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Opinions of Friday, 13 July 2018

Columnist: Africanus Owusu-Ansah

Blay, all the way – To 2020

In war: Resolution, In Defeat: Defiance, In Victory: Magnanimity, In Peace: Goodwill. - Winston S. Churchill

The 26th National Delegates' Conference of the NPP with the theme: “Building a Stronger Party; Delivering Prosperity to Ghanaians” came off last Saturday, and it was not without intrigues against the concomitant pomp and merry-making. At the end of it all, it was Freddie Worsemau Blay who carried the day as Chairman of the Party.

Prior to this breakthrough, a lot of NPP bigwigs had given statements relating to their choice, especially for the Chairmanship position. In an interview at Joy Newsline's Upfront programme, Kwadwo Mpiani, the former Chief of Staff had urged the delegates to look for loyalty to the party as the main criterion for the selection among Freddie Blay, Stephen Ntim and Dr. Amoako Baah.

In the said interview, Mpiani had prefaced his answer as to his choice of a candidate by saying: “I think I should mind my words”. To the question as to whether Freddie Blay was loyal to the party or not, Mpiani said: “I don't know”. He insisted that it was not proper for the party to have voted Blay as First Vice-Chairman for the party in the first place, but that was the choice of the party at Tamale. However, in a quick rebuttal, Dan Botwe, the Minister for Regional Re-organisation noted that Mpiani's comment about 'loyalty' was an 'insult' to the delegates who elected the former CPP man. Dan Botwe noted: “The party made a very good choice. How can anybody question his loyalty”.

On his Facebook wall, Dr. Daniel Aidoo, a policy analyst had questioned Mpiani's statement: “So by Mr. Mpiani's analogy, nobody can join the NPP and occupy a position when he has no roots in that political party?” Dr. Aidoo added: “…if Mr. Mpiani's assumption holds, the NPP will gradually become unattractive to people who will want to join it in the future”.

The Koforidua Technical University grounds had been readied for the marathon exercise, and the National Elections Committee headed by the Most Reverend Dr. Asante-Antwi had done a yeoman's job with the unimpeachable, transparent vetting of all the candidates.

Former President John Agyekum Kufour had prayed to the delegates, especially the aspirants to beware of 'power'. Kufour accurately quoted the 19th century politician Lord Acton's dictum: “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. He reminded them that despite the good works of this government, “Power can trick you; if you are not careful, you become complacent…conceited…discriminatory…and think you do not need to look critically at the grassroots”.

The 'goodwill' message from a representative of the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom, John Hayward, expressed disquiet about the debauched, prodigal and immoderate waste of resources on expensive posters and banners. He noted: “I came through the streets today and saw so many posters… I saw more posters than the delegates… and I wondered: 'Is this really the best use of our resources?”

There were goodwill messages from the representatives of other political parties: Bernard Mornah of the People's National Convention (PNC); Kofi Apaloo of the Liberal People's Party of Ghana (LPG); Hajia Hamdatu of the Convention People's Party; the National Democratic Party (NDP); and the Progressive People's Party (PPP). The National Democratic Congress (NDC) was conspicuously noisy by their absence.

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, the President of the Republic, started his address to the Conference by reference to the sudden departure of the immediate past Vice President of the Republic, His Excellency Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur. The president recognized the immense contribution of the Council of Elders under its leader, C.K. Tedam, who quashed the imbroglio after the 2014 election of the National Officers, leading to the suspension of some of the elected officers. Those who took up the responsibility of the party in those hard times were patted on the back for a good job well done for the unity of purpose that culminated in the party's victory in 2016. He stated his government numerous achievements: the economy, education (free SHS), social interventions, and urged candidates to elect persons who will lead the party, in unity, to election victory in 2020.

After the tedious drill, when the ballots were cast and counted, Freddie Blay emerged victorious, clinching 3, 021 votes with his challenger, Stephen Ntim securing 2, 515 and Dr. Amoako Baah obtaining 18. Other elections saw the victory of Rita Asobayire, Frederick Fredua Anto, Michael Omari Wadie as First, Second and Third Vice-Chairman respectively, John Boadu as General Secretary, Kwabena Abankwa-Yeboah as National Treasurer, Sammi Awuku as National Organiser, Henry Nana Boakye as National Youth Organiser, Kate Gyamfua as National Women's Organiser, and Abdul Aziz Haru Futa as Nasara Coordinator.

Freddie Blay's acceptance speech was terse and reconciliatory; “We thank God for it…we profess to work together in unity…We are happy but measured in our happiness, it has been a little contest, maybe we've hurt each other in a way. It's a family fight, the fight remains in the family and we will now mend some of the problems that during the contest we might have created for each other…But…we want to send it right across to our opponents all over, that we are now determined, not only to defend the government,…but to win in 2020 and beyond…”

Stephen Ntim responded positively to Freddie Blay's acceptance speech and assured the delegates and NPP members that even though “…it is rather unfortunate that I have to lose for the fourth time in my attempt to serve the party…it is a victory for the New Patriotic Party…As usual, my loyalty to the New Patriotic Party is not shaken by what has taken place. We can continue counting on Stephen Ntim as usual because it is party first…”

Dr. Amoako-Baah, a dyed-in-the wool Danquah-Busia-Dombo fanatic addressed the media when he stated; “…you cannot see my banners and posters like my competitors because I am broke. I do not have money like they do in order to embark on such profligate campaign”.

It is now all over. Freddie Blay is in the saddle. There is work to do. Kufuor's speech must be etched in gold; so must the speech of John Hayward. Those in opposition who also want 'power' are watching what the NPP are doing with their 'power'. They will want to make capital out of the least 'opening'. NPP may not have to open the sluice gate to them. They must know how to handle the '275 buses' affair discreetly, and those who speak to the issue must have facts, otherwise be silent, for “speech is silvern; silence is golden”. A paper coming from the successful Blay can have the front page lead: “Blay Leads NPP for 2020”. So that, in a reconciliatory mood, it could better have had a sub-lead: “Ntim ready to work with winner” or something to that effect. “Ntim's Dream Crashes Again” may sound pugilistic, and we hope, people's attention has not gone in that direction.

The NPP should be very careful how it handles the 'power' it now has in its hand so that it does not 'trick' anyone to be 'complacent', 'conceited' and 'discriminatory'.

Again, the NPP should find a way to be less pugnacious in its campaigns and…why should an internal election lead to such flamboyant display of party paraphernalia? Are the participants so wealthy as to afford to mount giant billboards – which today is and tomorrow is not? Is the whole event turning into 'money-cracy'? We are only asking.

Africanus Owusu-Ansah

africanusoa@gmail.com