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Opinions of Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Columnist: Ato Kwamena Dadzie/Daily Dispatch

THE OUTSIDER: Alan shoots himself in the foot

After the NPP congress in December, many were those who referred to Alan Kyeremanten as the ‘kingmaker’. And they were right. Alan gave up his right to demand a second round of voting and conceded to Nana Akuffo-Addo who had polled almost twice as many votes as he (Alan) did in the first round. That gracious concession saved the party delegates from queuing for long hours to vote again.

Seventeen men competed for the baton to lead the ruling party to the presidential elections. Most of them had been very well-known figures. They over-rated their chances and when the scales of delusion fell from their eyes, it was too late. Some of them won a mere 20 votes out of over 2000. One candidate could manage only one vote – the one he cast for himself. Even his wife didn’t vote for him.

Alan K. was the surprise of that contest. Many saw him as a ‘Johny-just-come’. Until the start of the mad rush by those 17 people clamouring to be elected as NPP presidential candidate, Alan K was just another minister of state. He wasn’t very well known. He had spent a few years abroad working as Ghana’s ambassador to the US. His job was not the sort that constantly kept him in the public eye back home. But a few years ago, he was recalled from diplomatic service to come and serve in government. He was put in charge of the Trade Ministry which was also responsible for all of the president’s failed special initiatives which cover everything from starch production to palm oil extraction. From what we hear, the president recalled Alan from diplomatic service to ‘groom’ him to be his successor. Even as trade minister, Alan K was not as well known as the likes of Kofi Konadu Apraku, Yaw Osafo-Marfo and Hackman Owusu Agyeman.

His popularity only started soaring when he declared his intention to run for the NPP’s presidential slot. He was dubbed Alan ‘Cash’ because he seemed to be sitting on sack loads of cash. Only God knows where he got all of that from but I pray we find out soon. Everywhere one went, the talk was about Alan promising “jobs for the people, cash for the people.” For a ‘newcomer’, Alan’s campaign was solid. But he didn’t win.

Even though he failed to win the majority of votes, he placed a respectable second whiles people like Hackman Owusu-Agyeman could only manage an embarrassing 20 votes. Even the party’s chief campaign strategist, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey was told by the delegates to go and run no more.

Alan K, on the other hand, could still hold his chin up. In his moment of disappointment, Alan also won many admirers with his gracious concession. At the end of it all, Nana Akuffo said: “Alan, you will follow me.” That was a loaded statement. But all it meant was that Alan could one day have a shot at the presidency on the ticket of the NPP. All he had to do was to wait.

Unfortunately, Alan K is not a patient man. With his sudden decision to resign from the party, I can’t help but ask: where in heaven’s name is he rushing to? If there is any truth in what we are hearing that he intends to run for the presidency as an independent candidate, I will say he must be the monarch of Fools’ Paradise. Ghanaian voters are not interested in independent presidential candidates. Even in America where politics is supposedly conducted on issues, people do not vote for the sweetest talking independent candidate. Ask Ross Perot and Ralph Nader.

It’s also being rumoured that Alan is in talks with the recently-formed Reformed Patriotic Democrats, a new party formed by a breakaway group from the ruling NPP. It is suggested that he might be their presidential candidate. If this is the case, I’d say that Alan is as politically naive as a premature baby in an incubator at Korle Bu. Ghanaians will not vote for a party which was formed a few months before elections – a party with no tradition, borne out of the grievances of a few disgruntled elements who feel that the ruling party’s loot is not trickling down to them in sufficient quantities.

To cap it all, some of Alan’s spokespersons (notably Kuuku Welsing Jones) has suggested that Alan decided to quit because he felt that those who supported him in the run-up to the party’s delegates congress are being victimised. In fact, from what Mr. Welsing Jones says Alan himself feels victimised because he has no significant role to play Akuffo-Addo’s campaign team. For example, Arthur Kennedy, who won just one vote in the mad rush for the party’s presidential slot is now campaign spokesperson whiles Alan K. (the kingmaker who polled more than 700 votes) is only in charge of ‘identifiable groups’. I believe Alan’s job description has not been exactly spelt out to him. Is it that he is supposed to identify the groups or he has to establish groups that can easily be identified? I don’t know! Clearly, Akuffo-Addo is creating jobs for the boys even before he becomes president. With his job description not clearly spelt out, Alan feels left out, according to Kuuku Welsing-Jones. Add that to the fact that he feels his supporters are being victimised and that will also explain (somehow) why Alan has decided to quit.

If Alan just quit because he feels left out or victimised, then I get the impression that he is just like Charles Wereko-Brobbey: if he doesn’t lead he won’t follow. For this, the NPP should be grateful that he’s showing his true colours. People like that do not build parties. Obed Asamoah left the NDC because thugs beat the hell out of him. He had every reason to leave. Alan is just leaving because he feels his people are being victimised and that he hasn’t got a key role in the campaign team? What does he want? He should go. I don’t see his departure affecting the party in any significant way. Two breakaway factions have left the NDC within the last decade. The NDC is as strong as ever. There has always been talk of the factionalism within the party. Yet it still stands strong and if it plays it cards well, it could win the elections in December. The NDC is the only party with any realistic chance of kicking the NPP out of power. Why then will people think that Alan’s departure will affect the NPP? Do they need his cash? I don’t think so. Being in power has helped make the NPP richer than it was. Don’t ask me how. The politicians know that the best way for a party to make money is to be in government. That’s why the CPP is so broke. Having being in power for eight years, the NPP has enough money to run a campaign without Alan K. Of course, his money will help. As we say, even the sea takes in some rain. But without his cash, the NPP will do just fine.

Perhaps, they are afraid that Alan might go away with some supporters – splitting the votes for the NDC or some other party to slip into power. That’s a possible. But it’s not probable - it won’t happen. If Alan is half as wise as I think he should be, he won’t join another party and he won’t run as an independent candidate. In that case, his followers (who are not that many) will still vote the NPP. If the NDC wins the elections, it won’t be because Alan left.

Therefore, my point is quite simple: Alan’s resignation should not affect the NPP in anyway just as Obed’s departure hasn’t caused any serious dent in the NDC. At the end of the day, Alan will have himself to blame. With this singular, hasty decision he has shot himself in the foot. His political career is over. I can bet my last pesewa that Akuffo-Addo’s prediction that he might be the next presidential candidate of the ruling party will never come to pass. The opportunity he lost in December is now gone forever.