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Opinions of Friday, 10 June 2011

Columnist: Afrifa, Akwasi

“By June 2012” and Not “in June 2012?”

Nana has finally set the deadline for picking his Vice President. The suspenseful uncertainty is over. Or is it?

In the press statement released by the National Executive Council (NEC), the body said among other things “We wish to assure our teeming supporters that, these guidelines would be diligently followed and an appropriate, suitable and acceptable person would be announced as Running Mate by the 2nd quarter of 2012”. By the 2nd quarter (June 2012) should have calmed sympathizers. But party spokespeople have been making the rounds - the airwaves- insisting and emphasizing that the V.P will be pick “in" June 2012 and not “by" June 2012. Before I go on, I want to apologize, in advance, to Nana, the NEC, elders and sympathizers of the party to forgive me if I err or if I speak beyond my station.

But Nana, among those of us “below the food chain”, there seems to be some rumblings, uneasiness and nervousness. Many of us are of the humble opinion that, we seem to have placed the horse behind the cart. Many of us believe that picking a Vice President early would bring to an end – even before it starts- of any lobbying, something the NEC has explicitly warned against. An early pick would also ensure that any grumblings or fallout of the pick would give the party enough time to patch things up among “dissatisfiers”. An early pick would further eliminate the situation and the seeming environment of stifling free speech among the faithful on such an important subject. As at now, it appears any opinion or write up that might focus on any NPP member with Vice Presidential qualities might go against the rules set by the NEC and might leads to osctracization. Where would one draw the line between what might seem as lobbying and just a mere unrelated piece or praise of a potential candidate? Why would millions of party members and sympathizers be put in such a bind and gag over an easily avoidable situation?

Undoubtedly, Nana is one of the most popular politicians in the 53 year history of the Republic. But wouldn’t it be much easier and cost effective if, for example, Nana was touring the Northern Region while the VP was in the Central region? Wouldn’t a head start of almost a year be more effective in selling the VP candidate to the country?

Yes, people vote for the flag bearer - as our head of communications seemed to have pointed out- but people also vote for vice presidential candidates as well, especially since he is a heartbeat away from the presidency. He matters. Nana, I know you are a Superman. I grew up on your Herculean feats and exploits in our politics. But even Superman needs help sometimes – remember Super boy and Super girl? - And most times, he needs it early. An early pick would give you just that, the needed help. For no one can help you more, perception wise- the most important aspect-, than the VP; not the Party Chairman, Campaign manager or financiers. Nor must we create the impression that the position of the Vice President in our party is for window dressing, a mere token. ( It does not help the spirit of the eventual candidate. To be regarded as non essential in a fight but needed simply because of convention is unhealthy to the soul.) Most important, an early pick will help calm nerves. It will help reduce tension among party followers who are disposed to one candidate or the other at the moment ( I have already clashed with many good people on this matter, even without making my (or their) preference known ; people whom, hither to , had seen eye to eye with me on many party issues.) . Furthermore, Nana must also bear in mind that whoever he picks would be unsatisfactory to someone else. It is inevitable. So the earlier we deal with this unavoidable situation, the better.

Additionally, all rumors that would have dogged and distract, create confusion and hurt the party would be put to rest.

Right now, malicious rumors are making the rounds that are seriously hurting the party more than necessary. Some say the party is waiting for favorable polls to determine the VP candidature; reminiscent of the pollster in “Chasing the Elephant”, a situation, many believed gave the party false hope in 2008. Others are saying that, Dr. Bawumia has already been chosen but since he is out of the country, Nana does not want to ruffle furthers by appointing an absentee and thus, is waiting for Dr. Bawumia to finish his “contract” – somewhere next year- before announcing his candidature. Just yesterday, a story appeared that Bawumia has been rejected due to a plea by his constituents- for neglecting them. No matter how preposterous many of these rumors and stories might sound, some would gain traction. And such stories and rumors would continue to surface to sow discord, create conflict and confusion until the candidate is chosen. If it so happens to be “in June” and not “by June”, it would be very disastrous for the party.

With the ruling party currently in turmoil, every aspect of our campaign machine must be in place, well oiled and ready to go by the time the NDC‘s congress is over. There must be no missing pieces. In order to get a bonus head start and maximize the advantage, no hurdle must be left un-cleared and postponed – especially when it can be cleared at the moment.

We must maintain “the lead.” We elected our flag bearer almost ten months before the NDC. Our MPs were picked three months before their congress. The NDC must not come out of their Congress to face an army whose 2nd Commander in Chief will be missing in action for a year.

We are, therefore, of the hope that the NEC, in the next few days, would come out and assure the faithful that it meant “by” and not “in June 2012.”