By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
The Ghanaian Statesman has reported in an editorial that a flagbearer for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) will be elected come March 2010 (See “NPP to Choose Flagbearer in March 2010” Ghanaweb.com 9/3/09). The two-year interval between the nomination of the NPP flagbearer and Election 2010, of course, is to afford Ghana’s main opposition party ample time to tie up the proverbial loose-ends, largely to enable the party to effectively resolve any normative differences that might have been provoked during the heated contest leading up to the election of the NPP’s presidential candidate.
The preceding, it goes without saying, is nothing new; in fact, the now-ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) selected its presidential candidate –actually the NDC had one selected for its membership by the founding proprietor of the party – more than two years before Election 2008. The irony of the latter fact is that back then, the leaders of the then-ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) used the occasion to consistently and almost incessantly lambaste then-Candidate John Evans Atta-Mills, especially when it seemed apparent that the former Rawlings lieutenant was having quite a difficult time selecting his running mate. This may well explain the present decision of the NPP executive membership to enjoin that the party’s presidential nominee also select his/her running mate just about the same period of the candidate’s election. The latter step appears to be aimed at ensuring the organic establishment of simpatico, or strategic harmony, between the presidential nominee and his running mate. And this is well in order. Finally, one may be apt to quickly add, the key operatives of the NPP are beginning to act as if they take the business of democratic governance with all the seriousness that the latter deserves.
Even so, the decision of the NPP National Executive Council/Committee (NEC) to expand the number of delegates to be allowed to vote in the process of electing the party’s presidential candidate is woefully inadequate and thus falls far short of affording Ghanaian democracy, even at the primary level, all the boost and amplitude that it requires. Ideally, what ought to be happening right now is for the NPP leadership to open up the electoral process of its presidential nominee to any and all registered members of the New Patriotic Party across the entire Ghanaian political landscape.
Notwithstanding the remarkable expansion of the number of citizens authorized to partake of the presidential nomination process, still, the relatively minuscule percentage of qualified voters at the primary level, perforce, implies that the party’s leadership may not be fully ready to guarantee the maximum expression of democratic culture among its rank-and-file membership. The fact of the matter is that if, indeed, every registered member of the NPP will be allowed to fully and actively participate in Election 2012, then, of course, it only stands to reason that these participants are promptly integrated into this august and critical process from the get-go, as it were.
Indeed, one advantage in opening up the primary electoral process to every registered member of the NPP entails their technical enskillment and ample psychological preparation for Election 2012. In other words, allowing all the party’s registered members to vote in next year’s selection process of their presidential candidate may well guarantee that come December 2012, our National Electoral Commission (NEC) would have far, far less amount of spoilt, or illegitimate, ballot papers to report to the Ghanaian citizenry at large. The quite obvious response to the foregoing is likely to border on momentary expenditure and logistics. Such a response would only be tantamount to a rhetorical red-herring. For as has already been amply indicated above, the momentous decision of selecting a potential President of Ghana is one that ought to unreservedly involve each and every citizen of our beloved country. In unwisely and recklessly ceding this sacred right to its founding proprietor in the lead-up to Election 2008, the so-called National Democratic Congress ended up drawing our entire nation to the brink of abject administrative incompetence, anomie and virtual stasis; and Ghanaian citizens, irrespective of political affiliation and/or ideological suasion, are the poorer and more miserable for such visionless display of electoral diffidence.
Needless to say, in order for the political fortunes of the NPP to remain viable, between now and the election of the party’s presidential nominee for Election 2012, there ought to be appointed for the nonce, at least an “acting opposition leader” for the party; for as the clichéd maxim goes: “Nature abhors vacuum.” Our sincere, well-considered and pragmatic suggestion here is that the NPP’s “acting opposition leader” be Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the NPP presidential candidate for Election 2008.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI), the renowned pro-democracy think tank, and the author of 20 books, including “Paa: A Tribute” (iUniverse.com, 2005), a volume of poetry in memory of his father. E-mail: email@example.com. ###