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Editorial: NPP Reforms ...
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Politics of Thursday, 20 August 2009

Source: Statesman

Editorial: NPP Reforms ...

NOT ABOUT KUFUOR, ALAN OR AKUFO-ADDO

On Saturday, the New Patriotic Party will hold an extraordinary conference at the Trade Fair Centre, Accra to vote on a series of constitutional amendments. None of the amendments have generated as much controversy as the one to significantly expand the electoral college that nominates the party’s presidential candidate.

Since former President J A Kufuor was reported to have spoken against it, the reforms quickly turned into an Akufo-Addo agenda and the anti-reformists, the Kufuor camp. This simply meant that the issues risked no longer being considered on their merits. If you are for Akufo-Addo then you are pro-expansionist and if you are anti-Akufo-Addo then you are anti-expansionist. The irony of this situation is best illustrated by the supporters of Alan Kyerematen. Mr Kyerematen, arguably Nana Akufo-Addo’s most formidable challenger for the flagbearership, notably spoke for the expansion of the electoral college for the presidential nomination to include all polling station executives at the joint meeting of the National Council and the National Executive Committee. This meeting, held April 29-30, was where the views were collated and turned into the document which the National Officers of the party are now holding workshops across the country to generate support for.

All of a sudden, people known to be in Alan Kyerematen’s camp, including John Kuma, Kwabena Agyepong and the Ashanti Akyem constituency chairman are among those leading the anti-expansion campaign on radio and on the ground.

This has led some to unfairly suggest that it is because they believe that it is easier to ‘buy’ the votes of a majority of 2,300 delegates than 115,000. This presupposes that Mr Kyerematen can only win the election by buying the votes. We believe this is insulting for Mr Kyerematen and those pushing this must stop.

This also ignores the principle with which President Kufuor is campaigning against the reforms. He believes that the status quo has served the party well and as a staunch conservative politician one cannot argue against his stance. But, the fact that Messrs Kufuor and Akufo-Addo do not agree on some aspects of these proposed reforms does not mean there is a problem. It does not mean that everybody who agrees with one end of the campaign is pro this or anti that person. Again those who argue that Akufo-Addo is pro-expansion because that is the only way he believes he can win are not doing their own campaign a favour. What it means is that the 2008 presidential candidate commands are far greater support base within the broad masses of the party than any other candidate. But, if Akufo-Addo could beat 16 others to win the National Congress in 2007, what makes them think that he needs an expanded college to win? He is now more popular in the party than in 2007. Now, he is not fighting against the weight of incumbency that was reportedly marshalled against him in 2007, when he did not enjoy the support of President Kufuor. If he could overcome all that why then would he want to risk an expansion to the unknown?#

In our view people who support or oppose the expansion are doing based on things more impersonal than the debate is being reduced to. The fact that President Kufuor does not support the expansion does not mean that he believes that’s the way he can get his way. After all, Kufuor is not the one who is going to represent the party in 2012.

Let us be sober and analyse the pros and cons. Certainly the majority of the party is for the expansion. The issue is that are they in a position to mobilise the necessary two-thirds to carry the day? The expansion has its merits, especially in transferring ownership of the party from a small oligarchy to the grassroots and how that can help mobilise grassroots support and participation. But, whichever delegates decide to vote on Saturday let the whole party accept that decision and move ahead in working together for the victory that may await the party in 2012.

Akufo-Addo did not sponsor the reforms. He did not initiate it. But he is supporting it because he says he believes it is good for the party. But, if the reforms have it on Saturday let the party members not see it as a defeat for Kufuor. The reforms are more important than the individuals supporting them.

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