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Opinions of Friday, 29 May 2015

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.

Afoko and Agyepong are not the cause of the NPP’s woes

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Folks, the NPP is set for a long-haul spiral now that its tail is tattered and it is up in the sky, gyrating erratically like a tailless kite. The dog-bite-dog episodes have overshadowed the “Concert Party” aspects of the internal politics going on therein. The decision by the party’s Council of Elders that Paul Afoko and Kwabena Agyei Agyepong should step aside caps it all and will worsen the crisis hitting this political front. In effect, the NPP is set to deepen its woes. (See
In truth, sacrificing Afoko and Agyepong at this point is ill-thought-of and politically mischievous. What necessitated their being asked to step aside is nothing but an orchestrated web of mischief to give them a bad name and hang them thereof. What is their offence?
Some of their detractors have been quick to point gossipping fingers at them as the brains behind the acid-bathing and consequent death of Alhaji Adam Mahama. From Kennedy Agyapong, the loquacious and empty-headed braggart representing Assin Central in Parliament, we heard damaging allegations of their complicity that even roped in ex-President Kufuor and Kwadwo Mpiani. No one has provided any concrete evidence to substantiate the allegations; yet, their reputation has been torn into shreds and physical actions taken by their detractors to prevent them from remaining in office to do what the delegates voted them for.
The so-called militant wing (“Invisible Forces”) even declared them as “wanted” and vowed never to allow them to enter their offices. Immediately thereafter, behind-the-scene manouevres were put in place for the party’s regional officers to meet and resolve that they be removed from office because they are dividing the ranks of the party.
So, the two main factors motivating the actions against Afoko and Agyepong are unsubstantiated allegations regarding Alhaji Mahama’s death and their being divisive. For that matter, they must not be accepted to function any more as the party’s administrators. What has happened so far is nothing but a series of coordinated measures to sideline them. Unfortunate!
The police have given us to know that Gregory Afoko and another now on the run were the perpetrators of the crime. The younger Afoko has already been put before court and remanded in custody, although his elder brother and family had already denied his involvement in the acid-bathing of Alhaji Mahama. He hasn’t said anything to insinuate even that Paul Afoko and Kwabena Agyepong were instrumental in the crime. There is no evidence connecting both to the crime. So, what is the basis for mounting pressure on them at this point to leave office? Just because of the incident that occasioned their botched attempt at meeting the party’s officers in the Upper East Region (when Alhaji Mahama led a group of angry party members to hound them away)? Mere dangerous speculation at work in the camp of these so-called liberal democrats?
So, is that how the NPP intends to solve problems, assuming that it is voted into office? Kaaaaiiiiiiii!!
The measures being taken against Afoko and Agyepong are rooted in what we already know. Their decisions that led to the removal of pro-Akufo-Addo officers from the party’s administration (Perry Okudjeto, Hagan, etc.) have not gone down well with the Akufo-Addo camp. We saw how they strenuously opposed those decisions/actions and the threats that they issued. What we see happening now is the culmination of it all; but it has come with more potential to sink the party. A Pyrrhic victory of this sort won’t pave the way for Akufo-Addo, especially as it has already angered supporters of Afoko and Agyepong and will breed further enmity, distrust, and apathy or outright political mobilization against Akufo-Addo and his ambitions.
My assessment of happenings in the NPP camp points me to a different direction. I do not see Afoko and Agyepong as troublemakers tearing the NPP apart. They have for long been blackmailed and blackened as anti-Akufo-Addo and haven’t had the peace of mind to do what they are in office for. They are alleged to be staunch supporters of Alan Kyerematen and cannot be trusted to work hard for Akufo-Addo’s victory at Election 2016. They are accused of belonging to a faction in the party that has hatched an “Agenda 2020” to put Kyerematen and not Akufo-Addo in power. No amount of denials has saved them so far. So, by a mere stroke of “elderliness” in the party, their Fate is being sealed, especially if they are forced out.
Kwabena Agyepong has already strongly come out to deny rumours that he has resigned. Afoko hasn’t said anything other than insisting that he will do all he can to put Akufo-Addo in power. Such a genuine effort seems to be misconstrued by those bent on ditching his administration. There is a huge price to pay.
Now, let us be blunt to say that the real troublemakers in the NPP are Akufo-Addo and his faction. We know them (Kennedy Agyapong being their paymaster and string puller). These are people so fixated on silencing internal dissension so anything being done by them cannot be questioned. They are bent on bulldozing their way through the NPP’s terrain and are behaving as if they don’t know the negative backlash to result from such mindless manouevres. Their public utterances, posturing, and flexing of muscles say it all that they are the forces moving the NPP in the wrong direction. Their kind of self-righteousness is obnoxious and will be met with voter sentiments.
One conclusion can be drawn at this stage: that removing Afoko and Agyepong from office, especially on the strength of allegations of their being the brains behind the acid-bathing of Alhaji Mahama, is counter-productive. It leaves a very sour taste in the mouth. Clearly, by pushing them aside this way, their detractors have created the impression that they are, indeed, culpable. Will they (the detractors), then, cooperate with the security agencies investigating Alhaji Mahama’s death by providing concrete evidence against Afoko and Agyepong? If they don’t, how will they justify the draconian and unconstitutional move to sideline them?
If they base their decisions/actions on allegations of Afoko and Agyepong’s inability to bring about peace in the ranks of the party’s followers, they will be overstretching matters. What have they done to disunite the party? I don’t see it. Has the NPP ever been united, anyway?
We recall several instances of in-fighting and other problems that have threatened the party’s ranks ever since its formation in 1992. Apparently tied to its ancestral home (Ashanti and Eastern Regions), it has been struggling to cultivate and exude the national character/characteristics that its nemesis (the NDC) is proud of. The NPP doesn’t have the strong appeal, clearly because of its fixation on the “Yen Akanfuo” philosophy and the public’s perception of its kind of politics as narrow and misguided. That explains why the rush to settle on Northerners to play second fiddle to the flagbearers (Kufuor and Akufo-Addo).
The afterthought (“Dombo”) added to the Danquah-Busia tag is deceptive and won’t entice those who know how they are being baited to vote for those who don’t really value them. Open insults directed at their ethnic origin and vocations say it all. If you doubt it, just weigh the insults at President Mahama (“Pepeni President”) and many others to judge things for yourselves. The mindset of those leading the NPP is strongly negative about those who don’t belong “there” (the NPP root).
Factionalism in the NPP has become pronounced because of the manner in which Akufo-Addo and his backers are doing things. We saw everything clearly pointing to this moment when the old NPP national officers led by Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey and Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie (and many others openly supporting Akufo-Addo) were voted down. Their unflinching support for Akufo-Addo hasn’t evaporated and the Akufo-Addo faction hasn’t ceased undermining Afoko and Agyepong. They haven’t been forgiven either for daring to win over the delegates to dislodge Obetsebi-Lamptey’s team. The price they are paying now is this humiliation and pinpointed calumny to create the impression that they are criminals when they are not!!
As the situation stands now, Afoko and Agyepong will not be easy to persuade to step aside. They will dig in and even resort to the law courts for redress, which will worsen the NPP’s plight. Their supporters will also take other measures to dim the NPP’s light all the more. While all goes on, the party’s public image will continue to suffer. Then, we expect some half-hearted measures to be initiated at reconciliation which won’t salve anybody’s conscience or placate the angry Afoko and Agyepong supporters. In the midst of it all, Akufo-Addo will continue to show force instead of equanimity; then, when the real electioneering campaign season opens, we will see how his political tide will flow. Mark my words!!
Folks, there is a lot more to talk about; but for now, let us end here by saying that Afoko and Agyepong are victims of circumstances wrought by one man’s unbridled desire to dominate his political party. It is Akufo-Addo who is the NPP’s problem. Until this problem is clearly analyzed, understood, and tackled by the party’s leaders and followers, there will be no internal peace. At the end of Election 2016, he will lead the NPP on a more wild goose chase. A worst case scenario may emerge, especially if what befell the Danquah-Busia camp before the 1979 general elections is replayed. Will the NPP break up? Who knows?
I shall return…
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