NPP must unite for victory in 2016

Thu, 25 Sep 2014 Source: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

Irmo, SC

24TH September, 2014

It would seem that the stars are perfectly aligned for the NPP to return to government in 2017. The government appears tired, riddled with corruption and incompetence with hardly a day passing without the revelation of more scandals.

The only viable opposition is the NPP. Strangely, however, the NPP appears determined to reject power.

It is consumed by in-fighting and scandals of its own. Despite the insistence by some prominent members that the party is united, the reality is very different. Indeed, the party is the most divided it has been since the break of 1979 that handed victory to Limann and the PNP and led to the return of Rawlings to power in 1981.

They claim we are united despite the fact that we march to our own headquarters with guns and cutlasses and sticks to settle our differences with party leaders.

They claim we are united despite the accusations by Nana Addo’s loyalists that Mpiani and Anane, who are close allies of former President Kufuor, have a plot to assassinate Nana if he were to be elected President.

They claim we are united despite the claim by Dr. Anane that “Nana can only be President in the next life.”

They claim we are united despite the claim by Northern Regional Chairman Bugri Naabu that our General Secretary, Kwabena Agyapong is on the NDC pay-roll and his threat to set up a committee of inquiry to unearth the traitors who voted against Nana Addo.

You get the picture.

Now, how does Nana, if he were the nominee, get Kwabena Agyapong to wholeheartedly support him while he has on his team, Hajia Fati who, presumably wants to “burn Kwabena Agyapong like they burned his father”?

How does Bugri Naabu work with Kwabena Agyapong, who he believes to be on the NDC’s payroll to elect our Presidential and Parliamentary candidates?

How does Ken Agyapong work with Kojo Mpiani to elect Alan President?

How can Asabe, whose defeat was celebrated with a party, work with others to elect Nana?

How does a Nana supporter work with others to elect Alan if he becomes the nominee?

A party is not united because one candidate gets 80 percent in the primary—assuming anyone does. It is united, even if the divide is 52 to 48 percent, by a process that is respectful of everybody. As Busia once said, “The essence of democracy is not just the right of a minority to be respected—it is the right of a lone individual to disagree with his party or country and feel safe and welcome.” John Kennedy, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all went on to win the Presidency after long, hard and divisive primaries in the US—AND SO DID Kufuor and Mills here in Ghana—because the process was accepted by all the contestants as fair.

In a divided electorate like Ghana has, ignoring 20% of your own party may be suicidal. It may be all that your opponent needs to win. As a dear friend of mine keeps reminding me, “In the end, there are not enough NPP or NDC members in Ghana to elect a President. Either party needs floating voters and some disaffected members of the other party to elect a President.” That is commonsense. That a member of one party can vote for a candidate from the other party is a well-known phenomenon. That is why in the US in 1980 and 1984, there were “Reagan Democrats”. These were democrats who abandoned their Presidential candidates to vote for Reagan because he “represented their values more”. Indeed, that is why in 2000 and 2004, in Ghana, there was the so-called “Kufuor Fantis” in Central Region who carried him to victory against the Fanti, Mills. In the end, winning 51% in the general election must matter more than winning 80% in the primary.

So what is the way forward to victory for the NPP?

First, we must begin using the language of love and tolerance in our internal dialogue. Calling each other traitors and murderers is not the language of democracy—it is the language of cults.

Second, we must have “zero-tolerance” for violence. No political party that calls itself democratic should accept the settling of differences with violence. We must name and shame those who believe that the argument of force matters more than the force of arguments—they are not democrats.

Third, we must rediscover our founding principles—tolerance, freedom of expression and the idea that we worship ideas and principles rather than individuals. We used to mock our NDC friends for having a founder and doing these backward things.

Fourth, we must stop calling one another traitors because we disagree. If we keep doing this, one of these days, all our members will come from one region or one tribe and that is not a recipe for winning elections.

Finally, we must start respecting Ghanaians and stop deceiving ourselves that as long as we do not talk about the problems in our party, Ghanaians will not know about them. They will. It is hard to hide people who leave your press conference bleeding from gun-shot and cutlass wounds.

Let us move forward together—in unity and mutual respect.

Arthur Kobina Kennedy

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina