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Opinions of Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Columnist: Annor, Joe

NPP's Lack of National Appeal

–The Main Cause of NPP’s another painful loss: The Way Forward

Although, there might have been some level of fraud on the part of NDC to win the elections, as you cannot trust people like Asiedu Nketia, who are serial fraudsters, yet, there is no point for NPP to waste time on spilt milk by trying to fight the election results, as it will not achieve anything meaningful. Instead, I suggest that the party has to do self-reassessment and come out with strategies that will enable NPP to become more competitive.

You see NPP continues to suffer from the same problem that the forefathers such as J.B. Danquah suffered, which deprived them the ability to lead the nation and were beaten in all elections by Nkrumah, the person they had brought from overseas to come and helped them. Nkrumah used all means including deliberate propaganda to win against J. B. Danquah and his colleagues. For more than fifty years or so, NPP is still losing the propaganda war, and that is the main problem of NPP at the moment.

The first pressing issue that NPP has to deal with is how to eradicate the perception that NPP is Ashanti/Akyem (not anymore Akan) party. Wether perceived or real, NDC has succeeded in labelling NPP as an Ashanti/Akyem party and it appears the other tribes, particularly the non-Akans believe this diabolic propaganda. In fact, the issue has gained so much weight that I even found is startlingly to hear well educated people also arguing along that lines. The argument most used in this regard is that since the forth republic for instance, all presidential candidate of NPP have been Akans and more specifically, Ashantis and Akyems. Whether NPP likes it or not, this perception is affecting strongly the party's electoral fortunes to the extent that, drastic measures are required to eradicate the perception. It was against this reason that I believe that NPP should have chosen the late Vice President Aliu Mahama to represent the party in 2008. Instead, as many as additional sixteen people selfishly wanted to lead the party. In fact, not choosing Mr Aliu Mahama somehow, gave credence to the allegation that NPP is an Akan party, otherwise, I find it extremely hard to believe that despite the clear evidence of the good work that Kuffour did, Ghanaians do not appreciate it and still vote against NPP, despite that corruption is flourishing uncontrollably under the current NDC government and they have virtually achieved no major feats.

Just as Justice Sarpong discussed recently in a similar article on Ghanaweb, the first sacrifice that NPP members who are Akans that have ambition to lead the party have to make is to put the interest of the party ahead and allow people from other tribes to lead the party to the next election. Unless this is done, NPP should forget about fighting the next elections. In fact, it appears NDC wins even more frequently in some Akan areas such as Central, Western and Bono Ahafo than NPP does. Therefore, NPP has to do all it can to rebrand the party to have a national appeal. NPP can simply not win elections in Ghana just by winning only in two Akan areas (Ashanti and Eastern), it needs more than that. If NPP disregards this simple truth, it does it at its own peril as the survival or otherwise of the party will rest on this and other reforms made in the party. This is simple bitter pill that some may have to swallow for the advancement of the party and the country as a whole. When the Republicans lost in the last elections, some attributed it to the fact that the party is not attractive to migrants who are growing in numbers every year and that the Republicans need to attract them, to make it easy for the party to win the presidential elections in the USA.

The other issue is that there is the need for a generational change in the NPP presidential candidature outlook. Whether we like it or not, some people vote mainly on the basis of the personalities of the candidates. Even in America, I am sure many youth voted for Obama because of his youthfulness compared to his opponents, particularly, in 2008. In Ghana, where majority of the population of the voters are relatively young, choosing a young candidate is very important. I believe that NPP has no choice but to use people not over 60 years as their presidential candidates. When Kuffour won in 2000, he was in his early 60s and his height and etc all helped him. Also, the country was sick of Rawlings, but even that Kuffour could not win outright in the first round. Therefore, if one passes his youthfulness, no matter what, the party should not support the person to become the presidential candidate, as such a person might have already his prime age as far as winning elections are concerned.

Lastly, I read that Mr Appiah Ofori is attributing the NPP loss to the selection of Bawumuah as the Vice Presidential Candidate; I do not believe that in 2012, that played any significant point. In 2008, that may have been issue as he was relatively new. But in 2012, I would have accepted that fact if NPP lost only in non-Akan areas. However, by losing at three Akan areas means that the issue goes deeper than Bawumuah not attracting votes for NPP. He simply could not have competed for more votes in the North against Mahama, who at this time running as a presidential candidate.

In conclusion, I believe that if NPP takes the right decision the party stands the chance to benefit enormously. Fortunately for NPP, it can rely on the large population of Ashanti region and therefore increasing its fortunes marginally in other areas will boost the party's chances significantly. As I have always argued the Ashantis will always vote for NPP, irrespective of where the presidential candidate will come from. So making some personal sacrifices will enable NPP to make some inroads into other areas as well. This is very important as for instance, if NPP had won additional 2 per cent from each of the tribes, it would have won the elections.

NPP should therefore learn a lesson from the woes of CPP that may never become competitive again. It is imperative to make a choice today to avoid the Akan party perception becoming permanently entrenched.