Politics of Fri, 18 May 201865
Can the NPP really be said to be 'an Akan party'?
In a few months, the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) will hold its National Delegates Conference to elect National Executives to lead the party in the run-up to election 2020.
43 people have filed for various positions and are gearing up to be elected as National Executives in the upcoming congress scheduled to come off on July 6.
However, before contenders submitted their forms, former Director of Communications, Nana Akomea was quoted as saying, “this particular election may present the NPP with the most undiversified national leadership, as almost all the elected positions may be filled from the Akan subgroup. Every effort must be made to ensure that some of these positions have elected members from outside the Akan subgroup”.
This came to add up to long-held perceptions of many that the NPP is an Akan party. But the party has already started rejecting comments that suggest the party is aligned to a particular ethnic group.
TV3 takes a look at the NPP and the ethnical composition of the party’s contenders for this year’s delegate’s conference as well as the overall assessment of the party’s leadership over the years of its existence.
Our checks show that the 43 people vying for the various positions are a blend of Akans and non-Akans. For example, in the Chairmanship race, only one of the five contenders, Alhaji Abubakari Abdul-Rahman popularly known as Alhaji Short, is from Upper West. The rest are from the south, mostly Akans.
Also, out of the two people contesting the General Secretary position, one is an Akan and the other is from the Volta region. The first Vice Chairperson position is a blend of, Northerners, Voltarians, Gas, and Akans.
History of the NPP
The New Patriotic Party is an offshoot of the United Gold Coast Convention, which effectively evolved into the Northern People’s Party (NPP) in the early 1950s, the Progress Party (PP) in the late 1960s, the Popular Front Party (PFP) in the 1970s and the All Popular Front (APF) in the early 1980s.
Joseph Boakye Danquah, Simon Diedong Dombo popularly called Chief Dombo, Dr Abrefa Busia, B. J Da Rocha and Obetsebi Lamptey among other key figures are credited for being key players in the establishment of the NPP.
The NPP is perceived as an ‘Akan Party’
Notwithstanding the party’s multi-ethnic antecedents, the NPP is perceived by sections of the public as predominantly ‘Akan party’.
A senior lecturer at the University of Ghana, Alex K D Frempong, author of “Electoral Politics and Politics of Identity”, however, says the perception is not informed by facts.
“When we talk of Akan what is it? The Akans are made up of 20 or so smaller groups, they are not a united group. If you observe in most of elections the five Akan regions do not vote in the same way”, he said.
Since 1992, all flagbearers of the NPP have been Akans, beginning with Prof. Adu Boahene, John Agyekum Kuffour and the current president, Nana Akufo-Addo.
By convention, all Vice Presidential nominees of the NPP have originated from Northern Ghana, except in 1996, when then-candidate John Kufuor chose the late Kow Nkensen Arkaah, from the Central region, as his running mate.
A historian, Kofi Agyeman, stressed that the NPP has not barred non-Akans from competing for positions in the party.
“I think the time has come for us to remove these two tags and put in a better tag and the better tag is a Ghanaian who is efficient enough to be a national leader”, he stated
Director of Research for the NPP, Evans Nimako, said there may be an observed trend that certain tribes have dominated the leadership of the party for a while but it is not a deliberate imposition of tribes on the party.
“It is difficult to say that certain positions should be reserved for other tribes, I mean we don’t impose people on the party at all levels. We open up nominations and once it is open all party members of good standing are entitled to apply so it is difficult to say certain positions should be reserved for certain tribes” he said.
The conference of the governing party will obviously be of interest to many Ghanaians, especially for those who are on the lookout to confirm or dismiss their suspicions.