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Opinions of Monday, 5 December 2011

Columnist: Nelson, Ekow

Professor Akosa must “put up or shut up”!

Ekow Nelson, 3rd December 2011

I tuned in to the flagship weekend news analysis programmes on Saturday and as I guessed, the unfortunate events that embroiled the CPP last week made the headlines. It was clear from the majority of panellists and correspondents on Joy FM’s News File programme for example, that the CPP’s reputation has been damaged and the standing of the new leadership severely dented in the eyes of many.

I spoke to a more objective friend and CPP sympathiser this afternoon and he asked me why “the CPP is imploding”. He said this crisis was worse than anything he could remember from the bad old days in the early years of the 4th republic. There are countless others like him, judging from comments on radio and online forums, all of whom are less than impressed with what happened last week.

While the CPP claimed Dr. Nduom was behind the machinations for an early congress, all the public saw was a party leadership piling on one of its leading members for doing something they had not been witnesses to. Whatever Dr. Nduom’s ‘crimes’ (i.e. the alleged scheming and orchestration) they were outside the view of the public. The public did not see Dr. Nduom doing anything untoward himself. They saw only one thing: the behaviour and public outbursts of the CPP leadership and based their judgements on that – rightly or wrongly. They did not like it! So those in the CPP who believe public attacks on Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom are good for the party should think again. Much of the goodwill that attended the election of the new generation of leadership has all but evaporated and we have to start all over again.

What rankles, however, is that much of this was avoidable. Whatever your take on Dr. Nduom, he is the type of politician that attracts respect at best but not affection or sympathy. It therefore takes a huge amount of public relations incompetence to turn a person not known for his public warmth or charm into a sympathetic victim in the eyes of many in the country.

I have been racking[sic] my brain all week, to make sense of why what happened happened and unfortunately, borrowing from the title of his own interview with Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen programme last Thursday, I have come to the conclusion the CPP’s problem is Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa’s hubris.

Professor Akosa leads a pack of anti-Nduom aspirants, including Messrs. Bright Akwettey and George Aggudey who are supposedly against early presidential primaries until the CPP has built the requisite organisational and institutional structures. How convenient eh! Might this newly-found zeal for building party structures have anything to do with the fact that these characters were roundly trounced by Dr. Nduom in 2008? And is it not the case that these guys believe they will be beaten again if congress were held now? Is this why they seem to have taken the faux Augustinian stance of wanting to be chaste but not yet? What amazes me, however, are those in the CPP who have swallowed the self-serving narrative of this cast of Nduom ‘afraid-men’. Whatever happened to that healthy critical and sceptical mindset of my people?

Should we not be asking why Mr. Aggudey has not been leading the charge for building structures since he was elected flagbearer and lost in the 2004 elections? What has Professor Akosa done in practical terms in the last five years to advance the building of structures for his party, since he expressed an interest in the flagbeaership? Why, if they knew the CPP had weak structures, did these people not oppose the 2008 Congress, but put themselves forward only to be routed by Dr. Nduom? Indeed in 2008, as in 2011, they opposed Dr. Nduom, but back then, it was not because CPP did not have structures, but that Dr. Nduom had an SFO problem. And intelligent people in the CPP and elsewhere in the country give these phoney and self-serving arguments a pass? Please!

Back in 2005, a number of us including Messrs. Explo Nana-Kofi, Ade Sawyerr and Professor Michael Gyamerah published a paper arguing that the party should prioritize re-building its political and organisational structures and focus more on shoring up its parliamentary representation in 2008 and 2012 for a revival in 2016, and we were treated like heretics by some in the leadership. They characterised our efforts as an NDC plot designed to stop the CPP from contesting the presidential elections and suggested that having the party rank and file face the reality of our existence would be demoralising. It is great that six years on, and with the election of our Chairman Samia Nkrumah, those who argued vehemently that “the structures were there” and opposed us have changed their tune. So this is not argument against a delayed congress or a defence of Dr. Nduom alleged machinations. Far from it! A plausible case can be made for a delayed congress, but Messrs Akosa, Aggudey and Akwettey are most unqualified to make it.

Professor Akosa now says Dr. Nduom is the CPP’s only problem (see “Nduom is the problem in the CPP - Prof Akosa”, Myjoyoline, December 1, 2011). How expedient? Get rid of him and Professor Akosa has a glide path to the CPP flagbearserhip; and CPP members are meant to be suckers. The reality is that Professor Akosa knows he will be skewered again if there were elections today. So rather than submit himself to the democratic process, he has decided to wage a disgraceful, and if I may say so, cowardly war against Dr. Nduom to have him either leave or dismissed from the party. And he has used his minions to advance this discreditable strategy. The guy wants to be flagbearer but hasn’t the cojones to do it through the proper and only process we know of expressing the will of the people – democratic elections.

He suggests, rather blithely, that his friends and family alone could secure the same votes as Dr. Nduom’s in the 2008 election. Well, in 2008 Dr. Nduom polled some 113, 494 votes, so one has to assume Professor Akosa’s personal circle of friends and family are over 100,000. I don’t know how big the Professor’s family is, or the number of friends and acquaintances he has, but 100,000 is a big number. The average Facebook user has 130 friends. I am not a friend of the Professor on Facebook so I don’t know how many ‘friends’ he has on that social networking site. The last time I checked, the “AKOSA FOR PRESIDENT 2012” Facebook fan page had 429 friends which means he would need another 113, 065 friends to equal Dr. Nduom’s 1.34% in 2008.

Of course I am sure many of the Professor’s friends and family are not all on Facebook and I concede that is not a good measure. Still, even if all the voters of his home constituency of Ashanti Mampong voted for him in 2008, as they did the parliamentary elections, he would secure some 39,589 votes leaving him 73,095 votes short. The point I am making is that Professor Akosa’s claim is just preposterous braggadocio by a guy who hasn’t the faintest idea of what it takes to run a presidential campaign. What is even more ludicrous is here we have a guy who can’t even win elections in the smaller CPP presidential primaries of some 2000 delegates. And yet, he is allowed to make such preposterous statements, not based on any verifiable facts, and manages to get away with them. If he has friends and family numbering over 100,000 why does he not have them join the CPP, sweep-up the presidential primaries and secure the flagbearership which he appears to believe to be his by rights.

The truth is Professor Akosa believes he is entitled and more qualified to be flagbearer than Dr. Nduom. He thinks he is cleverer, more accomplished and polished, ideologically sound and better rooted (through his father) in the CPP than Dr. Nduom. In fact I have even heard him say he is better-looking which I suppose counts for something in Ghana and in our modern tele-visual age. Professor Akosa’s is driven by a sense of entitlement and it riles him that the delegates do not share his enthusiasm for his own candidacy. And because he cannot get his way, he must engineer Dr. Nduom’s downfall even if that means the CPP imploding, as my friend said, then so be it. That is selfish and no right thinking CPP person should countenance this vindictive vendetta that is clearly fuelled by nothing but personal hubris. What Professor Akosa is doing is hurting the CPP and one does not have to support Dr. Nduom to call him out. What he is doing is not about the CPP; it is about Professor Akosa but the interests of Professor Akosa are not co-terminus with those of the CPP.

As Kweku Baako reminded us on Saturday’s Joy FM New File programme, in our democracy flagbearers are elected not selected. So if Professor Akosa wants to be flagbearer and he seriously believes Dr Nduom is bad for the CPP, there is only one way to fix that: man-up and face him in the proverbial political ring but do not go round telling the country Dr. Nduom is bad news. That is bad form. To borrow from former British Prime Minister John Major, who dared his Euro-sceptic detractors to challenge him for the leader in 1995, Professor Akosa must either “put up or shut up”.

© Ekow Nelson London, December 2011