’t return the NPP to power should now be tagged as rocking the NPP’s boat. Any surprise? Not at all to me.

Nobody needs any special skills for probing into the NPP’s fabric to know how the Supreme Court’s verdict has shaken the elephant family to its very foundation. The shaking has affected fault lines and they are threatening to split open. The chasm/schism may be evident in less than no time if the current happenings change for the worse. Trust me, the little drops of water that are hitting those fault lines will likely become a mighty ocean of trouble for the NPP unless something is done to control the seepage.

The main bane of the party at this stage is its leaders’ noisy and aggressively proprietary approach to political power that the electorate repudiated at Election 2012 but which Akufo-Addo and those supporting him dragged to the Supreme Court only to be told the bitter truth on August 29. It’s an indignation that will be difficult to outgrow. It has serious consequences.

Coping with the seemingly humiliating and unbearable consequences needed to begin from somewhere; and it did—from the stable of the party’s flagbearer. But Akufo-Addo’s decision to act at the kairotic moment has added a new complexion to the dynamics of NPP politics. When the Supreme Court sealed his doom with its verdict, he unhesitatingly reacted, saying in an official statement that he took umbrage with the ruling, regarded it as contrary to his expectation, but would accept it in good faith so that “the country can move on”.

A bold statement to make, considering all the traumatizing ramifications of the petition hearing. Akufo-Addo’s heart-of-steel didn’t bend at this stage, but it might burst if over-stretched; and he knew best how not to push himself to the wall. As the wearer, only he knew where the shoe pinched the most. How much more pressure could he soak up without crumbling?

To confirm his concession, he went ahead to call President Mahama to congratulate him on winning the electoral battle. He made it clear that he would not seek a review and would instead take time off to rest and then return later into the limelight to announce his future political direction. Will he return to pick up the pieces or hang his gloves to go down in history as the one who fought and ran away in the hope that he would live to fight another day? When again, knowing full well that he can’t cheat Nature at 69 years? Or to become the Ghanaian version of the Senegalese Abdulai Wade? Or the Zimbabwean Morgan Tsvangirai? Pick your choice to predict his next move.

Apparently confronted by his Avatar, he took those decisive steps without waiting for any input from the National Executive Council. After all, he had been given the mandate to lead the party to the polls twice in 2008 and 2012 and should have a free hand in determining how to pick the pieces. He knew himself better at that stage than anybody could claim to know him; and having realized the futility of trying to run against the grain, he conceded defeat—an unexpected feat that earned him commendation from diverse angles, including his arch political opponents and the Nigerian evangelist, TB Joshua. By that act, some NDC bigwigs even considered him a statesman, which is a whole different story altogether to be told one day.

But his unilateral act of conceding defeat and going ahead to endorse the Supreme Court’s legitimizing of President Mahama’s Presidency hasn’t gone down well with those in his own party who thought that he had jumped the gun or disarmed them (as the power brokers?). Frederick F. Anto (Ashanti Regional Chairman of the NPP) didn’t hide his disapprobation when he made public statements portraying Akufo-Addo as being rash for rushing to foreclose the NPP’s protest against Election 2012. From his reaction, it is clear that what Akufo-Addo did ran counter to the expectations and position of the NEC.

Then, a statement from the National Executive Council itself reinforced Anto’s stance to whittle the political propriety and relevance of Akufo-Addo’s concession. The NEC said it wasn’t consulted before Akufo-Addo conceded defeat to reinforce the Supreme Court’s legitimizing of President Mahama’s victory at Election 2012. In consequence, then, the NEC appointed a three-man committee to assess the Supreme Court’s decision so that it can “advise” itself. Obviously, a collision course has been carved.

If the committee suggests that the NEC should not side with Akufo-Addo, what will happen? And can the NEC on its own initiate steps for a review of the Supreme Court’s judgement? How will such a move pan out? Or is it just a cunning way of letting sleeping dogs lie? But, then, what impression won’t this move create about the NPP itself? That its house is divided? Or that the status of Akufo-Addo as the flagbearer has already been undermined and he should fade off? The near future is unclear at this point.

To thicken the conundrum, Nii Ayikoi Otoo also took umbrage at Akufo-Addo’s unilateral move, saying that he was disappointed that Akufo-Addo rashly conceded defeat without considering the significance of the error that Justice Atuguba had made in announcing the stance of Justice Baffoe Bonnie regarding one of the major contentious aspects of the NPP’s petition. Even though the Judicial Service corrected the error and announced that the majority decision was no longer 6–3 but 5–4, the NPP camp still thinks that it can wiggle its way through the maze if it calls for a review of the Court’s judgement on that score.

Pertinent questions arising: Does Dr. Bawumia have his own political fate without his status as Akufo-Addo's running mate? So, if the Presidential Candidate himself doesn't want a review, can the running mate alone go for it? To become what if the review favours the NPP?

Will Dr. Bawumia then be elevated to Akufo-Addo's status in the workings of the party or will Akufo-Addo be forced to take back his concession? or will the review to be sought mean that the NPP leaders don't want Ghana to move on as Akufo-Addo had indicated in his concession speech? Too many hot potatoes in this NPP camp!!

By his “premature” admission, therefore, Akufo-Addo has put spokes in the wheel of the NPP. Thus, Nii Otoo wasn’t happy that Akufo-Addo’s concession closed the window of opportunity that a review of the Supreme Court’s ruling might give him (as the perceived beneficiary of the review) and the NPP to prevail. To him, the inclusion of two additional judges at the review stage might be favourable to the NPP’s cause (After all, have we not already been primed to know that there are numerous sympathizers of the NPP in the judiciary? Thanks, Sammy Awuku). Alas, though, Akufo-Addo’s unilateral move has ended it all on a sad note. What next for the NPP to do?

Against this background, some wild speculations are rife that the other petitioners (Dr. Bawumia and the NPP Chairman, Obetsebi-Lamptey) can sidestep Akufo-Addo and go for a review. I have no idea what the legal implications of anything of this sort may be; but I can say off-the-cuffs that it won’t fly.

Apparently, it won’t fly because as the flagbearer of the NPP at Election 2012, Akufo-Addo was the first (substantive) petitioner to whom Dr. Bawumia and Obetsebi-Lamptey were tagged as co-petitioners. Without an Akufo-Addo presence, there would be no recognition for Dr. Bawumia and Obetsebi-Lamptey. So, why try to separate him from these “shadows” at this point that he has extricated himself from the lot?

Indeed, the petition had more to do with Akufo-Addo’s fate than those of the co-petitioners or the entire lot of the NPP cabal. At the filing of the petition, we were told that it was not the NPP that was contesting the matter but the three individuals. So, once Akufo-Addo has pulled out, there is nothing that the NPP, Dr. Bawumia, and Obetsebi-Lamptey can do to revive the case. In attempting to do so, will they now come across as the main parties seeking power for Akufo-Addo’s sake? Not clear or meaningful to me. Without an Akufo-Addo to hang on to, they are mere nonentities. Or will they want to set a precedent that will be more valuable as an exercise in futility than offering us anything worthwhile with which to grow our democracy? What for?

What about the original petition didn’t win the case for the NPP that a review will? New body of evidence or a new direction to pursue in terms of focus (to turn attention to re-counting of ballot papers instead of pink sheet exhibits)? A mere busy work!!

Any thought of sidestepping Akufo-Addo in lieu of Dr. Bawumia and Obetsebi-Lamptey for a review will be knotty. It is a matter of legal regimen, which I am not qualified to engage. But my layman’s knowledge persuades me that once Akufo-Addo has expressed disinterest in pursuing the matter any further—and has been acknowledged and praised on that score—there is no way anything else will change the paradigm, especially if not spearheaded by him.

The question is: Will he be influenced to renege on his own words to now return to pick the pieces? With what implications for him at this stage? That he stands a good chance of prevailing over a reconstituted panel to review the petition in his favour? A tall order!!

Let us be plain and honest to admit that the main problems in Ghanaian politics are dishonesty and unjustifiable mischief, which is why Ghanaian politics qualifies as “full of nonsense and fit for only those who have the stomach for nonsense” (thanks to the late A.A. Munufie, a die-hard Danquah-Busiast who shocked his fellow Rawlings loathers in the 1990s to work with Rawlings till he passed on. Ex-President Kufuor too did same in 1982, shocking the Danquah-Busia camp even if muted in discussions).

The problem with the Danquah-Busia elements goes beyond the defeat suffered by Akufo-Addo or the sharp disapprobation for how he has handled the fallouts. This political tradition is too fixated on arid “book politics”—seeing political office holding as an entitlement, which its adherents pursue with venomous alacrity to antagonize and alienate those who would otherwise have sympathized with their cause had they been approached in a better manner and recognized for what and who they are.

Obviously, they cannot easily rationalize their electoral misfortunes for solution unless the party’s leaders at all levels redefine their strategies for politicking. Too much sense of superiority and entitlement to political power will continue to cast them in a bad light and repel support for them. Aren’t the current happenings the harbinger to alert them to what lies ahead of them in the near future that will confirm their sorry fate? How will they address the problems that are brought to their attention by people like us? With the usual insults, vain threats, and curses?

No matter how they approach issues, they can’t miss the fact that the events characterizing Election 2012 and their petition hearing at the Supreme Court have begun a new chapter in their chequered political history. If they now want to add the Akufo-Addo factor to those circumstances, they will remain the architects of their own doom. For those of us telling them as it is, we care less how they perceive us. We have developed tough skins for their insults and will sit back to laugh our hearts out when they squirm and blame the wrong people and factors for their electoral woes.

Akufo-Addo has chosen how to prepare for the future. Will the NPP leaders and followers also choose theirs or struggle vainly to reverse the irreversible? As my friend puts it, “the way is your front”!

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.