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Opinions of Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

NPP presidential primaries

Irmo, South Carolina
2ND June, 2014
The NPP Presidential primary season is around again and as usual, we have lined up to form our circular firing squad, making sure that everyone as well as our party will be wounded in the end.
The usual tried and tested attacks are out again, with new and not-so-new variations.
• Kufuor did not help
• Nana Addo is too old
• The elections were rigged
• Our polling station agents were bribed
• Alan is disloyal because he resigned
Interestingly, it is amazing that the NPP does more to damage itself than the NDC ever does to damage us. NPP members who have never in their lives lifted their voice in criticism of the NDC can tear down their own with venom that is a wonder to behold.
This “Kufuor did not help” nonsense must cease!! It bespeaks ingratitude by those who know or should know better. It is helpful that right on cue, Nana Addo has issued a belated denial of the charge that Kufuor did not help after his palace guard has spent the better part of the last year aggressively spreading those rumours. At some point, one rumour had the former President teaming up with the Asantehene to persuade the Supreme Court to decide for President Mahama in the court case!
On these things, Nana Akufo-Addo’s voice should have been raised sooner and more forcefully – on the side of truth.
The “Nana is too old” advocates must hush. Growing old is a blessing and we should celebrate the fact that a man who has given so much for so long is—by the grace of God, willing to give more, even in old age. Politics is not soccer where one must ran and jump. If Nana is fit and healthy, let him contest. All things being equal, his age is an asset--- provided that he is healthy. There certainly are valid grounds for being against Nana Addo candidacy but age should not be one of them.
The NPP seems unable to make up its mind whether we lost 2012 or not. Whether we failed to get our supporters to vote; to have our votes counted or to prosecute our case in the court well, we can never bring back 2012.This reminds me of the guy who told his best friend that his sweet heart still loved him. His friend, a little unkindly, perhaps said,” If she loves you, why is she in another man’s house, cooking for him and bearing his children?” We need to move on—to the next election instead of being fixated on the last one. Even if we won 2012, 2016 will not be a re-ran of 2012. It will be a new election with a lot of new voters and new circumstances. In Mexico, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, son of former President Lazarro Cárdenas, lost the Mexican Presidential elections in 1988 in an election widely believed to have been rigged. In the next two elections when he ran on the argument that he had been robbed, the country agreed with his claim but voted for other candidates both times. One can never replicate an old election. We need to focus on how we can win 2016 instead of being obsessed with 2012.
The charge that many of our polling station agents were bribed was made repeatedly by the leaders of our 2012 campaign, in and outside court during the SC case. It is yet to be proved. The leaders of our campaign produced not one scintilla of evidence, not one witness to show that any polling agent was bribed. Indeed, if we had produced evidence of such instances, we would have bolstered our case in court significantly. Our party leaders should apologize to our hardworking, undertrained polling agents for the false accusation. The truth of the matter is that most of the polling agents we had were more committed to our victory than some of our leaders.
Like all the other diversions, the “Alan resigned and gave up his birthright” is unkind, false and mean-spirited. He initiated a resignation that was not completed. Before it could be completed, he was prevailed upon to withdraw and he did. Afterwards, he was given crucial tasks in the 2008 campaign that he discharged well. Certainly, there are valid reasons to be against Alan’s candidacy but his purported resignation is not one of them. It is ironic that those who recruited Dr. Bawumia directly into our running mate position would doubt Alan’s credentials as a party member. If bringing Bawumia into the NPP was right, which is my believe, how can we exclude Alan? There are people who have been good party members but have consorted and done business with the NDC and its leaders without sanction. Indeed, we have reached out to the CPP’s Nduom and the NDC’s P.V. Obeng. Why then do we have a problem with Alan’s candidacy? His candidacy is as legitimate as that of Nana Addo, Frimpong Boateng and Apraku to mention just a few. Let the contest begin and let the best man win.
This fascination with tarnishing the reputations of our leaders and marginalizing them must cease. We have done this to Pianim, Tarzan, Nyaho Tamakloe and others. Indeed, even I have been on the receiving end of the wrath of the Pauls who just came but are purer than anyone. If this attitude continues, one of these days, we shall find that our party membership is limited to one region or one town—or one family. Elections are won with people and we must stop driving our best talents away.
We must have a primary focused on important issues—including accountability, electability, unity and the nation’s pain.
As I have had occasion to state in the past, corruption will be a big issue in 2016. Since charity begins at home, we must hold our leaders accountable for how decisions – relating to funding and strategy were made and executed in 2012 so that when we begin taking the fight to the NDC, we shall be on firm ground.
Electability is THE KEY issue in this primary. The purpose of a primary is not to select a flag-bearer—it is to select the next President of Ghana. There is no point celebrating the election of a flag-bearer, whoever he happens to be in 2014, if he cannot get elected in 2016. The people of Ghana need change and we must give them a chance to deliver change.
Next, as Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. Let our house unite so that it can stand. Let us turn our back s on those who insist on dividing us so that they can lead us. They will lead us to defeat.
Finally, we must not forget the nation’s business while we are engaged in our primaries. We live in the midst of an alphabet soup of scandals. Our education and healthcare sectors are falling apart. Our economy is kaput. “Dum-so” has been institutionalized. There is enough work to do pointing out these problems and feeling the pain of Ghanaians and we must seize those opportunities. That is what Professor Kwame Karikari was referring to when he accused us of going to sleep. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. Let us fight for Ghanaians even as we pick our flag-bearer.
Let us move forward—together.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy