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Opinions of Thursday, 6 August 2009

Columnist: Amoo-Asante, Kweku

NPP Heading For Disaster In 2012

Many NPP fans and party members are sure the party will win the elections in 2012. This is the same kind of over confidence that led to the party’s defeat in 2008. Yet, since the party’s defeat nothing strategic or tactical has been done to address the problems, issues and challenges facing the party. Instead, a series of mediocre and not well thought-out ideas have been put forward by the leadership.

This article seeks to discuss a few major strategic and tactical actions which seem to suggest that the NPP is heading towards defeat! This is no substitute of a full review of the election debacle. Instead, this article will discuss four issues which if not appropriately resolved will steer the party to certain defeat. They are: the three presidential candidates’ issue, enlarging the electoral college, membership database and encouragement of inclusion and volunteerism in the party.

As I have advised many friends and colleagues, no one in his right mind should sink one cent of his money or one second of his time into an enterprise that is bound to fail; I intend not to ignore my own advice. If therefore the NPP is bound to fail in 2012, which I will know by 2011, I will not go against my own advice.

The decision to have Three Presidential Candidates

This decision is completely flawed and could lead to the disintegration of the party and render useless any attempt to build unity in the party. As strong primaries always build a party’s strength for the general elections, it is preferable that there are no restrictions on candidates participating in an open primary. However, to strengthen the screening process of primary candidates and eliminating weak candidates, the party should seriously consider increasing the financial requirement for registering as a candidate.

Now, let us look at the current proposal of three candidates. Let us say three candidates are to be selected. Our history shows that there are always two strong candidates with so many ‘also-runs’. This therefore means there will be manipulation in the selection of the third candidate. The two candidates will each try to present a Trojan horse candidate to frustrate the perceived opponent. Thus, the selection of the third candidate will usher into the party in-fighting and question the integrity of the process as it starts .

Since the party does not use ‘first past the post process’ there is likely to be a second ballot which means there is great incentive to be a third candidate if only to become the ‘kingmaker’ as well as exact bribes from the two candidates who are going to the second round. This creates incentives for mischief, corruption and dysfunctional behavior of all sorts. Our recent party experience gives us ample information to chew on.

Further, the final outcome will never satisfy the losing candidate as he will always contend that the third candidate has manipulated the results with the support of the winning candidate. For example, let us assume there are 100 votes and the first round came to 45, 40 and 15 votes in this order. Suppose the candidate who finally wins was the one who obtained 40 votes in the first round, what will be the reaction of the losing candidate and his supporters? They will contend there has been an unfair outcome, corruption, bribery, manipulation, etc. If the first candidate won the second round by say 51 to 49, there will still be the same aggrieved losing candidate arguing an unfair process.

The selection of three candidates could also have adverse ethnic or gender implications . Ignoring a fourth candidate who is say a GA or an EWE or a Northerner, particularly when all the three candidates happen to be Akans will provide ample attack angles for opponents of the party. And what about the disqualified candidates and their supporters? Will they feel they belong to the party or want to support the party with the same love and determination?

For these reasons, the current three presidential candidates’ proposal is a recipe for disunity, dysfunctional behavior and disaster. I can provide various permutations to support this point but let me let you do your own math or permutation and ask yourself “Where are we going with this dumb idea?” I strongly suggest the party consider its decision and either allow full participation of 5 or 7 candidates, with a high registration payment for screening out weak candidates.

Enlarging the Electoral College

I have always wondered whether NPP is a fan club or a political party, and why some party members are so afraid of the principle of ‘one-man-one-vote’. A fan club is an organization where members join and have no rights except to support a person or an idea with or without their resources. The continued treatment of the members of NPP by restricting their ability to make the most fundamental decision of their membership suggests that the leadership strongly believes that the members do not matter, the party is not a party but a fan club and members are there to support their “leaders” and should be happy their leaders make decisions for them, no matter how mediocre, stupid and useless. I am yet to understand myself supporting an organization which is so dysfunctional when it comes to strategic and tactical decision making or reforms. But then again, if it comes to reforms, you have to ask what reforms have taken place since independence; NONE! Not even the open sewers or the pit latrines have changed in Ghana since independence. Ghana’s experience with reforms has been abysmal failure in every respect. So may be expecting a fundamental reform is asking for the impossible. Am I right?

The leadership is so afraid of internal democracy but will not fail to remind us of our heritage and historical lineage linked to the Busia-Danquah tradition; a tradition of democratic rights built by these great men of blessed memory who fought with all their lives and resources for democratic rights for our poor yet beloved country. An enlarged electoral college will not solve the issues we have faced with respect to the corruption in the election of Parliamentary candidates and the Presidential Candidates.

For the past 12 years, I have advocated for ‘one-man-one-vote’, without success. Several reasons have been put forth by the leadership for rejecting the idea. The most notable of these reasons is the implementation problem. Any argument based on operational difficulties in implementing ‘one-man-one-vote’ is a lie and not based on sound professional basis. I have offered to present an implementation system for ‘one-man-one-vote’ which will lead to improved financial resources for the party, ensure real party constituency offices and local representation and maximize participation by members and thereby realize internal democracy and end the shell of a party that NPP is. Yet, the leadership continues to be an obstacle.

Membership Drive and Membership Database

Our party does not have a solid foundation. A real party does not exist. The party is a shell! This is because we have no real structures, no documentation of structures, no actionable plans, no professional discussions papers on issues and no database of members, polling agents, activists, party executives, etc. with their full names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and a serious dues-paying organization and regime. The party lacks discipline, lacks research and resourceful men and yet boasts of ability to do so much. The dues paid are not accounted for and go into the pockets of crooked leaders. No audit takes place of the activities of those crooked leaders. Thus, they want the status quo to continue. After all, that is where they get their daily bread.

A recent attempt to build a database by going to constituencies and just collecting names shows how ill-advised our leadership can be. In a country like Ghana where most of the people are “free loaders” asking people to put their names on a list of party members without asking them to pay dues was the most useless exercise any man with education can think of let alone undertake. Who in Ghana will not be willing to put his name to a sheet of paper which promises some kind of benefits with no responsibility or accountability? What will be the list? Will it be called NPP Members or “NPP Wannabe Free Loaders” The best way of obtaining a proper database is to set up a white paper discussing the rights, privileges and duties of membership going forward; Specifically, the white paper could discuss the appropriateness of the membership dues, who, how, when and where it is to be collected and the information on members to be collected as part of the dues paying responsibility to ensure it fits our strategy of ensuring full participation of members and thereby realizing internal democracy.

A membership drive should not be done in a vacuum. A membership drive has to be a part of the strategic initiative of the party to ensure full participation of members and ensure they have their rights and believe in internal democracy. A membership drive must ensure that the desire to have an accurate and complete database of the members as well as put together a functioning party not an empty shell used to bilk money from people who believe in the Busia-Danquah tradition. The dues-paying regime now in force is a kind of shake-down that only mafia members practice or envy.

Exclusionary Tactics and Discouragement of Volunteers

Our so-called party leaders have a strong tendency to exclude participation by its own members. This exclusion impacts the Diasporan members of the party who they see as walking ATMs. There is the bizarre belief in a zero sum game when it comes to participation by Diasporans. The leaders believe that the national cake which they will inherit if we win the elections is so small and so dedicated to those who are in Ghana and are patriotic. They define patriotic as those Ghanaians who stayed in Ghana and ‘fought’ the NDC regime even if they stole money from the poor people they are to protect. They consider those who went abroad, improved their education, training, skills and knowledge and who have brought significant experience and large amount of money and resources into the country and have stolen nothing from Ghanaians as unpatriotic. Some patriotism!

This de facto exclusionary policy that is exercised by almost all has led to serious consequences for the party. No matter what good ideas come from the Diaspora, the people in Ghana will reject it. They remark “Krakye, yate, asem no, eye, nso yenfa” meaning Gentleman, we have heard you, your ideas are good but we won’t take it. It beats my imagination to think that despite the excellent ideas coming from NPP-USA none was accepted by the party. Instead, a deliberate set of mediocre and poor decisions are made and accepted by people who think that they are the best educated, trained and skilled people in Africa. NPP will be negatively impacted in 2012 unless a clear policy of outreach and engagement with Diasporan NPP which ensures inclusion and volunteerism is implemented successfully.

NPP lost an election they ought to have won first round. I predicted with accuracy what will happen if they did not listen to me and follow the warning signs. So far, nothing has been done by NPP leaders for me to gain an ounce of confidence in them. I am still waiting to see real change and serious actions instead of poor decision-making, a display of poverty of vision,

and constant reminder of mediocre actions. It appears they want a re-peat of 2008 and they will get it. For us abroad, we have learnt our lessons. We are wide awake for heavens sake! We have learnt that when we lose we win and we are not going to continue to be walking ATMs unless we are gaining full participation at all levels of the party. It is time to end the “monkey respect”! Otherwise defeat is staring at NPP straight in the face in 2012.

Kwaku Amoo-Asante


Hartford, Connecticut