Feature Article of Tuesday, 18 March 2008
Columnist: Ellison, Kofi
NPP FORMIDABLE TEAM: AKUFFO ADDO-ALHAJI MUSTAPHA IDRIS
With unity in the New Patriotic Party assured by the magnanimous show of support by Alan Kyerematen towards Nana Akuffo Addo the NPP presidential candidate, the issue now is who does Nana Akuffo Addo select as his vice-presidential running mate in the December 2008 general elections.
It is obvious that the candidate must come from the northern part of Ghana. While some in the NPP would argue that having Alhaji Aliu Mahama on the ticket in the 2000 and 2004 elections did not secure NPP victory in the north, it would nonetheless be considered political suicide not to have a northerner on the NPP presidential ticket. It is now accepted political wisdom that there should be a North-South –vice versa– candidates on a presidential ticket to ensure balance in the North/South conundrum. Until such time that our democratic values are entrenched and resilient enough to make such considerations irrelevant, I believe that political parties must stick to this formula.
Moreover, in spite of the Dagbon crisis, the NPP actually increased the number of votes it received in the Northern Region in 2004 as compared to the votes it received in the pre-Dagbon crisis 2000 elections.
One of the factors cited in the nomination of Nana Akuffo Addo as the NPP presidential candidate at the NPP Nominating Congress was that he was a known quantity. Indeed, Nana Akuffo Addo’s campaign emphasized his long membership and apprenticeship in the NPP tradition. He was deemed to ‘have paid his dues’, with a long history of service to the NPP.
Informed in the Twi language, his campaign slogan was poignant, Nana Akuffo Addo; “y’enim no firi tete”. He was perceived as not being a Johnny-com-lately’ to the NPP fold.
In considering his choice for a running mate therefore, Nana Akuffo Addo must be guided by the same wisdom and logic to choose someone whose credentials as a bonafide NPP member is verifiable and cannot be compromised.
Nana Akuffo Addo must not succumb to temptations coming from some jaundiced quarters, which could lead him to choose a candidate from the northern area who is a Johnny-come-lately to the NPP camp. Nana must not choose someone from the north whose NPP pedigree is as tenuous as the modern dew; impressive, but quick to dissipate!
Nana Akuffo Addo’s choice of a northerner as his running mate must therefore be of someone with impeccable NPP credentials. And in the northern part of our country, none fits the bill more than the Northern Region Minister, the Honourable Alhaji Mustapha Idris. In selecting Alhaji Mustapha, Nana Akuffo Addo will be selecting not an unknown quantity, but someone with proven leadership credentials, and a stellar record as a member of the NPP. In Alhaji Mustapha, Nana Akuffo Addo will have a candidate who is not a fair weather political turncoat. Rather, Nana Addo will be choosing a veteran NPP stalwart; a uniquely qualified known quantity. Above all, in selecting Alhaji Mustapha, Nana Akuffo Addo will be selecting a man who has been known in his political career as a consensus builder. He is also quite well known and beloved in the Zongo communities, and beyond.
In the dismal years of the (P)NDC rule, the Danquah-Busia tradition which begat the NPP was largely non-existent in the Northern Region. Lured by temptations of political office and personal political gain, the traditional political elite and the intelligentsia had absconded to the NDC. It was principled people like Alhaji Mustapha Idris who stood their ground and spearheaded the efforts to resuscitate the Danquah-Busia tradition in the north, thus becoming a founding member of the NPP.
Added to that, Alhaji Mustapha Idris is a disciplined NPP man. He had a clear shot to win a parliamentary seat in the 1992 elections contesting the then Gukpegu-Sabongida Constituency. Notwithstanding, Alhaji Mustapha heeded to a decision by the national office of the NPP to boycott the elections nation-wide. Alhaji Mustapha chose to support the NPP decision at the risk of his own political suicide locally. Unlike others faced with similar choice, who in spite of the boycott by the NPP chose to run as independent candidates to circumvent the NPP decision, Alhaji Mustapha did not betray his party, nor his principles.
Alhaji Mustapha Idris did not sacrifice the NPP at the altar of personal aggrandizement.
In the 1996 elections, Alhaji Mustapha handily won the seat in the Tamale municipality and became an eloquent voice for the NPP in parliament, where he made his mark as opposition spokesman on Youth and Sports, among others. He won the seat again in 2000. Since losing the 2004 elections as part of a general trend in Dagbon, fed by unusual political demagoguery, Alhaji Mustapha has rebuilt his local political foundations.
Alhaji Mustapha has served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Minister of Works and Housing; and Chairman of the GET-Fund. He is currently serving as the Northern Region Minister, where under his astute leadership, peace has been sustained in Dagbon. He has opened his office to all regardless of their local parochial interests, and political or religious affiliation. Alhaji Mustapha has truly lived up to his pledge that he is equitable to all factions in the region, and has not hesitated to publicly scold malcontents who wished to use his office as a launching pad for their nefarious activities at the local level.
The NPP government has completed major projects in the areas of health, education, and road infrastructure in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions. The construction of a bridge (which had been abandoned in 1965 thereby cutting off local communities) across the Volta river in the north, underscores the NPP commitment to tackle under-development and spread development equitably. The problems are massive and have existed for generations. Certainly, more need to be done; but the NPP cannot be faulted in good conscience for ignoring any region. Alhaji Mustapha has been integral proponent and supporter of these major developments in the area.
In his acceptance speech upon winning the nomination, Nana Akuffo Addo emphasized that the NPP has a story of success and upliftment over the last eight years to tell Ghanaians. There is not a more qualified person to join Nana Akuffo Addo in telling this story than the indefatigable, charismatic, and conscientious Alhaji Mustapha Idris. In Alhjai Mustapha Idris, the NPP presents a formidable team to lead the party to victory in December 2008.
There is not a better winning formula, than the formidable team of Nana Akuffo Addo and Alhaji Mustapha Idris. Nana Akuffo Addo and Alhaji Mustapha Idris, “y’enim mo firi tete”!!!