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Opinions of Thursday, 12 March 2009

Columnist: Amonu, Kofi

Samia Nkrumah, The CPP, And The NDC Must Unite

Whereas the original CPP was a multi-ethnic party that was held together by the appeal of its founder, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (the African Showboy), and his “Action Now” mantra that attracted supporters from all corners of the country, the card-holding members and followers of the NPP have, for the most part, come from the Ashanti and Akyem tribes. Being a tribal-based party secures the survival of the NPP, but it comes with some intrinsic weaknesses. One such weakness is that a little squabble between the two tribal factions can spell doom for the party as we saw in the 2008 elections when low turnouts by aggrieved supporters in Ashanti constituencies prevented Akufo-Addo from winning enough votes to become president. Likewise, the CPP is confronted with the dilemma of falling apart in the absence of a leader with a captivating personality, as it happened in 1966 when Osagyefo was ousted and the CPP was banned. As I can see, if remedial measures are not taken soon, the NDC will die like the original CPP because, devoid of Jeremiah John Rawlings, neither Attah-Mills, John Mahama, nor Spio-Garbrah has the magnetic personality to prop up the party.

The CPP of today is a dull shadow of the original party. It is merely a jumbled group of diehard remnants of a living dead party hoping, to no avail, to win elections by invoking the spirit of Osagyefo and the glory days of yesteryear. The party began a slow death on Feb. 24, 1966 when Nkrumah was overthrown and the long chain of intermittent military governments made it extremely difficult, or maybe impossible, for the party to regroup. The leadership of the CPP has to admit that the notion of a strong third party in Ghana may never come to fruition because The NPP and NDC are the two dominant parties with different creeds and each of the small parties has resemblance to one or the other of the two giants. The CPP will never rise from its ashes because it closely resembles the NDC – both are multi-ethnic groups with charismatic founding leaders.

The political terrain of today is quite different from that of Osagyefo’s glory days – Ghana’s independence has long been achieved and all of Africa has been liberated, making the CPP less attractive than it was in the sixties. Even if the NDC dies in the absence of Rawlings, it will take the CPP a helluva long time, if at all, to grow from one parliamentary seat to become a majority in parliament. The horrible performance the CPP’s presidential candidate, Dr. Kwesi Nduom, in the 2008 election best exemplifies my point. Kwesi is most definitely worth far more votes than the 1.34 percent that he bagged. In fact, some people still maintain that is the best among the presidential candidates, but they felt that a vote him was a wasted one since he needed the backing of a strong party to become president.

When former president Rawlings founded the NDC to compete with the NPP after some 26 years of interchanging military and civilian rules in Ghana, all the former members of the then defunct CPP, rushed to join because the CPP traditionally does not see eye to eye with the NLM-turned-NPP. Also, The CPP saw it easier to surf on the wave of Rawlings’ popularity to victory than to breathe life into their own party. As such, the NDC is a re-embodiment of the original CPP, this time, with the Volta Region as its solid support base because that is Rawlings’ maternal home region. As far as viability and longevity goes, it is crucial for the CPP and the NDC to come together and chart a course that will ensure their survival in the long haul and to fight arm in arm for a common cause.

If, or when, a merger occurs between the CPP and NDC, the amalgamated party must openheartedly unit behind the person who is most likely to bring victory to the party, just as the American Democratic Party did behind Barack Obama. Samia Yaba Christina Nkrumah, the only CPP parliamentarian and daughter of Osagyefo, appears to be a rookie politician with such promise in time to come. On the assumption that she does not indend to confine her efforts to helping only her Jomoro constituency, I am suggesting to her to join the NDC even if the CPP decides not to come along. The NDC is, in some ways, the second coming of the CPP so a mere name should not matter to Samia as much her contribution to build the nation. The CPP, Samia Nkrumah and the NDC teaming up will be a win-win situation for all.

Since ‘the African Showgirl’ won the seat for Jomoro near her father’s hometown, some Ghanaians have taken notice of the ease and margin of her win, considering that she was not in the country until about two years before the election and she is not fluent in any Ghanaian dialect. She has already been talked about as a possible first female president of Ghana in future. Before you disagree with me consider that Obama had achieved little in politics before he became president of America and long before he went into politics people had observed his seemingly presidential qualities.

Samia already has a recognizable name – a major political attribute that attracts votes- and, if we take her word for its worth, she is in politics to serve the people who elected her, like her father did selflessly. Since Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson of Liberia became the first female African president and former American First Lady Hilary Clinton’s strong showing against President Obama of the U.S., the spotlight seems to be directed on female presidential candidates. It was reported that both the NDC and NPP have tried in vain to woo Samia to their side but she has to know that the earlier she makes a move and let her presence be seen and felt, the better for her. If she waits for elections to draw close before crossing the carpet she will be seen as just an opportunist taking the path of least resistance to high office. Samia also has to realize that in order to effect change on a grand scale, it is better for her to accept roles in a bigger winnable party for a start, than to subsist in political mediocrity as the sole CPP parliamentarian. It would make a nice story, worthy of a movie, that Osagyefo’s daughter has taken the seat that her father once occupied. Samia, the ball is in your court.

I may be wrong, but I doubt it.

Kofi Amonu