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Opinions of Thursday, 16 August 2007

Columnist: Kwaning, Martin

NPP Prez Race: The Young and Old Battle It Out

As the NPP’s December Congress to elect a Presidential Candidate gears up, there has been a new chorus from a section of the party for a ‘younger’ personality to lead the Party from 2009. In the midst of all this, another group has emerged within the Party that claims that someone from the ‘older’ generation is the best for the Party.

Truly, it is not only in the NPP that such a debate is taking place. In Sierra Leone, some members of Mr Tegan Kabbah’s ruling Party are fiercely advocating that the Vice President, Mr. Solomon Berewa, -though likely to win the 11th August 07 general election- should not replace the current President because he is too old.

In the NPP, proponents of the ‘younger’ generation agenda have put those they consider as young in the group, which includes, messrs Dan Botwe, Alan Kyeremanten, Kwebena Agyepong etc; those they consider to belong to the ‘older’ generation are messrs Aliu Mahama, Nana Addo, Osofo Marfo, Hackaman Owusu Agyman etc. Just recently, Mr. Kwabena Agyepong eloquently put the case for a younger personality forward. Dr. Kofi Apraku- also an aspirant- said ‘’with due respect, I must say age has caught up with most of my colleague aspirants’’
In the olden days, the ‘older generation’ relied on the younger ones to read letters to them and also brief them on the news making the rounds; on the other hand the young ones relied on the older ones for wisdom, advice and direction. This interdependence worked perfectly then, according to our elders. But as globalisation takes its toll on the mentality of Ghanaians, the battle of the generations seems to be intensifying. This tug of war has secretly dominated the thinking of some political parties and now seems to be taking centre stage.

As a youth, I should have been quick to support the argument put forward by the younger generation choir but no, as much as I duly disagree with the older generation group, I equally believe the argument put forward by both sections are full of flaws and they are not based on modern political thinking. It is a fact that certain actions of the ‘older generation’ are generally perceived as outmoded but they hold ample wisdom to keep the young ones in check when they go wrong. It is a fact that the older generation are moderate, more compromising and largely found to be non-confrontational. The older generation, according to research, think soberly before reacting to a situation.

On the plus side of the younger generation is their creative and innovative ability. Their desire to explore all avenues to achieve results such that a social networking is established to get more information as necessary on an issue. It is widely acclaimed that the younger generation think fast to address a difficult situation and anxious to face divergent challenges.
For me none of these arguments put forward by these two schools of thought-the older generation vs. the younger generation -, which seem to dominate the NPP presidential race, are entirely correct. Is plain common sense that the most pivotal argument that should dominate this race is the personality who has the range of skills and leadership qualities to solve the problems plaguing the nation and thus the issue has no regard for age It is the personality whose vision for the country is modern and has fresh ideas that matters.
After carefully monitoring all the over ten personalities wanting to stand on the NPP ticket, it seems that none has yet demonstrated an explosive vision for the country. Perhaps they are holding their cards to their chests waiting to rock the campaign scene after filing their nomination but clearly the sooner the better. Ghana urgently needs the spirit of the great Martin Luther King Jnr. The crux of the matter, which the NPP delegates should never ignore, is to scrutinize all the aspirants very well so as to give the nod to the person whose character indicates a potential to ignite the flame of passion for development. This to me is the crucial argument and not this unnecessary age debate.
This is the time for a visionary leader whose tactics will guide all his ministers to succumb to humility than the occasional conflicts that are usually brought to the public domain. Sometimes one is at pains to visualise how some state officials relax, when the majority of the people are suffering. They prefer rather to be fighting over who is senior or has more money or the one who can speak to the President, that doesn’t really make sense. A laudable initiative like the School feeding programme, which to a very large extent benefits our children, has been turned into a political conflict because of personal egos.
This is the time for whoever leads the NPP to launch a National Attitudinal Change in the minds of Ghanaians. The old ways of doing politics should give way to a new direction and focus.
Ghana needs someone, who regardless of age will uncompromisingly tackle crime and the drugs menace, which is a huge contributory factor to the crime upsurge in the country. The Police and the Armed Forces - Navy, Military and Air Force – should be equipped with all the necessary resources to perform their duties. It saddens me that you go to so many police stations across the country and virtually there are no computers for the Police to store vital information and worryingly a District Chief Executive, wouldn’t be bothered to provide a simple computer to the police but would rather be easier for him/her to use state money for other unnecessary undertaken. Today the police can’t give the public adequate crime statistics and are even unable to store and share information on criminals with other related agencies.
The country needs a President who will be able to put strong DCEs in place to comprehensively pursue the District Assembly Concept. I totally agree with Mr. Effah Darteh- one of the NPP presidential hopefuls - that the District Assembly Concept is the fulcrum on which this country development hinges. That is why the suggestion by Dr. Kofi Apraku (NPP presidential hopeful) that he will consult the NPP Executives before appointing DCEs seems outmoded. The best way to me, of appointing DCEs is that, if possible, Regional/Constituency Executives should suggest about two or three names that will be vetted by a specially constituted committee. Among other things, each candidate will be asked to submit his/her programme for the district. The best candidate is then appointed to head the District. Any of the presidential aspirants who thinks that the current way of appointing DCEs is the best way, where powerful wo/men in the Region/District lobby the President to appoint their favourite, please am sorry, we need fresh thinking. Almost all financial helpers have been rewarded; the best formula is a must from 2009. The best person who can document the problems/solutions of the District is the ideal person.
On corruption and respect for the law, the NPP needs a personality who can fight this menace without compromise. It baffles me why some scramble for money whereas the vulnerable in society suffer. Frankly, if as a nation we decide to minimise corruption there are ample measures that can be taken. A leader who in- spite of his age, will launch a national crusade against corruption and help deepen anti-corruption institutions. At times I wonder why a sitting President’s picture is conspicuously displayed in so many government offices. It does not make sense; are these officials worshipping a President? What I think should replace this picture is a warning of the dangers of misappropriating state funds; this is a young idea and has no respect for age. A law that will make corruption an uncomfortable adventure is what should dominate the debate and not age. It is very regrettable that some politicians’ attitude gives ammunitions to their opponents to attack them when they could have avoided this. In the developed world, individuals are scared of state institutions, who operate by and large autonomously and not the president or prime minister. So as the NPP Delegates welcome the entire aspirants, they should scrutinize all of them and give the nod to the personalities who with his team of ministers engineer the full fruition of the tenets of the rule of law.
The NPP needs a leader who will embrace Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as a prerequisite to national development. Kudos to Dr. Kofi Apraku who eloquently elaborated on his vision in making ICT the centrepiece of his government if given the nod. It is a shame that many MPs, Ministers, DCEs and other government officials have no emails and so many ministries cannot use the World Wide Web. Whether the age group of messrs Dan, Ayegpong or Aliu, Nana, Hackman etc, the most important thing is the one who will be able to instruct all his Ministers to establish a channel where they can constantly link up with all the constituencies. The practice whereby Ministers/MPs fail to establish any communication link with the people in the countryside, thereby making them always travel to the cities just to see a Minister/MP must stop. It is very chaotic when even the current government Website is in shambles. Using the Web can even prevent Ministers from travelling outside the country to undertake an initial negotiation.
Who among the NPP aspirants has a Martin Luther King’s ‘I have A Dream’ vim on Aviation Safety, Border Control and the good Health for all Ghanaians? Do any of these personalities have a blueprint on how to safeguard our aviation industry to avoid a national disaster? What is his vision on launching a National Health Campaign to make Ghanaians live a better and moderate lifestyle? How can he secure our borders against intruders and criminal elements from other countries? Many African countries have embraced technology and have installed Closed Circuit Television (CCTV Cameras) in relevant places. Do any of these aspirants; have any plans to install CCTV cameras at our Airports, Hospitals, Schools and other prominent state buildings? This is what matters most and not the debate on age. The NPP certainly needs a renewed focus to get out of this present doldrums but this task has no room for age disparity. The December battle is really getting heated with its associated acrimony. The aspirants and their supporters will be better off if they stopped unnecessary attacks and innuendos on other aspirants and rather focus on their vision for the Nation. The founding fathers will be weeping in their graves in seeing these character assassinations taking place. Is it only being a President that you can serve your Nation best? Gladly the directives issued by the National Executive Council of the Party to all Aspirants and their supporters to stop the fireworks seemed to have temporally calmed down tempers. . This is the time for sober minded people to demonstrate a high sense of humility and empathise with the suffering masses. It is unwise to enjoy in your comfort zone while the majority of Ghanaians perish in their poverty. Poverty cannot be wiped out completely from the country but politicians’ attitude could have a psychological comfort for the poor.
For the NPP Delegates, open your eyes and mind (you have always made a good choice) and elect a personality who can tackle our current and future difficulties.


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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