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Opinions of Sunday, 17 May 2015

Columnist: Frankly Speaking

NPP and the enemies within

Political parties are statutory institutions, hence no one has the right to determine who speaks about the activities of any political party.

It is for this reason that some of us have made it a duty not to sit down for political parties to hold the nation to ransom by their actions and inactions.

Last week, we dwelt on why the New Patriotic Party (NPP) seemed to be digging its own grave for an electoral defeat. Naturally, we wouldn’t have come back to the party again this week when for instance top officials and communication team members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have spent almost two or so weeks tweeting, blogging, and running from one radio station to another in a vain attempt at stopping a vigil against dumsor planned for this evening.

Definitely, we should have turned our attention to these desperate attempts by the NDC and its officials. Some of them have even used very insulting and unprintable words against people who are only expressing their concerns about a national problem. This erratic power problem has taken the government almost four years to solve, yet its officials would want us to believe all was well because many of them are using generators bought and fuelled for them by the same ordinary people who are suffering.

The NPP and its leadership seem not to be feeling the anger of their members, and also don’t realise the harm they are causing the party by using radio stations to trade insults, insinuations, and outright lies against themselves.

Over the last week, many party members and sympathisers have been worried by the issues arising out of the NPP’s primaries for parliamentary candidates, and the recent steering committee meeting held in the absence of the Chairman and General Secretary. As if nothing was learnt from previous primaries which cost the party some seats, the NPP is again messing up its primaries for parliamentary candidates by allowing its vetting committees to disqualify aspirants ‘by heart’ and running to the media with announcements when the process has not ended.

For instance, how can the Greater Accra Regional Chairman, Ishmael Ashitey, grant media interviews about the disqualification of some aspirants in the Tema West and other constituencies when he knows that the final word must come from the national level?

What happens in all the parties are of concern to Ghanaians because in the end they (Ghanaians) will be ruled by the party which wins the elections, hence they need to ensure that peace becomes the watchword as we progress.

In 2000, the NDC adopted a strategy by imposing parliamentary candidates on some constituencies. Some of us cautioned the party and called for the abolition of the ‘imposition plan’ but, as usual, the response was “what was our mandate as newspaper columnist to question a party strategy.”

For imposing candidates on constituencies, the NDC lost 20 seats which it could have won looking at the persons who filed to contest but were denied justice, and this contributed to the party’s defeat in the general election.

In 2008, NPP messed up with its vetting where winnable candidates were disqualified in many cases on flimsy charges, leading to the party losing some safe seats like Cape Coast, Obuasi, and others. From what is happening now where some aspirants were disqualified by some regional and constituency executives even before the vetting took place, it is only the National Executive which can bring normalcy in the constituencies like Tema West and Dome-Kwabenya.

Despite these issues about the primaries, the biggest problem is the action of the so-called founding members of the party, one of whom is Dr Kobina Arthur Kennedy, who are not showing any concern about their actions and the effect on the party’s electoral fortunes.

I listened to Dr Kennedy on one radio station questioning the membership credentials of Mr Freddie Blay and Dr Mahamodu Bawumia to the extent that they are new comers to the party.

Political parties are formed by like-minded people who are ready to abide by the rules they set for themselves, among which is that anyone who joins by satisfying the membership criteria has equal rights as any other member.

Another worrying issue is the seeming dislike of Nana Akufo Addo, the party’s flagbearer, by Dr Kennedy, who for some time has made it his mission to attack the flagbearer at the least opportunity.

Dr Kennedy contested with Nana Addo in 2007 and lost, but the latter made him his campaign communication director, giving him complete insight into all that happened around Akufo Addo during the campaign, but later turned on the NPP and Akufo Addo with his book, Chasing the Elephant into the Bush. I never heard Kennedy blaming himself for causing the defeat of Akufo Addo as a campaign communication director.

In a write-up earlier this week, Dr Kennedy wrote that: “…it is breathtaking that 18 months to an election, with the governing party floundering, the main priority of the opposition presidential candidate is the removal of his duly elected and loyal executives”, referring to Chairman Paul Afoko and Kwabena Agyapong, the General Secretary.

Strangely, throughout the various radio interviews he had granted, Kennedy has not been able to substantiate what exactly Akufo Addo was doing to remove the party executives. How can a so-called founding member of a political party behave in this way. I don’t know if Kennedy is married, and if he is, does he come to media to discuss his disagreements with his wife?

I don’t think he has any excuse for using the media to express what he feels is in the interest of the party when he has all the channels to convey the same message if indeed his aim was to see the progress of the NPP. What is even dangerous is for him to create disaffection between Afoko and Agyapong on one hand and Akufo Addo on the other. It is therefore very important for Messrs Afoko and Agyapong to distance themselves from what is being done in their name by Arthur Kennedy.

It is also important for Kwabena Agyapong to weigh his words and control his anger, because some of his utterances have not been in the interest of the party, and as General Secretary, he must learn to have a big heart to stomach even the useless utterances by people who are ignorant about what he does for the party.

Those of us who know Kwabena Agyapong and campaign for him to be elected as General Secretary of the NPP, know how much he loves the party, but gradually, he is making himself irrelevant to the members of the party with his unguarded media outbursts.

We want the 2016 elections to be incident-free and such a situation can only be guaranteed when our political parties conduct their activities in a fair and peaceful manner.

The enemies of the NPP are definitely not in the NDC, PNC, CPP, or PPP, but rather within the NPP, particularly among its top officers, and the earlier the party exorcised itself of such enemies, the better it would be for its future.