Opinions of Tue, 2 Jan 2007133

NPP should pick an equally likeable candidate

Even with the 2008 general elections twenty-two months away, the nation's two leading parties, the NPP and the NDC, are feverishly preparing for a fight that will determine their political fortunes. To this end, the NDC tied up some loose ends at a strikingly tranquil congress (the last time the party met, tempers flared, fists flew and chaos reigned) and picked the affable Atta Mills to steer the party to victory. The hope here is that the NPP will in similar fashion choose an equally likeable candidate.

That said, rest assured that the 2008 elections will be bitterly contested given the magnitude of the issues at stake. Ghanaians should therefore expect events leading to November 2008 to be filled with the usual political gaffes and idiocies characteristic of our bumbling politicians.

The NPP is scheduled to convene in September of 2008 to select a candidate. At last count, twelve leading NPP stalwarts had declared their intentions to compete for the party's nod. But while conceding that all twelve are eminently qualified to lead the country in 2008, the fact that there are this many candidates from the ruling party vying for its nomination suggests a party at a crossroads and not clear-eyed about its agenda for 2008.

One would, of course, have expected the vice president to be the logical shoo-in. But many within his own party view him as a political liability, if not an outright albatross (recent events have only helped to strengthen their position).

So, the subtle message being sent out is to pick a candidate who is "squeaky clean" and will stir the least suspicion and resentment. If there ever was a time for the various NPP factions to close ranks and rally behind a single candidate, it is now. After all, its political structure though in much need of some fine tuning, remains intact.

The task ahead for the party NOW is to select a candidate who will transcend the tribal divisions that have emerged in the country and tainted the NPP in the process, a candidate who will avoid bombast and not drive his fellow country men and women crazy with his solipsism( it is me only and no one else matters), and a candidate formidable enough to overcome the unexpected avalanche of relentless rhetoric and political flogging from the opposition. More importantly, the party needs an individual who can help it scale a mounting "national wall" of skepticism and distrust.

To regain the enormous support it enjoyed in 2000, there are several things the NPP should do: inject some life into a rather wobbly economy that looks rosy to the technocrats and number crunchers at such global financial institutions like the IMF and the World Bank. The reality, the opinions of technocrats notwithstanding, is that a gnawing destitution continues to plague millions of Ghanaians, the direct consequence of an economy that hasn't pulled many out of the clutches of poverty.

One would expect that the party will deal more firmly with its wayward members. What irks many Ghanaians and is apparently oblivious to the party's leadership is the stunning failure to punish party members who have been caught with their hands in the public trough. This has not helped to curb the steady charges of corruption and mismanagement that have bedeviled the NPP for a better part of the last two years.

Then, there is the wide spread perception that the party has reneged on its promises and morphed into one exclusively for the rich and wealthy. A steady dose of humility would help. It is obvious that the NPP has fallen out of favor with the public and much has to be done between now and November 2008 if it expects an electoral victory.



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