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JH bemoans numerous NPP presidential aspirants

Sun, 14 Jan 2007 Source: Okyere Bonna

The NPP needs to be congratulated for organizing a civil and peaceful congress at EREDCE Hotel, Koforidua in the Eastern Region this week end.

It goes without saying that where goes the leader so goes the party. This was not surprising as Kufour is a peaceful man. Some may disagree with this author but I think Ghana has been taken small steps forward since Kufour assumed the mantle of office. Our only problem or concern is that the pace is a little slower than we expected. Yet in the midst of such huge mess what ever one government does may likely seem insignificant until one puts on a microscopic political lens (to view things). For this I say kudos Mr. President. Hopefully the flag bearer NPP chooses will be a man or woman of greater vision to continue where Kufour would leave of.

We cannot close this paragraph without acknowledging the transformation of the NDC during her recent national Delegates’ Conference from the mess of last year when all we heard was insults and revenge. A country cannot move ahead on bigotry and revenge. Kudos NDC for organizing a peaceful and united congress. Hopefully Atta Mills is also now a reformed candidate. Ghana needs more peace and unity than never before in 2008.

While congratulating both major political parties of NDC and NPP, let us not forget to give ears to the other political parties especially the new ones like GNP and GSDM. At least, I know GNP and the GSDM have a lot to offer in terms of balancing the Establishment. It is against this back drop that I challenge the Establishment to welcome and embrace new ideas for the good of Ghana.

The NPP now has the opportunity to prove to the world that change is good when it comes to choosing their flag bearer. While the NDC settled with the status quo, NPP could do better. I hope NPP is not exclusively for the establishment.

General News of Sunday, 7 January 2007 carried the speech and concern of the NPP establishment who question the seriousness of (some of) the party members who are clamouring for the party's presidential slot for the 2008 general election, saying that the demand for the presidency was not "a beauty contest" anybody could jump at.”

In his speech, Honorable J.H Mensah bemoaned his party and lamented on the many candidates seeking the flagbearership of the NPP, "This is not a beauty contest", Mr. Mensah declared, adding that anybody aspiring to be the NPP flag bearer should have won the confidence of a majority of not just party members but also the general public, as well as being capable of "running difficult, complex and demanding projects." His feelings were also echoed in the speech made by President Kufour that the NPP flagbearership or LEADERSHIP is not for everybody.

May I seek their permission also to add that it is also not a “money contest” Nor “grey hair contest” but about Ghana. One challenge facing the NPP delegates in 2008 is to prove to the public that NPP is not only a party for the “old” but inclusive.

According to Mr. Mensah, the issue of presidential aspirants of the party "has threatened to get out of hand" and the party's image has suffered damage and lamented: "What kind of a united team can the NPP present to the country when not only the eleven players on the field but also all the reserves on the benches want to be captain." The leadership of the party would not "gamble or guess with the choice of their leader" because "quality tells." "We have all worked together, and we know each other's contributions and we cannot gamble with the choice of a leader," Mr. Mensah declared.

According to Mr. J.H. Mensah, not only had the unprecedented number of presidential aspirants given the party a bad image, but that their attitude had also fueled the perception that the flagbearership was something anybody could aspire to.

May I humbly differ by saying, if the honorable J.H. Mensah’s concern was preservation for honest, hardworking achievers and "not the chaos of twenty individual captains”, then I rather see the proliferation of candidates as a good sign for the party in the face of our democracy. NPP can positively tap into this.

Now I have this childlike suggestion to give. Wouldn’t it be more productive for the NPP to welcome all the prospective presidential candidates to pre-register at a minimal fee and then let them debate or have a question time with the party faithful, conduct a vote/election or even an interview for the 20 plus candidates and then choose the top 5 to now register for the flagbearership? And if this was costly let the party use a meaningful criteria to cut the number down. Then again allow all registered NPP delegates (not hand picked as has been going on) to vote and pick their candidate. I hope by doing this the candidate so chosen would not only have won the support and confidence of the general NPP body but also the candidate would have been a unifier and seasoned to lead having had the opportunity to do his or her own research in the debating/interviewing periods.

What is happening now in our political parties is that they do not give any opportunity to their candidates to prepare themselves nor do they give the party faithful the chance to pick their candidates. It appears candidates are superimposed by the elders as they (presidential candidates) are only hand picked by a selected team of delegates. Call it “communistic democracy.” Then the concern of the candidate so chosen is how to please these party folks (or Establishment) who gave them the shot. Even worse and sad is the fact that the candidate had to initially spend his time trying to woo delegates with favors rather than formulating policies prior to elections or both. So one ends up in the Castle without a solid plan only to beat about the bush for the first year or two. It is time to put the country first ahead of individual agenda.

Long live Ghana. Long live our democracy.

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Columnist: Okyere Bonna