Feature Article of Friday, 4 January 2013
Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka
Ten Key Challenges Facing NPP: Change or Wither on the Vine !!!
I am not a political scientist and do not play one on TV. However, as a student of politics, I believe seriously that, until the NPP addresses the following 10 issues significantly, it faces a rocky road ahead. Yes, I am aware of the impending court case. Yet, even if Nana Addo is handed the presidency by the Supreme Court, it will not erase or diminish the challenges facing the NPP. Ghana needs a vibrant and dynamic opposition. For the NPP to be a vibrant part of the opposition, it must fundamentally change.
How can a vice president campaign for 39 days and allegedly beat Nana Addo who has been campaigning for 8years? Lets be frank, this election was not a ringing endorsement of the NDC. Instead, it is a clear rejection of Nana Addo and the NPP. Given the performance challenges and corruption bedeviling the NDC, the election should have been a runaway freight train win for the NPP. Like the Republicans in the US of A, the NPP could not capitalize on NDC's performance. Instead, the NPP suffered from a candidate, like the Republicans did from Romney, who was seen as horribly arrogant, behaviorally flawed and full of promises he could not keep. Other parties face similar issues but my focus is on the NPP, a party in disarray. In a 2 part series, I address these 10 key issues.
1) Address the Asante/Akyem divide permanently : The elections are barely over and Alan Cash is back in the news as the next flag bearer in line for the NPP. So, from Kufour (Asante), we go to Akufo Addo (Akyem) and now poised to go back to Alan Kyeremanteng (Asante)? Am I the only one who sees this pattern? Add to the latter, the fact that the NLM/UP/PP/UNC/NPP tradition has never nominated a non-Asante/Akyem as it flag bearer in any nationwide election. You see where I am going with this? Why is this so? Is it by design or a mere coincidence?
That Alan Cash's candidacy has firm support in Oseikrom cannot be overstated. After all, Kufour the great Asante liberator and water boy for the Matemeho cohort, handpicked Alan Cash. Indeed, it will not be speculative to assume that some key Asante NPP supporters worry about Nana Addo ruining the chance of Alan Cash by challenging the results of the current elections in court. If you are an Akyem in the NPP, do you feel as though Nana Addo is getting a raw deal? Did he get a raw deal from Kufour when he handpicked Alan cash? Did Nana Addo get a cold shoulder from Alan Cash in the current election? The Asante-Akyem fault line in the NPP, if not addressed carefully, could lead to a significant implosion that might cripple the NPP. This fault line, by the way, dates way back to the Victor Owusu/Paa Willie era and beyond. The NPP must permanently address this crippling crack in the foundation or risk losing the house.
2) Address tribal parity & diversity: It is not unusual to read or hear comments that clearly shows that the NPP has no respect for other tribes within the country. As soon as Kufour came to power, there was a concerted effort to put the Asante chief above all. Government business was sadly and wrongly mixed with royal nonsense. The NPP was busy messing up royal affairs in Accra, Anlo and the North at the same time as it gave diplomatic passport to the Asantehene to free drug dealers in Libya. Non-Asante chiefs who went to see Kufour were treated with disdain, neglect and contempt. The Asantehene was obviously above the law. Even though his name was incontrovertibly mentioned in the famous cocaine tape, no one could question him on the role he is alleged to have played in that disgraceful scandal. Look at a more recent example of NPP disrespect for other tribes. Why petition the Asantehene after a demonstration if you intend to contest an election? Asantehene cannot hear the case or make Nana Addo president. Why Asantehene and not the Ga Mantse or Anlo chief? I guess it does not hurt to go back to base!! It is such bias by the NPP that irks other tribes.
As if all this was not enough, Ken the acrid mouth Agyapong, senselessly called for the destruction of Gas, Ewes and others for no good reason. Given a glorious chance to show leadership and dull the anxieties of those affected, Kufour rather accused the NDC of using a sledgehammer on clod Ken. Kufour didn't say much about the targeted tribes in Ken's radioactive drivel. Nana Addo, the flag bearer, refused to condemn Ken's actions as well as call for removal from or discipline by the party. Instead, Nana went to UST and dished out a stem-winder in praise of Baffour Akoto the renowned terrorist. If Nkrumah had caved in to the likes of Baffour Akoto and his NLM terrorists, Ghana as we know it today, will never exist. I dare anyone to challenge this! Where is Nana Addo's sensitivity as a leader? Instead of leading on the issue, Nana invited Atta Mills to act so he could follow.
How can the NPP and its leaders show such tribal insensitivity and expect to lord it over us? Ghana is bigger than Asante and Eastern regions. It was this same lack of sensitivity that led the NLM to fight Nkrumah over using cocoa proceeds to develop the whole country. This was after farmers were given guaranteed prices, in a mono-crop (cocoa) economy. How did they expect Nkrumah to wing it immediately after independence? Cocoa became Ghana's life blood by default after independence. What if our Tano brothers and sisters insist that the oil find should be only used for them? Yet do we not hear allegations that greedy Kufour and company made and continue to make a killing off this oil find by instituting dubious contracts? Whether true or not, we must all learn to share and be there for each other. Parochial tribal interest advanced by parochial political parties is not the way to go. The NPP must show tribal sensitivity, diversity and avoid royal mischief.
3) Unchain the youth If the NPP is to come into its own, it must cease being a party of old men (gerontocracy). Like the GOP in the US, the NPP is currently a party of angry old men who have no clue where the country is and ought to go. Yes old age has its place and I don't support age discrimination. However, to move forward, the party must inject some youth into meaningful positions and revive the spirit of the party. The NPP must stop misusing the youth and instead remove various financial hurdles in the way of the poor and young leaders who have something to offer. How many people in Ghana can afford a $25,000 fee for running as NPP flag bearer? Any party that refuses to incorporate the youth stand to falter. Mobilizing the youth and developing next generation leaders is one sure way of engaging the whole country and ensuring continuity. Invite the youth in NPP!
4)Royalty and Tribalism A Democracy is not royalty! While some societies have been able to weld the two, I am not sure that Ghana can safely do same given the number of tribes that form the union. Almost all societies that have mixed royalty and politics successfully are without numerous tribes and languages. They don't have states beaten in a country by a colonial power. The NPP must learn to keep royalty out of politics. Our constitution stipulates that. Trying to foist any chief of a particular over the country can only spell trouble, rejection and war.
5) Expand the base of the Party: If you think the Akyem/ Asante divide is troublesome enough, how about the Akyem/Asante versus other tribes in the NPP party? If you are a Ga, Ewe, Fanti or Hausa; are you at home in a party that has never elected your tribes-person as its flag bearer? Why is that so? Is the Danquah-Dombo-Busia tradition immune to tribal diversity? It is true that the NPP tradition started in a sectional and parochial way. However, is it not time to expand the base of the party? Are political parties not supposed to be national in nature? How can a party expect to win two regions all the time and win nationally? Expand the base or wither!
To be Continued...............................The next five issues will be published tomorrow!
Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman (Affectionately dubbed the double edge sword--Fearless)
I don't give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it is hell---Harry Truman