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Opinions of Monday, 17 December 2012

Columnist: Ford, Alex David

Somebody Tell NPP: “Atani” Is Our President

Once upon the time, a gentleman from the northern part of our country was asked to partner another from a different part of our country to contest for political leadership. After he diligently discharged his duties as the next most powerful person in our country for eight years, it was time for him also to be confirmed and endorsed to contest the position of the “highest office” of our land. That was when he had a rude awakening. He was told in plain language by the top echelon of his party that he did not qualify for that “high office” because he was “Atani”
A few years later, another gentleman from that same part of our country with coincidentally the same last name was quickly confirmed by another group of a different political persuasion to ascend to the position of the “highest office” of our land when the holder died suddenly. After completing the remaining term of his predecessor, his party quickly confirmed and endorsed him as the new leader of the party, so that he could continue in office as the most powerful person in our country. This time around, the people of the latter political persuasion considered leadership qualities and capabilities as a far more important prerequisite than ethnicity in ascending the “highest position” of our land
Fellow Ghanaians, this is the tale of the two “Mahamas” (The late Aliu Mahama of the NPP (former Vice-President) and President John Dramani Mahama of the NDC. I am also talking about The New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC)
Since its inception, people of the NPP tradition had been plagued with paranoia and ethnocentrism. This explains why the more pragmatic Kwame Nkrumah broke away from those that invited him home to help, formed his own political party and unleashed a number of painful political defeats on them. I will state a few facts here to buttress my point.
1) The infamous “Mate me hu” slogan adopted by the people of the NPP tradition
2) Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia’s onslaught on the people of the Volta region and his subsequent removal of people of that ethnic group from all top civil service/public service in Ghana in addition to refusing to appoint anybody from that region into his cabinet or position in his government
3) Victor Owusu’s comment against the people of that region
4) John Agyekum Kuffour’s refusal to appoint anybody from the Upper-West region into his cabinet or position in his government
5) The NPP’s refusal to endorse former Vice-President Aliu Mahama as the flag bearer of their party
6) The recent provocative pronouncements by Ursula Owusu against the people of Greater Accra
7) Another recent provocative pronouncement by the NPP Minority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu that no Ga-Adangbe in the NPP have distinguished his or herself well to partner Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as running mate in the 2012 elections.
8) The recent pogrom advocated against the people of the Greater Accra and Volta regions by Ken Agyepong and the support he got from Nana Akuffo-Addo
9) The recent “We Akans” pronouncements by Nana Akuffo-Addo
10) The fact that all NPP’s presidential candidates had been “Akan-speaking” people

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) which is the other major political party in our country appears to have it right. It has a national appeal because it draws support from all the major ethnic groups in our country as a consequence, has on many occasions demonstrated its capabilities by wining parliamentary seats in all regions of the country. In addition to that, each of its three elected presidents hails from a different ethnic group and region of the country. The NPP on the other hand, has consistently been unable to expand its limited support base; the Ashanti and Eastern regions of the country. If the NPP wants to be competitive and win elections, it must honestly and thoroughly assess itself and evolve strategies that will enable it win national appeal. In the first place, it must work hard to eradicate the negative perception of it being an “Akan-based” Party
The NPP must also work hard to widen its support base. It must do well to reach out to the other regions of the country the same way the NDC is making inroads into some of their strongholds. In addition to that, the non-Akan-speaking members of the party who had for a long time remained at the fringes of the party must also be given leadership positions including the party’s leadership. All the suggestions above may not be enough to help, the NPP without doing something about the confrontational and sometimes arrogant attitude associated with a number of its leading members. Lastly they must accept defeat in good faith and repair the negative image of the party as a violent entity.
The primary aim of any political party is to win and exercise power. Wining is about numbers which results from putting in place broad-based support structures. This also means diversity. The New Patriotic Party can no longer remain relevant in our country’s political system with its present heavy reliance on only the Ashanti and Eastern regions of our country with the occasional few protests votes trickling in from the urban areas. It needs to reform itself now!