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Opinions of Thursday, 30 January 2014

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

NPP must address Kennedy Agyapong's Allegations

Orangeburg, SC



30TH January, 2014



Some weeks ago, Hon. Kennedy Agyapong, the MP for Assin Central alleged that monies and materials that he and others donated for the 2012 Campaign had been stolen by National Chairman Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey and other leaders. Subsequently, Jake denied knowledge of any money or items ever donated by the Member of Parliament. In response, Mr. Agyapong has called the entire national executives corrupt and urged NPP primary voters to turn them out of office.

In the last few days, the discussions have gotten increasingly personal with ineffectual calls on the MP to “not wash our dirty linen in public”, coupled with attempts to downplay his contributions to the party. His threats to form his own party have been met by National Vice-Chair Fred Oware daring him to do so.

I will return to Mr. Oware presently but I believe the NPP needs to address the allegations fully and quickly. Here are my reasons:

First, it seems increasingly clear that the key issue in 2016 is likely to be corruption. The NDC appears to be drowning in it and the public appears to be very concerned about it. The only thing that will neutralize corruption as an issue is for the NPP to destroy its credibility on the issue. How can the NPP Presidential candidate look President Mahama and Ghanaians in the eye and say, “My fellow Ghanaians, this government has taken billions of dollars in your name and squandered it. They are corrupt so give us a chance to clean house and to be better stewards of your resources”, when it could not forthrightly deal with allegations that its own leaders were corrupt? To be credible on corruption in 2016, we must deal decisively with these allegations.

Second, those who contribute to our party financially will be less inclined to do so when there are credible allegations that our party leaders cannot be trusted to use campaign donations for campaigning. In tandem with Mr. Agyapong’s allegations, there are disturbing rumours that some have grown rich on campaign largesse even while we have been short-handed on the frontlines because of insufficient resources.

Third, our foot-soldiers will be less likely to sacrifice when they believe, perhaps wrongly, that while they are selflessly toiling away in campaigns, some of their leaders are growing rich on campaign resources. Indeed, part of why polling station agents were so ineffective, if our petitioners are to be believed, is that they were undertrained and under-resourced. Indeed, some of our polling station agents have not been paid their allowances to this day.

For the avoidance of doubt, I do not assume that any of those accused by Mr. Agyapong are guilty. Indeed, as a believer in the rule of law, I believe they are entitled to a presumption of innocence. However, on the face of it, the allegations are credible enough that they deserve a vigourous and credible investigation. While I respect and consider Jake a friend, his claim that he is unaware of Mr. Agyapong’s contributions to our last two campaigns is simply not credible.

The way that Mr. Agyapong made his allegations and the responses have left much to be desired. While I admire Kennedy Agyapong, I have not always liked his methods and his style. Of course, I have had my own problems with communication as well. There have been disgraceful attempts by people associated with Jake to impugn the accuser’s credibility and to question the source of his wealth. In that exercise, things have been said that may come back to haunt us. Regardless of how Mr. Agyapong made his money, that is not the subject at hand. After all the NPP, which has accepted his help for years should be the last to question the legitimacy of his wealth.

In addition to the party’s interest, those who have been tarred by these allegations deserve an opportunity to clear their names. Unfortunately, the very leaders who are required, morally to investigate these charges, are the subjects of the allegations. There is a clear conflict-of-interest. Jake et al cannot investigate Jake et al.

I believe the NPP’s Council of elders must appoint an objective panel to investigate the charges and submit a report to it. Ahead of the announcement of such a panel, they should order all the parties involved from discussing the issue further in public. All executives found culpable must make restitution to the party and be barred from office for some time. If his allegations are found to be without merit, Hon. Kennedy Agyapong must be sanctioned.

I urge Nana Akufo-Addo, Alan Kyerematen, Dr. Apraku, Isaac Osei, Frimpong Boateng and all others who aspire to lead this party to join me in this call. Charity begins at home. Let us begin fighting corruption, right here at home.

Finally, Mr. Oware’s response to the MP’s ill-considered threat to quit and form his own party was, to put it mildly unfortunate. We in the NPP should guard against the tendency to “let him go” because even with all of us united, there are not enough of us to win elections. We need floating voters and even some good NDC members to win elections. The “let him go” mantra must cease. That is how we let Nkrumah go. That is how we let Paa Wiilie et al go. That is how we let Joe Appiah go. That is how we let Limann go. You get the point. There is no point reaching out to new members while we are chasing good members away.

Let us take a united, accountable and visionary NPP into 2016, to assure victory for the sake of Ghana.

Arthur Kobina Kennedy