Feature Article of Tuesday, 8 January 2013
Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku
Fellow Kukrudites, in the face of the impending legal battle against the Electoral Commission and John Mahama, one would say that this advice is ill-timed, but there is nothing wrong with killing two birds with a stone. Since society is dynamic, it is imperative for any human institution to adapt itself to such changes, especially if the institution was to stand the test time. In the light of this Harold Wilson argues that; he who rejects change is the architect of decay, for it is only the cemetery which rejects progress. For the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to survive in the next couple of decades as a formidable political party capable of winning power and sustaining it, there is a need for structural reforms within the party. The NPP needs to adapt to the dynamics of Ghana politics, where propaganda is understood and accepted more than issues due to illiteracy, because I see the leniency and professionalism in our party as our bane to attracting floating voters.
I am saying this because it seems our political strategies are usually centred within the party without taking into consideration that of our major opponent. In fact, it is not a secret that as a party, we seem to be quite far away from the numerous ordinary people who decide the outcome of general elections. Very often we take such people for granted in that we assume and think for them but in the long run, such people decide the political direction of this country for us.
When I drove through a jubilant NDC crowd in Asawasi and Ayigya in Kumasi after the declaration of the 2012 Presidential election results, I cried for my beloved country. I shed tears not because I had lost a beloved one but the crowd was made up of many drunkards, head potters, people of particular ethnic group, truck pushers, people who were in very dirty clothes all in NDC paraphernalia. The atmosphere could be likened to a group of people who have won National Lotteries. From close observation, you could realise that only a few of them have had education beyond the basic level. But the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as smart as it is, has been faster enough to reach out to these people at our expense.
The question is; how did the NDC manage to do that? For all along, I know that the NPP had introduced several pro-poor policies in the country. In education, health, banking, private sector etc, our party has not done badly at all. In fact, the chief beneficiaries of the NHIS, free maternal care, capitation grant, NYEP, metro mass transit, single spine salary, mass cocoa spraying etc had been the poor people and not the rich. These were policies and programmes geared towards the improvement of the living standards of the poor and vulnerable people. So why should there be a political gap between our beloved party and the ordinary Ghanaian?
Fellow Kukrudites, this is the mystery we need to unravel without further delay as a party. Strangely, the NPP has allowed all kinds of lies and propaganda to swallow the party like the shark. We have not been able to dispel the wrong notion that the NPP is an Akan Party, in spite of the several reforms and changes we made in the party hierarchy to reflect the national character. Today, the NDC has changed that Akan tag to Asante/Akyem party and gradually the NPP has lost all the Akan regions - Western, Central, and even Brong-Ahafo. Based on the fraudulent 2012 Presidential results, at least 3 Akan regions could have easily given our Presidential Candidate, a first round victory, but this could not materialise.
Now let us reflect upon the following. Former president Jerry Rawlings is credited for the establishment of the University of Development Studies (UDS) in Tamale. But what infrastructure did he put out there? It took the NPP under Kufuor to expand the facilities at the UDS, and extend the University to Wa and Bolgatanga in the Upper West and East Regions respectively. Could the NPP have turned the extensions to two separate public universities? Yes, but the NPP chose to empower UDS logistically but not for political expediency. Unfortunately, Ghanaians do not see the NPP's sense of maximising scarce resources in the country. We therefore need to deviate from this level of thinking when, God-willing, the Supreme Court's decision goes in our favour in the next couple of months.
Again, if you check the major expansions that took place on all the public universities, in terms of new halls of residence, and lecture theatres, one could say that the money spent on these expansions could have built 10 (ten) of NDC's two new universities in Brong-Ahafo and Volta Region. I'm saying this because the pioneers of the Universities numbered only 200 each. But a single hall of residence built by the NPP administration in KNUST could admit over 3,000 new students. However, as a party that believes in value for money, and protection of the public purse, the NPP thought of maximising the acres of land at our public universities and not otherwise. The party gave autonomy to the School of Mines to become the University of Mines and Technology (UMAT) in 2001. The NPP government did a similar thing for the University College of Education, Winneba to become the University of Education, Winneba in 2004. But today, talk to any NDC member and he will tell you the NPP never established a single university in its 8-year rule. Is it not sad to hear this fallacy?
One of the best policies undertaken by the NPP administration was the Model School concept. This policy was geared towards the upgrading of at least one secondary school in each of the then 170 districts in Ghana to the status of first class schools like Opoku Ware, Mfatstipim, Achimota, and Wesley Girls High. The academic performance, discipline, and high intake of the 56 beneficiary schools such as Kumasi Anglican SHS, Hwidiem SHS, have vindicated the need for maximising resources in existing schools as was being espoused by the NPP administration. The same could be said about the upgrading of Teacher Training Colleges and Polytechnics to award Diplomas and degrees. But how many people in Ghana give credit to our party for this common sense approach in expanding access at every educational level, including the SHS? The NDC propagates that the NPP did not put up a single infrastructure to cater for the extension of the SHS from 3 years to 4 years. Even though the NPP built 21 new SHSs within 8 years, and spent only 1 year in office after the 2007 Education Reform, this propaganda went down well with the masses.
In the area of sports, whilst the NPP built completely two (2) new stadia in Tamale in the Northern Region, and Essipong in the Western Region with the aim of expanding sports infrastructure in the country, Ama Benyiwa-Doe and her NDC pooh-poohed the other new stadium started in Cape Coast. She constantly lambasted the NPP for refurbishing both Kumasi and Accra Sports stadia but neglecting the one in her region. Though the NPP did not have access to the oil revenue to give a befitting stadium to each region, this propaganda also cost the party all the Cape Coast parliamentary seats for the second time running.
In the area of health, I am yet to find out any government, past and present, that could match the NPP, in terms of health infrastructure and interventions. If one combines the monetary value of 20 (twenty) Health Centres in the country and compare it with that of the Accident & Emergency Centre at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital alone, where a landing place has been reserved for the helicopters carrying accident victims, one would ask why the NPP took the latter option. But which people attend this particular hospital? I cannot talk about the expansion works at the 37 Military and Korlebu Teaching Hospitals. The investment in these existing public hospitals could have built several clinics and health centres across the country. What about the six-lane 14km George Walker Bush Highway? Couldn't the NPP use the money to construct 1000s of feeder and 2nd class roads in the villages?
For me, the intention of the NPP administration was genuine and clear for the overall and long term development of mother Ghana. But how many of the people who have the maximum votes understood us? In the electioneering period, the average Ghanaian voter prefers GHC5 or a cup of sugar now to free SHS later. When over 5,000 units of uncompleted Affordable Houses are being left to rot, the NDC government prefers to spend $260m on the abortive STX Korea deal. They hoodwinked Ghanaians into believing that 200,000 housing units would be offered the nation within 5 years. Even the entire Security apparatus was swallowed by this blatant lie of being given 30,000 units. Whilst the NPP government purchased a Presidential Jet and built a Presidential Palace for Ghana, the NDC government thought it wise to construct $20m party headquarters and purchase 5 Military Jets at inflated cost. Yet, the NPP was described as being insensitive to the poor. They tagged J.A. Kufuor as globetrotter and corrupt, our projects and activities as profligate, and our actions as violent and unpatriotic. But who has travelled on the globe more than John Mahama; which party paid GHC48m towards Kwame Nkrumah's birthday; which party was born out of PNDC; and which party had paid GHC858 to party financiers in the name of judgement debts? Yet, the NDC has managed to turn the tide against us.
It is against this backdrop that I call on the Council of Elders, National Executive Committee, and the rank and file of our party to wake up from their slumber. Things are getting out of hand. We continue to make mockery of the NDC's propaganda tool, but this powerful machinery is working perfectly for them. We need to adapt to these changes because Ghanaians love and understand that better than we do. Ghanaians voted for a party that insults the clergy, nurses, teachers, doctors, cocoa growers, Kumasi residents, women, fishermen, Christians, Muslims, political opponents, and even their own Founder, yet they managed to win 8 regions per the current disputed results. They voted for a party whose foot soldiers seized public toilets, ballot boxes, public markets, booths, and car parks. They chased M/DCEs out of their offices but today they have the gut to describe the Young Patriots' action against Prez Kufuor as ungodly. Ghanaians voted for "edey be k3k3" and rejected free secondary education. They believe in turning black sheep as white cows because that is the price for illiteracy. In a country where "idiots" outnumber the normal human beings, a party like the NDC could continue to garner votes in general elections.
Folks, how I wish I could be part of the next NPP National leadership to influence decisions. I need sponsorship to contest any of the positions that could make my dreams come through. The NDC is diabolic and cunning. Their members have succeeded in creating confusion in the Akans and now not only other tribes hate the NPP, but even the Akans themselves. The NDC tagged Akufo-Addo as 'tribslist' for using "We Akans" in context of his speech, but they hailed John Mahama for urging Northerners to vote for him because he is a Northerner and it was time for Northerners to rule Ghana. We need to nip this diabolic plan in the mud because Ghana belongs to all of us. The next NPP leadership should not only police the ballot boxes and the Electoral Commission, but also work very hard on perceptional and attitudinal change, internal cohesion, and strategic communication. This, I strongly believe, would go a long way in keeping the NPP in power and making the party's dream of creating a society of equal opportunities for all, a reality. And with the intellectual expertise at our disposal, I am confident that this noble objective could be achieved.
God bless Ghana! God bless the NPP!! God bless Kufuor!!!
Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang, Enfield, London. (Free SHS Ambassador) Official blog: (www.katakyie.com) [email protected] 07577626433 A native of Asante Bekwai-Asakyiri