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Politics of Saturday, 9 May 2015

Source: Frankie Asare-Donkoh

Elephants killing elephants; As NPP digs its own grave

Last Thursday, the people of the United Kingdom (UK) went to the polls to elect 650 Members of Parliament from which results the leader of the party with more seats in Parliament becomes the Prime Minister.

One fact is that the results of the election definitely were not only based on events which happened during the campaign days or on the election day, but the culmination of events which began after the last election on May 7, 2010. This means that all the parties had to put their houses in order before last Thursday’s election.

On December 7, 2016, Ghanaians will go to vote to choose a new government – to renew the mandate of the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) government with Mr John Dramani Mahama retained as President, or replace the NDC with one of the opposition parties forming the government.

Like the events in the UK, recently in Nigeria, and elsewhere around the world, no party wins an election merely based on the few events during campaigning. Rather, they prepare, plan and strategise by building their arsenals and mobilising their members to provide a formidable election-fighting machine.

The 2016 election, therefore, is going to be like a referendum on the performance of the NDC government as against the manifestos of the opposition parties, and how they can fight as united parties to unseat the incumbent.

Strategy

Though the results of the elections will be declared after the elections on December 7, 2016, what would make a winner would definitely not happen on that day. It is for this reason that all the parties need to plan well and strategise before the D-day.

It, therefore, becomes very critical for the parties to intensify their cohesiveness as a platform on which to fight the election and hope to win.

However, both the NDC and the biggest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), have since last year experienced some internal problems which they could not contain but allowed to spill into the open.

However, it seems the NDC has learnt some lessons from that, especially the destructive and acrimonious campaign which preceded the party’s national executive elections, whereas the NPP seems not to have learnt anything from previous incidents as far as the handling of internal issues is concerned.

At the beginning of this week, the NPP’s national executive showed a great lack of discretion when they could not manage a simple need for a meeting, leading to accusations and counter-accusations from the very top officers who are supposed to know better.

Almost each top NPP member who had since spoken about the fracas between the First National Vice Chairman, Mr Freddie Blay, on one hand, and the Chairman, Paul Afoko, and General Secretary, Mr Kwabena Agyei Agyapong, on the other, has spoken from the point of view of law rather than based on party interest and their goal of victory in 2016.

Whereas Blay claims to have acted within the NPP Constitution, which allows him to call a meeting in the absence of the chairman, some are of the view that to wait for the chairman who was due back in the country only a day after the ‘controversial’ meeting was held could have been a better approach.

The issue about the general secretary being informed about the meeting by the vice chairman in that short time raises a number of questions. For instance, when the chairman has directed a meeting to be called, who does the actual summoning of the members, the chairman himself or the general secretary?

In most democratic organisations, after a chairman or leader has given the permission for a meeting to be held, it is usually the duty of the secretary to issue the invitations to summon members to attend it.

From this reasoning, and with the general secretary claiming that he was informed at such a short time when he was outside Accra, who actually invited the members to the meeting?

Accusations

But these issues must even be insignificant. The real issues here are the trading of accusations and counter-accusation in the media, forgetting that the leaders of the party are weakening their cohesion and collective resolve to fight the 2016 elections.

Listening to several comments by ordinary NPP members on the airwaves, I see it clearly that most members are not happy with this unnecessary in-fighting within the national executive.

What most Ghanaians don’t want again is to spend eight months after the polls to tune their television sets to watch proceedings in the Supreme Court for the recount of pink sheets and eventual declaration of who had won.

There are strong suggestions rather surprisingly from NPP members that there are within the national executive members a cabal which wants to prevent an Akufo-Addo victory and therefore are allegedly working to achieve that.

Whether these allegations are true or not, they must be of grave concern to Nana Akufo-Addo, the flag bearer of the NPP, who must take a very swift action to unite the party hierarchy to ensure a united party before the election campaign starts.

For both the NDC and all the opposition parties, what Ghanaians do not expect from them are activities that could disturb the peace of the country and mar the beauty of our democracy which has so far attracted global attention.

To the national executive of the NPP, once they have started killing themselves despite being members of the same Elephant Family, they must realise that it is not about Afoko, Blay or Agyapong, but rather they are digging their own graves for their defeat in 2016.

. . .Kwasi Brenya leaves a legacy

I can’t complete this week without paying tribute to Mr Kwasi Brenya, the late General Manager of the Despite Group of companies, whose hands have made what Peace FM and its sister radio stations and UTV what they are today.

I first saw Mr Brenya in 1999 when my senior colleague and friend, Nana Ohene Ntow, invited me to be on the panel of the Kokrokoo programme which he had just started on Peace FM.

I joined the likes of Mr Dan Botwe, and Mr Ofosu Asamoah who later went on to become members of Parliament and Kwesi Pratt among a few others on the programme.

Peace FM was at its very initial stages and the name Brenya was what was on the lips of all the staff as the big shoulder upon which the station was operating, yet this man would never make himself heard.

When Nana Ohene Ntow left Peace FM, my friend, Kwami Sefa Kayi, took over the Kokrokoo programme. I continued to be on the panel and at most mornings when Messrs Pratt, Sefa Kayi, Sankofa Tete Arthur and I, as our ritual, met early to eat kenkey before the programme, General Manager Brenya was already at post when most general managers would still be in bed.

Until September 2001 when I left Ghana for further studies abroad, Peace FM had in such a relatively short time made a huge impact on the Ghanaian media, as well as the political landscape, as the station had already become one of the major platforms for politicians to reach many Ghanaians.

Usually, when people die, because traditionally nobody talks ill about a dead person, almost everybody begins to praise them with positive tributes.

However, for Kwasi Brenya, from the very humble and unassuming man I saw during the period I was on the Kokrokoo programme, there is no doubt about the kind of tributes most Ghanaians are giving about him.

The fact which many don’t know is that Mr Brenya was not an arm-chair general manager, but a very hands-on man, but who surprisingly never claimed any success despite the fact that Peace FM and all the other subsidiaries of the Despite Group of companies we see today were carried to their present positions on Kwasi Brenya is shoulders.

Kwasi, fare thee well, you have left us a good legacy, but also a huge gap . May God give you rest.

The author is a Political Scientist, and Media and Communication Expert.

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