Roots of disunity in NPP getting firm?

Tue, 18 Aug 2009 Source: Haruna, Mahama

If the roots of disunity getting firm in the NPP are not immediately addressed, the party could be heading for serious problems in the run-up to the 2012 elections. In fact, it could lead to the break-up of the party. 2009 is a year of make or break for the NPP as it embarks on a series of reforms as well as elections at the Polling Station, Constituency, Regional and National levels.

The NPP constitutional amendment proposals are meant to bring about the desire of party members at the grass roots for change, modernisation and the general reform of the party's structures, organisation and operation. It is also aimed at ensuring that we have a unified party with a very good image, better organised, more disciplined and with effective mechanisms for resolving grievances and choosing the right candidates and leaders.

I believe the expansion of the electoral colleges for elections at all levels will prevent aspirants from manipulating delegates through financial and material means. It will also make room for representation from every nook and cranny of the country as well as a broad spectrum of the party's stakeholders. At the last Congress in 2007, there were situations in which husbands, wives, close family relations and cronies were selected as delegates at the detriment of hardworking party members.

The idea is also to add more delegates to the current pool in order to push the number to a more appreciable and respectable one, where it would be difficult for candidates to influence the voting patterns of delegates with money and other goodies and as well eliminate all inconveniences and risks involved in transporting delegates to a single town or city for a National Congress.

Aside all these, I also have a strong conviction that the amendments are in the supreme interests of the Party. The amendments will keep the grassroots of the party more vibrant and also ensure that potential office seekers work extremely hard at all levels of the Party especially at the grassroots. The amendments will also ensure that only true blue party men fill all positions from the Polling Station level to the National offices.

I am therefore surprised these constitutional amendment proposals have all of a sudden within the past few days taken a new twist. Presently some leading figures are being labeled as representing those who support the amendments and those who want the present arrangements retained. Whereas the maintenance of the status quo is rightly or wrongly attributed to ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor, the change advocates are believed rightly or wrongly to be the handiwork of Nana Akufo-Addo.

However, as one of my favourite writers put it; "There appears to be unconfirmed pointers as to the reasons for which such positions are attributed to the gentlemen mentioned above. According to him whereas the status quo advocates state categorically that President Kufuor won both NPP primaries and national elections using that system and therefore sees no reason why it should be changed, change advocates tend to reinforce the notion that the political dynamics of the NPP and by extension Ghana have changed to the extent that it would be foolhardy for anybody to rely on a structure erected for our immediate post-revolution era to be used for organising a party as democratically inclined as the NPP in its march towards the future".

I reason in line with Von Brazi that the NPP faces its greatest threat and challenge to its stability and cohesion because whereas the change advocates need two-thirds majority for their preference to be upheld, the status quo gurus only need a third of the valid votes cast to thwart the efforts of the change apparatchiks. Knowing the intricacies of internal NPP politics and the way issues of this nature usually play out, I dare say that the outcome of this particular struggle would be very dicey. Dicey because the change advocates appear to be prevaricating, not taking a strong, bold and decisive stance on their preference, perhaps in an ambitious attempt to maintain the delicate balance and cohesion of the party now that being in opposition is testing the loyalty, strength and commitment of the rank and file. Many people whom I personally know vouched for the amendments have all of a sudden back tracked and are suddenly silent while some are calling for a stop to the amendments.

In fact the two main blocs within the party have resorted to divisive, surreptitious and unscrupulous tactics to win the support of delegates. One of such tactics is the use of text messages. For sometime now, despicable and damaging text messages are being circulated to some NPP Executives and potential party delegates aimed at destroying each other. Two of such text messages being forwarded to delegates in the Ashanti Region and which the recipients allege are from the camp of Nana Akufo-Addo reads:

"Alan wants to split our party, but we are not going to allow him to do so- the Activists" and "Yaw Amankwa, Asare Bediato and Adu Asabre have collected GH100,000( 1 billion old Ghana cedis) from J.A. Kufour to work against the amendments, they are crooks, vote for amendments".

A widely circulated text messages which seeks to tarnish the image and reputation of Nana Akufo-Addo, the 2008 Flag bearer of the NPP was forwarded to me by a party executive reads;

"The NDC has naked pictures of Nana Addo with women in bed so don't push him for your personal interest. They have a picture of him smoking wee. Don't think that Ghanaians don't know that some of Nana's friends are drug people and also as NDC is now in government they can find faults of Nana during his tenure in office as Minister".

In fact there are other messages that are so unprintable that I will not dare present them for the reading public.

Wild allegations and rumour continue to be peddled at the very lowest and highest circles within the party about how Nana Akufo-Addo misused funds for the 2008 campaign. The most worrying allegation is that ex-President J A Kufour personally handed $ 35 million to Nana Akufo-Addo for the campaign but the money was not used for its intended purpose.

Some of the stories going round as corroborated by Gabby Asare Otchere Darko are that, Nana Akufo-Addo used 3 million UK pounds ($5m) of campaign money to buy a property at Sloane Square, on the boundaries of the fashionable London districts of Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Chelsea. Other stories are that his brother Bumpty Akufo-Addo has bought a house at Mayfair, Central London and his cousin Gabby has also used campaign money to buy a mansion at Cantoments-Accra. There are are numerous allegations against some family members and close allies of Akufo-Addo.

The latent danger and fear for the NPP is that these clandestine activities further polarise and deepens the party's problems. I am tempted to agree that those who try to tarnish the reputations of others must always hold themselves in readiness for appropriate responses to their methods of operations only that in their unfortunate circumstances, they have no control over the timing, format or intensity of the appropriateness of the response that would be visited upon their unnecessary belligerence. Should it come to this, what would be the consequences to the NPP?

What is baffling to me is that, early this year there were reports that ex-President Kufour and Nana Akufo-Addo held a series of strategic meetings on the way forward for the party and top on the agenda of the meetings which had some top echelons of the party as well as close allies of the two leading NPP figures was how to keep the party united in opposition, strengthen its structures across the country and sharpen its arsenal to win back power in 2012. We were also told the two men also discussed among other issues how to avoid the kind of unhealthy fierce competition that bedevilled the party's primaries in 2007. In fact this news was hailed by the rank and file but the question is; What is the outcome of these talks and how has the party benefited from the unity talks?

One could only conclude that some of our party's leaders talk and present themselves in public as if they want unity but under the 'cover of darkness' do several negative things to cause more instability and division in the party.

What sort of party are we in?

By Mahama Haruna.

email maharun1@ yahoo.com

The writer was a General Secretary of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) and a former Constituency Secretary of NPP for Bole- Bamboi.

Columnist: Haruna, Mahama