Feature Article of Friday, 20 January 2012
Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.
Nana Akufo-Addo’s victory in the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) presidential primaries in 2010 was as resounding as it was astounding. That Nana Akufo-Addo garnered over 78-percent of the total votes cast nationwide, arguably the highest intra-party win by any candidate in the annals of Ghanaian politics, cannot be overemphasized. That Nana Akufo-Addo was pleasantly surprised by the emphatic call by members of the NPP for the former to lead the party once again into battle against the Team Mills juggernaut in December 2012 was as obvious as the constancy of the morning rays of the sun. That Akufo-Addo will pick the right person as his running mate for Election 2012 is the only thing that members of his party do not know at the moment – and many expect Akufo-Addo to make good use of a second opportunity to seek the Ghanaian presidency.
Readers should note that I had previously written about this issue, but with news filtering out of the NPP's camp that Akufo-Addo may have, once again, secretly chosen Dr. Bawumia as his running mate, I wanted to explain to the party's loyal followers why Bawumia would be a poor choice. While the proverbial regional equilibrium has always been an important factor in the selection of a running mate in Ghanaian politics, the most ardent followers of party politics in our dear nation would admit that not all past nominees for president got it right, the most recent mismatch being that of Nana Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia in Election 2008. Of course, Dr. Bawumia is both a learned man and a successful technocrat – but it takes more than the preceding qualities to garner votes in a national election. In fact, Akufo-Addo’s choice of Bawumia for Election 2008 infuriated many leaders in the NPP, as it was obviously a poor choice. It was a bad choice simply because Bawumia was not a household name, an important ingredient for winning a national election. Is Bawumia a household name today? I doubt it.
The NPP primaries for Election 2012 ended about eighteen months ago, so why has Nana Akufo-Addo not chosen his running mate by now? The longer the selection process, the more disillusioned party followers would become. The new question then is: Who will, as Akufo-Addo’s running mate, help garner the most votes for the NPP? Of all the qualities that a running mate must have, this writer argues that, for the sole purpose of winning an election, the most important quality remains popularity with the voters. Without a doubt, Alan Kyeremanten is the best person to help deliver the presidency to Nana Akufo-Addo this year. Now, let us explore my reasons for picking Kyeremanten as the right candidate.
Because he is half-Asante and half-Fante, Kyeremanten is popular among members of both Akan sub-groups, his influence among the Asantes being the more decisive of the two. During the NPP primaries in 2007, Kyeremanten gave a then-buoyant Akufo-Addo the scare of his life, when the former garnered enough votes to push the contest to a second round. We all know today that a consensus was reached soon after the party's congress for Akufo-Addo to lead the party in Election 2008. Although Kyeremanten did not, surprisingly, obtain as many votes in the August 2010 intra-party presidential primaries as his backers, acolytes, and supporters had hoped, he still brought in 20-percent of the total votes cast, with the remaining three candidates – Dr. Frimpong-Boateng, Mr. Osei and Mr. Kodua – garnering a paltry combined total of 1-percent of all votes cast! That Kyeremanten is a force in the NPP is a fact that cannot be easily dismissed by even his enemies inside and outside of the party.
Kyeremanten’s presence on the NPP's presidential ticket will bolster Akufo-Addo’s chances in Election 2012 because the former will bring in as many votes as possible from the Ashanti Region, a region that the NPP needs more than any other to win a national election. While all the other regions are important, the Ashanti Region delivers the most votes in an election, due to its large and diverse population, so the NPP must target as many votes as possible in the Asantehene’s domain.
Another reason why Kyeremanten will provide more votes than any other candidate at the moment is because of the influence of former president John Kufuor. Kufuor left office with a very high approval rating, having left the economy in a better shape than he had inherited it in 2001. (The economy is, sadly, worse today than it was in 2001!) Moreover, Kufuor’s record as the only president under whose eight-year reign Ghana did not have a single political prisoner has endeared him to Ghanaians and the international community alike, with the compendium of foreign invitations he receives ad infinitum to lecture on democracy a testament to this goodwill. For a man who accentuated the constitutionally guaranteed tenet of freedom of speech, promoted the establishment of small businesses, and refused to throw his enemies in jail, Kufuor remains a principal character in the political affairs of the nation.
With Kyeremanten reportedly a Kufuor protégé, the NPP can be assured of Kufuor’s unadulterated attention to an Akufo-Addo-Kyeremanten tandem for the presidency in 2012. In fact, Kufuor's recent positive utterances about his party's chances in Election 2012 ought to be pleasing to Nana Akufo-Addo and other members of the NPP. The fact remains that President Mills is a good man, but I am not too sure that he has what it takes to lead Ghana out of its present economic predicament. This God-fearing man has allowed his minions to run amok, the latter looting state coffers with unabashed diligence and, in the process, purchasing expensive houses in the U.S.A. and Europe. And what has the president done about all the looting? Amazingly, nothing! Ghanaians must make sure that these criminals and popinjays get locked up at Nsawam Prisons in the near future. We need to reject partisanship when it comes to the looting of state resources, because whether it is Woyome or Owusu who steals from the people, the theft will definitely not benefit the general population.
Yet another reason why Kyeremanten will be Akufo-Addo’s best choice for running mate is because Kyeremanten has what it takes to divide Fantes’ allegiance to John Atta Mills, since the former is also part of that Akan sub-group. Kyeremanten should be able to bring in far more votes from the Central and Western Regions than any other well-known NPP member at the moment – and Akufo-Addo should take full advantage of this situation. Of course, Nana Akufo-Addo must also work very hard to ensure that he obtains more votes in the Eastern Region in Election 2012 than he did in Election 2008. If the party’s presidential candidate is able to achieve the aforesaid, and with strong showings in the Brong-Ahafo, Western, Central, Ashanti and Greater-Accra Regions, the party should win Election 2012.
I do not postulate that the regions not mentioned in the aforesaid paragraph are not important. I postulate that those other regions may not bring in large numbers of votes for the NPP, so the focus should be where the NPP has the best chances for victory. The stereotype that the Volta Region remains an impervious stronghold of the ruling party is nothing more than a stereotype: the NPP can make inroads in that region, too, but it will require a concerted effort on the part of the NPP to bring a possible victory in the Volta Region to fruition. Because I believe that John Kufuor did more for the Volta Region in eight years than Jerry Rawlings did in twenty-plus years, Kufuor must have a leading role in any electioneering efforts to and in that region: he ought to remind the good people of the Volta Region about his accomplishments in the region while president. Irrespective of what others may be suggesting to Akufo-Addo presently, John Kufuor’s full participation in the NPP’s efforts toward re-occupying Osu Castle and Jubilee House is vital for the party’s success in Election 2012.
Nana Akufo-Addo is a political animal – it is in his blood! Nana Akufo-Addo wants to become president of Ghana this year, which, realistically, is his last chance, due to age. The choice of a running mate is akin to crossing the proverbial Rubicon, so Akufo-Addo has only one opportunity to get it right – and the right choice of running mate for Election 2012 is Alan Kyeremanten. As important an idea as it is to have regional equilibrium on the NPP’s ticket for Election 2012, Kyeremanten remains the most viable candidate to help deliver the presidency to Akufo-Addo and the NPP in December 2012.
© The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, is pursuing a doctoral degree in Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from the same university. He is a member of the national honor society for public affairs and administration in the U.S.A. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.