....Nominate 2 CPP Men As Flagbearer And Running Mate For The Danquah-Busia Tradition
By Kwabena Nyamekye
The recent imposition by the NPP elite of terms and conditions on its constituencies has reinforced my view that just as the NPP destroyed its base in 2008 leading to the loss of the elections. It is doing so again in preparation for a shock defeat in 2016. In the 2000 and 2004 elections all was peaceful at the base of the party – the constituency level. We were led by a true Danquah-Busia man, JA Kufuor. Schooled by Kofi Busia, he was aware of the Danquah-Busia belief in avoiding the concentration of too much power at the centre of any large organization. This breeds disconnection from ordinary members, inefficiency in decision-making and apathy across the base. It was this that informed the cry of our giants of the past for federalism – SD Dombo, Jato Kaleo and others knew the importance of building constructive bridges to the grassroots of any society. This belief has kept us strong even in the wake of adverse conditions such as the 1972 coup, the spilt in 1979 and the trauma of the 1980s and 1990s.
Sadly, the NPP is now moving away from its custom of a strong base. Granting the power to choose the flag bearer to all party members every 4 years means absolutely nothing if the day-today strategic and tactical decisions are inconsistent with this gesture towards peoples’ power. The decision from the party elite to fence-off some parliamentary seats for women, and to protect some seats for Ga natives is not wrong in principle but the way it is being forced on us is wrong. In a previous posting I suggested a Ga running mate but nowhere did I say this should now be the preserve of our brothers and sisters from Accra. Decision-making on the fortunes of the party are best determined by the carpenters, lotto kiosk owners, taxi drivers, hairdressers etc at the base of the party. They will rally the troops in Techimantia, they will fan enthusiasm in Axim, and they will organize and spread the message in Saboba.
Since 2008 the importance of our base is vanishing. They seem to be valuable for the sake of shouting “Nana O Nana” but their views and input is being ignored. In 2000 and 2004 the number of rebel NPP members who ran independent was so small no one remembers who they were. The few that did so were beaten easily by us because we respected decision-making at the party’s base. In 2008, given the interference by party headquarters, almost 20 NPP members went independent in the Ashanti region alone with 2 of them winning their seats. Then there was Nkawkaw in the Eastern region which saw Seth Adjei-Baah take down our candidate, angry at head office interference in the primaries. The NDC decentralized its 2008 campaign, assigning the key swing regions of Western and Central to Mills, giving Northern Ghana to Mahama, and Jerry Rawlings working Accra and Volta. Our campaign was more of a procession of big cars with Nana Addo at the centre and a host of persons bowing before him.
This kind of behaviour continues to this day and it this that I fear is propelling us to another defeat. The Animal Farm type bleatingand deadly threat which will come back to haunt us in future of “No Nana No Vote” set the stage. Then we had the outpouring of support as party executives queued up outside the flag bearer’s Nima residence to tell him he does no wrong in their eyes; the fact that he had led us to a series of miserable defeats was cheerfully forgotten. Our MPs danced to this tune, touring Ghana, appearing on TV, and visiting the UK to profess their admiration for the biggest presidential loser of our tradition to date.
What is going on reflects the CPPization of the NPP. The hero worship of Kwame Nkrumah was based at least on his success at the polls. So while I was never for it at least Nkrumah stood on a track record. Anyway in those days there was a greater degree of social ignorance and so much deference to our political elite that this type of behaviour was not surprising. However, the Danquah-Busia tradition played the waiting game: patience - when Nkrumah dies or leaves the scene the CPP will come to regret this as no one will be big enough to replace their giant. Look at the CPP today – a sad bunch of aging Young Pioneers. Not surprisingly, JEA Mills and Asiedu-Nketiah have diluted the power of His Excellency Jerry Rawlings in the NDC, thus turning it from a church into a formidable political force.
Nana Addo started his political career as a young Marxist in the CPP. Old habits die hard. Dr Bawumia did not even have our party card and was rightly exposed by honourable PC Appiah-Ofori as being CPP. No offence but their political DNA is Nkrumahist and hence since their ascendancy we have seen power shift from the bottom of the party to the centre. Not surprisingly, decisions on women and Ga candidates are taken without recourse to the constituencies. Filing fees for new aspirants are rigged to protect sitting MPs as a reward from the centre for their support. This is a stew called defeat and we are in it, being cooked slowly by a party that has an elite in Accra, and which assumes it knows best for us. Personally I am not against enabling some form of affirmative action for women but I am convinced that this must be the choice of the players at the constituency level on a case-by-case basis. Same applies to the Ga-dominated constituencies.
Party activists must reclaim our organization. We know what people want. We drive the taxis, we cut the hair, we repair the mobile phones and thus we are the heart and soul of one of Africa’s oldest and most durable political traditions. It is so sad to see us melting under heat from those who think because they have studied at the Edinburgh University and Princeton University, they automatically know better. Elections are won at the base of the system and the CPP-style attack on our base is a recipe for disaster.