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Opinions of Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

My political principles

Irmo, SC
8TH September, 2014

In response to my recent exchanges with some members of the NPP, I have received many comments from Ghanaians.

I have been called a traitor doing the bidding of my pay-masters by those who have not condemned those who marched to our HQ with weapons. Some contemptuously accused me of reading only American biographies when I, in fact, read broadly, in and outside politics.

Even though I never used drugs in my life, some have questioned my sanity. Many well-meaning friends have urged me to ‘leave the NPP people alone to do what they want to do”. These calls are eerily similar to those I received when, as part of the greatest generation of students Ghana has known, I risked my life and liberty to help restore democracy to Ghana, beginning in the 1980’s.
Unfortunately, some have even sought, for political purposes, to implicate me in a criminal case for which someone else has been convicted and is in prison. These are not the actions of democrats.
I thank all those who have wished me well.
For the avoidance of doubt, my views and activities are not in support of or against any candidate—they are meant to reconnect the NPP to its own ideals so that we can be, once again, the natural governing party of this country. I am tired of a party with so much goodwill repeatedly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
As a person, I believe that we should fear God and live, as best as we can by our faith and principles, fearing no man.
I am a Ghanaian nationalist. While some say “My party, right or wrong”, my mantra is “My country, this of thee”. I put my nation ahead of my party and my ethnic group always.
I believe that one should subordinate passion to reason and I do not believe in divisive ethnic politics.
In my view, violence has no place in our politics and our differences, not just within our party but in our nation, should be settled by words and ballots instead of bullets, cutlasses and sticks.
It is my conviction that parties should follow both their constitution and that of the nation. Parties that disregard their constitutions cannot be trusted to defend our national constitution.
While party majorities are important, as the nation has shown us painfully in 2008 and in 2012, national majorities are definitive. A party that keeps flagrantly disregarding the nation’s wishes shall, with time become irrelevant.
I believe in civility. Regardless of differences, I believe we must engage one another with courtesy and kindness.
Finally, I am a pragmatist and believe that one must change his or her views in the light of new information and changing circumstances. It is unwise to have fixed views regardless of changing evidence.
The defining experiences that have shaped my politics have been the mentorship of Sam Okudzeto, the late Paa Willie and Chairman “Yao” John Bilson and a couple of conversations. When J.B. Danquah’s family, out of concern for his welfare, sent his favorite nephew to persuade him to abandon politics, he asked that nephew, Nana Akufo-Addo, “If not me, then whom?” Despite the dangers, he stood on principle and lost his life. Once, I asked Da Rocha about Busia. Da Rocha said despite the difference in their age, he never felt uncomfortable arguing with Busia. “In fact, he welcomed it.”
The issues for which I am being vilified are simple.
First, there is an orchestrated effort to undermine the mandate of our elected National Chairman and General Secretary. This effort recently led to the invasion of our National Headquarters with guns and cutlasses by our own members. I want those involved exposed and punished. The death of Kwabena Agyapong’s father was one of the things that made me a student activist. I cannot accept that someone can threaten that, “we will burn him like they burnt his father” and still be a democrat and a member of our party in good standing.
Second, I believe that this violence at our headquarters is the culmination of a series of events, including the invasion of Prez. Kufuor’s house, the attempted lynching of Tarzan, my persistent hounding and the attacks on Pianim, Tamakloe and others for not “toeing-the-line”.
Third, we have a primary contest under way and it appears that there has been a sustained and carefully organized effort to turn it into a coronation. People who voted for other candidates have been threatened with investigations and there have been inappropriate calls for people to step down “in the interest of their future viability”, in clear violation of our party’s rules. We have strayed far from the party whose Presidential candidates travelled, ate and slept together in 1992.
Fourth, I have been profoundly disturbed by the accusation that I am out to destroy Nana Akufo-Addo and the claim that former Chief of Staff Mpiani and former Minister Anane plan to poison Nana Addo if he were to be President. I am troubled by the temperament and judgment of a Presidential candidate who would believe these allegations and not raise his voice against the issues I have catalogued here. Furthermore, as a Ghanaian patriot, I am concerned that if those who are so paranoid have the National Security apparatus at their disposal, critics and opponents may be seen as subversives who should be targeted by National Security operatives.
These are important fundamental issues that go to who we are as a party and the government we hope to form. Therefore, on these issues, I will not retreat and I will not yield. Let the word go forth from here to friend and foe alike that I will judge whoever our nominee is on these issues and make the case appropriately for or against that candidate, based on my best judgment.
However, as a democrat and a pragmatist, if new, credible and verifiable information is presented to me that persuade me that my views are wrong, I will acknowledge the circumstances and change my views accordingly—because I have never believed that I or indeed anyone, is infallible.
Finally, let us all remind ourselves, as the Bible says in Psalm 127:1, “Except the Lord himself buildeth, they labour in vain that try to build.” Let us do our politics in his light-- in love-- kindness and tolerance so that he may reward our efforts.
May God bless you all.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy