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Opinions of Thursday, 31 October 2013

Columnist: Brazi, Calus Von

Re: Akyem-Ashanti Faction Will Keep NPP in Eternal Opposition

Calus Von Brazi

FONAA Institute

I found the views and opinions of the otherwise affable and erudite Joseph Ayikoi-Otoo rather interesting and questionable as far as the debatable issue of a perceived Akyem-Ashanti faction is concerned. It amazes me honestly, that many do not see the repetitive flaunting of a so called Akyem-Ashanti faction as a Goebbelian tactic honed from the stables of the European and South African consultants advising the National Democratic Congress (NDC) on ways to keep the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and its leadership in a frenzy of head-butting when indeed they should be focusing on placing the party in the position as the natural party of choice in the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections. Unfortunately, Mr. Ayikoi-Otoo has fallen for this political gimmick on all fours.

There are indeed factions in every political organization without doubt. It is indeed trite to find that these factions if not properly managed morph into unbridgeable fault lines that may make or break leaders after they have been elected to lead a political organization or party into a contest. Factionalism has been and can be based on interests of individuals and groupings, expectations and or value systems that underpin their preference for this or that political party. This is why political scientists and analysts classify these individuals and groups into left, right, centre, ultras, radicals/hawks, doves, old guards, young Turks etc., based on principles and not ethnicity/tribe or personality cult, as the following examples show: In recent times, former Prime Minister, Tony Blair had his issues with his successor, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown within the New Labour Party of the United Kingdom. The Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher had her faction just as Michael Heseltine enjoyed his within the Conservative Party of the UK. Yitzhak Rabin throughout the years of the Cold War maintained his prominence partly on the shoulders of his faction against that of Shimon Perez who Efraim Halevy, former Head of Mossad has had some choice words for as far as the Labour Party of Israel is concerned. Their major opponents, the Likud Party easily reveals now comatose former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (who broke off to form Kadima) angling for leadership with the resolute and decisive and hawkish Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu. It will be incomplete to avoid mentioning Mrs. Hillary Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama as far as factionalism within the Deomcratic Party of the United States is concerned. These are verifiable realities based on specific interests, preferences of the aforementioned leaders on issues of pressing national and global importance as well as beliefs and value systems that underpin the political persuasions they lead. Factionalism therefore is very normal and essential for the development of democratic political organizations (parties). It encourages intelligent debate, promotes competition and healthy rivalry, which in turn helps to bring out the best qualities among its members in terms of leadership, innovations, vision, strategies, policies, programmes, and activities.

My problem with Mr. Ayikoi-Otoo’s position is the blanket generalization of factionalism without clearly identified people and what they stand for as far as the NPP goes. Nobody has been able to identify who the leaders of the Akyem-Ashanti factions are. I have been involved in every single NPP Presidential primary since 1992 and never once have I been able to identify who the main ideologues or embodiments of these factions are. Perhaps, Ayikoi-Otoo may be referring to former President John Agyekum Kufuor and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. It is true beyond doubt that these two fine gentlemen have become the most prominent faces of the NPP since 1998, the former distinguishing himself as the most successful Danquah-Busia-Dombo leader ever to become the President of this Republic with the latter rising to the call of duty and saving this country the wiles of possible tension, chaos and anarchy by his deft handling of the post-Supreme Court verdict and his decisive disappointment of the lunatic fringe who only waited for a signal to induce a Sampson option upon Ghana. Like it or not, Nana Akufo-Addo, yet to take up the mantle of political leadership as the chief servant of the Republic of Ghana has earned himself the enviable tile of matured statesman in that singular act.

How then do these two represent factions if the argument of Ayikoi-Otoo is stretched? John Kufuor won the position of flag bearer of the NPP in Sunyani in 1998 with massive support from the Akyem areas. Indeed after his resounding victory in 2000, he consolidated this support base by enjoying an unopposed contest in 2004, never mind the unconfirmed rumours of a certain ambitious sidekick from his home region attempting to contest him. The fact that no Akyem made the attempt to contest Kufuor in 2004 speaks beyond volumes of the subjugation of possible ambitions and the unity that underpinned his victory in the general elections of that year. Similarly and yet somewhat differently, I can say without any fear of contradiction that a substantial portion of Nana Akufo-Addo’s support base comes not from regions other than his home region including the Ashanti region where his fellow contestants have been told in resounding decibels to take a break for a while as the chart below exemplifies from the 7th August 2010 August Presidential Primaries.

% Share of candidates on a regional basis

Region Frimpong Boateng Isaac Osei J. K. Koduah Alan Kyerematen Nana Addo Regional total Ashanti 0.24% 1.23% 0.25% 23.44% 74.84% 100% Brong Ahafo 0.53% 1.46% 0.45% 20.85% 76.71% 100% Central 0.60% 0.86% 0.10% 22.27% 76.16% 100% Eastern 0.17% 0.32% 0.07% 8.30% 91.15% 100% Greater Accra 0.22% 0.69% 0.13% 11.30% 87.65% 100% Northern 0.57% 1.39% 0.10% 13.84% 84.10% 100% Upper East 0.57% 2.38% 0.31% 23.71% 73.02% 100% Upper West 0.51% 1.70% 0.56% 29.16% 68.07% 100% Volta 0.43% 1.52% 0.74% 45.87% 51.44% 100% Western 0.42% 0.58% 0.13% 12.93% 85.94% 100% Party Headquarters 0.65% 0.65% 0.00% 12.42% 86.27% 100% Candidates Total 0.39% 1.10% 0.26% 20.07% 78.17% 100%

It may be this reality that induces Mr. Ayikoi-Otoo to erroneously conclude that an Akyem-Ashanti faction exists in the NPP. It is as erroneous as it is false because the facts do not support that assertion. Greater Accra, Ayikoi-Otoo’s and my own home region outdid Ashanti in support for Nana Akufo-Addo, closely followed by the Western and Northern Regions in that order with Ashanti ranking almost equal with Brong Ahafo and Central regions. How then do we so unscientifically assert that a so-called Ashanti-Akyem faction will keep NPP in eternal opposition?: December 22nd 2007 did not reveal that; August 7th 2010 completely dispelled that notion and dare I say June/July/August 2013 would put that matter to rest once and for all because I am willing to stick my neck out to make this prediction: Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo when he decides to contest the next Presidential Primaries of the NPP of 2013 will record nothing less than 95% of the valid votes cast, granted someone is brave enough to throw his hat into the race. I envisage a unanimous no-contest decision for him as happened to John Kufuor in 2004. Maybe, that may be the one single stroke that would bury the NDC induced false perception of an Akyem-Ashanti faction within the NPP.

I do not know what drove Mr. Ayikoi-Otoo to aver that “in the runoff in 2008 when Nana Addo had 49.9 per cent and needed just a small number of votes to cross the 50 per cent mark the evidence was that the Ashantis did not come out to assist”. That is absolutely false and not supported by any scientific analysis or evidence. I do not know whether or not Mr. Ayikoi-Otoo was part of the team that went getting out the vote for the second round. I am also at a loss as to the reasons for which Ayikoi-Otoo has so soon forgotten how Kwesi Pratt for example went accusing Dr. Matthew Opoku-Prempeh (Napo) of recording over 100% turnout in his Manhyia constituency during the runoff in the same breathe that he indicted Atwima-Kwanwoma for 120% increase in voter turn out. Thankfully, Napo had the facts and figures to promt his accusers to issue a public apology. How does one in the face of these few examples unfairly cast such an unwarranted aspersion against the hardworking and dynamic people of the Ashanti region? Maybe “gbeshie” caught my good friend when he uttered those words for any reengagement with the facts and figures of the 2008 elections reveals that in the runoff, the Nana Addo lost 100,000 votes of the 49.9 that he had in the first instance. Of course we now know, courtesy Dr. Afari-Gyan’s cross-examination how such votes can be lost by one party and won by another. How then can that loss be attributed to the Ashanti region alone and Ashantis being unfairly blamed for not coming to assist? Perhaps, Mr. Ayikoi-Otoo has misread or misunderstood the contribution of the smaller parties to the NDC’s victory of 2008 or is totally at sea about some of the happenings within the campaign for the runoff in 2008 which for strategic reasons, I shall avoid discussing herein.

Then again, he asserts that Professor Mike Oquaye was on his way to become NPP Chairman but had his dreams dashed because there was an order to have Haruna Esseku elected. Really? An order as in what Nunoo-Mensah gave the disgruntled workers of this country? And Prof. Oquaye pliantly obeyed that order and the NPP looked on? That cannot be the party of great thinkers where we agree to disagree and still live on to work together without being friends. In anycase, how come whoever gave that ‘order’ could not do same for the same Esseku to be maintained? Or perhaps that person had joined Danquah, Busia and Dombo wherever they are? Let me hasten to add: no single person, stretching from the yet-to-be-matched John Agyekum Kufuor and whoever would one day shut the door on the NPP would ever achieve the dangerous and despicable privilege of turning all sympathizers of the tradition into “ball-less” automatons who obey ‘orders’. Being the head of the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the NPP and a reputable legal luminary at that, Mr. Ayikoi-Otoo should know that it is for very good reason that the motto of the NPP reads: Development in Freedom. His analysis on Prof. Oquaye’s dashed dreams of chairing the NPP is in marked dissonance with the reality of Oquaye’s departure to India to promote economic diplomacy on behalf of the Kufuor-led Government of Ghana and does not add up especially when the same Mike Oquaye distinguished himself as a diplomat, well enough to contest the 2007 Presidential primaries on his own merit without ‘order’ being yelled at him to support this or that candidate. It may be wise for Mr. J. Ayikoi-Otoo to avoid making such baseless, clearly ill-informed and questionable allegations if he truly wants to lead the NPP as its national chairman. There is too much at stake to be falling for moribund rank-splitting machinations by those who though wielding the power of state ostensibly to improve the lot of the people of Ghana, are busily devising means of covering up their over-exposed pilfering of the national kitty. It is indeed a good thing to seek to promote unity and yet one may also hasten to ask what the need for promoting unity is when there is no disunity of purpose, logic or preference among a group of people in the first place. If on the other hand, Ayikoi-Otoo truly believes as he told Radio XYZ on Monday 28th October, 2013 that non-Akans feel like outcasts in the NPP, I humbly ask of him which non-akans have told him that? Where is his research? I am a bona fide Adangbe, hailing from Prampram paternally and a royal of Amugi We maternally. Nothing makes me feel like an outcast in the NPP which has always been an equal opportunities organization otherwise how and what is Ayikoi-Otoo doing as Chairman of the Constitutional Committee of the very party that makes non-Akans feel like outcasts? Did Ayikoi-Otoo not notice the highly indicative manner in which the first expanded delegate conference returned National Executives that cut across all the 10 regions of Ghana so flawlessly? I am very tempted to believe that Mr. J. Ayikoi-Otoo either does not know the NPP very well, has lost touch with the masses in the nooks and crannies of our party or is simply groping for a platform to launch his bid. Perhaps, he will do himself a lot of good and speak directly to party people. As I told the campaign manager of one of the contestants in the 2010 flag bearship contest, “NPP primaries are not won on public radio. It is the fastest way to receive a sound trashing primarily because the NPP delegate is a sophisticated political animal, capable of looking 17 astute men in the eye and assuring all of them of winning without blinking. It is only when you visit them outside the noisy cacophony of crooning wannabe star radio presenters that you know your true standing.” That campaign manager gave me back a good lunch after 7th August 2010 where he symbolically gave me a pebble probably from the undeveloped fishing port adjacent the Dutch hotel in Nungua. Mr. Ayikoi-Otoo is hereby served the same advise.