You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2007 06 14Article 125351

Opinions of Thursday, 14 June 2007

Columnist: Appiah-Yeboah, Kwame

Kokofu Ball, everyone should be allowed to play

Ladies and gentlemen, I have to come out of my self imposed sabbatical. So many things have been happening in mother Ghana and a real patriot like me cannot remain on the sidelines without a comment or two or three. My focus for today is on the upcoming 2008 presidential election. Specifically, on the number of presidential aspirants-declared, undeclared, leaning towards declaring, dreaming about declaring, afraid of declaring, declared but regretting, etc.

The last time I checked the following have announced their intention of seeking the NPP presidential ticket; Akuffo Addo, Sarfo Marfo, Allen Kyeremateng, Apraku, V.P. Mahama, Hackman, Addo Kuffour, Hawa Yakubu (she declared and sadly exited this world). If you have declared your intentions but your name is not in the list above, sorry. I was either not paying attention or you probably are not popular. Someone asked recently that is it a conditionality that one must be ugly in order to vie for the NPP presidential slot? I don’t think any of the gentlemen listed above is ugly but at the same time I’ve been known to make serious errors in judgment when it comes to beauty. Where is Dr. Kwame Beautiful when we need aesthetically pleasing presidential candidates? If you think this is trivial, ask the thousands of women who voted for JJR in 1992 and 1996 simply because he was handsome.

On a more serious note, to many Ghanaians the number of presidential aspirants is just too many. Ordinary Ghanaians and quasi-social commentators have viewed with alarm and trepidation the rising number of aspirants from the ruling party. The general consensus is that the aspirants see the high office of president of Ghana as a gravy train. All they have to do is get on board, and they will be singing all the way to the bank. After all Kofi ‘Diewuo’ Kuffour and his son Chief were unknown entities in the financial landscape of Ghana until the great one ascended to the golden throne; now they own multi-million dollar hotels among others.

Nothing gives credence to this view more than the rags to riches story of Mr. and Mrs. Rawlings. Chairman Jerry John was a certified bonafide brokeman back in the day. His wife, Obaapa aka ‘She who must be obeyed’, looked like a rain drenched orphaned chicken in those days. Today, she does not wear the same Dumas cloth twice. Efo himself has confessed to stealing seats from GAF planes and playing hide and seek, qwaa qwaa, and chaskele with yoke gari sellers. Today he can import five SUVs and pay over 500 million cedis in import duty in one swoop of his mighty pen. The difference is that Efo Jerivi won the presidential lottery. Four and five star brokemen, this is your chance to join the NPP presidential lottery. Your days of singing ‘hark my soul’ are over.

As much as the above argument holds some truth, I have an entirely different opinion. I think the applicants see a weak field and fancy their chances. Something very similar is happening in the U.S. where a lame duck George W. Bush and a retiring V.P. Cheney have paved the way for a wide, deep, and diverse pool of candidates seeking the high office of president of the United States. From the Hispanic Richardson, to the Mormon Romney, to the female Clinton, to the black Obama and to the thrice married and abortion loving Rudi Giuliani, among others, they all fancy their chances.

I am of the opinion that the wide field in the NPP presidential primaries is a reflection of the democratic credentials of the party. It is also a reflection of the prevailing democratic environment in Ghana. Ghana as a nation has been through a lot. Fortunately, the nation looks to have been healed from the trauma imposed by the bloody revolutions of the past. The healing has culminated in the peace and stability that has prevailed since 1992 through to 2008. It is this peace and stability that we must all protect and safeguard. It is the duty and responsibility of every Ghanaian and supporter of Ghana to nature the current freedom that Ghanaians are enjoying.

It is in light of this peaceful democratic environment that I am urging the ruling party, NPP to allow and encourage every qualified member of the party the opportunity to stand for the flag bearer position. As long as an individual is a Ghanaian as defined by the constitutions and meets the party’s criteria, they should be allowed to contest for the presidential ticket. Whether the individual is a serving minister, ambassador, cabinet member, four star brokeman, Kofi Wahala, or personal assistant to the secretary of the deputy majority chief whip, as long as they qualify, they should be allowed to run.

Additionally, the 300 million cedis that each contestant is expected to pay amounts to an artificial barrier to entry. This amounts to putting the presidential ticket up for sale. That is not democratic. A presidential slot available to only the rich and those with rich friends amounts to selling the presidential ticket. If NPP wants to put up the richest candidate, then they should forget about the primaries and hold an open auction instead. Whoever bids the highest gets the nod to represent the party? End of story. This way there is no pretense about democracy, fairness, and equal opportunity. I know of one learned gentleman who can be auctioneer. This handsome gentleman has ‘chewed’ the entire Encyclopedia Britannica and needs an opportunity to ‘pour’ out some of the words.

There may be other compelling reasons for the high fees, like raising funds for the party. However, the limitation imposed by the high fees and the repercussions of the fees does not bode well for the party. If the party wants to raise funds from the aspirants, they should be asked to donate whatever amount they can afford. This way, well heeled contestants will donate more, and the less endowed ones will donate what they can. But, the money will not serve as a barrier to entry.

What happens when aspirants borrow or raise funds through fair and foul means to contest the flag bearer position? There will be a time for payback. People have been known to sell their houses and family assets to fund nomination fees and presidential campaigns. Their only recourse is to dip their hands into public funds when they get near the golden throne. In this winner take all campaign, the winner rewards himself. But the losers may also be rewarded with ministerial, ambassadorial, or cabinet positions. They will all recoup the sunk investment they made in the form of nominations fees and other expenses.

In conclusion, I am urging the ruling NPP to remove all real and artificial barriers to contesting for the position of flag bearer of the party. This will go a long way in solidifying the democratic credentials of the party and help broaden its appeal to the grass roots. Also, the notion that the party is elitist will be dispelled. Finally, the impression of selling the flag bearer of the party to the highest bidder will be removed.

Kwame Appiah-Yeboah (GCE: Common Entrance, MSLC, O’Level, and A’Level (2X), BSc, MSc, MA, PhD, CNA, CMB, OIG, NYPD, LAPD. I am also licensed to drive in all 50 states of the U.S. and in Ghana.)

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.