The Cancer of Entitlement in the NPP Leadership Struggle

Thu, 5 Aug 2010 Source: Asubonteng, Bernard

By Bernard Asubonteng

If you pay close attention to most of the campaign utterances, the power struggle, the beneath-the-surface tension, and the personality clashes that have piled up creating a seemingly

tribal fault lines of tectonic proportion within NPP, you may unsurprisingly discover a cancer of “entitlement syndrome.” In short, Nana Akuffo Addo and Alan Kyerematen, the two leading contenders seeking the party’s nomination for the 2012 presidential elections have been behaving as if each of them is the bona fide owner of the NPP. Each of these two NPP presidential aspirants unapologetically parades an attitude of “IT IS MY TURN NOW.”

Thus, both Nana Akuffo Addo and Alan Kyerematen seem to harbor a strong sense of belief that each of them must be nominated by the party faithful at all cost, because not only are they entitled to the party leadership, but also each of them is destined to be president. In the process, as you look around it’s either Alan Kyerematen’s or Nana Akuffo Addo’s fliers, posters, campaign shirts dominating all over the place. It’s not that NPP does not have suitable or better substitutes for these two “recycled” candidates. But, backed by their vociferously partisan supporters and foot soldiers, the two leading but not-too-appealing presidential aspirants have almost succeeded in subduing any very serious competition from any aspiring “fresh-faced” NPP contender(s).

Although this openly-secret phenomenon doesn’t augur well for intra-party cohesion, fairness, and transparency, yet it’s the order of the day as the party is heading toward the August Congress to choose its candidate for president.

Let’s try to put things in proper context and see why we get here. It would be recalled that Nana Akuffo Addo’s father was the (ceremonial) president of Ghana during the 2nd Republic when Dr. Busia was the prime minister. It may not be surprising that all along as he was growing up, Nana Akufo Addo has been harboring an ambition of Ghana’s “president-in-waiting.” Ghana’s presidency is in his family DNA; he has to follow daddy’s footsteps. After all, his late father the senior Nana Akufo Addo was once a president, so the tradition has to be maintained. With this unquenchable desire and ambition under his belt, and the fact that he is a “founding member-cum-old guard” of Dankwa-Busia-Dombo tradition, who is to tell the self-styled heir-apparent Nana Akuffo to step aside for a new face to emerge to lead party into victory come 2012 presidential election?

Do not miss the subtext at this juncture; for we are not saying personal ambition or desire to accomplish something big in life is unthinkable. Almost all of us have ambitions. However, if your personal ambition is to become a president of your country, then in the interest of magnanimity, selflessness, and your party unity, you have to understand that there is a difference between personal and public ambitions. As you become familiar with the dichotomy between the two, you then start to introspectively challenge and question your public ambitions thus: at what point do I have to say enough is enough? This is exactly where Nana Akufo Addo and Alan Kyerematen are found wanting. I think all true democratic sympathizers know or must know that a broad-based political party as such NPP is far bigger than one person’s presidential ambitions.

In his avowed determination to taste the fruit of Ghana’s presidency, Nana Akuffo Addo, especially, appears to be ignoring many historical realities. As a reminder, almost all past unsuccessful presidential aspirants should they get the chance to contest again do so and succeed when the incumbent presidents are no longer running. Richard Nixon of U.S. failed at first but triumphed the second time when there was no incumbent (President Johnson) running. Back home a living example is ex-president Kufuor, Mills’ predecessor. The former ran and lost to then incumbent Rawlings. In his second attempt when there was no incumbent on the presidential ballot, Kufuor against Mills and won.

Mills encountered similar situation with then incumbent Kufuor. When Mills finally succeeded in 2008 as president it was an “empty seat” because Kufour was stepping down due to constitutional term limit. In an open elections, and with the party (NPP) in power at the time, including almost all the state resources at his beck and call, Nana Addo allowed John Mills to snatch the presidential trophy right under his nose. So, what make things different now, especially with President Mills having an upper hand as incumbent come 2012?

The least said about Alan Kyerematen the better. His culpability in terms of it-is-my-turn syndrome is no less than Nana Akuffo Addo’s. Relatively speaking though, Alan Kyerematen is not an “old guard” of the party as compare to Nana Addo. This is far from suggesting that Mr. Kyerematen is not equally qualified as Nana Akuffo to lead NPP. Indeed, Alan Kyerematen rose quickly through the ranks because of his connections as a trusted protégé of ex-president Kufuor. Perhaps this explains why Nana Addo firmly believes that he deserves the nomination over anybody else irrespective of leading the party in to defeat in the last general elections.

On his part, Mr. Kyerematen’s attitude seems to be that since he came strong second during the last NPP’s presidential nomination process, this time around he has to lead the party into the upcoming general election. This is because he gave way and threw all his support behind Nana Akuffo Addo, thinking that the party would hold onto power but Nana blew the golden chance.

So, the “entitlement cancer” keeps metastasizing. While Nana Akuffo Addo is directly or indirectly whipping up the Akyem base, Alan Kyerematen is also making sure his Ashanti pedigree is not played down either. The result is a disturbing formation of some cracks within the façade of the party’s unity. What beats the imagination of many of the party’s followers outside Ghana is that how come these two guys know well that the Akyem and Ashanti need each other for the UP tradition’s survival and yet conducting campaign that appears to undermine the party’s lineage?

As this cliché goes, if wishes are horses everybody will (probably) ride one. I wish I’m a kingmaker with the sole power to choose who is to lead our beloved party to the next presidential election. At this point my choice will be something different and maybe unorthodox in the history of Ghana politics. The choice will definitely be a woman. I will turn to the Volta region and tap Ms. Elizabeth Ohene, an articulate former editor of Ghana’s leading newspaper Graphic and also a prominent member of NPP to lead us into the election. In other words, I will pick someone quite different and unexpected. I bet you in this scenario the party will be in a stronger position going into the elections.

After making my choice, I will call together both Nana Akuffo Addo and Alan Kyerematen and advise them to find cure for their “entitlement afflictions” for the health and supreme interest of NPP. Finally, I will impress upon them to understand that you don’t only have to be a leader or a president to help make lasting impart on your country. The late Dr. J. B. Danquah never became a president but his contributions to Ghana body politic in terms of democracy have stood the test of time. Dr. Danquah is still as famous as the late and the living presidents of our country. Gentlemen, cut the entitlement drama!

Bernard Asubonteng is based in Atlanta, GA. He is a former NPP youth organizer for ex-Defense Minister Dr. Kwame Addo Kufuor in Manhyia Constituency, Kumasi.

Reach him at: b.asubonteng@gmail.com

Columnist: Asubonteng, Bernard