By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
July 21, 2010
Two occurrences at the political front have piqued my curiosity: one concerns the NPP and the other, the CPP. I have a gut feeling that these developments will affect the fortunes of the two political parties in one way or the other and must be addressed.
Shocking as the first event at the NPP front may seem, it doesn’t strike me as strange, considering the fact that just like all the country’s political parties, the NPP is not being run to stand on its own feet but to depend on the whims and caprices of whoever calls the shots. Just a few weeks ago, we were told by someone in the thick of things in the NPP that the party was broke, only for another (from Akufo-Addo’s camp) to refute that claim and to create the impression that the party was in good financial standing. Then, this news item, with the disturbing headline: “NPP Headquarters to be auctioned today”:
“The properties of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) will today be auctioned at the party’s headquarters in Asylum Down, Accra, to defray the value of a judgement entered against the party by an Accra Fast Track High Court-Commercial Division.”
The cause of this trouble? A fallout from the party’s music-and-dance electioneering campaigns for the 2008 general elections and indebtedness to the performers:
“…The recent ruling follows a case filed against the NPP by Ghana’s lead music composer, Mawuli Decker, who insisted on the court action for non-payment of professional fees for musical works done for the Party’s electioneering campaign” (Myjoyonline.com, July 21, 2010).
This verdict is not only unfortunate but it also confirms fears that not enough is being done by the leaders of the NPP to prop up the party financially and materially. If the party is not broke, why is it not able to meet its financial obligations, including settling all its indebtedness to those who have provided services (of all kinds) to it? How much at all is involved, which the party couldn’t pay but lose its property and reputation over? Where are the money-bags in the party? We know them.
Despite public perception that members of the NPP are filthily rich, the party itself seems not to be so. Why? Because they are starving it of funds or because they want to wait till the electioneering campaign period before pumping funds into the party’s activities? In one way or the other, what is happening now is deplorable because the party cannot stand on its feet if so starved.
Considering the massive pumping of resources into the NPP’s bid to retain power at the 2008 polls, one is not surprised that an event of this sort has happened. The overzealousness with which the NPP rushed into the persistent bouts of “jamboree” all over the country, luring to its camp all manner of musicians and dancers (artistes, generally), and the carnival atmosphere that occasioned the party’s political rallies, I am not in the least surprised that the party’s miscalculations are now beginning to have their boomerang effect on it.
Judging from the nerve-wracking junketing and taunting that had taken the better part of the party’s hustings, one shouldn’t be surprised at all to know that the party still owes some of those it co-opted into the “Go High” escapades. Had all that junketing helped the party to remain in office, the story would have been different. In the end, it was all an expensive exercise in futility whose negative effects are now being registered. The party’s leaders bit off more than they could chew. Now, the hard fact has emerged to portray their party in a bad light. Success in politics goes beyond carnivals and vain promises.
This happening in the NPP should, however, not be gloated over by anybody because it is not restricted to the NPP alone. The financial woes of the NPP reflect the general atmosphere of “poverty” in all the parties, apparently because their leaders don’t know how to run the parties as viable business enterprises that should have investments to profit from. Because the parties’ leaders are more interested in their own well-being, they find it difficult to expend their energies and resources to help the parties generate funds for their upkeep.
There are many avenues from which to get revenue and one expects these party leaders to take advantage of them to help their parties become self-supporting. For instance, the parties can run transport businesses, engage in the export-import trade; establish commercial farms to take care of their members and others who will not abuse the gesture; and many other ventures. What the party leaders have to do is to demonstrate that sense of propriety and business acumen to win the confidence of financiers so that businesses could take off for the benefit of the members and society, generally.
I think that there is a lot basically wrong with how our political parties are being managed, which is negatively affecting their fortunes, as we’re seeing in this case of the NPP. If the parties want to support themselves from their own revenue-generating ventures, then, the appropriate parameters must be set to eliminate this haphazard manner in which they’ve been run all these years. There should be a consistent database for all these parties and serious groundwork done to keep accurate records to inspire further action. Members will be willing to contribute their quota if they are assured of good management of resources to achieve the parties’ objectives, not to enhance the lifestyles of the executive officers.
It appears that this terribly wrong management style in the Elephant party (and all the others) confirms the worries that some of us have about the stature of our political parties and the fear that they are not being strengthened enough to play their part in growing our democracy. I have said it before that the existing organizational structures and management styles of the various parties’ leaders are ineffective. They have not been properly streamlined enough to allow for the growth of the parties. Looking at the weak structures that these parties have at all levels (except the National Executive Committee level), it is apparent that they are defective in many regards. Go down to the constituency level, for instance, to see whether these parties have decent offices and resources to function effectively. They don’t, which is their source of frustration. But getting to election time, the leaders will spend resources buying the conscience of the electorate. This manner of politicking is disappointing.
Now, to the pro-Nkrumahist family and its woes. Joy News has reported that:
“The flag-bearer of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) in the 2008 elections, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom has declared that unless the CPP and the People’s National Convention (PNC) merge, he will not be part of the CPP’s activities in the 2012 elections” (Myjoyonline.com, July 21, 2010).
Nduom must be really audacious to take such a stand. Indeed, his approach is commendable, even if it will leave him in the political limbo for reasons that he must have known by now. The crisis within the pro-Nkrumahist family is not new, having been around since the overthrow of the Great Osagyefo in 1966. However, events in this 4th Republic attest to the fact that no other political family is more confused than this pro-Nkrumahist one.
Beginning from the splinter parties in that family that contested the elections in 1992, 1996, 2000, 20004, and 2008 and their poor showing to the current bad blood-relationship between the CPP and the PNC, there is ample evidence that it is only a merger that can help these pro-Nkrumahists redeem their image. But can they really bell the cat? Not really. Just early this week, we were told that one PNC well-placed member had threatened to blow the lid on alleged attempts by some elements in the CPP to bribe some PNC members to fulfill the CPP’s agenda of absorbing the PNC. The sentiments expressed by this PNC activist indicate that the PNC sees itself as stronger than the CPP and won’t want to collapse into it. So, should the CPP, then, turn tail and collapse into the PNC? Either way, there will be only one pro-Nkrumahist party to stand toe-to-toe with the NDC and NPP at the polls.
Thus, if Nduom is now threatening to stay aloof from the CPP unless it absorbs the other pro-Nkrumahist elements, he may have a good cause to do so. After all, who in the pro-Nkrumahist family won’t want to be in power after the NDC and NPP have been there and not yet succeeded in getting the country out of the woods? It is only a merger that can save the pro-Nkrumahist family. Let the leaders of the various splinter parties understand that they have a common platform (Nkrumah’s vision) to guide their politicking. If they truly believe in Nkrumah’s ideals, then, they should speak with only one voice. Otherwise, if they allow their own selfish and petty ambitions to dominate their politicking, they will continue to lose the game.
It’s long overdue for these pro-Nkrumahist elements to put their own house in order so as to make a better showing at the polls. If they fail to do so, they will remain at the fringes, waste their resources on electioneering campaigns, only to lose credibility. Can they not, for once, realize the harm that their intransigence is doing to their political tradition? As they continue to nurse their own parochial and selfish political hopes, the little support base that they have is being depleted as their members turn to the NPP or NDC for sustenance. Eventually, there will be little left of the CPP or PNC. This kind of narrow politicking must give way to something more productive for the benefit of Ghana politics. We must not allow the pro-Nkrumahist family to fade away.
In all these events affecting the NPP and the CPP/PNC, there is only one lesson for us: Let’s remember that viable democracies are fed by political parties. These parties are the veins and arteries and anything that adversely affects them is bound to have a drastic impact on the democratic system. If we fail to strengthen them, they will not give us the leaders that we are yearning for. It is, therefore, important for the leaders of these parties to redefine their strategies for organizing and managing these parties.