By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK September 10, 2014
The findings and recommendations of the NPP Constitutional Committee that investigated matters relating to the recent dismissal and appointment of the Directors of Communications and Finance by the General Secretary, Mr Kwabena Agyapong are indeed, very damning and an indictment on his judgement and integrity. In this article, I will discuss the findings and recommendations, their potential implications on administration at NPP Headquarters and the ongoing internal struggle for the body and soul of the party.
To begin with, I was shocked when I read the findings and recommendations contained in the report of the Committee chaired by the former Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Ocquaye. Among others, it observed that “some officers of the Party, particularly, the Director of Communications and the Director of Finance, have been asked by the General Secretary to proceed on leave...The Committee respectfully considers this an anomaly...the Committee finds the directive given by the General Secretary for those officers of the Party to proceed on leave, improper....” The General Secretary clearly violated the Director of Finance’s constitutional rights with the allegations he made on PEACE FM. We respectfully call on him to retract same and apologise to the Director of Finance” (see “STATEMENT: Gen Sec Must Apologize to Opare Hammond & Okudzeto...The Two Must Be Reinstated”, Peacefmonline, September 10, 2014).
Reading through the report clearly suggests that either the General Secretary did not know his role, powers and accountability over matters of appointments and dismissals within the party headquarters or he simply disregarded the Constitution of the party. This is strange because one would have expected that prior to making the decision to contest for the position of General Secretary, Mr Kwabena Agyapong’s first obligation should have been to read the NPP Constitution from front to back and particularly the role of the position he intended to contest. Moreover, on his election and after being sworn into office, his Dictionary or Thesaurus should have been the same Constitution. The question is, how come he fell foul to basic elementary administrative procedures such as not seeking approval from neither the Steering Committee nor the National Executive Council?
Second, the findings and recommendations also made me ask this question, so what has been happening since the formation of this great party, that is, how did past General Secretaries or Chairmen conduct themselves, specifically, with regards to the matters investigated by the Constitutional Committee? As I am not a leading member of the party and therefore not privy to confidential party information I could not answer this question. However, an article on Ghanaweb by one Mahama Haruna, who claimed to have been Special Assistant to the former Chairman, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey from 2009 to 2010, came to my mind (see, “Replacement at NPP Headquarters Not New”, Ghanaweb, Friday August 29, 2014.
I am not sure if any member of the former National Executives, leading NPP members or Jake himself read the abovementioned article but so far, I have not read or heard anyone from the NPP leadership deny the contents of the article. However, if the contents and claims made by the author are accurate, then, it could bring the work of the Constitutional Committee into a different perspective. That is, if the norm or practice in the past has been for the new Executives to appoint people they can trust and work with (which is normal in politics), then, why it is different this time? Could this be part of the alleged Alan/Nana factional struggle for supremacy? Who knows?
Of course, the fact that previous Executives have been allowed to operate outside the party constitution by dismissing previous officers and appointing their favourites does not mean the status quo must remain. In fact, the Committee has done an excellent job by clarifying the roles and powers of the General Secretary as well as the day-to-day administration of the party and its secretariat. Whether this was due to a proactive Constitutional Committee Chairman or the confusion surrounding the dismissal and appointment of the two officers in question is immaterial, rather, the committee should be commended for the brilliant job.
What are the potential implications, if any, for the General Secretary? The public allegation of impropriety against one of the officers by Kwabena Agyapong on Peace FM without any foundation is abhorrent and therefore the order by the committee for him to withdraw the same and apologise to the officer is a step in the right direction. However, the gravity of the findings and the recommendations are such that, they have substantially weakened the authority of the General Secretary and damaged his reputation. After the retraction of the allegation, apology and reinstatement of the two officers, I do not see how the General Secretary could exercise his supervisory and administrative oversight effectively over the two reinstated officers. In effect, though he is in his first year of three year term, Mr Kwabena Agyapong has almost become a lame duck General Secretary if he decides to remain in his job. In my view he is irreparably damaged and for that reason, it would be better for him to resign. A General Secretary who did not know or understand the party’s constitution and the limit of his powers as well make public very serious but unsubstantiated allegation against one of the most senior officers of the party is a disaster.
What are the potential implications on the ongoing internal conflict of the party? Though the Constitutional Committee’s work is absolutely faultless, those aligned to any of the Alan/Nana factions will read in between the lines and accuse or applaud the Committee for different reasons. The Alan faction would consider the work of the committee as a witch hunt against Kwabena Agyapong for his perceived 2020 Agenda, an Alan loyalist and anti Akufo-Addo. Again, they would accuse the Committee Chairman of doing Akufo-Addo’s bidding since he is a strong supporter. Similarly, the Akufo-Addo faction will be in jubilant mood over the reinstatement of the two officers and the clipping of Agyapong’s wings.
The above interpretations and misinterpretations of the Committee’s findings and recommendations could widen the gap between the Alan and Akufo-Addo factions and subsequently make the task of resolving differences between the two factions a bit difficult than anticipated, especially as the Alan faction see the two reinstated officers as Akufo-Addo appointees as per Mahama Haruna’s article of August 29, 2014.
Whatever happens and how each group interprets the Committee’s work, findings and recommendations, things will never be the same as far as the daily operations of the party is concerned. I hope that all factions will rise above individual interests and accept the findings and recommendations for the common good of the party. That of electing a flagbearer and uniting as one family behind the candidate for 2016, especially, since any confusion regarding dismissals, appointments and the powers of the General Secretary, the Steering Committee and the National Executive Council have been succinctly explained.
Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK