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The NPP is a Threat to Ghana's Democracy

Fri, 2 Jan 2009 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Michael J.K. Bokor, Ph.D.

By Michael J.K. Bokor, Ph.D.
The wind of change that blew away the NDC from office in 2000 has returned to Ghana’s political landscape with a special vengeance with the NPP as its target, this time. Despite the last-ditch attempts to cling to the last straw, there is no gainsaying the obvious that the NPP will eventually be blown away from the corridors of power by the time the dust settles. And when that feat is achieved, there will be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth for them to do. Those of them who will not lose their heads, will surely busy themselves with spates of soul-searching acts for answers to the important question: “What really went wrong”? Such functionaries will have a lot to do to determine why the NPP quickly dissipated the tons of goodwill from Ghanaians that ushered it into office in January 2001 and is now left with nothing but subterfuge and arm-twisting for survival. I consider the NPP now as an endangered species that must work to protect its viability for the future instead of dissipating its energies on a wild goose chase today only to slump back into the political wilderness. It is a possibility that must be acknowledged if the party wants to set itself right. My purpose for writing this article is to tell the dying NPP government and the party’s functionaries that when history wants to repeat itself, no amount of chicanery, treachery, or trickery from anybody can stop it from doing so. The wind of change may begin as a calm breeze but could develop into a hurricane that destroys everything in its path that seeks to resist the change it is set to effect. What began blowing across the country by Dec. 7, is gradually turning into a hurricane that will inflict the worst disaster on the Danquah-Busia political family since its ouster from power by Acheampong on January 13, 1972. Is there no single forthright functionary within this now-odious NPP to alert the others to the advent of this disaster so that they can take prompt steps to avert the politically suicidal mission they are now on? Let me clarify my viewpoints with a strong claim that the real challenge to Ghana’s democracy is the NPP and not the NDC that the NPP has sought to vilify over the eight years of Kufuor’s lame-duck Presidency. And I will justify this strong claim soon. I intend to be harsh and will not apologize to anybody who features in my writing. The gravity of the situation demands that approach, cost-what-it-may!

The Dec. 7 general elections and the subsequent run-off on Sunday have generated very serious thought-provoking political and moral issues whose implications should engage the attention of Ghanaians. I will discuss some of those implications from two broad perspectives. The first one concerns the challenges to the 1992 constitution and the second one concerns the fate of the NPP in Ghana’s political future. Let me make it clear at this point that I am not an NPP follower and will NEVER be!!

The challenges to Ghana’s democracy stand out to be tackled first. It is obvious from the arguments raised by the NPP which have necessitated the forthcoming elections in the Tain constituency that some decisive steps will have to be taken as early as possible by the next Parliament to initiate constitutional amendments that will cater for the shortcomings of the schedule for Presidential elections and any subsequent run-off. Because there is no precedent to guide us in what is about to happen this year, it is imperative that the constitutional provisions on the schedule for the general elections be revisited.

For instance, in the case of the Tain elections, there are only two days preceding the day of the polls. Should official campaigning by the political parties not be stopped two clear days before the elections as is currently mandated under the constitution? Then, since January 7 is the last day of office of the incumbent government, what happens if wrangling by the NPP and the NDC leads to a stalemate that is not resolved by that date? In the absence of any precedent to guide us, we must look for possible ways to prepare for any eventuality of the sort. Our democracy must be sustained on a platform of reality.

I don’t trust that the NPP will let sleeping dogs lie even when defeated at the polls in Tain. They are already talking about challenging results from some five constituencies in the Volta Region, unlike the NDC that had threatened before Dec. 28 to reject results from the Ashanti Region but hasn’t raised that issue again, apparently because those results haven’t damaged its interests, so to speak. It, however, succeeded in rejecting the doctored results from the Nhyiaeso constituency that the NPP brought to the Electoral Commission after that constituency’s results had been officially recognized, recorded, and sealed. The NDC has made genuine gains nationwide and is being politically mature and overly tolerant to give the NPP the long rope with which to hang itself, for that matter. And the NPP has grabbed that rope already.

More importantly, the argument is convincing that in the Dec. 7 elections, Prof. Mills won the majority votes in six of the country’s 10 regions and improved that record to eight, according to the figures released after the run-off. By that feat, the NDC has demonstrated its national character, contrary to the NPP which hasn’t to date been able to shed off its Akan-based complexion. There is one strong confirmation for this claim. Throughout Kufuor’s two-term administration of the affairs of state, the majority of his appointees have largely come from the two regions that Akuffo Addo won in the run-off (Ashanti and Eastern). Public resentment of this nepotism and favoritism is not in dispute.

Then, In the run-off, the Akan complexion of the NPP thickened. Based on figures from the Ashanti Region, particularly, the NPP is insisting that Akuffo Addo should become Ghana’s President. Winning elections in only two out of 10 regions doesn’t put him in good stead as someone whose political fortunes have a national character. He cannot function effectively as Ghana’s President, I daresay. I, for instance, will not give him any respect in that sense. He can go and establish his Presidency among “his own people.”

The constitutional challenge is this: Is it not feasible to revise the constitution to make it mandatory that for anybody to become Ghana’s President, he/she must have won the majority of votes from, at least, five of the 10 regions constituting Ghana? In the case of Akuffo Addo, the NPP’s basing his arguments on the majority votes from only the Ashanti and Eastern Regions, opens up several cans of worms that cannot turn. How representative enough will his posture as President be? At best, I foresee such a character as representing ethnic group interests, which is not good for building oneness in Ghana. This posture is dangerous for Ghana and must be seriously dealt with before it begins to trigger strong ethnic animosities capable of torching off social unrests. A constitutional provision could help clarify matters.

These constitutional issues aside, one apparent fall-out from the general elections and the subsequent run-off is the stark revelation that the NPP isn’t as formidable as its followers would quickly deceive themselves into believing. The wind of change has already hit it hard and is bent on blowing it out of office. There is no let-up and I can foresee the political tsunami as it rolls along steadily. Calling for elections in the last constituency (Tain) will not prevent them from crossing the Rubicon. For now, these followers may not like to be retold some hard facts. But that is what I want to do henceforth. I will tell them so as to jolt them out of the unproductive complacency and arrogance that have now become their worst curse in Ghana politics. They deserve to be told how soft and vulnerable their under-belly is.

First is their arrogance. Not less than three of their leaders (Mac Manu, Odoi Sykes, and Kennedy Adjepong) are on record to have said that the NPP would rule Ghana for 30 years (probably, to make up for the 30 years that the UP spent in the political wilderness before 2000!). But such vain wishes cannot just materialize into horses for them to ride. It must be fed by competent leadership in government and fulfillment of the electioneering campaign promises, which Kufuor’s tenure fell far short of.

Today, the only horse they have is worse than the Trojan horse, which can’t take them away from the impending rude awakening that after eight years of nauseating incompetence, irritating arrogance, uncontrolled self-acquisitiveness, and unproductive vindictive politicking, the Ghanaian electorate have given them one horse to ride out of power. That is the gift from the power of the thumb!!

Other annoying utterances have come from Vice President Aliu Mahama to the effect that the NPP functionaries were not in politics to amass wealth because they had already acquired property before assuming political appointments. Here are a few instances that should tell Aliu Mahama that he overshot his mouth and the current volcanic eruption attests to it. The list is long; but just consider this one: the self-acquisitive spirit with which Kufuor grabbed property and per diem allowances with impunity on his senseless foreign trips (about 200 so far?) and shutting his eyes to corruption in his government; the cocaine trafficking involving NPP functionaries; Kwamena Bartels’ use of his daughter and her husband as a front to grab 2 billion Cedis; Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey’s inordinate crave for public property; Arthur Kennedy’s ill-gotten money from the Ministry of Health through a backdoor contract; Isaac Edumadze’s wanton property acquisition through dubious means; and many more instances of abject corruption (I recall Harona Esseku’s “kickbacks” saga).

As if that was not enough damage to the national psyche, Kufuor and his team strategized to demonize the former President and everything associated with the NDC. We are all witnesses to the treachery that the NPP used under the auspices of the Fast Track Courts, the partisan NRC, politicization of the Judiciary, Military, Police, Civil Service structure, open intimidation and dismissal of people from employment on flimsy allegations of being sympathizers of the NDC, etc. Then, the NPP under Kufuor played politics with the personal health issues of the former President and Prof. Atta Mills. Who in Ghana doesn’t know of the “Paul Gyamfi” saga or the derision of Prof. Mills over his health problems? In effect, the NPP under Kufuor trampled on too many toes and refused to accept the fact that his government was under-performing.

There is a more worrisome aspect. Despite wanton condemnation of military governments in Ghana, the NPP under Kufuor has reintroduced the military presence into civilian governance by mobilizing the troops and empowering them to carry out politically-motivated maneuvers against other political opponents, especially the NDC. The Military hierarchy has on many occasions had to control the damage caused by frequent allegations in the media about their involvement in Kufuor’s political schemes. By bastardizing the civilian constitutional system of governance this way, the NPP is doing only one thing: whetting the appetite of the soldiers for political power. The feeling among them could be: if the civilian leaders can’t have firm control over governance and will use us, why don’t we take over from them to do things ourselves? I hope that the situation doesn’t deteriorate to that extent, though. But the more I think of it, the more I shudder because the possibilities are there that if the head-butting now going on between the NPP and the NDC continues and the situation becomes too dicey for comfort, those with the monopoly over the instrument of violence (the Military) will not hesitate to step in. Will Kufuor and his NPP not reason things out properly to save Ghana’s democracy from going that way?

It is obvious that the Ghanaian electorate have not given Akuffo Addo their mandate, as the records show. Why should the NPP overstretch matters to a breaking point in trying to foist him off on the people? Are these the freedom fighters and lovers of democracy that have touted their own credentials even to the point of annoyance? Do they have any honor at all to defend? Or do they consider this year as the end of the road for their political family (the Mate Me Ho)? I wonder what this madness is all about. I know one thing, which is that it will definitely create more credibility problems for the NPP.

On a wider scale, the intransigence of the NPP and the ethnic-based developments associated with the general elections and run-off have sharpened ethnic sentiments; and no one needs any diviner to tell him/her that the NPP under Kufuor has done a huge disservice to Ghana by not only presiding over such a situation but by also practically contributing to its fomenting and heightening. Just consider how the NPP is using the Ashanti Region as its trump-card in its against the Volta Region, although voters in the other regions have also proved to Akuffo Addo that he is not their choice. Can’t anybody in the NPP see the uselessness of playing the ethnic card?

The larger issue at this point is worth stating: Is Akuffo Addo himself convinced that he is well-cut-out to be Ghana’s President at this time that the “Kufuor fatigue” has already made the NPP more despicable than the other political camps (especially the NDC, being the most formidable party in opposition at the time)?

Even before the dust settles on the general elections, people have begun asking questions, the most important of which is: Does the NPP want to be respected in Ghana politics? At this point, no single answer will provide enough food-for-thought. Doubtless, however, the incontrovertible fact is that the desperate efforts being made by the NPP to cling to power “by crook” are causing more harm than good to its interests.

If there is any forthright functionary remaining among them who is truly committed to sustaining the little credibility of the party (if there is any at all left at this point), he or she should initiate moves to let sanity prevail. The manner in which the party is bulldozing its way across Ghana’s political landscape will further damage its interests. But will anybody listen? In the situation where the marriage between the elephant and the kangaroo has yielded the hybridized “elephangaroo,” there is only one thing to expect: it will hop and swagger about on its self-destructive mission until it slumps down, mutilated by the final nail to be put in its political coffin by the electorate in Tain. Then, its swan-song will be heard by everybody in its loud and clear resonance as it bounces off the forest cover in the political wilderness. The NPP is on a mission that will certainly help the NDC claw back all the goodwill it had lost by 2000. For now, Ghanaians have chosen Professor Mills and his NDC and nobody in the NPP should tempt their patience by attempting to foist off Akuffo Addo on them. As the saying goes, “a good thing sells itself.” For now, Akuffo Addo and his NPP are not the good things that Ghanaians want to buy. They cannot sell themselves and must not tempt anybody’s patience. If they refuse to listen to reason and continue to prick the balloon of patience until it bursts, its effects could be devastating. They are already doomed.

Write the author: mjbokor@ilstu.edu

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.