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Opinions of Thursday, 12 May 2011

Columnist: Haruna, Mahama

Jake's stewardship of NPP; so far so good.

The NPP under the Chairmanship of Mr. Jake Otanka Obetsebi Lamptey has yet again chalked another success in terms of improving the parties’ democratic culture. The innovation introduced in the recent election of Parliamentary candidates was thrilling and unprecedented.

Previously the NPP like all other parties in the country fix separate dates across the country for their Primaries, but this year’s election by the party was conducted on a single day. This prevented a lot of situations such as some party members moving from constituency to constituency to support their favourites thereby creating problems. On the Election day, party members were found in their constituencies thereby minimising external influences.

It was not surprising that the elections attracted comments and praises from renowned political commentators and analysts in the country who suggested all political parties emulate the NPP.

According to reports the NPP Parliamentary Primaries also attracted a myriad of praises from international observers from Germany and eleven African countries in the sub region. The observers, who were brought in by the Konrad Adenuaer Stiftung, a German organisation, were full of praise for the NPP, in the manner in which they demonstrated internal democracy.

The General Manager of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany, Dr. Klaus Shuler, who led the German delegation, the NPP was raising the bar of internal democracy, not only in Africa but across the world. The observers congratulated Jake and his executives for the will to build a strong political party, where the interest of the party over-rides sectional interests.

Expressing his delight Rafael Sawimbi an observer from Angola noted that: 'The primaries conducted by the NPP were a very exciting experience and a positive example for other African political parties, because you cannot afford to establish an official democracy in the country, when you are not internal democrats'.

Fast backward to 1999 when the need has arose for the NPP to choose a new crop of National Executive to steer the affairs of party, I was probably the first to write features appealing to the party to as a matter of great concern to support the idea of making Jake NPP National Chairman.

I enjoined the party's faithful to look out for Jake who has been tried, tested and proved and who is known to have worked tirelessly for NPP, chalking several successes in the leadership positions he found himself.

Jake who is known strategist I argued, has what it takes to be an efficient, effective and a progressive Chairman. The NPP I believed needed a disciplined, dynamic and a visionary chairman with a strong commitment to organisation and party-building skills.

When Jake eventually announced his intention to vie for the position I was the most elated because I was convinced the kind of chairman NPP choose for itself, will be a reflection of the sense of judgment on how they want the party to perform in the 2012 election.

I later on accepted an invitation to join Jake's campaign team as the media co-ordinator. I had the opportunity of working with a hardworking team who among other things criss- crossed the country to canvass for votes. The competition was challenging but Jake prevailed with messages bordering on his experience, successes as well as specific promises.

Among other issues Jake said there were three things worrying the NPP which he vowed to tackle. First and foremost was party unity; second was getting the various elections out of the party's way and last was raising funds to prosecute party work from the polling station level to the National level.

The decision of the party to initiate and implement a number of farsighted measures targeted at strengthening the parties’ organisation was the best thing to have ever happened to the party. It paved the way for a lot more innovations.

After taking over the party Chairmanship, Jake hit the ground running! He has not disappointment to the parties’ faithful so far.

Appointments to committees and executive positions were quickly done after careful considerations and in accordance to the party's constitution.

True to his words, Jake pushed for an early congress to elect the parties’ Flagbearer after a series of meetings. He believed the only way to quickly unite the party was when the competitions at all levels of the party are over. In his opinion party unity was being disturbed by the sectional interest driven by competition for positions at all levels of the party. He was more concerned about unity in the party because without it, 'the party would have spent more energy, passion and time in fighting itself than fighting the NDC'.

The Flagbearer election was Jake's biggest test. It came with its problems but was finally conducted in an atmosphere of fairness and transparency to the satisfaction of all those who contested. It was so successful that it cemented the unity NPP is now enjoying and this has indeed sent shock waves down the spines of the parties’ political opponents who initially thought the party will self- destruct.

In terms of raising funds to prosecute party work, Jake and his team have so far been successful albeit some hard decisions. For instance with the expansion of the Electoral College to enable the grassroots members have a greater say in the running of the party, the task of raising funds to organise elections in all the 230 constituencies was daunting especially since Jake and his team came to meet empty coffers.

They resorted to a prudent management of the little money they raised especially in the management of events leading up to the primaries to select the parties’ Flagbearer.

The filing fee of the five aspirants was inadequate but that was not to be a stumbling block. Jake and his team solicited for assistance from NPP Parliamentarians, the Association of former Ministers, DCEs and MCEs, Ambassadors, the external branches, former President Kufour and others who responded timeously.

When the filing fees for the Parliamentary Primaries were announced I initially thought the decision was absurd believing it will deprive some good candidates with little resources from contesting. I later realised the decision was aimed at raising funds for the party.

Jake and team have also focused on training, resourcing and motivating party members across board. There have training programmes for the Youth and women wings, the Nasara wing, the communicators as well as some executives at the National and Regional levels. These were done in collaboration with some pro-good governance organisations.

In order to tap the knowledge, expertise, skills, experience and resources of NPP members living abroad, Jake has had several meetings with the International Branches in various parts of the globe. The meetings were also aimed at strategising for the 2012 elections

The ongoing nationwide tour by the Flagbearer and the party's executive to ensure that those who won and those who lost would come together to champion the cause of the party towards not only winning election 2012 but maximising optimum votes for the party is another big step foe absolute unity in the party.

Whiles anticipating the next strategic move by Jake and his team, one could only say, the future indeed appears brighter for the NPP!

Mahama Haruna

The writer is a trained Journalist and a former NPP Secretary for Bole-Bamboi. He was once a Secretary of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS).