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Opinions of Sunday, 11 November 2007

Columnist: Ahiabo, Kofi

NPP Race And Matters Arising.

"We aren't going to go public and support our son, for you to tag us as tribalistic, but deep within us we are wholly behind him. If you fail to endorse Aliu Mahama who incidentally represents three regions-Upper East, Upper West, and Northern, how can you then recognise the potentials of the Ga and the Ewe who both have one region each and the Krobos who have one district, just to mention a few. Even if Bill Gates emerges amongst these tribes, you are likely to ignore him. Our quietness will continue but if you fail to endorse our son, come the 2008 General elections and .."

The above was how five different prominent personalities from the Northern part of the country summed up the feelings among most of them. A separate group was even dismayed that an aspirant was reported to have told some NPP members that Aliu Mahama would not bring the three Northern regions to the party. To that group the three Northern regions have already lined up behind the Vice President and the NPP will be shocked to discover the vote count in 2008 if they fail to elect Aliu Mahama.They even showed me photocopies of how the NPP was originally started from the Northern Region and asked why their son should be humiliated in such a manner by a few who doesn?t care to know his contribution to the party. They insisted that, it is not a must that the NPP should by all means elect Aliu Mahama but to them, the comments being made by a few, was their worry.

These people were thinking and trying to come up with possible reasons why the NPP in their wisdom will reject the Veep. They could not find any plausible reason why such a decision might be taken by the NPP and seemed very puzzled and unable to find the rationale behind having about 20 people standing against the incumbent Vice President. They eventually decided that they would monitor the situation over the coming weeks. According to these people, at the moment there is no evidence to suggest that Vice President is incompetent and were very dismayed about the fact that the Vice President?s only crime was because he is a Northerner.

The above concerns may not be exclusive to these people only but may represent the sentiments of many minority groups in the NPP. Make no mistake; every patriotic member of the NPP must take the above sentiments seriously.

Now about the way I see some of the aspirants. I will start with the man they call the ?General? ? Dan Botwe. I think he is a fine gentleman and a great personality to the party. In addition, he is well liked by the grass root members of the Party due to his successful tenure as the Party?s general secretary for two consecutive terms. But I don?t think he is a finished article yet to become a party Leader and/or a President. A few more years of some sort of apprenticeship will help to put him in a much stronger position in the future. As things stand, the ?General? has not peaked yet and will have to bide his time.

Then there is my man from Abuakwa ? Nana Akufo Addo. A long-standing member of the NPP and undoubtedly one of the stalwarts. He is also one of the most seasoned and charismatic personalities among the aspirants. But Akufo Addo is stigmatised to some extent and that will not augur well for the NPP if he were chosen as leader. The perception that he is arrogant and hotheaded is something that he has not been able to shake off. Things being said in some quarters about Nana are not complimentary at all; they may well be mere allegations. All this makes Akufo Addo a difficult task for the NPP, but who knows, he can use his fluency to silence the NDC and his doubters.

There is also Alan ?Cash? Kyeremanten. Alan Cash as he is popularly known due to his penchant to lavish bundles of money wherever he goes is a fine man but has allowed money to flow during his campaign. It beggers belief the mountain of money he seems to be sitting on and why no one in the NPP is not advising him to hide his cash a bit is also a mystery. In the Western world, such blatant flaunting of cash, whether by a politician or not, would have been investigated by the authorities, yes he worked hard for his money and have many wealthy friends but poverty in the country makes such exposure to be questioned. But we are in the third world, where a presidential aspirant can donate as many as 230 motocycles to the ruling Party at a time he is campaigning to lead that Party, and it?s accepted as ok. Congratulations, though to all the Aspirants for assisting the party in various ways. Again, I must however, thank Aliu, Nana, Alan and Dan for their commitment to lead the NPP for they are the only personalities who, if you go by the information on the ground, should have contested this election in the first place.

The next aspirant I would like to talk about is Mr Aliu Mahama, the incumbent Vice President. Until August this year, no one was sure whether he was going to stand or not. Whereas some of the aspirants started campaigning in some form more than a year ago, the Veep only entered the fray less than two months ago. Despite his late entry, the Vice President is arguably the best and the most suitable person to lead the NPP and country. After seven years of learning the trade under President Kufuor, Aliu Mahama has gained the necessary experience enough to let him move up to the highest position. His affable nature ? respect, patience and humility are all the attributes a party leader or a President should have in their repertoire.

As part of my monthly work assignment, I took time to make enquires about the chances of the aspirants and although Aliu Mahama was described as not being so popular with the party grassroots as compared to Mr. Dan Botwe and Nana Addo, all those I spoke to were of the strong view that the Vice President has the right capabilities to lead the Party and the country. I would like to make a passionate appeal to all the delegates to vote for Aliu Mahama, as he is the only one in the whole field who can better build upon the achievements of the past seven years. The repercussions of failing to endorse the Vice President are much bigger than endorsing him.

There are those who say that Mr. Aliu Mahama hasn?t got a constituency, but did Mr Kufour have a constituency when he contested the primaries years back? Where then are the constituencies of men like Alan Kyeremanten and Dan Botwe? The argument that the Vice President did not bring in that many votes from the Northern regions is not based on facts. The fact is that the NPP increased its vote count considerably in the last two general elections. Intelligence from various sources and my own investigations indicate that, Mr Aliu Mahama is poised to give the NPP almost 95% of the votes from the three regions and also increase minority votes for the NPP across the country.

Another important advantage that the NPP may gain by making the Vice President as its flag bearer is that the perennial perception that it is an Akan party will be blown out of the water. A section of the party members may also argue that the NPP can win with the Akim and Ashanti votes even if they fail to elect Aliu Mahama. That will be a gamble too far. Given the way governments are increasingly loosing general elections around the world, the NPP should not even contemplate taking such a risk.

The NDC will surely capitalise on a rejection of the Vice President by telling all the other ethnic groups that ?we told you so? that the NPP would always sideline you. Already there are rumours that the NDC has a document prepared to use against the NPP in the event that they don?t elect Aliu Mahama. It will be unfortunate if this scenario were to take place and as a Ghanaian, I will hate to see the NDC drive a wedge between the Gas, Krobos, Ewes and the other tribes. I believe that the NDC can do it perfectly to their advantage for they are experts in this propaganda warfare. Mr Rawlings will join the attacks from the North.

During my investigation, I discovered also that few people were trying to compare an Aliu Mahama Presidency and that of Dr. Hilla Linman?s. One thing that people have failed miserably to acknowledge is that not only are the two personalities different but also the conditions in 1979-83 are totally different from our current democratic credentials. Usually when there is no rule of law and there is endemic corruption and the people are either suppressed or oppressed, such conditions lead to all sorts of reactions including coup detats. Fortunately the current political dispensation of which Mr. Aliu Mahama is an integral part allows the Rule of law to flourish, thereby making human rights the epicentre of the government. So where therefore is their point?

Another impressive quality about Mr Aliu Mahama is his concern for the poor in society. You can deduce from his speeches that his is bound to launch policies that, in addition to government programmes, make the wealthy in society to assist the poor. According to some of the party members, a few of the aspirants are masquerading as people who care about the poor, ? they are the ?wealthy class? who always look the other way when it comes to matters about the poor.?

Programmes that are geared towards poverty alleviation are the ones that help bring about development. In Feb 2000, James Wolfensohn, Managing Director of the World Bank, declared that the World Bank was committed to engaging in processes that will fight poverty. Poverty breed?s ignorance, conflicts, and destroys innovation. Ghana is blessed in the sense that in Mr.Aliu Mahama, we have a man who understands the plight of the poor and is prepared to help them out of their predicaments. Not only is Aliu Mahama going to engage with ordinary Ghanaians, but also, more importantly, challenge Ministers to deliver the right service to them.

The underlying reasons for my choice of Mr. Aliu Mahama is based on the view held by many Party faithful I have come across that, the Vice President is the most experienced person among the aspirants and who will appeal to many Ghanaians. It is unfortunate that all this time the NPP national executives have not taken the necessary steps to assure the minority groups that they belong to the same great family.

This writer is not asking the Delegates to vote for Mr.Aliu Mahama because of where he comes from, but rather on the fact that Vice Presidents Or Deputy Prime Ministers generally do very well after a successful period of apprenticeship. The NPP should dare not make the mistake of thinking that they can win the 2008 elections without Mr.Aliu Mahama. They might live to regret if they take that gamble.

In sum, one could say that out of the 20 or so aspirants, Mr. Aliu Mahama is the best package and the NPP ought to put a structure in place that will sell him to the Ghanaian population. Aliu Mahama?s government is more likely to:

 Be cohesive; enjoy the trust and confidence from his Ministers.

 Retain most of the current experienced ministers to push the government?s continuity agenda.

 Unite Ghanaians.

 Listen to the foot soldiers of the party.

 Have a cordial relationship with other countries and organisations.

 Pass the litmus test on morality

 Instil the hard working ethics associated with Northerners in his government.

 Assure all ethnic groups that their talents will be rewarded.

. It is even in President Kufour own interest to make sure this NPP election is conducted in a healthy manner. NPP delegates should put pressure on Aliu and Nana to form a partnership to the Castle to avoid a shock come the 2008 election.

This is an opportunity for the NPP and should never let it slip. A word to a wise is enough. Feature page

By Kofi Ahiabo Hohoe

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