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Opinions of Friday, 1 September 2006

Columnist: Appiah, Ernest Kwame

National Party To Shake Ghana’s Political Landscape?

Emerging developments in the political dynamics of Ghana show disappointment in Ghana’s main political parties (NPP and NDC). After two terms in office, the Rawlings-led NDC collapsed Ghana’s education while some NDC Ministers sent their children to overseas institutions. While the NPP has shown leadership in allowing freedom of expression and rule of law to prevail, the government has been plagued with allegations of arrogance, corruption, selective justice and misplaced priorities in the development of Ghana. The NPP has been busy allocating funds for the construction of a Presidential Palace and Golden Jubilee celebration of Ghana’s independence, while the sick are dying at ill-equipped hospitals. Poor sanitation is making malaria a killer in many Ghanaian communities while Government Officials and bureaucrats undertake thievery of taxpayers’ funds under the guise of overseas travel to woo foreign investors and to beg the so called development partners for funds.

The NPP Government can only wish that the divisions within the NDC (sparked by defections and an Obed-led new political party) will allow it to win an unprecedented third election victory in 2008. The Nkrumah factions have a disunited front and a low support base across the country and have not been able to win many parliamentary seats. The good news is that there is now the emergence of diaspora-led political party called National Party. But our brothers and sisters who left the motherland and now aiming to wrestle power to steer the country out of the current economic mess, have challenges of their own. They face established political parties with solid foundations and support base across the country and among Ghanaians overseas. The National Party’s biggest challenge is to raise the necessary funds to field competent parliamentary candidates and also match the NPP and NDC boot for boot in the campaign trail. With some overseas based Ghanaians trying to secure Presidential nominations within the main political parties, some see the merits of supporting these candidates rather than throwing their support in a new political party. In fact many question the need for a new political party as a solution to Ghana’s problems.

In their quest for much needed funds and also to attract candidates for parliamentary seats, there is also the tendency for the National Party to overlook background checks of their members. The NPP is paying a big price for allowing a former Australian based lawyer to make his way through Parliament and Ministerial ranks only to be caught in embarrassing fraud charges and professional misconduct (refer Ghanaweb 27/3/06, “CITATION: New South Wales Bar Association v Osei). Then there are those who may not be aware of the constitutional requirements on Ghanaian citizenship and will try to secure Ministerial appointments with their dual citizenship status (eg President’s unsuccessful appointment of Mr. Lawrence Akwasi Agyeman-Prempeh).

The National party has a herculean task to make an impact on the current political landscape but our overseas based brothers and sisters need to start returning home and let the people see their contributions and what they have to offer. More importantly, they should start marketing the achievements of the organisations revolving around the National Party as mentioned in Mr. Ofori Ampofo’s article on Ghanaweb, 21/8/06 --- “The Save Ghana Now Association, The Ghana Leadership Union, The Trade Congress Party and The Social Democratic movement.” Does the National Party have the endorsement of these organizations or their support only revolve around the leaders? This was not clear in Mr. Ampofo’s article. Coming to Ghana to campaign and returning to their bases overseas will not help the National Party. These are challenges that they should not overlook.

Ghanaians are attaining political maturity and cannot be simply convinced on mere marketing of manifestoes. The National Party should go the extra mile of costing out their policies and informing the electorate on how they will fund their promises so that in government they do attribute their inability to deliver on their promises to “inherited empty coffers”. The National Party should allow independent bodies to examine their policy costing and funding sources/strategies and challenge the NPP and NDC to do the same. This is because in opposition, the NPP was effective in assuring Ghanaians that they had solutions to the country’s high unemployment rate. In Government, many Ghanaians are unemployed and still find it hard to feed their families and pay for education and health care. The so called “successful economic statistics” are not translating into upliftment of living standards. What makes the leaders of the National Party different from the PhDs and Professors in the NPP and NDC who have not even seen the need to implement a property identification system to ease tax collection? That distinction has to be made clearly for the National Party to be taken seriously.

The NPP in government tries to blame the NDC for their failure to deliver on their promises. It is therefore important that the National Party and other overseas based Presidential Candidates have first hand knowledge of the current state of the country’s finances so that they do not give promises they cannot deliver. Let us all wish our overseas based brothers and sisters well in their quest for political power to steer the country in the right direction but let us also counsel them where we can with the hope that their experiences overseas will benefit the country. The National party will enrich Ghana’s political landscape and keep the government on its toes but the leaders need to provide costed policies and sources of funding. Then some of us will be convinced to join them.

email ernest_k_appiah@hotmail.com