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The NPP votes for change

Mon, 14 Apr 2014 Source: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

Irmo, SC

14TH April, 2014

The NPP, consistent with its name, have elected a NEW leadership in Tamale. All incumbents, except one, Ms Otiko Djaba lost their re-election bids. The next few months will make clear how much change the grass-roots of the party want. But the NPP grassroots have served clear notice that they will not be taken for granted or dictated to by anybody.

It is refreshing that despite all the obstacles put in his way, Mr. Afoko won the Chairmanship. The vote was an emphatic rebuke to those who sent around lists of aspiring National officers they could work with or not work with as Presidential Candidates. It bespeaks breathtaking arrogance for any candidate for our flagbearership, even before his election, to tell the party whom he would work with or not work with. If we cannot work with those in our party, how can we, when in government, work with others to help our country?

Jake, Sir John, Ntim and Alhaji Bamba, despite their defeats, are legends of our party. I know how they feel because I am the man who, after a year of campaigning, got one vote. I can assure them that there is life and influence after defeat.

Jake will forever be remembered as one of the keys behind our two Presidential victories as well as the son of a man who literally gave his life for this party. I recall Sir John’s heroic efforts on our behalf in the Ashanti region and later nationally. As one NDC guy once told me, “Doc, Sir John literally lives at the radio stations.” Ntim has shown so much poise despite his repeated defeats. Alhaji Bamba’s energy is infectious and legendary and he was sorely missed in the last campaign. In my view, their key mistake was that once elected, they, like the brilliant McManu and his team before them, ceded too much of their mandate to the Presidential candidate and his team. People, who are given mandates, history tells us, are ultimately accountable for their mandates. The NPP expects its national officers, regardless of who is the flag-bearer, to act consistently in the best interest of the party. There are times, even though rare, when a party executive must stand up to a Presidential candidate in the interest of their party. Despite their defeat, these three gentlemen are too talented to be sidelined. Mr. Afoko and his team must vigorously and relentlessly reach out to them for the good of our party.

Mr. Afoko and his team have a difficult task and deserve all of our support. They must remember that their victory would be meaningless unless it brings us the Presidency and control of Parliament.

They must get to work quickly.

First, they must clean the party headquarters of those operatives who have become, in effect, appendages of factions in our party. It is a disgrace that even on the grounds of the Congress in Tamale, policemen had to read and interpret our own constitution to us. They must be replaced, not by other factionalists but by respected and principled party people who will consistently put the party ahead of individuals and factions.

Second, they must bring us together. They must reach out to and where necessary, apologize to Kufuor, Kwame Pianim, Wireko Brobbey, Nyaho Tamakloe and others who have been demonized and ostracized unnecessarily by our own leaders. Then we must extend this outreach to other groups and institutions that we have offended gratuitously, like Manhyia Palace.

Third, they must, with charity for all and malice toward none, pursue vigorous accountability—for our last two campaigns, our Supreme Court case and our finances, with particular attention to Hon. Kennedy Agyapong’s allegations. Charity begins at home and until we show that we can enforce accountability in our ranks, we will never be credible making the very strong case for change based on accountability in 2016.

Fourth, they must crack the whip on our weak and disorganized Parliamentary caucus. Despite the plethora of issues begging for national leadership and executive oversight, our caucus has been consistently silent or gotten their priorities wrong in championing issues.

Fifth, they must end the bad habit of making our Parliamentary campaign a subsidiary of the Presidential campaign. We must develop and execute a Parliamentary Campaign independent of the Presidential campaign. Winning Parliament is a goal worthy of pursuit on its own.

Also, those who aspire to lead our party will do well to heed Mr. Lincoln’s message to his team as he sought the Republican nomination for President in 1860. “Do not attack my opponents because, eventually, we will need them in order to win”. Now, that was a leader who understood how to win and he won. He was, of course, the same man who said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Finally, we must, as party members pray for their success and give them our unflinching support as they seek to lead us to the Presidency and a Parliamentary majority in 2016.

Let us move forward to victory in 2016—together.

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina