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Opinions of Saturday, 12 February 2011

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

Hypocrisy And Politics

University of Cape Coast. 10th February, 2012

The 2012 NPP Presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has unleashed a firestorm with remarks made to party faithful at Koforidua.

Addressing the party faithful, Nana, a little in the moment and frustrated by the plight of NPP foot-soldiers, urged the party faithful to be courageous and to be prepared to fight for victory. According to the “Daily Graphic”, Nana said “For the 2012 elections, “all die be die” and we are going to match the NDC boot for boot and nothing will be left to chance.” Elsewhere, the NPP candidate said “They say we Akans are feeble or afraid and that once violence breaks up, we ran away but I want to disabuse the minds of such people that we are brave and courageous people just like our forebears who founded our political tradition.”
Predictably, there have been a lot of reactions to these statements. Some have been from well-meaning Ghanaians who are worried about the prospect of violence in 2012 and worry that Nana may be stoking the flames. Others are NPP party faithful who think it is about time that someone articulated their frustrations. But many are NDC hypocrites who are trying to gain partisan advantage from this incident and use it to tar Nana as an extremist who should not be trusted with the Presidency.

In response to the firestorm of criticism, the NPP has said it will not comment on the incident again and also stated that Nana will not apologize. I respectfully disagree. It is my belief that if the NPP believes that Nana was right, it must defend him vigorously. On the other hand, if we believe that he erred, we must be prepared to admit his error, apologize and then move on. The “my party right or wrong ethos” that the NDC seem to have patented is not a good model for a party founded on freedom and respect for the citizenry. We are better than that. Moreover, it is an approach that is unhelpful in solving national problems.
Let me begin by reminding everyone of the context. The NPP flag-bearer was addressing party faithful who were concerned about NDC intimidation and he was trying to encourage them. Under those circumstances, I believe his encouragement to the party faithful, while inappropriately phrased, was reasonable. However, I think the reference to ethnicity, made in response to a question, was inappropriate and regrettable. It gave false and regrettable credence to the NDC propaganda that the “NPP is an Akan party.”

I am certain that knowing Nana as the nationalist that he is, he has never, does not and will never believe that the NPP is an Akan party. I recall that in 2008, when some in the party made the argument that in picking his running-mate, he should look for the most competent and electorally appealing candidate without regard to ethnicity, he disagreed. He stated eloquently that Ghana was a multi-ethnic society and that one must always ensure that our party’s ticket has a national character. He believed that the NPP tradition of South-North tickets was more inclusive than the NDC one of South-South tickets that had existed till 2008. Furthermore, more than anyone else, Nana knows of the mighty non-Akans who have led this party from its inception to now. This party and this tradition is that of Dombo. It is that of Tolon-Na. It is that Stephen Krakue. It is that of Obetsebi Lamptey. All those are gone but even today; it is the party of Jake Obetsebi Lamptey. It is the party of Alhaji Bamba. It is the party of Otiko Afisu Djaba and Talata. It is the party of Raymond Okudzeto and Efo Phillipo. It is the party of Oboshie Sai Cofie. Yes this is a national party, from South to North and from East to West. Nana is a nationalist who knows, more than anyone else, the nationalist roots and character of the party that he leads.
On the question of his exhortation to the party faithful to be prepared to defend our victories, there was a bigger message embedded in Nana’s comment. He was acknowledging that our politics had gotten to a point where law-abiding citizens operating in our political arena could not count on the security forces to protect them. There is a lot of evidence to back that claim. NPP members had not been protected in the Volta Region in 2008. The Electoral Commission staff had not been well-protected when NDC activists invaded their premises in the final days of the 2008 campaign. NPP members had received no protections in Chereponi and Atiwa and other places. Indeed, even NDC DCE’s when targeted by their foot-soldiers, have not been adequately protected by the security forces. Indeed, the court cases, the efforts to prevent Nana from greeting at functions, etc, have all been part of a grand scheme of coercion and intimidation, designed to soften the ground for electoral chicanery in 2012.
Now that I have addressed these important house-keeping issues, let me address the NDC hypocrites who are shamelessly trying to make political capital out of this incident. They claim that Nana may have been inciting violence but let them tell when they were against violence.

Is the NDC not the party whose founder signed his name with blood on their sheet to their cheers?

Is the NDC not the party that got operatives to kill the “Kumi preko” demonstrators?

Is the NDC not the party that rewarded Agyenim Boateng with a Ministerial appointment for inciting people to march on the Electoral Commission in the aftermath of the 2008 elections?

Is the NDC not the party whose Presidential candidate, John Evans Fiifi Atta-Mills, threatened to make Ghana a Kenya if his party did not win the 2008 elections?

Let those hypocrites who have now discovered a love for peaceful men stand up and explain how they are appalled with Nana and yet love JJ, Mills and Tony Aidoo.

On the ethnocentrism, while I think Nana’s words were inappropriate, let the hypocrites remove the logs in their eyes before talking about what is in other peoples’ eyes. Let them heed their leader’s “Dzi wo fie asem” philosophy and condemn the ethnocentrists in their party before condemning others.

Despite the significant role non-Akans have played in the NPP and the fact that the NDC President, John Evans Mills is an Akan, are they not the party that has always put the Akan label wrongly on the NPP?

Despite being the most eloquent purveyor of Ewe hegemony in the last 50 years, is Kofi Awoonor not the Chairman of the Council of State under the NDC?
Despite insulting Fantis about cleanliness and filling his government with Ewes, is Rawlings not their idol?

Despite accusing Kufuor of not understanding fishermen because he comes from the forest and repeatedly invoking “Adze wo fie a oye”, is Mills not their idol?
We should stop the pontifications and tackle real problems.

Nana has alerted us to the possibility of violence in 2012. Let us find out why the security forces have been unwilling or unable to protect lawful citizens engaged in politics. Has that been due to political pressure? Let us discuss how all political parties can operate within the law so that the Azorka boys, the Agyenim Boys and the Bamba boys will all disappear from our politics. Let those religious leaders who endlessly appeal for peace during the heat of the elections speak up now, in support of those who want to ensure peace, so that there will be peace in 2012.

As Nana put it in 2008, “No single drop of blood needs to be spilled during our election.”

Let us work towards that, in unity and stop the hypocrisy.

Arthur Kobina Kennedy