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Opinions of Monday, 15 March 2010

Columnist: Amankwah, Kwabena

NPP's Gerontocracy & Victory 2012 Agenda

Even though the youth constitute majority of the nation’s population, we have not been given any appreciable place of prominence in the decision-making process, not even on matters that directly affect us. The relegation of the youth to the background permeates every facet of our national life, including the organization of political parties and the governance process.

Talking about party politics and governance brings into sharp focus the extent to which the New Patriotic Party has allowed gerontocracy to take the centre stage in our administration, and how we have consigned the youth to the milieu for a long time.

Gerontocracy may be defined as a rule by the elderly. It places too much emphasis on appointing the aged to take charge of affairs. Adherents of gerontocracy believe only the grey hair represents wisdom and experience.

Gerontocracy was clearly seen at work in the Kufuor administration, especially in the appointment of people to ministerial positions. No wonder, the Asabees, the Nana Akomeas, and the Dan Botwes were even considered youthful appointees.

This was the situation under a government headed by somebody who had been a beneficiary of youth empowerment under the Busia government. The reason? We were somewhat made to believe that, that ought to be the case because our tradition had been in the political wilderness for a long time, and so there was the need for the aged who had suffered to “enjoy” a little.

Apostle has never been enthused about the Prof Mills-led National Democratic Congress government. But I think the “Asomdwehene” (debatable, indeed) has done something the next NPP government will have to emulate: the appointment of young people to high positions of responsibility.

You can describe the Ablakwas and the Agyenim Boatengs as mediocre Ministers (regards to Mr Rawlings) or team ‘B’ Ministers (courtesy Uncle Spio). But, the fact of the matter is that one needs to play as a team ‘B’ player before getting promotion to team ‘A’.

The youth have always been at the forefront in the electoral battles of the NPP. But, unfortunately, our involvement in the struggle for power has never been compensated with adequate recognition when it comes to appointments.

The future of the NPP indeed belongs to the youth. It for this reason that, even though no conscious efforts had been made over the years to empower us, we are gradually taking over the administration of the party.

Apostle was so glad during his recent visit across the country which brought him into contact with many of his colleagues, former TESCON leaders/members, who are now occupying various positions at all levels of the party. It is my prayer that they discharge their mandate satisfactorily to pave the way for more to be considered in all subsequent searches for party leaders.

TESCON remains the breeding ground for intelligent, committed and loyal activists of the party. However, it has suffered neglect over the years in spite of the fact that its members had been used to do the “dirty” and most dangerous work for the party to win the both the 2000 and 2004 elections. Do you recollect what happened to some TESCON members in the Volta Region during the 2008 elections?

It is true that some of the youth, including former TESCON members, were appointed to some positions in the Kufuor administration, the number was not encouraging, and could not provide enough motivation for us to die for the party. Apostle is not seeking to incite the youth against the party, but I think this ill-treatment must stop after we have returned to the corridors of power in 2012.

While we lament over this bad treatment, and seek ways to alter it, I think we also need to “check ourselves” (Apologies to Mr J.H Mensah). After all, we have been our own enemies, by allowing ourselves to be reduced to mere sycophants, bootlickers and cheer leaders.

Many youth activists of the NPP think their interests are better served undermining or destroying their colleagues just for their bread to be well buttered by the powers-that-be.

Others also think it is better to play the sycophancy game to get their daily bread than to stand by the truth, and challenge the status quo which does not promote the collective interest of the party in general and the youth in particular. Yes, they see no evil; neither do they hear any evil – all because of parochialism.

That is the reality! Dare to behave like Apostle and his ilk who always want to say it as it is, and cannot find the word sycophancy in our lexicons, and you will remain where you are – you will even go through hell before getting your daily bread.

But, one thing is certain: man is not only stomach; above everything you must hanker for your dignity. Let us also be reminded that a fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapour and a deadly snare. Oh yes! Apostle believes it is better to wallow in poverty than to taste the devil’s banquet.

The youth of NPP need to unite, do the right thing and reposition ourselves better to gain the much-needed recognition in the scheme of affairs of the party. After all, the party is our property – we are heirs to the throne of the NPP. That is why we still remain loyal apostles of the party in spite of our apologetic situation.

Yes, the youth of NPP are once again ready to work our hearts out to catapult the party to victory in 2012. But we need the assurance that gerontocracy will not be allowed to needlessly take the centre stage when it comes to the sharing of positions. “No contribution, no chop,’ so we all say. We are ready to contribute, so when the time comes allow us to chop some.

Strongman Karbo, Apostle wants to officially salute you for your victory. Be reminded that the youth you are expected to lead to spearhead the victory 2012 agenda are wild.

You need to devise clever means to exploit our youthful exuberance, energy and motivation to produce the desired results for the sake of the party.

Talking about motivation reminds me of a short discourse I had with one party guru during the funeral of the late mother of Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi at Techiman. “Hon, the youth are suffering because we are in opposition. We want to work harder to return the party to power so that we get jobs to do and enjoy decent living. As for you the elderly you don’t have anything to lose if we remain in opposition till thy kingdom come because you already have enough money,” Apostle tells party guru. “Oh, but I also need a state burial,” party guru reacts.

My people, while Apostle and others of his ilk are desirous to work for our party to return to power so that we could occupy positions like Deputy Ministers or Chief Executives, the party guru who was an aspirant for a top position in our recent Delegates’ Conference is looking at getting a befitting state burial.

Can anybody fault him? Certainly No! He has been able to accumulate enough wealth to fend for himself and his family, no matter how long our party remains in opposition. He has reached the highest possible point of his political career – he needs a position higher than a Minister of State; he knows it is not possible for him to be the Vice President, nor the President in the next NPP administration.

It is, therefore, clear that such a person does not have enough motivation to work for the party’s return to power. Unfortunately, there are many of such people who are at the centre of the party’s organization while the youth who are highly motivated, and are hungry for success, have been relegated to the background.

Apostle expects the party to engage more of the youth in our campaign because we have more energy, motivation and enthusiasm to work for our party’s return to power than those whose motivation is getting befitting state burial.

A young party activist who is motivated by the desire to become a DCE or Deputy Minister will not sit down in Accra and concoct reports of what is taking place on the political field to deceive his superiors, as someone who does not even desire to become a Minster of State may be tempted to do.

I am not in anyway downplaying the importance of experience and the wisdom associated with grey hair. But, that does not mean the NPP should allow inordinate commitment to gerontocracy to swallow the need to exploit the talents and exuberance of the youth towards the victory 2012 agenda.

The NPP is certainly set to return to the corridors of power in 2012, to rescue the good people of Ghana from the hands of the inept Mills-led NDC government. Every member of the NPP, just as the masses, has been negatively affected in one way or the other as a result of our party’s defeat in the 2008 elections.

The youth, however, remain the worst affected victims; that is why our motivation to work for the return of the party to power is greater than the elderly who do not have much to lose if we should remain in opposition till thy kingdom come.

Apostle expects the new leadership of the party to allow us to play more important roles in the party’s campaign at all levels, with sincere assurance that needless commitment to gerontocracy will not be allowed to deny us deserving prominence in the scheme of affairs of the next NPP government. This will surely contribute in no small measure to our victory 2012 agenda.

By Kwabena Amankwah

Former TESCON-UCC Secretary

Mob: 0244-217504

E-mail: amaskwabena@yahoo.com