21ST August, 2014
Two days ago, a press conference being addressed by the Chairman and General Secretary of the NPP, Paul Afoko and Kwabena Agyapong, was disrupted.
According to media reports, “An angry mob of gun-totting and machete-wielding youth stormed the party’s Headquarters and disrupted a press conference that was being addressed by Chairman Afoko and GS Kwabena Agyapong.” In response, there have been numerous statements and interviews. Notable amongst these have been statements from former President Kufuor, former Presidential Candidate Nana Akufo-Addo and Presidential aspirant Alan Kyerematen. Many of the statements have called for calm and unity and urged compromise—as if there are two sides at fault.
The fact is that the Afoko and Agyapong were holding a press conference to respond to accusations leveled against them by others in the party when they were attacked. There were injuries and the police had to be called in. This attack was not the first attempt to use violence and intimidation in settling differences in the NPP in recent times. In 2013, a group of party activists invaded former President Kufuor’s house and tried to forcibly prevent him from attending President Mahama’s inauguration. Last year, after Charles Wereko-Brobbey answered the party’s summons to appear before the Disciplinary Committee, there was an attempt to lynch him and it required about twenty police officers to extricate him from the party Headquarters. In addition to these acts of violence, there have been intimidations of NPP members on air and through text messages. As President Kufuor rightly and forcefully pointed out, “Thuggery is not part of our tradition. It is alien to us.” The former President continued that “Those responsible for the disturbances cannot claim to be true members of the NPP”. Unfortunately, those responsible for these things are not only claiming to be NPP. They assert that they are more NPP than the rest of us.
The activities of last Tuesday, as well as those against President Kufuor, Tarzan, Pianim and others are disgraceful. They have embarrassed all of us and they must cease. These actions and attitudes used to be the preserve of the NDC. It is sad that they have found a home in our party that used to be celebrated for tolerance.
These activities have demoralized many NPP members.
They have caused us the support of legions of floating voters who are aghast that we would attack our own so viciously even while hoping to get the support of reasonable Ghanaians.
The reason for all that is happening is simple. Afoko, Agyapong and others won in Tamale against the wishes of those who told the delegates prophetically, “Yentumi ne won nnye adwuma” (We cannot work with them). Consistent with that vow, there has been a shameful and undemocratic desire to nullify the mandates that Afoko and Agyapong won in Tamale. That is what this crisis is about. It is not about Perry Okudzeto or the Security guys at the Headquarters. After all, if Jake and Sir John could be sent home why can’t Hammond and Okudzeto be sent home? If Antwi Agyei could be re-assigned to menial duties and late Asem could be fired without any noise, why can’t Perry proceed on leave? After all, as Vice-Chairman Crabbe has pointed out, the General Secretary runs the Secretariat while the Chairman runs the party. The truth is that those who wrongly believe that they are NPP royalty and therefore should control this party are unhappy with the election of Paul and Agyapong and want to reverse the Tamale election.
Here is what we should do.
First, we should stop protecting criminals who operate in the political space. Those who invaded the NPP headquarters with guns and machetes are not politicians—they are criminal and hooligans and they should be dealt with by the law--- together with the big men and women behind them.
Second, the youth must stop believing that the elders who are encouraging them to be violent while their own children live safely abroad will protect them when they get into trouble.
Third, we must respect the mandate that was conferred on Afoko, Agyapong and others in Tamale. Nobody has a divine and exclusive right to control NPP.
Fourth, we must call out those who are behind the disturbances. It is obvious, upon careful reflection that these hooligans—from Kufuor’s house through Tamale to the party Headquarters are being organized, encouraged, inspired and motivated by or on behalf of the 2012 Presidential Candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. While he is a good man, he has permitted a lot of bad things to be done in his name. Even though those doing those things may be adults that he cannot control, he can forthrightly condemn violence and insults and dissociate himself from those who traffic in them. He has not done so. As these failures pile up, Ghanaians are increasingly asking whether the candidate who is actively dividing his party can—as President, unite Ghana. Respectfully, Nana must know that he cannot reach the Presidency standing on the ashes of a divided, demoralized and disgraced NPP.
Fifth, I urge people of integrity in our party to raise their voices and halt the descent of our party into violence and factionalism.
Respectfully, let the likes of Frimpong Boateng, Dan Botwe, Ama Busia, Appiah-Menka, Ayikoi Otoo, Nyahoe Tamakloe and Reverend Asante-Antwi stand up-- led by Kufuor and help Afoko and Agyapong succeed. If they fail, we will fail.
Finally, our nation needs a viable alternative to the NDC. That alternative should be the NPP—provided that we can stop convincing Ghanaians that we do not deserve their mandate.
Let us move forward together—in unity, respect and love.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy