By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK September 25, 2014
The second and final part of NPP’s primaries to elect the party’s presidential candidate for the 2016 is entering its final weeks as the October 18, 2014 draws near (though there is a legal challenge on the date at the High Court for an extension). The contest as in the previous ones (for the 2008 and 2012 elections), has always been considered as a two horse race between Nana Akufo-Addo and Mr Alan Kwadwo Kyeremanteng, a former Ambassador to the US and Minister for Trade under ex-President Kufuor administration. As always, the former is the favourite to clinch the Flagbearership for the third consecutive time. However, the landslide victory of Nana Akufo-Addo in the first round held on August 31, 2014 has sent shivers down spine of Mr Kyeremanteng’s camp and disorganised them. The campaign appears to faltering with some leading members resorting to levelling accusations against Nana Akufo-Addo or his campaign team. The purpose of this article is to discuss the tactics of the Alan camp and its potential consequences for the future.
Though against all odds, the Alan camp creates the impression that their man is in the contest to win and confident that there would be a political tsunami in Ghana come October 18, 2014. Fortunately or unfortunately, this belief is not backed by the actions of the Alan camp. For example, at the official launching of the Alan Campaign on September 13, 2014, the Campaign Spokesman, Nana Ohene Ntow dropped what could best be described as “political suicide bomb” with a call on NDC members to join Alan’s campaign for victory on October 18 (see, “NDC Should Join Alan’s Campaign – Nana Ohene Ntow”, Ghanaweb, September 14, 2014).
The first question that comes to mind regarding the above call from Nana Ohene Ntow, is, does he know the rules of the game? I know that in the US presidential primaries, some states allow the general public to vote in the party primaries. However, in Ghana that is not the case as far as the NPP contest is concerned. So how could NDC members join Alan’s campaign for victory on October 18, 2014 when they cannot vote at the congress? Even the arrangement in the US where a few states allow a free vote in party primaries could be risky as opponents could deliberately vote for a weak candidate who could be defeated by their party’s candidate the national elections. In fact, Nana Ohene Ntow by this call did not only expose the weakness of the Alan campaign but he also became the second “political Al Qaeda suicide bomber” in Ghana (the first being Kennedy Agyapong with his “kill Ewes and Gas”).
Alan himself also exposed his lack of confidence in winning the contest by claiming that he was surprised by the good or high turnout at his campaign launch. Instead of saying that the good or high turnout was either a measure of his support within the party grassroots or popularity amongst the Ghanaian electorate, he was surprised. Perhaps, I misunderstood what he meant by the surprise and in fact, what he really meant was the absence of key and leading members of the party. Very few of the party’s MPs attended compared with those who attended Nana Akufo-Addo’s campaign launch. Even that should not have surprised him but cautioned him.
I suspect that having come to terms with the reality on the grounds on their regional campaign tours that Nana Akufo is attracting relatively more party members and media attention than Alan, the campaign has suddenly turned negative with all sorts of allegations and accusations against Nana Akufo-Addo and his campaign team. The first to fire the smoking gun was Dr Richard Anane, a former Health Minister under the Kufuor regime, alleged that Nana Akufo-Addo schemed to get then 1998 NPP Presidential Candidate, Kufuor replaced with himself, after been defeated by Kufuor (see “Akufo-Addo’s men Schemed to get Kufuor Replaced in 1998”, Ghanaweb, September 15, 2014). What is disappointing about this allegation is not its hollowness but the fact it come from a medical doctor and reasonably considered a seasoned politician. How on earth could the NPP leadership have replaced the elected candidate with the defeated and claim to be a party that believes in true democracy, unless of course by electoral laws of Ghana and the party, some information that were not available at the time of the election surfaced that disqualified Kufuor as a candidate? Even in that scenario, one would have expected another contest if time could allow it. In my view, this allegation is calculated to damage Nana Akufo-Ado in the eyes of delegates for the October 18 contest.
This was followed by allegations of votes buying by Nana Akufo-Addo. Alan Kyeremanten’s camp alleged that his supporters who have recently defected to his opponent, Nana Akufo-Addo, are doing so under the influence of money (see “Akufo-Addo is Luring my Supporters with Money – Alan K”, Ghanaweb, September 23, 20140). Alan seems to blaming someone instead of examining why his supporters are crossing carpet to join his arch rival. He has forgotten that politics is a game that requires some scheming by the players. Those who deserted him are being rational politicians because they have realised that they stand a better chance of being in government with Nana Akufo-Addo than Alan. They want to strike the iron whilst it’s red hot rather than wait till the game is over for them.
That was followed by another accusation of vote buying against Akufo-Addo’s camp during NPP’s Super Delegates’ Congress in Tamale on August 31, 2014 (see “Money Changed Hands at August 31 Congress – Alan Camp”, Ghanaweb, September 25, 2014). Excuse me, but the congress was held over three weeks ago so why this allegation now? What game is Alan’s camp playing? The simple explanation is that they are attempting to blame Nana Akufo-Addo for all their woes, instead of conducting introspection.
Last but not the least, is the alleged demand for the medical records of Nana Akufo-Addo by Dr Anane as part of a suit he intends to pursue against Mr Kennedy Agyapong for accusing him and Mr Kwadwo Mpiani (ex-president Kufuor’s Chief of Staff) of plotting to kill Nana Akufo- Addo by poisoning (see “Dr Anane Demands Akufo-Addo’s Medical Reords”, Ghanaweb, September 24, 2014). I thought Dr Anane is a medical doctor and ought to have known better when it comes to the privacy of personal medical records. In any case, Kennedy Agyapong made the allegation over a month ago (see “Mpaini, Three Others Fingered in Plot to Poison Akufo-Addo”, Ghanaweb, August 22, 2014).
Alan’s strategy could be explained in two ways. First, they have realised that the odds are heavily against them, facing a potential wipe out and humiliating defeat on October 18, 2014. These accusations and allegations are to prepare the grounds for an excuse in the event of such catastrophic defeat at the hands of Nana Akufo-Addo for the third consecutive time. The other is that, if Alan cannot win the NPP Flagbearership to challenge President Mahama in 2016, then Nana Akufo-Addo would also never win the presidency. In fulfilment of this self fulfilling prophecy, the Alan camp led by Dr Anane aims to cause as much damage as possible to Nana Akufo-Addo by proving future ammunition to the NDC. That could perhaps, explain why Nana Ohene Ntow called on NDC members to join the Alan campaign to defeat Nana Akufo-Addo on October 18.
Would the strategy work? Probably, yes but definitely, no. No because the allegations and accusations are rather causing more damage to Alan than the intended target. They could even be a turn off for NPP delegates who are yet to make their minds up on which of the two main contenders to vote for on October 18, 2014. Probably yes because the NDC is more likely to use these allegations and accusations against Nana Akufo-Addo during the 2016 presidential campaign. For example, NDC could mischievously read negatives into the demand by Dr Anane for Nana Akufo-Addo’s medical records and raise the suspicion that Dr Anane might know something about the state of Nana Akufo-Addo’s state of health that the public ought to know. That may not be effective because there were rumours in 2008 that the then NDC presidential candidate was ill but he went on to win the presidency.
The battle between Nana Akufo-Addo and Alan Kyeremanten for the hearst and minds of NPP delegates is getting nasty and may become even nastier. However, Alan should remember the common saying that, when two elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers. Moreover, this is more or less a family feud after which the two siblings must reconcile for the bigger picture. Lastly, Alan stands to lose more than Nana Akufo-Addo in the end. For example, in the unlikely event of him becoming the Flagbearer, he may not get the support from Nana Akufo-Addo’s camp and that could be a disaster for his chances in 2016.
On the other hand, it is widely believed within NPP that Alan is next in line after Nana Akufo-Addo and should his third attempt be unsuccessful, Alan could be the obvious favourite for 2020. However that belief could easily dissipate if he is seen as having played a part in Nana Akufo-Addo’s defeat in 2016 by damaging him and giving NDC ammunition to use against him. If he becomes the NPP Flagbearer for 2020, Nana Akufo-Addo’s team could pay him back in his own coin. What goes around comes around.
It’s not too late for Alan as the captain of his ship to change course by turning the rudder from the current direction of damaging Nana Akufo-Addo because this strategy could be potentially lethal to the elephant family than he anticipated. If the strategy continues, he would not only lose massively to Nana Akufo-Addo on October 18, 2014 but there could also be no 2020 for him either. That is why I believe that those who talk about Agenda 2020 really do not understand politics. How could one cause the defeat of the party in 2016 in order to get an opportunity in 2020? It’s delusional and madness because a third consecutive defeat for NPP could destroy any future chances of the party regaining power in 2020.
Alan’s campaign team is behaving as if they have already lost the elections but refusing to concede defeat, yet they are blaming someone else and not their own capability. There is a saying in Ghana that, when one cannot carry her/his load instead of saying so s/he blames her/his “kashire” (the piece of material or cloth used as cushion between the head the load) that it’s no good. For the above reasons, my advice to the two camps is to learn from an Aran proverb which says, “I against my brother, my brother and I against our cousin and my brother, cousin and I against our common enemy/adversary”.
Kofi Ata, Cambridge