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Opinions of Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Columnist: Amenyo, Kofi

The NPP is still searching for a national identity

Now that the NPP primaries have been successfully concluded and a clear-cut winner chosen without any controversies, the party can now concentrate its efforts on projecting itself as a truly national party. This will be a far more daunting task than just choosing a presidential candidate from an acrimonious field. In the first place, the party has already started on the wrong foot and this is going to mar its efforts at presenting a truly national outlook.

It is a well-known fact that for most Ghanaians, no single person reflects a party’s ethnic colour than its presidential candidate. That is where the NPP falls heavily. Today, there is talk in the party of making sure that the top offices are occupied by Ghanaians from all across the country. That is a moot point. What the ordinary Ghanaian sees is the Presidential Candidate, not the Chairman or Party Secretary. The NPP can appoint non-Akans into all the other positions in the party, but as long as the topmost spot is effectively denied to non-Akans, the party will still be perceived as an Akan party. This year’s primaries were better organised than the last time. There were only five candidates all of them Akans. This time around, non-Akans did not even bother to take part even if only to give a national colour to the whole affair. They have learnt the bitter lesson that they would never win. Just go and ask Aliu Mahama. That is why I think the party is still frantically searching for a national identity.

The NDC is not a better party than the NPP. Perhaps it is even worse since there are certain aspects in which the NPP is clearly better. But one thing can be said for the NDC: it is not an Ewe party the way NPP can be said to be an Akan party. It is true that most Ewes support NDC but the NDC can never win national elections based solely on the Ewe vote since the Ewes form too small a minority of the population to be able to pull off that feat. Even today, the NDC will find it difficult to field a saleable Ewe candidate as Presidential material. Their quota has been more than overused by Rawlings’ excessively long hold on power. But the NPP can win national elections based solely on the Akan vote as they nearly did in the last elections. That is not a thing they should be proud of. Thank goodness, they are not more than 50 per cent of the population which fact alone will push them to make compromises that will be beneficial to national unity.

The search for a running mate for Akufo-Addo is on and may take a long time since the party went to the primaries so early. The opinion is that it will go for a person who is non-Akan. The north has already been heavily mined for that post by both the major parties. It is only natural that they will be getting fed up with the second fiddle role they have been made to play for so long. An Ewe running mate may be tempting but it can be disastrous for the party. There is currently no Ewe who can carry a good chunk of the Ewe vote to the NPP. The party doesn’t even have enough Ewes of merit to fill that post. A Ga running mate can also be attractive even though it carries some of the risks of an Ewe running mate. A Fante? Perhaps, but the rest of us will still regard him as coming from the same Akan stock. An Nzema? That is the den of the historical enemies and may not do too much favour to the party’s fortunes. As far as such things are concerned, Brong Ahafo is firmly perceived as being in the Ashanti camp. Perhaps the best thing for NPP will be to choose an Asante man or woman as running mate. Since the Asantes form the main stock of the party’s base, there is a large pool of capable and legible Asantes for that job.

It is true that things are bound to change even in the ultra-Akan NPP too and a day will come when the leading presidential candidate in the party’s primaries will not be an Akan. But Ghanaians want rapid results especially in the economic field but also in the political and social spheres. That is why they are so impatient with Mills’ go-slow approach. Unfortunately for the party, the possibility of a non-Akan NPP presidential candidate is but a very hazy speck on the very distant horizon.

Those of us who do not belong to any political party but tune our allegiances to the exigencies of the day are crying for a strong third force in our national politics. The divided Nkrumaist tradition has so far failed to provide this third force. This is a huge pity since, in the history of our country, the original CPP, despite all its shortcomings, has been the only party that succeeded in cutting across our various ethnic divides even if this was something that was later on forced down our throats when the country became a one party state. A strong third force will force even the NPP to rise up from its ethnic haunches to spread its wings wide enough to GENUINELY cover all Ghanaians.

I want to see that happen in my life time.

Kofi Amenyo (kofi.amenyo@yahoo.com)