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Opinions of Monday, 16 August 2010

Columnist: Kyei-Mensah-Osei, Kofi

After the big victory on 07/08/10 cometh the biggest one ....

on 07/12/12; but the hard work starts now!!!

Last week, precisely on 07.08.10, the NPP attempted and succeeded in scaling the heights of what amounts to mountain Everest in democratic terms. By widening its electoral college to as many as one hundred and nine thousand electorates, the NPP was travelling on an uncharted territory in African democratic terms. Whilst sympathisers wished the party well, its opponents predicted doom and gloom.
Many of the doom forecasters and the presumptuous majority sited the novelty and seeming acrimonious campaign waged by the Nana and Alan camps prior to the day as reasons to predict the disintegration of the NPP ala the 1979 election when the tradition segmented into UNC and PFP. Irrespective of the known and the unknown pitfalls in the adventure though, the NPP soldiered on in its quests to bring democracy to the masses and to involve our village folks who form about 60% of the electorates to have a bigger say in our democratic dispensation. In the past, presidential candidates of our political parties have been elected by just over 2000 national, regional and constituency executives as if to say that the voices of our village folks in that regard were not required. We’ve even had a political party choosing its presidential candidate by “popular acclamation”! Though what the New Patriotic Party did was the first of its kind in any African democracy, yet the party demonstrated that democracy is not an anathema to Africa and that it could be nurtured with genuine commitment and due diligence. The event’s success and peaceful outcome is a very big victory for the NPP and Ghana’s democracy. Kudos to the national executives headed by Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey for taking this bold initiative and having the foresight to undertake such an enormous exercise. I’ve singled out Uncle Jake for special mention because the NDC would have made mince-meat of him and would have fed him to the wolves if it has gone pear-shaped. Big kudos to the entire national executives of the party for adding another feather to the unmatched democratic credentials of the New Patriotic Party.

Another pat on the shoulder goes to all the candidates who contested and their followers. In my view, all the candidates and their supporters deserve special mention and should be congratulated for demonstrating political maturity. I was one of the people who complained about the innuendos, aspersions and the general negative campaigning especially by both Nana and Alan’s camps. Again I was one of those who argued that it was a bad call on the part of the 4 other candidates to hold a press conference and castigate the national for seeking to tilt the elections in favour of Nana. It is equally true that Nana’s victory was resounding, overwhelming and even beyond everyone’s wildest expectation, yet it is important to acknowledge the role of Lawyer Kodua, Hon Isaac Osei, Prof Kwabena Frimpong and Alan Kyeremateng in making the elections the success we have all come to be proud of. Nana has set the tone for united a front by hosting the other candidates in his house and immediately seeking to bring them on board. It is imperative that the others take the olive branch being extended to them in order not to lose their political legacy. Defeat in these sorts of contests is difficult to take but so far, I have been impressed by the attitudes of all the losing candidates, even so Nana’s early attempt to defuse any tension that might have arisen during the campaigning period. The losing candidates’ utterances, especially that of Isaac Osei and their desire for oneness and unity of purpose have confounded the doom preachers. Many are those who predicted the break up; even the demise of the NPP. Yet the candidates have demonstrated a level of maturity which has left many opponents dumbfounded. To me, the candidates are all winners and posterity would judge them kindly. Their immeasurable contribution in further deepening the roots of democracy in the NPP and Ghana as whole can never be better demonstrated. Alan, Lawyer Koduah, Hon Isaac Osei and Prof Kwabena Frimpong: very big congratulations to you all for being part of this big victory and history. You fought the good fight and I believe that some of you will come back again even stronger after 2012. Now though is the time to put your shoulders to the wheel to win the ultimate victory 2012. Ghanaians expect and you and the entire NPP fraternity dare not fail them!!!

Victory 2012, The ultimate target:
It is time though for the national executive to maintain the momentum. The euphoria shouldn’t be allowed to die down. Between now and December 2010, they should start the ground work; put together a resilient and a well greased campaign machinery to mount a sustained and durable assault for the presidency. The national executives should put together a national campaign team through to the regional and constituency level. There should be a demonstration of consistency and a sense of urgency right through the rank and file of the party to the doorsteps of the electorates. The struggle for the Golden Jubilee House will be doubly tough in opposition than ever but certainly not insurmountable. The NDC will not like to be the first political party to set the trend for a one term presidency and would move through heaven and hell to hang on it. They will employ every means; fair or foul! For these reasons there should be no more arm-chair executives in the NPP as it were in 2007. All the executives, national, regional or constituency level must be prepared to roll up their sleeves and get themselves dirty in the trenches. There should not be any more dilly-dallying as happened in 2007 when effective campaigning only started in September. To this end, all activities; ward level rallies, constituency rallies, regional rallies, news releases, radio programmes, rejoinders etc must be well coordinated to ensure consistency and continuity.

In 2007, selection of running mate for Nana became one of the thorny issues which militated against the party’s efforts at retaining power. There is no such excuse this time around. The party has given itself ample time for that conundrum to be solved and more than enough time to be able to sell the pair of them more effectively. In my view, I think we should retain the Nana/Bawumia ticket. I remember people claiming that Bawumia was politically unknown at the time. In comparative terms though, the NPP performed creditably with Bawumia as Vice-Presidential candidate in the 3 northern regions in terms of parliamentary seats won than with Alhaji Aliu Mahama and I believe retaining the former would also save the party some precious time and also avoid creating another platform for lobbying with its concomitant antecedent for creating camps . If we are going to retain Bawumia, the young man must be sounded out as soon as possible so that he will have enough time to make up his mind. That will also ensure that, the party will have enough time to go for someone else should Bawumia refuse to take up the position. But whilst we are at it, we should all bear in mind that the task ahead is by no means herculean and we can only surmount it if we forge ahead in unity, with commitment and dedication. Ghana expects and we dare not fail!

Kofi Kyei-Mensah-Osei