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Opinions of Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Columnist: Asiedu, Emmanuel Sekyere

My Personal Letter to NPP Delegates

Dear distinguish delegates and members of our great party, NPP.

On December 22,2007 our delegates will gather at the University of Ghana, Legon to elect our flagbearer for the 2008 elections. Since our future lies in the hands of our delegates, I would like to share with them the leadership qualities they should look for and remind them not to be influenced by money. But first and foremost, I thank the Lord for saving the life of our President. I thank all those who sacrificed in one way or another to support our great party all these years.

Lets remember that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. There is a purpose and there is an end to all the events in this world. Some bring happiness, pain and sadness. We are often deeply affected by what happens to us. But we should remember that these are part of our daily lives. As a formal President at Legon, I reminded my junior colleagues of their responsibilities as citizens to work, to plan and save for retirement so that when they leave the world, their children and their children’s children will have a good foundation. Besides, I reminded them of their responsibilities to vote and always elect qualified individuals to positions of authority. As a youth member of the party and a former foot soldier, I know that the people we elect to public office have either positive or negative effects on our present and or our future. That is why, I am writing to our Delegates to make the correct decision come December 22, 2007.

This country of ours was misled and misguided to what is inhuman and what some people call 11 years of criminal or military rule. That being said, it was good to have been inflicted during the P/NDC years. Now, Ghanaians can tell the difference. In next year’s elections, we will be called upon to reaffirm our values and commitments and how we measure up our performance from the past eight years and what we have for future generations. We have more work to do. But the NPP knows that Ghana is big enough to accommodate all our dreams. Lets continue to offer hope and make sure that every child in Ghana has decent shot at life and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. Ghanaians know we can do better and they want that choice. Ghana’s best days are yet to come. And I know it may drive the opposition up the wall, but I am going to say it anyway. Is on that choice that we must elect someone who cross section of Ghanaians have no doubt at all about his ability to lead decisively, sacrifice without seeking reward and deliver on promises.

As the race for our flagbearership draws closer and with less than 21 days to go, I once again offer our delegates what to look for when they cast their votes on December 22,2007 and plead with them not to be deceived by the highest bidder. I know everyone is spending but look into the messages of the various aspirants and there is one whose level of reasoning, level of maturity and understanding of our body politics make him an exceptional leader. This is the one that majority of Ghanaians home and abroad, the youth and the ordinary people on the streets pray that we elect. That person is Nana Akufo-Addo. Lets face it, he is the person to beat and all the aspirants will attest to this.

Nana Akufo-Addo has demonstrated his commitment to the party and our tradition since the age of 31 when he left France for Ghana after practicing for 5 years. As he said to the students of the University of Cape Coast, “I came back to the land of my birth, even during the era of the Acheampong regime which had overthrown the government of the Second Republic presided over by my father with Dr. Busia as Prime Minister, a government which held so much promise for this country. We stayed, we persevered in the face of military rule and today it has paid off. In the words of Nana, each generation, has to define for itself the goal or object of patriotism. The youth, including adults, are encouraged to adopt patriots without borders attitude from the moment they leave our shores.” In his recent address to TESCON, Legon(11/08/07), he emphasized the need for us to control our own destiny. As Nana puts it “Ghana must be built by Ghanaians both home and abroad and not foreigners”. As I listened to him, I said to myself that, we will regret if we make the wrong decision in December. This is the feeling of most Ghanaians especially our supporters. But if the delegate will listen to what their constituents tell them then, I have no doubt it will be one touch for Nana. Hence, my responsibility to remind and appeal to them to listen to what their constituents want so that they do not compromise their vote. Until we amend our constitution so that all members in good standing can vote, you have the power now please do not compromise it.

We must elect someone who understands our party structures because he has been there and knows the problems facing the foot soldiers. Building party structures does not require only money, as some of the aspirants seem to tell us. But clarity of vision and clear-cut policies on how we will move the party forward. Nana has never missed any of the invitation of the oversea branches when we came to power. He cancelled his campaign tour to visit the U.S in October to attend NPP Annual conference that was held in Texas. I must also congratulate Mr Felix Owusu Agyepong for coming too. They understand the importance and the roles Ghanaians in Diaspora played and continue to play for our party and mother Ghana. Nana was the only aspirant to visit the Vice President during the celebration of the Ramadan festival. This proves once again that he is a unifier and that he values and respect the Vice President’s Religion. That Ramadan was important than going to campaign. Nana was the only person to show up in the U.K annual conference. None of the aspirants showed up. Besides, he has visited all the TESCON chapters because he knows their importance and the need to motivate them. He sees the big picture and the prospects of building our country through the youth and adults both at home and abroad. Can the delegate tell me besides Nana, which of the presidential aspirants has visited our future leaders? When I met the executives of TESCON Legon Chapter, I can tell the disappointments and the frustrations on their face. They all thought that the party has neglected them. But, I explained to them we all faced the same situation when after doing the dirty work, the President never care to thank us for our work. We all worked under Professor Mike Ocquaye in the 2000 elections. Until Nana was able to explain why the neglect because the party inherited a bad economy that they had to divert all the attention to the rebuilding of the economy hence their inability to take care of foot soldiers. Now the economy is on solid ground, ready for takeoff and they all can attest to it. So this is the time to motivate and address their concerns. This is a leader who understands our tradition and the need to defend our President even when the President has lost the credibility within our party. But listen to other candidates who for reasons like political immaturity are telling the delegates that the NPP and the President is ungrateful and that they will pay weekly allowances to them if they are elected without telling us how they are going to fund it.

On the question about tribal politics, Nana is reported to have said that “the peace, unity and prosperity of this and coming generations of Ghana can be guaranteed only by our deeds and words of true patriotism, by which we must consciously and steadfastly abide. Today there are some destructive elements, who are bent on whipping ethnic and other sectional sentiments to destroy the very nation they seek to lord over. Unlike those who sought to suppress our differences, the New Patriotic Party believes that what makes us great, as a nation is our rich diversity. We are not unique in this, for there are many countries with pronounced ethnic mixes that have succeeded”. Let me tell all those who want to destroy, divide this country and our party, and the spin masters who embrace the politics of anything goes. That instead of acknowledging there is no way they can win the elections, they have responsibility when it comes to playing tribal cards, but more detachment and less responsible when it comes to telling us their vision and what they can offer. Well, I say to them today, there is no Kwahu Ghana,Ashanti Ghana,Fanti Ghana, Ga Ghana, Ewe Ghana, Mamprusi Ghana,Brong Ghana,Dagbon Ghana;there is one Ghana. We are one people with different political views. A country that offers hope for all her citizens. I am not talking about blind optimism here. But one that a poor single mother like my late mother will have hope for her children, an opportunity where we can help people to acquire the skills to survive in this competitive market place, freedom, liberty, hope that you make it no matter where you come from in Ghana. Hope that we can meet the challenges that face us as a nation. Hope that we will continue to provide jobs to the jobless and reclaim our young from violence and drugs. This is part of Nana’s new Ghana.

Nana believes in the Constitution and the indigenous democratic heritage of Ghana. He believes in the rule of law and justice for all, regardless of status. He has demonstrated it through his firmness, his convictions and his unyielding opposition to dictatorship or military rule. Nana is one of the leaders who fought for our freedom because he understands its value and he will uphold it at all times. He believes in rewarding those who play by the rules, and giving credit to high achievers. As he said in Accra August 28,2007(GNA)"I believe in freedom, and a sense of national responsibility. I believe in competition. But, I also believe in the economic empowerment of the Ghanaian as a deliberate policy of government. "I believe in equal opportunity and in a fair deal for everyone. I believe in caring for the vulnerable, in a society that respects everyone. I believe in the Ghanaian, as a leading citizen of an integrated, united Africa. And most of all, I believe in God." "I believe that if Government focuses on what it is elected to do, providing leadership and good public services, the Ghanaian would be free to go about his or her lawful business". Indeed, he has the vision and this is the kind of leader we all need.

He is a friendly man with whom people could identify and he always has fresh and innovative ideas. He is a self-confident leader who faith in his beliefs and instincts and cannot be seduced by the temptations of power or prestige; a warrior who is willing to withstand the disapproval of those who want to tarnish his image. I laugh when people say that Nana is arrogant and elitist. From where does he draw his support? Is it not the poor like me? He is arrogant because he hates injustice? It amazes many people that a person of such high intellect, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, would forsake all those luxuries and go to the trenches to fight dictatorial military governments which were armed to the teeth.

Among serving ministers, Nana Akufo-Addo is the only one who did not devote his time in pursuit of his presidential ambition. The nature of his job was such that he was out of the country most of the time. He has excelled on his job and even headed the United Nations Security Council when a very sensitive and volatile international issue was being discussed. By accompanying the President on his numerous trips abroad, he has learnt and mastered the intricacies of government. It has also afforded him the opportunity to understudy the President.

As one columnist puts it “Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is the epitome of what decent men and women should aspire to be. Undeniably, he is one of the greatest gift God has bestowed upon the country. A fearless defender of the rights of the oppressed, Nana Akufo-Addo’s remarkable actions in the political arena has confounded many a critic”.

Humility is a virtue that is not highly prized in our society, but Nana possessed it as from the days in opposition till now. And that in large part is the source of his greatness. Typical of his humility was his self-deprecating sense of humor. They say he will forment trouble when he is elected. Can someone who has fought for the freedom of Ghanaians and even brought peace to Countries like Liberia and Cote D’ lvoire destroy his own country where his family lives?

Nana has never ran from the issues of age and ethnicity. However, he used humor to disarm it. He has never made age and ethnicity issues of his campaign. He was not going to exploit, for political purposes, his opponents youth and inexperience. This shows his level of maturity and sense of reasoning hence making him an exceptional leader. An old man who appeals more to the youth. Ask the youth of your constituency whom do they want to be Ghana’s next President? The best predictor of future leadership is past leadership behavior in similar circumstances. Some aspirants talk about being the unifier and that they have what it takes to unify the NPP after congress. I ask them today on what basis are they referring to? With the exception of Nana and Dr Apraku, none of them have any history of uniting the party. So please Mr. Delegate ask them those questions since some are deceiving you into thinking that they are the ones to unite the party if they are given the nod. Nana demonstrated his leadership and commitments to the our tradition by being the first to congratulate then candidate Mr. Kufour at Sunyani in 1998 when the latter was elected at the congress. He campaigned with President Kufour from every constituency through out the country till we won the elections in 2000. He understands that a house divided cannot stand. So please ask all the aspirants will they rally behind the winner? Can they be made to sign a code of allegiance since NPP is bigger than any individual?

There are those who thought Nana had neglected them after he lost to President Kufour. As he said in London “You do not support your party’s cohesion and government stability by strengthening or consolidating your personal ambitions at the expense of the collective programme - that would be a recipe for bad governance, mistrust and instability for the party in government ”, (Ghanaweb August 07). His actions and reasoning show he understands our tradition and that makes him more than a leader hence, the qualities that we should be looking for.

MY CHALLENGE TO THE DELEGATES

That being said it is my responsibility to challenge you to be ever be mindful of what happened during the PNDC/NDC years and what is happening now. Those days when our family and friends were killed in the name of accountability, businesses were closed down because owners did not attend a political rally, development in fear, fear of retribution and fear of assassination. Now there is development in freedom. We can even challenge the President without fear of assassination, fear of retribution, without hearing a sudden knock on our doors and without facing criminal libel laws. But, it took brave men like Nana, Kweku Baako and others to fight for our freedom and to get us this far. So regardless of where we come from, our political realities are the same. Insufficient voting and voting based on the amount of cash and other material things that an aspirant has to offer without actually analyzing the contents of his message lead to inadequate representation. This is not the only problem. When we do not demand that our aspirants conduct themselves in ways that keeps to improve upon the unity of our party and the country, we are in essence giving power to someone else to feed his/her own ambitions at our expense.

Our concern should go beyond the various communities in which we reside. What happens in your constituency is relevant to all the constituencies of the country Consequently, you must speak with one voice as you vote. Although some of us are indirectly affected by what happens in Constituency A, we have a responsibility to help our brothers and sisters who are directly harmed by inadequate representation and the resulting limited access to resources. As Nana puts it “A new Ghana where enmity, bitterness and vengeance do not frustrate our collective efforts towards improving the lot of each and every Ghanaian.” He added that he wants “Ghanaians to be each other’s keeper irrespective of political, religious or ethnic backgrounds. So we can share the national cake together as Ghanaians. While the concern and care of our souls is the utmost importance, this is not to be done at the expense of the social, political, economical and educational activities that provide the environment in which our souls reside. What I mean is that, although some of you think this is the time to enrich yourselves, you should listen to what your constituents want and make that correct decision. In 1992 you elected Prof Adu Boahen,1996 and 1998 President Kufour. These were correct decisions. So by electing Nana Akufo-Addo in 2007 means you made another correct decision. These individuals at any point and years in our political history were popular and marketable and by popular acclamation our constituents advised you to make that decision. In the same way, of all the aspirants, Nana is the most marketable candidate because he is already popular everywhere in Ghana and around the world people knows his leadership qualities. Please again, go and ask members in your various constituency whom do they want to lead our party and Ghana?

There is a joke that implies honesty and integrity and politicians mixed together in the same sentence represent oxymoron. In other words these moral characteristics are seen as incompatible with politics. Needless to say however, all politicians are not cut from the same clock. There are those who have integrity and do not dispose of them when elected to positions of power to speak for the people. They live among us and know why they were elected. Less they forget this simple reality, it is our responsibility to keep them ever mindful of it and when necessarily use our vote. That is why your vote is critical because most of the Minister aspirants were more interested in their personal presidential ambitions at our expense. But you have the power now to vote, so please do not compromise it.

What recourse can be used when faced if a political leader who has turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the needs of the community for which he/she has been elected?

What can be done with a political leader who has failed in his duty as a Minister or been fired by the President and still thinks he or she can lead this nation?

What about those whose names are constantly link to conflict of interest and abusing their political office and still think he or she can lead our party and nation?

What elected official with no rational reason thinks he or she can fight corruption more than ever when he is part of a government that is trying to fight corruption and the perception of corruption is so high?

What elected official with no rational reason thinks he or she has a better plan than the President and wants to succeed him but resigned when the going was tough?

What elected official with no rational reason thinks the President failed the foot soldiers when he was elected and that he will not be like the President, even though he wants to succeed him by paying them their monthly allowances?

What is the recourse for getting out of such a political quagmire? The polling place is where one can take a stand and demand a change from selfish and opportunist to selfless individuals that we all deserve. When you do not exercise your hard won right to vote and those selfish and opportunists individuals get elected, then you have no right to complain because you made the wrong choice. Please you have the power, do not compromise it. So please choose wisely and choose for Ghana by electing Nana Akufo-Addo. Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year. Good luck to all the aspirants

God bless the people of Ghana.
God bless NPP.
God bless Nana. Thank you.

Emmanuel Sekyere Asiedu.

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