Reflections on NPP super-delegates election

Fri, 5 Sep 2014 Source: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

Irmo, SC

1ST September, 1014

The pruning elections are over and the 2012 NPP Presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo obtained a little over 4 out of every 5 votes.

In response, there are increasingly loud calls for others to drop out of the race. Before commenting on those misguided calls, let me congratulate all the aspirants who participated in it, for their service to the party in helping burnish our democratic credentials.

I urge Hon. Asamoah Boateng and Dr. Apraku to stay strong and engaged. Sometimes, the stone the builders rejected would end up becoming the cornerstone of the building.

Nana deserves congratulations. He won and won big. Indeed, it is reasonable to suppose that while this is only 1% of the primary electorate, he is strongly positioned to become the NPP Candidate in 2016.

Despite the likelihood that Nana would win, I strongly disagree with those calling on others to drop out of the race. Those calls are subversive of our democratic culture and our constitution.

Here is why:

First, the purpose of this election was to prune the field, not to elect a Presidential candidate. Indeed, if the same people who just voted had voted in the National delegates’ election in Tamale, Afoko and Agyapong would have lost in a landslide.

Second, having the others drop out will make a mockery of the NPP’s commitment to deepen our democracy. After rightly enlarging our electoral college from 2,500 to 140,000 with a commitment to move to One-member-one-vote, permitting only 800 to elect our flag-bearer will be a huge step backwards.

Second, a primary contest is not just about choosing a candidate—it is also about settling differences about ideas and philosophies. Indeed, sometimes, the ideas of a losing candidate may be what wins the very elections whose primary he/she lost. Despite losing the elections of 1964, Barry Goldwater’s ideas have led to the election of 4 Republican Presidents.

Third, while there is a very strong case for retaining Nana, there is also an equally strong case for changing him. We must be patient and permit both cases to be made. It is the yearning for change that led to the defeats of Jake and Sir John and before them, of Ohene Ntow.

Fourth, truncating this primary will be contrary to the NPP’s historic mission of being an example in democracy, not just to Ghanaians but to all of Africa.

Alan should stop running like an establishment candidate when he is quite properly an insurgent candidate. There are questions about how we lost 2008 and 2012, our unity, corruption, violence and other things that he has failed to raise with enough passion.

Unfortunately, Nana appears to misunderstand the import of his victory. He stated, “I think that talk is by a small minority of people. They do not represent the rank and file of the party.” That is unfortunate. A party whose internal disagreements are settled with guns and cutlasses has real problems with unity. Even if the disaffected are only 10%, they matter in a general electorate that is split in half. The truth is that the NPP brand has been tarnished by divisions and violence and intemperate talk since 2008. To win, If he becomes the nominee, he needs a united party that has dealt with corruption and violence and intimidation behind him. To get there, he has huge mountains to climb.

Unfortunately, the comments by his cohorts, even after this pruning election has made his task only harder. Ghanaians would quite properly wonder whether a leader who is not inclusive in his party and will not forthrightly condemn violence or talk of it in his party, can unite Ghana and guarantee peace as President. He should look relentlessly to Kufuor as his model for the task ahead and Insha Allah, he can succeed.

Finally, the party elders should start focusing on the important challenges tarnishing our brand, instead of on issuing calls for a coronation instead of a contest. We are, with respect, a democratic political party, not a royal family. They must be condemning violence and intimidation and calling out people and activities that are making us unattractive to the voting public.

If we all do our duty to our party, with humility and respect for others in our party and the voting public, victory may yet be possible in 2016.

Let us move forward together.

Arthur Kennedy

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina