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Opinions Sun, 31 May 2015

Truth and duty in the NPP crisis

Irmo, SC

29TH May, 2015

“Then you will know the TRUTH and the TRUTH will set you free” John 8:32

The unfortunate death of the NPP’s Upper East Regional Chairman, Mr. Adam Mahama, has crystallized the crisis in the NPP.

The death has unleashed powerful emotions and reactions from many quarters.

• The President has condemned it and promised justice.

• Some religious leaders have condemned it and decried the violence in our politics.

• The public has reacted with shock and disgust.

• The NDC has called for calm in the NPP and offered advice.

• There have been vociferous calls within the NPP for the National Chairman and the General Secretary to resign or be impeached.

I shall deal with the internal tensions within the NPP presently but there is a tinge of insincerity about the general reactions. If Mr. Mahama’s murder turns out to be politically motivated, it will be another one of the many political murders in our country, dating from before independence and claiming, amongst others, J.B. Danquah, Tommy THOMPSON and others. Indeed, even in this 4th Republic, it will join those of the “Kume Preko” victims, Mobilla, the Kumbungu 4, as well as the Agbogbloshie and Lamashegu victims, amongst others. Indeed, we have been on the road leading to Mr. Mahama’s death for a while. Perhaps, if the security forces had sat up, rounded up the suspects and charged them after the assault on NPP Headquarters with guns and cutlasses or before that, the attempted lynching of Tarzan by hooligans, Mr. Mahama would be alive today. Instead, many looked the other way and some even congratulated the perpetrators.

It is painful to listen to the NDC, which used to be synonymous with intimidation and “shit-bombs” and cutlasses and guns, lecturing the NPP on the need to avoid violence. This must stick in the craw of every true NPP member. We can do better than this!!

We must look at the current calls for the Resignation of Afoko and Agyapong, with clear eyes. The effort to remove them did not begin after the murder of Mr. Mahama. That effort was underway before that tragedy occurred. If non-performance in an office or positions was grounds for impeachment as the minority caucus alleged, many of them would not be seeking re-election. Some have described the current crop of NPP MP’s as, perhaps the most ineffective to have served our party since J.H. Mensah, Akufo-Addo, Apraku and others blazed their glorious path. The orchestrated and illegal no-confidence resolutions have been painful to watch.

At heart, this case is about the rule of law and the right of an accused person to due process. It is about whether the party of Danquah believes in the rule of law. When Danquah rose before the Supreme Court in re: Akoto in 1961, he was asserting the timeless principle that a man cannot be accused of an unproven crime and then hauled off to jail without due process. His valiant effort failed. We face a similar situation. Afoko and Agyapong have not been accused, charged, tried or convicted of Mr. Mahama’s murder. How can we require them to vacate office for a crime for which they have not even been charged? Indeed, compelling Mr. Afoko to give up his office at this time will undermine the defense of his brother, who has pleaded his innocence and is fighting for his freedom or possibly, his life. Even if, in the end, Gregory Afoko is convicted, how can Paul Afoko be punished unless there is evidence linking him to the crime? Are we prepared to set the precedence that a Ghanaian can be punished for the crime of a relative in which he is not involved? If next month or next year, God forbid, a family member of the flag-bearer is convicted of a crime, would we require him to resign? If J.B. Danquah, Victor Owusu, Adu Boahen, Kofi Abrefa Busia and da Rocha were alive, they would be firmly on the side of the rule of law in this case--- and so should the foremost human rights advocate of our era, Nana Akufo-Addo.

At heart, the crisis in the NPP is simple. Mr. Afoko and Mr. Agyapong won elections that entitled them to serve 4-year terms. There are people who are determined, by fair or foul means, to expel them from the offices that they won. Afoko and Agyapong, as they are entitled to, are determined to serve the terms to which they were elected. If those who are harassing them stop harassing them tomorrow, peace will be restored. When the NPP elects a flag-bearer, it does not elect a monarch who has a right to choose his own national executives. If the NPP constitution wanted that to happen, it would be in the constitution.

We should respect all MANDATES and let Afoko and Agyapong, as well all other elected people, including the flag-bearer, Hon. Nana Akufo-Addo, work TOGETHER in peace.

Next, our nation must firmly turn its back on the unspoken notion that political crimes can go unpunished just because they are connected to politics. Nobody deserves to die or be maimed because he/she desires to participate in our politics. Nobody’s ambition is worth a drop of another Ghanaian’s blood.

Finally, this is not just an NPP crisis—it is a national crisis. The NDC is tired and needs the NPP to take over the baton of governance so that it can recharge its batteries in opposition. It appears, shockingly, that there are some in the NPP who will deal with their enemies rather than save their country. That is a shame. We failed Ghana in 1979. Let us not fail Ghana again. Let us stop being Kufuor men and women. Let us stop being Nana Addo men and women. Let us be, for God and country—NPP MEN AND WOMEN!!

Let us move forward, together.

Arthur Kobina Kennedy

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina