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Opinions of Thursday, 15 January 2015

Columnist: Amponsa-Dadzie, Kofi Freeman

NPP Must Unite Now To Save Ghana

I was nearly attacked in North London by a pro-Akuffo Addo supporters for defending Paul Afoko, the NPP Chairman. The guy said I was an NDC mole in my own NPP despite wearing an Akuffo Addo T Shirt. I had publicly supported Kwabena Agyepong because he is very good but have made a mistake to say it openly at an NPP meeting, where the supporters verbally assaulted the General Secretary. I have since been following these NPP factions on Facebook, making quiet disparaging comments about each other. I know the underbelly issue is a strange 2020 rumour that Alan Kyeremateng’s supporters are going to undermine the leadership of Akuffo Addo through his henchmen Paul Afoko, Kwabena Agyepong and Davis Opoku (OPK). I have observed that old NPP leaders do not attend meetings of the New Executives but will all come out when Akuffo Addo is in town. The members of the latter strongly feels the New NPP Executives are under the influence of Mahama’s NDC. I have no evidence to verify these claims but know there is serious problems of disunity raging in the Party as made known by the 2 Katakyies of modern NPP. It runs deep across the Party, and tottering along to its demise in 2016. It’s like witchcraft, known to all but everyone else want to cover it up. The only thing uniting the hostile Factions is their hatred of NDC, for they all dislike the NDC like poison.
I come from Cape Coast. The Leaders of the Party I have known in my lifetime were all Unifiers of this great Political Party. My Father died in exile and won’t know him but from what many have told me and have read he was only interested in the Party’s Unity. I have known NPP Leaders of the Party namely Oheneba Kow Richardson, J A Annobil, Lawyer Spio, Dr Carson, T D Brodie-Mends, Lawton Ackah Yensu, Chairman E A Mensah, G E B Awuku, Kwesi Brew, B J Da Rocha, Osei Baidoo and my own dynamic Brother E M Amponsa-Dadzie. Like me, they were all interested in the success of the great Party and worked hard to create harmony and unity in the National Party in their mild mannered approach: It’s because of these wonderful persons that I write to plead with NPP leaders to find a way to resolve any underlying issues tearing the great Party apart quietly and present a United front to defeat NDC and save Ghana from possible decline.
The history of NPP Disunity is mind boggling, and will briefly discuss its genesis: The National Party was founded on United Gold Coast Convention. This was not a Political Party but a Convention of Patriots and Nationalists of different political persuasions seeking Self Rule and Independence for the country after Four Centuries of Colonial domination. The UGCC was thrown asunder when Dr Kwame Nkrumah left to form his own CPP and won Independence in 1951. The disunity of the Convention began in Danquah’s own Family when his relative Aaron Ofori Atta joined CPP and became a Speaker of Parliament. I read that Dr Danquah became disenchanted after his defeat of Nkrumah and was unwilling to provide resources to move the DOMO Front after all the Regional Political Parties had come together as United Party. There ensued a bitter leadership struggle between Nii Armah Ollenu and Danquah faction. As Nkrumah’s tyranny and Party corruption intensified, the Ghana Congress Party also wobbled along in disunity. Three Fante Leaders – Saki Scheck, Kofi Amponsa-Dadzie and Oheneba Kow Richardson (with their Driver – Boakye) travelled the length and breadth of the Country to solicit support from Party Stalwarts to make Dr Busia the Party Leader, who in turn donated his saloon Car as Propaganda van of the Party. It was Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia who gave us some stability, peace and unity in his lifetime. I am sure he succeeded because of his high levels of intelligence, tolerance, Christian virtues, mild manners, incorruptibility, popularity and likeability as a person, for Doc was a gentleman par excellence and loved the Party!
In his Book, The River in the Sea, Appiah Menka reveals the disuniting factors that provided a pretext for the overthrow of Progress Party by Col Acheampong, and I quote verbatim from page 304 thus: “Primarily, the breakup of the Second republic of the Progress Party frontline was regrettably the uncompromising offspring of the professional and personality clashes between Victor Owusu on the one side against NYB Adade”. He went on to lay the blame of the disunity on “the inability of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition to handle and manage crisis within the political party as the arrogance and pride of members to subject their personal and sometimes petty and over ambitious wishes to the main and central body interest”. He traced the source of Victor Owusu and NYB Adade’s rivalry that created factions around them and even influenced the decision to appoint Col Acheampong as head of the Military Command, who also saw the raging disunity and exploited it to overthrow the Government of intellectuals and good people.
The Party was reconstituted as Popular Front Party at a time of great economic difficulty in Ghana. The National Party was favourite to win the Elections to help the country and with the demise of our K A Busia, needed a Leader from three favourites, J H Mensah, Victor Owusu and William Ofori Atta. What happened next was something that killed the souls of some of us. I was in Sixth Form and used to accompany my late Brother to the Constituent Assembly sessions in the Old Parliament and heard all the cries of anguish as Paa Willie and Victor Owusu rivalry intensified. The Constitution has made a Provision for an Executive Presidency and most of the leaders felt Paa Willie’s age was not conducive for the immense economic task ahead. He was also a popular natural leader of the Movement of Freedom of Justice, which really contained the old time CPP elements. After the Party had decided to make Victor Owusu the Party Leader, Paa Willie defected to form his own United National Convention. We wept that day. We knew we were not going to win as our Party support divided between UNC and PFP.
The DOMO Party was reconstituted again after the tyrannical rule of Rawlings in 1992. The same people formed the nucleus of the Party, but as revealed by Appiah Menka there was struggle for leadership and tension between the leaders as Kofi Gyamfi Bikkai and J A Kufuor nearly resorted to physical violence over the latter’s work with Rawlings revolutionary government. Insider revelations of infighting and struggle for power did not only weaken their front but prevented from mounting a successful fight against the PNDC now turned into a Political Party with the old CPP-PNP leaders.
NPP was led by Professor Adu Boahen and after his unsuccessful attempts came to be led by John Agyekum Kufuor. In fact I remember goading the gentle giant on to go for the leadership in London around 1994 or thereabouts. He worked hard using pragmatic approach to win us two elections and led a most successful government that seemed to turn around the country’s economic fortunes. I was over the moon when NPP were in power. I had re-joined the struggle in 1996 at the behest of my old chum, the indefatigable Kwesi Brew who had sponsored our University Student Activities against J J Rawlings in 1992/93. I supported Christine Churcher with my life and against odds we won the 1996 elections against Vassal Akyianu in Cape Coast. I returned to London and never once approached her for any favour, hoping NDC would be defunct by then.
Then suddenly I began to read about struggle for succession to President Kufuor’s Leadership to contest the National Elections in 2008. We kept reading about one NPP leader after another throwing their heart into the ring to become our flag bearer. The list kept mounting. That was when I began to write on Ghanaweb under different monikers pleading for Party Unity and Resolution of the leadership question. Everytime I heard another person had decided to contest for the leadership my heart ran cold. I panicked and could not do anything except write in different monikers on Ghanaweb. The BBC ran a Commentary about 17 Leaders of One African Party contesting for one Flag bearer position. I was shock and befuddled by the gory scene of such unbridled leadership struggle. It was a phantom display of great disunity. NPP became a laughing stock to the world’s media. Oil had been discovered and clearly opponents were saying the struggle was due to insipid corruption agenda among the 17 protagonists seeking to lead the National party. I went down to Ghana and found another storm in a teacup in Cape Coast. The Chairman of the Party was adamant that they won’t allow Christine Churcher to stand again. She was not the only one. They wanted one young man, Beckman, to replace him. He was very young. We pleaded for the leaders to maintain Christine Churcher but many of them said no. She also had her members. The Party’s stronghold were the fishing community and UCC. Mr Kwesi Brew was very old and dying and there were no elders to unite the factions as Kobo Mensah took sides against Christine Churcher. I was so panicked and began to suggest to my Brother to contest. He was not in the main Party organisation and did not want any political problems but he revealed to us that Da Rocha has been talking to him and even told T D Brodie Mends. The rest of the Party leadership were all gone into eternity. NPP began to crumble as NDC became galvanised and easily won support from their singular campaign that NPP leaders were corrupt and struggling to steal the Oil Revenue. We tried our best but as time wore wearily on I realised none of the 17 Flag bearers had magnanimously withdrawn their candidature and would contest. This is the one major reason NPP lost the 2008 elections for by the time Akuffo Addo was elected the Party had shot itself in the foot. We had lost the trust of both national and International support.
What happened in cape Coast 2008 Elections was something only a brave person can recall. Due to the fractious state of the party there was no unanimity as Delegates exploited the candidates with hefty demands. My poor Brother was thrown into the deep end. Even after he had won the Primaries, it was clear he won’t get support of the other factions. Christine Churcher had a legendary 77 members loyal to him. I went round and round them begging and begging to resolve their conflicts. No one told me anything substantial. Christine Churcher never once came to speak on our platform. We were alone struggling for our brother. His friends and family abroad took turns to come from US and Europe to support Ato. The locales won’t go anywhere without monetary demands. No one in the National party came to join our campaign except when Akuffo Addo was coming to town. We became pariah in the party our father had founded, and our late Brother had single handedly sponsored in the 1979 Elections.
I kept telling the members of the Party – A house divided against itself will not stand – but wherever I went NPP people said they will win, as they danced and carried out a most flamboyant campaign. I was the only one unconvinced. I could not see how a disunited Party could win the elections. And It came to pass as we were given a bloody nose. I did not think our defeat was due to Nana Akuffo Addo. He was very calm and remember his statement when they were changing MPs at the Primaries that the Party must be careful because he did not want to lose the elections and answer to his fathers in heaven that it was his time that they lost power back to the enemies of Progress. I was alone in a hotel when the results came in that we have lost political power to NDC. I knew we would revert to economic decline as NDC have propagandists but no men and women of valour.
It was in the same vein that we carried on in 2012. I went back to Ghana to find a United Party but realised they stood no chance due to the huge resources being poured into the National Campaign by NDC and John Mahama, whom I thought was slippery and untrustworthy. Whiles everyone said we would win I doubt it because of the money and goods changing hands between November and December 2012 sheer volume of resources poured into the campaign by the ruling party…We lost, and the Election Petition came to pass. I thought Nana Akuffo Addo was going but in London I saw a huge procession of NPP leaders following the man everywhere to persuade him to stand again. It was shocking to see my own Elder Sister involved. Groups were formed and elderly eminent persons joined the gigantic effort to convince him, probably to the disappointment of a growing faction who sought a change of leadership. The Internal elections were not as bad as 2007/2008 but nevertheless was vitriolic and despairing as the groups launched into bitter attacks on the Social/National Media.
Then Nana’s old Executives lost their bid to be retained across the globe. I did not understand why as I have never in my life joined any group meeting due to the anatagonism that characterised such meetings. Even in Adisco I begged not to be made a House prefect and never sought any position in life. Thus struggle for leadership surprises me a lot, especially with its intensity and venom. I realised Kwabena Agyepong had thrown his hat into the ring. I saw the guy when his father was murdered and thought this is the man who can give these guys a lesson. Then Paul Afoko raised his head. I was taken to him. I remembered how NPP supporters had chased him in Legon for his open support of Alan Kyeremanteng. I liked him. But I did not have a vote and openly supported them on Facebook. Kwabena Agyepong’s campaign was something else. I was hooked on it as he toured the 230 Constituencies in a dramatic fashion. I used to hear about Agenda 2020. I tried to understand it as I took on the usual bickering campaigners led by ubiquitous Arthur Kennedy on the Facebook.
I noticed accusations and counter accusation were circulating among our supporters. I knew about the history of strife and disagreements of the Party of Intellectuals with one Katakyie versus Frank Mandela taking a hardline approach but he met his march in no small way as Nana’s supporters positioned themselves to counter any abuse of their much cherished leader by anyone. The political rift was deepening as the factions became paranoid and suspected each other in a most fulsome unpleasant way. I deleted almost 600 members of the Party who had taken sides. Most of these Party supporters had not experienced personal tragedies as some of us. I prayed for unity and finally Nana won convincingly. I had realised a schism had parted again the national party. The pro-Nana’s factions had lost the Local elections but their Leader had won…I began to read about the open distrust of pro-Nana’s faction against Alan’s group, who were suspected to work against Nana winning in 2016. As President Mahama openly supported Alan’s candidature to be a National Spokesman of an International Committee so would Nana’s faction became distant from him and suspected anyone associated with Alan Kyeremateng. They said Mahama had bribed the New NPP Executives. I initially believed it and joined the bandwagon but was easily persuaded but not the strong pro-Nana’s faction.
This is what the National Party had come to. It will linger on unless there is a giant effort to patch up the differences. It might not work with the renewal of hostilities between the outspoken factions behind our leaders. I have enumerated these for the National Party to confront the underbelly fractious elements wearing apart our beautiful national Party. I will wind down before I develop a heart attack from it all for my Party is NPP. It’s my father’s Party. But I joined it in lawyer Brodie-Mends house in 1969 at the age of 10 years. I have never liked NDC and would never ever support them. I know this disagreement bordering on paranoia might linger on forever until we lose the 2016 elections. It’s easy to reconcile the factions but as Appiah Menka rightfully pointed out arrogance and inward looking behaviour can derail any attempt to patch up and bring us closer. NPP must close its ranks and bring everyone on board. Nana Akuffo Addo must openly canvas the support of the National Executives who must also appoint many of the Akuffo Addo people to work in the National Headquarters.
Indeed, some of us have to retire now, in order to fast and pray for our Party’s Unity. We can contribute by being quiet, because in such a tense situation some of us can be stabbed by one of these factions in NPP for nothing!! What a strange situation going on in the Party. Everyone knows this but don’t want to talk about it. I can imagine the anguish of many others. I plead for UNITY!
God Bless NPP!!!