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Opinions of Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Columnist: Daniel Danquah Damptey

Freddie Blay, aka ‘opana’ – A political juggernaut

Any river that forgets its source will definitely dry up, but the land will never die. It will rather become barren. It is equally true that he, who does not know the change of seasons, was not born for fame.

The NPP should not forget the fact that the party had been swimming in the wild sea for many years. But when we got to the Centre of the sea where the water was deep, wide and dangerous, some treacherous capos of the party attempted against all odds, to make us swim against the tide. They deliberately chose to forget that the head of an elephant is not a kid’s load.

“Opana” Freddy Blay, National Chairman of the Nnipa Pa Party (NPP) has done his best for the party. Therefore, when the history of the party is written, his name will surely be on the list of those who did a yeoman’s job to revive the party’s fortunes which had plummeted to its lowest ebb under erstwhile Chairman, Paul Afoko and his “Gang of Three”. At the time when the party appeared rudderless and was in the midst of foundering on the high sea, a call went out to nobody in particular, “Whom should I send, and who will go for me”? After the third call had gone unanswered, a shrill voice came out, “Yes, Send me and I will go”. That was the voice of Freddie Blay, hereby referred to as “Opana”.

Christiano Ronaldo did his best to make Real Madrid what it is today. But latter day saints like club President, Florentino Perez did everything in their power to belittle the great deeds of Christiano Ronaldo. So it is with this Great and iron man of history, Mr Freddie Blay. A few top members of the party like former Chief of Staff, Kwadwo Mpiani ganged up with dismissed Chairman of the party, Paul Afoko to level all sorts of allegations against Freddie Blay and some party executives.

One ridiculous allegation peddled against “Opana” was that the busses he promised to provide for each of the 275 Constituencies came from the stock of the NDC. In other words, those unpatriotic elements of the party wanted us to believe that, Freddie Blay was a mole planted by the NDC. How absurd! But this was what his disgruntled opponents alleged.

Such an allegation was similar to the spurious lies propagated by the Nefarious Destructive Cancer prior to the December, 2016 Elections to the effect that if Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo won the election, he would remove the Capital to Kibi, his hometown.

I read with utter consternation when Kwadwo Mpiani questioned Freddie Blay’s royalty to the party and went to the ridiculous extent to suggest that the party made a fundamental mistake by making him (Freddie) acting Chairman. Another aspirant, Amoako Baah also cast aspersions on the character and credibility of “OPANA”. They accused him running a “one man show” which is a trait of dictatorship. These were the very allegations NDC apparatchik’s like Koku Anyidoho, Asiedu Nketia, Kofi Adams and others had leveled against then candidate Nana Akufo Addo, now President of the country.

I have always stated in almost all my write ups that in our attempt to annex the Golden Fleece, we shouldn’t sidetrack the moral aspects that go with it. The clique who reared its ugly head just before the National Executives’ election attempted to derail the forward moving train of the party. But patriotic elements in the party repelled their vicious attacks, and today, we are better off for that decision.

What did Freddie Blay do to merit the ganging up of several desperados who saw in him the only bulwark against their success? On a daily basis, they spent precious time and money to drum into our ears why “Opana” Blay should not be voted into office as the National Chairman. Their main argument was that he is not a thorough bred member of the Osono fraternity. Let me state here for the avoidance of doubts that the logic of proponents of that mantra was seriously flawed and I am glad, the delegates threw it into the nearest garbage dump.

Talk about Former Senior Minister, J.H.Mensah who made a rapid transition from the CPP to the UP Tradition. At a stage, did Mr William Ofori Atta, popularly called Paa Willie not pitch camp with Dr. Hilla Liman’s PNP and was rewarded with the plush portfolio of Chairman of Council of State? I visited him at his office to extend an invitation to him and realized from the conversation that his head was with the PNP but his heart was actually with the UP tradition. But this is a story to be told at a latter time.

Barrister Sam Okudzeto who is now a member of the NPP was a staunch member and MP on the ticket of the National Alliance of Liberals during the tenure of Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia administration. Other MPs from NAL included, Dr. Obed Asamoah and Dr. G. K. Agama. The leader of the party was K. A. Gbedemah.

On one occasion, he made a remark which did not go down well with Parliament and the Speaker asked him to retract and apologize. “Mr Speaker, I will not apologize”. The Speaker ordered the Sergeant-at Arms to walk him out of the Chambers, but before the latter could reach there, Mr Sam Okudzeto had gathered his documents into his portfolio and left. Today, Barrister Sam Okudzeto is a staunch member of the UP Tradition. If today, he decides to vie for any position in the party, are we going to tell delegates not to vote for him because originally, he did not belong to our tradition?

What about my good friend and ally, Ken Kuranchie who originally was a top member of the NDC? Hope you have not forgotten about Ken and his “conspirators” attempt to “frame” former President, John Agyekum Kuffuor on the Giselle Yadzi’s issue. Ken later saw the light and has since been defending the party on many issues. He even went to jail for defending the party during Mahama’s time. We made him our Parliamentary Candidate in the last election. Are we going to use his previous membership in the NDC against him if he decides to contest any elective position in the party at the national level?

Francis Essiam is another member from the NDC contraption who also saw the light and came to NPP. We have not forgotten her contributions to the party. What about late Courage Quarshiga. He was the architect behind the foiling of late Corporal Halidu Giwa’s coup against the Rawlings Regime. Every member of the UP tradition would have been happier if the coup had succeeded. But when Courage fell out with his mentor, Flight Lieutenant Rawlings and joined the NPP, we embraced him with open alms. He even became the National Organizer of the party. There were no complaints about his not being a thorough bred NPP person. Why did those people not raise any issue against him?

The contributions of Opana to the success of the New Patriotic Party are too numerous to recount. The party entered into alliance with the CPP which culminated in his election as the substantive MP for Ellembele and Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament under Rawlings administration. Under Kufuor’s administration he was First Deputy Speaker of Parliament. The party also threw its weight behind Paa Kwesi Nduom, another CPP candidate to be elected MP for KEAA.

It must be noted that at the time when the culture of silence was heavily on Ghanaians, very few private Ghanaian newspapers could voice out dissention in the country. Mention must however be made to newspapers like “The Pioneer”, “The Statesman”, “ Legon Observer”, “The Chronicle”, “The Independent”, “Crusading Guide” and of course, “Daily Guide”. Infact, the last three of these newspapers were from the CPP stable.

Have the proponents of such untenable and bizarre argument sat down to analyze the role and risk the Founder and the editors of Daily Guide took when it made itself the “spokesperson” of the silent majority in the country to speak against atrocities being perpetrated against the citizenly? Where were they then? Like eunuchs with nothing between their two legs, they disappeared and took refuge under the beds of their wives. Today, they have got their voices back and have the guts to tell us not to vote for a particular person because such people had not been part of us from the beginning.

Even though, Kwaku Baako is not a registered member of the party, he has been defending the party on various platforms against vicious attacks/allegations from our political opponents? Assuming, without admitting if he decides to vie for any position in the party, is Kwadwo Mpiani going to tell delegates not to vote for him, because he had joined the party from the CPP stock?

Former President, J.A. Kuffuor was made the PNDC Secretary for Local Government during the Rawlings regime. He resigned six months into the administration. Shall we say He should not have been given the nod to stand as our presidential candidates on account of an earlier association with the Rawlings regime which true members of the NPP detested so much?

Late Professor Adu Boahene was a member of the UP tradition. But when the ban on party politics was lifted by the then SMC Military Government, he joined a new political party, United National Convention (UNC), with Mr. William Ofori Atta as Presidential Candidate. The UP took part in that election under the aegis of Popular Front Party with Victor Owusu as Presidential Candidate. But Professor Adu Boahene later became the first Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party. Nobody complained.

Again, late Mr. Peter Ala Adjetey was one of the founders of the UNC and was its Parliamentary Candidate for the Kpeshie Constituency. He won against the Guy Nee Whang, the candidate of PFP. Here was a person who had contested against the accredited party’s candidate. But Peter Ala Adjetey became the National Chairman of the Party. Kwadwo Mpiani, who some years ago was singing like a parrot did not say anything against his appointment. Peter Ala Adjetey was later to become Speaker of Parliament. That was the time Kwadwo Mpiani was made Chief of Staff. Kwadwo Mpiani did not say anything then. A precedent has already been set. Why now shift the goal post? His stance smacks of hypocrisy and I need an answer from Kwadwo Mpiani who appears to have joined forces with members of the NDC.

The next issue concerns Dr. Wireko Brobbey. Yes, Dr. Wireko Brobbey formed a political party, the UGM to take part in the 2004 Presidential Election against the incumbent NPP candidate, J. A. Kuffuor. Yet, after his victory, the President put him in charge of “Ghana @ 50” Celebrations. Kwadwo Mpiani said nothing against the appointment but co-operated with him before, during and after the celebrations.

Later when the NDC Government set up a probe and paraded the two on national TV and other stations like “common criminals”, it was Freddie Blay’s newspaper, “Daily Guide” and others which came to their defence by giving publicity and stating why the two were not guilty. The papers also stood strongly behind other NPP appointees who were hounded to the courts for various offences. That of course, included Anthony Akoto Osei and Asamoah Boateng. In all these, Kwadwo Mpiani did not repudiate him but felt elated that through the help of Uncle Freddie’s media, the entire nation and other countries got to know about the kangaroo court system then being operated in the country.

The way the duo (Kwadwo Mpiani and Charles Wireko Brobbey} were paraded on National Television reminds one of Moses Boye, one of Nkrumah’s aides who was “caught” and put in a cage and paraded through the principal streets of Accra after Nkrumah’s overthrown.

One should also not forget that Kwadwo Mpiani was strongly opposed to the candidature of Current President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo. He said it loud and clear that Nana could not become President, lai! Lai! He was later to forge a strong alliance with expelled Chairman, Paul Afoko. What do you make of that?

Have they forgotten how the Gentiles were made Kings and Princes after the resurrection of Jesus Christ? I am not talking about any story book oo. I am speaking the gospel truth and this is from the Holy Bible. Contradict me, if I am wrong.

If the Kwadwo Mpianis and the Latter Days Saints have forgotten, I would like to remind them of the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard as told by Jesus Christ in the Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Chapter 2O. It is about a man who went out early in the morning to hire some men to work in his vine yard. He agreed to pay them the regular wage. At nine o’clock, he went out again to hire another set of workers. At twelve noon, he hired another set. At three o’clock another set of workers was hired. Before the close of working hours (a few minutes to five o’clock) the last set of workers was hired.

At the end of working hours, he started paying them their wages. Every worker received a silver coin each, whereupon those who started work early felt they ought to have been given a higher wage than those who came late. What was the response of the owner of the vineyard? “I have not cheated you. After all, you agreed to do a day’s work for one silver coin….. Don’t I have the right to do as I wish with my own money”? And he concluded “So those who are last will be the first, and those who are first will be the last”.

The issue here is not about who first joined the party and those who joined it last. It is about one’s contributions towards the upliftment of the party from the doldrums. What was the nature of the party before my ‘‘Opana’’ friend joined? Were things better managed then or the fortunes of the party have dipped since he became national chairman?

In all sincerity, I think this is our greatest moment and we must take advantage to swim with the tide. Anything to the contrary will spell doom for the party. We talk about sacrifices by other aspirants and I say Mr Blay has also made greater sacrifices to put the party where it is now. He lost his parliamentary bid as a result of identifying with the New Patriotic Party. And if the latter day saints have forgotten, I would like to remind them of what happened. He was elected Parliamentary Candidate of the Convention Peoples Party. But in his acceptance speech, he chose to do the “Azonto” dance which was the official dance of the NPP. That was it. The CPP put up three parliamentary candidates against him. What sacrifice is greater than this?

As I have already said, he chose to align with the aims and aspirations of the NPP while he was still an official member of the CPP. His newspaper “Daily Guide” has been of immense help to the party and when I think of Akosua and her cartoons, my heart almost leaps out of my body and my joy knows no bounds. Do you know that the publishers of the newspaper got sued on account of publishing true and factual items to further the interests of the NPP? Yes, these are verifiable facts which can be crosschecked anywhere.

I would also like to state here that the coming of Opana Freddie Blay could be compared to the emergence of Apostle Paul in the spiritual life of the Israelites. Others were there before Paul, but his contributions were outstanding. And so it is with Uncle Fred. The emergence of “Opana” Freddie Blay as Acting National Chairman was the catalyst which eroded all the negative perception about the party and catapulted it into a vibrant political movement en-route its El – Dorado. Why should we change such a winning team spear headed by the affable, selfless and indefatigable Freddie Blay. He is indeed a political juggernaut!

It is ignorance that does not let people know that without assistance, Fire cannot cross a river. The insect that dances on a river has its drummer under the water. We should also not forget the fact that a man who is eager to inherit the widow is not likely to produce a redeeming medicine to the dying man.

A vote for Freddie Blay as epitomized by the verdict of the delegates was an endorsement of pragmatic and exemplary leadership skills he exhibited during our travails in the wilderness. Those for continuity and progress of the New Patriotic Party were the grassroots’ members who stood to lose their self respect if Freddie Blay had lost the National Chairmanship Election. Discerning delegates of our tradition knew what was good for the party and went for it.

In the year 2020, the onerous task before our indefatigable Chairman is to reconcile the various factions within the NPP. But I know “Mr Fix it” has got the acumen to accomplish it.

I remember late Nelson Mandela as he stood on the threshold of freedom. He was filled with venom and strong bitterness against his white oppressors but he realized that harboring those negative feelings would retard the progress of the new South Africa he envisaged. He had to let that extreme anger leave his system. He had to let go and South Africa was better for it.

Compare this with Nigeria’s Business Mogul, late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olabisi Abiola, winner of the acclaimed freest election to be held in Nigeria. His stubborn stand off with the then Nigeria’s dictator. General Sanni Abacha consumed both of them.

When the former was incarcerated after he had declared himself President, some patriotic Nigerians attempted to broker peace amongst the two “warring” parties. They brought a Judge from Benin City in Edo State to sit on the case in order to get Abiola released from jail. That day was a Sunday which no Court could sit. But they had an exception to that rule. The only concession the dictator wanted from Abiola was to renounce his mandate to the Presidency. Chief M. K. O. Abiola refused and we all know what happened. Both of them got consumed by their own intransigence.

But knowing the mien of our affable and charismatic Chairman, I do not think threading the path of peace and reconciliation will be a “No Go Area” for him. He has dined with lions and tigers, how much more with ants? Uncle Freddie Blay is not a person to discourse like Angels and act like a human being. No, not the Freddie Blay I know!

He is a decisive leader just like our President. He, together with the President, will not leave you in a blind alley. The duo have promised to take you from the State of Nature (where life was short, nasty and brutish) to The Brave New World and that is exactly what they are doing. The journey to our El-dorado has started in earnest. No curve! No bend!

An outstanding and unprecedented Twelve months of NPP tenure which is full of Hope as epitomized by the numerous people friendly social interventions programmes introduced by “God’s Own Elect”, Nana Akufo Addo, together with his able Lieutenant, Dr. Alhaji Mohamadu Bawumia and the Party Strategist, Uncle Opana Freddie Blay await Ghanaians.

Without sounding blasphemous, it is pertinent at this juncture to liken the introduction of all these social interventions especially, the Free SHS Policy to the creation of the universe. In the beginning, there was total darkness. God commanded, “Let there be light” and there was light. Many were those who pooh-pooh the Free SHS proposal.

They said the Concept was not feasible and asked how he was going to fund the Scheme. But being the optimist that he is, and with the support of his Vice and the National Executives of the New Patriotic Party they went on their knees and asked the Creator to show them how He, God did it when the Universe was created. The answer came in the form or a Revelation and that is what Ghanaians are seeing, feeling and will continue to enjoy till “Thy Kingdom Come”.

Daniel Danquah Damptey

(0243715297/ 0275353854)

(damptey_danquah@yahoo.com); (dampteydaniel327@gmail.com)

(Self-Appointed Special Aide to God’s Own Elect, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo).