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Weighing In On The NPP Crises

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 Source: Sarfo, Samuel Adjei

By Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo

Attorney and Counselor at Law

I have long been sympathetic to the New Patriotic Party (NPP). Indeed, when I completed my long tenure as Hall President of Casely Hayford Hall at the University of Cape Coast in 1995, I was elected as the Campus Branch Chairman of the NPP. Mr. Mohamed Amin Adam, formerly Metropolitan Chief Executive of Tamale, was then my Secretary. As Branch Chairman, I had the opportunity to interact with the upper echelons of the NPP leadership including President Kufuor, Nana Akufo-Addo, Dan Botwe and many others. My point is that I very well know the inside-out of the NPP and the type of scheming and intrigue that go on within it.

Regarding this scheming and intrigue, the first tectonic climax came during the 2008 elections when the party showed its rotten under-belly of autocracy by hamstringing the chances of those challenging the sitting MPs at the initial stages of the nominating process in order to pave the way for party favorites to be declared unopposed. In this instance, democratic tenets which had endured since the party’s founding were jettisoned and a bastardized process substituted in their place to ensure a controlled outcome that favored those deemed as the Party’s hereditary princes.

I believe sincerely that had Nana Akufo-Addo called to order the undemocratic tendencies of the sitting parliamentarians who rigged the democratic process in their various constituencies in 2008, he would have been the president of Ghana today. But all over Ghana, the democratic principle by which the Danquah-Busia tradition had always prided itself was thrown to the dogs. Self-appointed princes of the NPP, mostly made up of the old guards, shut the door on the face of the new guards, or told them to join the last spot in a dynastic queue in which the old guards put themselves in the front. The NPP became the personal property of a few selected ones who regaled Ghanaians with fictional narratives of their achievements in the formation of the party. Those who dared to disagree with them were branded as insurgents and dismissed from the party, and those who had the good sense to resign were told good riddance.

Now the party has worked to reinvent itself in the transparent manner in which it has ensured free and fair elections of the various polling station chairmen and national executive. But questions still remain about the ability of the party to unite as one in order to win the 2016 elections. As of now, deep-seated hatred exists within the party to the point where the antipathy within the membership far outweighs the hatred they have for their worst enemies. Many party bigwigs have worked to make false claims against their fellows that reach to the heights of the ludicrous. Many have heaped insults and calumny on their fellows which they will never invent against their stark opponents. Many are preparing to destroy the businesses of others and tag them with epithets bordering on the monstrously corrupt. Many have heaped curses and insults that take a while for the ordinary mind to decipher. Many are brandishing the executioner’s machete in readiness to make the blood flow. Thus one could say that the party is now in its second tectonic climax of internal implosion, not unlike its first debacle in 2008.

In the face of all these climactic animosities, one should ask the question, whither way the NPP? In finding workable answers to this patent question, the party should examine the causes of its internal friction from the very beginning. These causes clearly emanate from the so-called Akufo-Addo/ Kyeremanteng factions. These two powerful personalities representing the factions dominate the party psyche to the point where they hold the destiny of the party in their very hands. Thus a unity of the two persons will lead to the unity of the whole party. And the two can unite by simply making the other a running mate should any one of them win the presidential nomination. It is a common cliché that in politics, there is nothing like permanent enemies; we have only permanent interests. And mature politicians are good at identifying where their interests converge.

There are those who will insist that such an arrangement takes away the party’s appeal as a national one and alienates our ethnic balance. But I believe that those in the North and elsewhere will remain staunch supporters of the party even if there is no running mate coming from their area. It is almost infantile to suggest that those who voted for the NPP from the North did so because Bawumia comes from the North. If you were to conduct a poll in the North among NPP supporters as to whether they will still vote for NPP if a northerner were not on the ticket, the result will be foreseeably “yes”.

We should therefore refrain from this simplistic idea that we must by all means have somebody from a certain area in order to keep people from that area within our voting loop. As tempting as the proposition may appear on its face, such a notion undermines voter integrity and promotes bigotry. Any true Ghanaian going to the polls will not stop and ask whether a candidate comes from his region but whether the candidate has the capacity to bring progress to all Ghanaians.

Besides, it makes sense to make the runner-up the running mate. Remember that in Kufuor’s time, if the convention had been that the second most popular candidate should become the running mate, Akufo-Addo would have been Kufuor’s Vice President, and after Kufuor’s tenure, there wouldn’t have been any struggle for succession and secession. Akufo-Addo would have contested the ticket and won and then chosen Kyeremanteng, the runner-up, as running-mate and probably won the general elections as well. So we should establish the convention whereby the runner-up to the party’s nominee becomes the running mate to the presidential candidate. This will ensure continuity in party leadership and avoid this culture of starting all over again all the time with the concomitant animosity and attrition within the party.

Furthermore, with such an arrangement in mind, contestants will be less likely to pour calumny on each other as they keep in mind that they may eventually run together. It will also forestall the incongruous situation where vice presidents join their subordinates to contest the party ticket only to lose miserably and cause disaffection among their followers.

But beyond all these issues, the party should build on its rich history of democracy by establishing avenues for the civil voicing of all manner of ideas. It should create very strong principles of moral conduct which will educate its members of their responsibilities to maintain party harmony and cohesion no matter what, and to assert these principles in fairness to all members. The party leadership should be prompted to be non-aligned to any faction, and to act to project the party manifesto to the Ghanaian public. They are not to be seen to be working in behalf of any faction.

In-fighting within any political party is a testament of its immaturity to lead the country or to unite it for any purpose. The two adversaries in the party must therefore come together as a practical matter in order to shine the light to their followers. This will erode the mischief of all those who are so mathematically incompetent to think that NPP can still win by spawning deep-seated hatred and division from within the party hierarchy.

Samuel Adjei Sarfo, Doctor of Jurisprudence, is a general legal practitioner resident in the city of Austin, Texas, USA. You can email him at sarfoadjei@yahoo.com.

Columnist: Sarfo, Samuel Adjei