NYAHO Nyaho-Tamakloe, a leading New Patriotic Party fire brand, has warned the rank and file of the Party against pushing for an early national delegate?s congress to elect a flag bearer for the party.
His comments come weeks after another leading NPP activist, Appiah Menka, sparked debate over the matter, writing a letter to all members of the National Executive Committee calling for an early congress (See page 12 for full letter). Speaking exclusively to The Statesman, Dr Nyaho-Tamakloe cautioned that elections naturally ignite serious rivalry within any party, and that these divisions could prove a serious and unnecessary hindrance to the governing party?s chances of remaining in power. He warned that any move towards an early congress could have dire consequences for the Kufour-led government, distracting and dividing it from its core business of managing the affairs of the country.
Others, however, have argued that an early congress next year could work to the party?s advantage - and debate on the matter is hotting up. In the letter, dated September 30, Appiah Menka contended that an early congress by 2006 would not put to rest what he termed ?aspiring presidential polarisation? in the party.
?Whether we accept it or not this aspiring presidential polarisation is not only weakening the party, but also somehow undermining or affecting the President?s effective administration of the party,? he stated in the letter, which was copied to President Kufuor and his Vice Alhaji Aliu Mahama, as well as other leading NPP functionaries.
Mr Menka believes that an early election would further enable the NPP candidate to ?market himself in the cities, towns and the villages of the nation?. He pointed to the fact that President Kufuor, then candidate Kufuor, had four years to market himself to the electorate before the 2000 elections ? and that others should have the same opportunity.
But Dr Nyaho-Tamakloe disagrees strongly. He reiterated President Kufuor?s position that sitting ministers of state seeking to succeed him should, for now, concentrate on both their individual ministerial duties and government?s core business with the view to making the government succeed.
?If you feel the party constitution inhibits your organisational strategy towards getting the nod to lead the party in the 2008 elections because you are a minister, just resign and concentrate on your plans,? he counseled. ?I insist that those who will fight for the course of the party rather than their selfish interests are those that I will go with,? he said.
He argued that it will serve the party?s interest to ignore people calling for early congress. ?Stick to the constitutional provision and concentrate on the current most important task of effectively running the country.?
Dr Nyaho-Tamakloe is proposing a review of the NPP constitution, clearly defining who qualifies to lead the party. ?It certainly should not be free for all,? he told this paper. ?Let?s go by what the constitution says and there will peace and harmony in the party.?
However, part of the problem is that party leaders disagree on the exact provisions the party constitution makes. Whilst it does stipulate that congress must be held no less then eleven months before a general election, it does not specify how long before the elections a congress may take place ? and this could be several years, Menka would argue.
In a separate interview, Abeeku Dickson, one of the contenders for General Secretary, also said he thinks the issue of early elections ?is not and should not be the party?s priority for now.? He emphasised that where the party needs to concentrate its efforts is on electing national executives to their various positions.
Mr Dickson says the constitution does not categorically support either an early or late congress. Instead it gives the party machinery the discretion to choose from the two, based on the merits of the political climate in the country. On his part, Steven Ntim, aspiring National Chairman, while stating that he would not want to be ?prejudicial? on the matter, also concurs that the ?constitutional provision as it stands now is not specific enough.? Although he is convinced the party needs to consider debating the matter towards giving a specific interpretation to this constitutional provision, Mr Ntim also holds the first-things-first-view:
?For now let us wait until after the national executive elections before considering initiating debate on the matter,? he told this reporter. He was nonetheless emphatic in his rejection of the early-election idea: ?I strongly disagree with people pushing for early congress, because in any case the constitution is crystal clear on this matter,? he said.